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Sharks Gameday: Hunger Pangs

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29-23-4, 62 points 37-8-9, 83 points
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Lately I've been getting the strangest desire for food that, while not necessarily abnormal per say, wasn't in my daily diet by any means. Hershey's chocolate with almonds (and almonds only), pastrami sandwiches with no mustard (I adore dijon), Warhead candies (ate so many they gave me heartburn the other night), avocados with lemon juice, and toast with honey and bananas. For the life of me I can't figure out what's going on.

I think I may be pregnant.

Other than that, everything has been pretty run of the mill this month. Nothing too shocking. Oh yeah, those first sixteen days? I'm fine with em' now. Concerned yes, and a little wary to see the effort tonight, but ultimately refreshed after a day off from Sharks hockey.

[Editor's Note]: Remember your SPG Picks for a chance to win a Sharks Banner courtesy of Carrol's Cove.

Now I don't buy excuses, and for one basic reason- there are no excuses come April. That being said, up until this point the Sharks have played about as well as you can play on a game by game basis over an extended period of time (i.e. the whole freaking season). Every great team is going to struggle at one point in the year. It's not an excuse, it's a fact.

Whether it's the number one goaltender being atrocious, flu bugs and injuries, getting outhit in the first period, forgetting how to clear the puck up the boards, throwing lazy shots at the net, not hitting the initial breakout pass on the tape, letting the other team dictate the play from the first whistle, our coaching staff not fighting against some bad calls with more passion from the bench, players turning the puck over in the neutral zone and not taking the time to backcheck, ugly line changes, giving up leads with less than ten seconds on the clock, or numerous other faults we can all find in February, this was bound to happen. Unfortunately it landed during one of the road trips we really felt would be a good barometer to see where the Sharks were at.

So is life.

I'm not chalking it up to our depleted roster- the injured are key additions yes, but any team with Big Joe, Patty, Gooch, Pavs, Vlasic, Nabokov, Blake, Boyle etc. can and will play better than the first half of this month. San Jose is a Stanley Cup contender no matter who is out of the lineup on any given night. Injuries happen in the playoffs; it's a way of life. Fighting through those injuries is a big part of what makes good teams great.

I'm not listening to the cookie cutter stuff the Sharks homepage is doling out when they say, "The San Jose Sharks are coming off their worst stretch of the season and still things don’t appear that bad" [sjsharks.com]. Honestly guys, it looked bad. Illness and injuries yes I understand, but the Sharks gave up the first goal in every single game of that road trip. You're just not going to win hockey games like that.

I'm not listening to my inner monologue when it says, "Start Boucher tonight." I've been a big supporter of Boucher getting more time between the pipes this entire year (as have many of you), and frankly it's the only fault I can find with McLellan's philosophy up to this point. Boucher needs more starts. Period.

But not tonight. Tonight Nabokov needs the green light. He was terrible during the road trip, but goddammit, he's our number one goaltender, a Vezina Finalist only a season ago. A lot of the problems during the road trip lie with Nabby (11 GA in the last two games looks almost as bad on paper as it did on TV), but when he's on his game he is the best in the league. The best Jerry, the best. Get him between the pipes in The Tank and watch him work wonders.

However, I am listening to my inner monologue when it says, this team will take all this adversity, bottle it up for later in the year when they're down 3-2 with five to go, and bounce back faster than you can say salvation. They have too many veterans on the roster who have seen the dark side of the NHL season to let the team continue to dance around like a February Flopsicle. They have too much talent on the roster to blow leads and/or dig themselves into a hole in the first twenty minutes. They have a man behind the bench that the city believes in, a man that won a Stanley Cup only a year ago.

The product on the ice needs to improve. Count me among those who are certain that it will.

 

 

Go Sharks.