Sharks Gameday: Immediacy



5:00 PST
CSN-CA, Versus, TSN
98.5 KFOX,
Winging It In Motown
Abel To Yzerman

Well the Sharks are here.

Facing down the barrel of a game six in Joe Louis Arena, two losses in a row coming in debilitating fashion. The first? A game four in Detroit where a strong final push from the Red Wings led to a Darren Helm goal with 1:27 left on the clock. The second? A third period collapse with three goals against in just over ten minutes of ice time, a performance that caused Jeremy Roenick to criticize former teammate Patrick Marleau on national television.

Tonight the stage is set. And while your colon might get a little cramped today as you continue to digest game five, there are plenty of bright spots to consider when reflecting upon the games that could-have should-have resulted in a win. As well as plenty of negatives.

Game five, forty three minutes of textbook playoff hockey. A thoroughly dominating performance. There were two things that kept San Jose from putting Detroit away on Sunday night. The first was Jimmy Howard, the bright eyed youngster who stopped nearlly every shot he saw and a couple he didn't. And the second? The puck's clear lack of compassion.

What about the poor shot selection you ask? Or the middling traffic in front of the net? A lack of finish from San Jose's shooters?

Nay I say. It was that fickle puck's failure to show some goddamn heart and some goddamn character through the first two periods on Sunday night. All we're asking for is just a little conviction from him-- after all, he's out there for every shift and doesn't manage anything productive. Just gliding around out there on the ice like he could care less who wins the game. If we're paying about $2 a game for him perform there's no doubt he has to show up and feel good about punching his timecard at the end of the day.

The fact of the matter is the puck didn't give its all out there for San Jose on Sunday-- and at this point in the year, that's what you need to win hockey games*.

*I'm clearly nervous for tonight. The Dancing With The Stars semifinals are coming up soon and I don't think Ralph Macchio is ready for the big time.

So what changes from game five? Nothing. Change absolutely nothing beforehand. Go in with the same gameplan, eat the same pregame meal, tweet the same pre-game tweets, read the same Wall Street Journal articles Kent Huskins forced you to read.

The only difference? Attention to detail. Execution. For all that is blessed on this Earth don't just hold on to a third period lead-- control that third period lead and make the Wings pay for pinching their defenseman. From awkward to Antti the entire team needs to execute like they have so many times before.

But haven't the Sharks learned their lesson already? Why do they continue to make the same mistakes?

The answer is two-pronged. Most importantly, the game of hockey is one that pays very little heed to the efforts of one man (or one team for that matter). You can fight and scratch and claw towards victory-- rest assured, the other team is doing the same. Those diametrically opposed inputs more often than not end up in a wash. Your efforts are at the mercy of variables you do not control. It is something Detroit recognized when San Jose took a 3-0 lead in the series, and something that San Jose recognizes now after dropping two games in a row. It's what makes attention to detail so important.

The second part to that "same mistakes" question is immediacy. Human beings, due to our psychological makeup, tend to make the same mistakes more than once because the lessons we learned from those mistakes fade with time. They become less pertinent to our current situation because we recognize each situation as presenting new challenges and obstacles for us to overcome. History repeats itself because we recognize that fact following the conclusion of the event-- we do not recognize that repetition when we are in the midst of its wave.

Immediacy solves that to some degree. It provides a data point that is still relevant to the mind, easily recalled due to the vividness of the memory. You experience this in your daily lives all of the time. Hockey players are no different.

Mike Babcock predicted a game six victory for his team tonight. Being a lowly scribe for a blog with moderate readership I cannot predict the same. What I can offer is a goddamn George Zimmer guarantee.

Every one of you has Hershey squirts at 4:58 PM due to the nerves of a playoff game.

Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Prediction: Sharks win 3-1. Goals by Clowe, Wellwood, and White. I drink two gallons of water.