Sharks Gameday: There, doesn't that feel better?/Snide comment about Plank taking a shot at me with the last gameday title
@ 6:00 PST
2-2-1, 5 points 2-3-0, 4 points 14th in Western Conference 15th in Western Conference
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Tonight's match pits two of the Western Conference's bottom dwellers against eachother in a meaningless...
Ok, I'm hoping that you've jumped on board with me on the fact that it's too early to be making claims about a team's purposed playoff chances. Yes, I understand we're in a business where "what have you shown me lately" is worth it's weight in gold (can you weigh a phrase?). But even though that may be the case, it's simply too early to count this team out of anything, even with the issues in goal and on defense. It's tough watching a team that's supposed to be so good struggle like the Sharks have, I get it. But don't let your expectations affect you. This is a new team, with new issues, in a maturing process.
I liked the effort that I saw out of the Sharks Thursday night in Denver. Antero Niittymaki played well (aside from his atrocious puck play that led to a goal), the defense was serviceable, and the offense controlled the zone for minutes at a time. The lines were switched back to normal, and the team was clicking (offensively) better than we've seen all year.
Even though I'm the most optimistic of the FTF bunch, don't mistake that optimism for ignorance. Yes, there are issues. I don't think they aren't fixable, though. To me, it boils down to the Sharks differing play in the three zones.
Defensive Zone = Bad: The Sharks aren't fooling anyone with their defense and goaltending. They know it's bad. Their opponents know it's bad. You and I know it's bad. Even the current playoff bandwagon Giants fan who be a future playoff bandwagon Sharks fan knows it's bad.
But Sharks D is bad only when they play like it isn't. (Stick with me, here.) If the Sharks were to play to compensate the issues in the defensive zone, i.e. clearing the puck no matter what the situation, the problems wouldn't be as apparent. In order to be better defensively, the Sharks have to start clearing pucks out regardless of the situation, because they aren't good enough to compensate for the mistakes. Ignore the quick man rush opportunities if they aren't obvious, and just play safe D.
Neutral Zone = O.K.: I only have a few qualms with the Sharks neutral zone play, and they all involve getting the puck IN TO THE ZONE. The Sharks don't lack passing skill, but that doesn't mean they should completely venture away from the full team dump and chase. If there isn't a passing lane, don't retreat back into your own zone... just shoot the puck along the boards and go in gangbusters.
Offensive Zone = Great: Seriously, if you have an issue with the way the Sharks have been controlling play and putting shots on net, then go get your head checked. The forwards look fantastic. Yes, they could cash in a few more times and make everyone happier, but that will come.
Tonight's game is another should win, which the Sharks have had problems with as of late. However, if they can improve slightly in the defensive and neutral zones, their play in the offensive zone should be enough to mask the learning process.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-1. Goals by Couture, Setoguchi and Demers.