There's a game tonight against a certain team from SoCal, a team that's not associated with a certain cartoon-drawing blogger. However, we've established that the Sharks can't win against that certain team when I post a Gameday, so instead, I'm doing a Postgame from last night's ass-kicking.
And what an ass-kicking it was. There are some games where things just go wrong for the opposition and pucks deflect in off skates and gloves. This wasn't one of those games, and it was against a quality team with a goalie that tends to be spectacular more often than not. No, this 9-1 beat-down of the Calgary Flames came from hard work and smart play. There were a few lapses in judgment or defensive coverage, but by and large I couldn't find anything to nitpick.
That's a good thing, and that still creates plenty to write about. I've bitched about secondary scoring, and so has Plank at Fear The Fin. What we saw last night was a total team effort, and the first period was an appropriate microcosm of this. Not only did the defense prevent Calgary from getting much zone time, everyone from Patrick Marleau to Brad Staubitz forechecked and skated hard.
And for Brent Sutter? His piercing scowl said it all, not only about his team's decision-making, but also the way the Sharks ran over them. If you watched the game on TV, you probably caught Drew Remenda saying, "I feel bad for the guy" over a lingering shot of Sutter. All's fair in love and hockey, so I don't have much sympathy for Sutter (especially after witnessing a few stinkers this season), but it's a testament to how the Sharks handled it.
In previous seasons, especially under Ron Wilson, the Sharks would have gotten soft with a three- or four-goal lead. The most important thing to take out of this game was that every guy skated hard from beginning to end. Yeah, Todd McLellan gave his big guys the third period off, but I think that makes total sense considering the score and the 24-hour turnaround to tonight's game. With the Scott Nichols and Joe Pavelskis continuing to bring it, though, I think I think that shows that the message of complete games has finally sunk in, at least for one tilt. If there's one game you're gonna slouch on, it's the one where you're up by a half-dozen goals or more, but you saw aggressive play even in the third period.
And I think I'm developing a little man-crush on Manny Malhotra -- or is that a Manny-crush? I've always taken a liking to two-way guys that are smart and hustle their butt off, like when Alyn McCauley was healthy. Manny's a poke-checking machine with mad face-off skills and the right hockey sense to start an offensive rush. Plus, the whole Indian thing is kinda cool.
For tonight, I think it's a good thing that McLellan managed his ice time against Calgary, as the big guns should have a better jump than they usually do in back-to-backs. No predictions, though, because this is a Postgame, not a Gameday.