So, did you notice the Sharks had a few days off? It's too bad none of the boys decided to help me on the whole From The Rink thing because it's been a busy but successful launch (at least I think so -- I've only received one really bad comment and even that wasn't too bad). No, instead it was all about Todd McLellan managing the fatigue factor, by running both aggressive practices and allowing some days off for Olympians.
It ain't gonna get any easier tonight with the Blackhawks in town. For the most part, Chicago has dominated the play against the Sharks this season, but it proves to be an effective test in a number of ways. Chicago has a quick counter-attack game with a dynamic transition, and the Sharks have gotten caught flat-footed too many times this season trying to defend this. In short, they've lacked any real counter-punch for the Hawks' attack, and that starts with the coaching staff and trickles down to the players.
You'd hope that Todd McLellan would have spent the last few days looking at video of previous Sharks/Hawks games to pick out the problems, though they seem to be pretty glaring (getting caught a step slow against the Chicago transition game). McLellan must create an appropriate defensive response to this, something that is an adaptation of the current system but incorporates the right things to neutralize Chicago's speed. Of course, it's up to the players to actually execute this, and I think there's more at stake here than just two points against a conference rival.
I know all of you but Sleek and Spade have blocked out the Anaheim series from last season's playoffs, but a major problem for the Sharks back then was the inability to create an effective counter-punch for Anaheim's style of game. With Randy Carlyle's defensive scheme and the bad ol' days of the Norris Twins, it was impossible to get traffic in front, and the San Jose power play was effectively boxed out. The team failed to adapt in time; coupled with poor injury management, and the responsibility fell mostly on McLellan, at least from my perspective.
Now here's a chance to show that the entire team, from the head coach all the way down, has learned from the past. Now's a good a time to get over the hump as any.
By the way, does anyone else think that this should make it on Awkward Family Photos?
The Hawk I'd Like On My Team: Patrick Kane, cause the dude knows how to party.
Prediction: Sharks 4, Hawks 3. Goals by Team Canada with one assist going to Team USA.