For those of you fortunate enough to witness the Remenda-Ratto debate after the game, you basically witnessed, as Elvis very aptly put, a microcosm of the Sharks fanbase dynamic. On one side you had Ratto claiming that the Sharks are too skilled and need to win games like these, no excuses. Drew immediately rebutted that its not that easy and that the Sharks tried hard and did all the right things, were good but not great, and just didn't get the bounces. You know who was wrong and who was right? Both of them. Although Drew won the debate because he was louder, both of them made some good points, but also perpetuated a few myths that I have noticed on FTF lately and want to address. Some of them defend the Sharks, and some of them will criticize existing defenses of the Sharks; but I assure you this is not one of "those" posts.
Myth #1: The Sharks are doing everything right, we just aren't getting the bounces.
This one is partly true as the Sharks do sometimes do the textbook right things on the ice and do get unlucky at times; however, it's mostly false. Every sport is mind blowingly simple: score more points than the other team. Basketball, Football, Hockey, whatever sport it is, you need to score more than the other team and it doesn't matter how you do it. It doesn't matter how good you look doing it or how you get it done, the point is to win (and if you're younger, to have fun). Every coach I ever had made that abundantly clear; if you got shut out, you did NOTHING right. You had one thing to do and you didn't do it. If doing what you believe is right isn't getting you goals or points, then you need to change what you are doing. In the words of Moneyball: "adapt or die". If your shots from the point aren't getting through, stop taking them. If you aren't getting chances from your behind the net offense, try the side boards.
This isn't to say that the Sharks need to always change their game when they go a few minutes without scoring. But when you get shut out by the same team three times and all you change are your lines then something is missing. A lot of fans are saying that the bounces will start to go our way...WHEN DUDE? I've been hearing that excuse for months and there are only 4 games left! Is it not possible that we need to adapt a little bit? It's getting a little old watching the Sharks in the locker room or Curtis Brown saying they are doing everything right.
Myth #2: Patrick Marleau is gutless and needs to play angry.
Fact: Some players play better when they are angry, some players play better when they are happy, but NO ONE plays better when they are afraid. Playing angry worked well for Roenick, that doesn't mean that it will work well for Marleau. Every athlete is different. I have had teammates that have needed to be removed from games by the coach to cool off when they get angry. Some players make boneheaded decisions when they get angry, and for some it turns on another gear. I'm glad it worked for Roenick, but let's not force those expectations on Marleau.
Myth #3: The Sharks are mailing it in and aren't trying.
I saw someone propose this in the gameday thread and I could not disagree more. Yeah when a team is down 7-0 with 2 minutes left they might just go through the motions. But I cannot make this more clear: PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES CAN'T NOT TRY. Their competitive drives simply do not let them. They have gotten where they are today by always trying their hardest, being driven by competitiveness and testosterone. Their very pride and essence relies on it. I had the privilege of being a NCAA intercollegiate athlete and you could not pay the men I played with to not try no matter what our record was. I can only imagine that these athletes are significantly more driven than anyone I have ever met.
Do you need proof? Watch the Columbus Blue Jackets; they still skate damn hard, jump and shout when they score, and they just beat the Red Wings. They haven't a prayer of making playoffs but still can't help but try every time they touch the ice. Another example in a different sport: In 1968 the Philadelphia Eagles were 0-11 and were in the position to draft the highly touted OJ SImpson in the upcoming draft. But then they went on to win two completely meaningless games and lost the chance to draft OJ. In a situation where it actually MADE SENSE to lose they still could not help but try and win.
These Sharks of ours go out and try harder every night, although I do think that that sense of urgency has reached new heights today. Before the game, Murray was quoted regarding why he wasn't playing tonight: "It's nothing major, but you can't risk it at this point". That rubbed me the wrong way. If now isn't the time, when is? I don't think the Sharks will be saying that anything cannot be risked at this point anymore.
Myth #4 All the Sharks need to do is make playoffs
Bret Hedican couldn't have put it better: "even if the Sharks make the playoffs, I don't see them making it past the first round". The way the Sharks are playing, especially on the road, they will not make it far in the playoffs. As a lower seed, we will be on the road at least 50% of each series. Winning the division is still in reach, but it's up to the Sharks to go get it. Joe Thornton said after the game they needed to go 4-0, that is not mathematically true, but for the morale and momentum of the team it just might be true. This team only has one more week to turn their game around for us to feel confident about our chances. I'm not saying we will and I'm not saying we won't. I'm not Ray Ratto and I'm not Drew Remenda; the truth lies somewhere in the middle.