a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., raining cats and dogs, never go full Ducks).
Now, for some reason, the Sharks have been involved in two consecutive series where the opponent has elected to beat up on them when they’re behind in scoring — also known as going full Ducks. In round one, this made sense, as the team the Sharks played was literally the Anaheim Ducks and who would the Ducks be if their purpose in life wasn’t trying to drive a composite stick into someone’s spine?
The bigger surprise was at the end of the Game 4 beating, when the Las Vegas Golden Knights took up the banner from Anaheim. There were long delayed hits, cross-checks, and a particularly egregious slash to Tomas Hertl’s wrist to name a few. Looking closer, there seems to be a handful of reasons why the Sharks bring out the rattiest in their opponent.
Big Boy Hockey
The easiest place to start is that San Jose has some Thicc Boys. Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Brenden Dillon, Brent Burns, and Joe Thornton are huge masses of man and this makes it easier to take a run at one of them. For starters, these guys are usually mixing it up anyway and are often times involved in big hits. Then when an opponent goes Anaheim, it is easier to turn around and give it back to the big guys who were dishing it out.
These huge dudes also can take punishment without catching the referee’s eye. If someone takes a run at Timo, a ref is going to see a collision of trains, rather than one dude trying to injure another. It is much easier to turn a blind eye or assess double minors than it would be if a player launched themselves into someone like Joakim Ryan.
Getting under their skin
After watching Sharks hockey, one also comes upon the realization that San Jose is a pain in the ass to play against. The Sharks can throw a lot of different looks at you, and when they are humming in fifth gear, it is a combination of skill, speed, and size not found often in the NHL. An opposing player is going to have a hard time catching one of these guys, let alone hitting him. This is not even to mention that by the time they get their man, the puck could have been zipped around to three other players and into the net.
Scoring must be always :))
The puck ending up in the end is yet another source of insanity for an opponent. Every year, we get reintroduced to the playoffs and are told it is a grind and a battle. These players are warriors, laying their bodies on the line for the ultimate prize. Nothing comes easy is the old saying, but what happens when a team scores pretty goal after pretty goal?
San Jose scores these pretty goals and scores them often. This is a lineup brimming with high-end talent and that usual means highlight reel goals every game. It is intensely more annoying watching the puck fly around for tic-tac-toe plays and SportsCenter-level dekes than it is having random deflections and jam plays go in. That Joonas Donskoi goal on Marc-Andre Fleury? No one likes getting shown up in such a brilliant way.
You’re never fully dressed without a smile
After all this, it is quite possible the single most annoying thing might be that San Jose does it all with a smile. There is nothing more infuriating than laying down some wood on a man, then having him smile or laugh and promptly watching the power play score. Watching the game, it’s difficult to not notice the Sharks often times have big smiles and look like they’re actually having fun playing this sport. Tomas Hertl’s most famous line is “fun must be always!” and he always constantly looks like he is having the time of his life. These opponents see a smile and it’s as good as dirt in their wounds.
Game after game of this type of play only increases the frustration of the opponent. Eventually that frustration boils over into slashes, cross-checks, and anything else that a team can use to try and make it stop. Everyone has seen it for two series now where the price takes its toll and the goon life makes its appearance.
It is not out of the possibility that Vegas continues to go full Ducks, but San Jose has to keep the smile on their face, and make them pay on the scoreboard. When the other team is frustrated, the Sharks take advantage.