For the record, I love Rusanowsky. I listen to a lot of the regular season games over the Internet and I really appreciate Rusanowsky's enthusiasm. Sometimes I'm multi-tasking during a game and not paying close attention to the broadcast, and it helps a lot that Dan loses his god-damn mind and starts screaming when the Sharks score. Hooray, Dan!
Anyways, here we go.
Sharks training camp is underway, and I’m particularly excited to see how the battles for positions will take place during the course of practices and the pre-season schedule, all the way to Europe in early October for the start of the season. As is usually the case during this time of the year, enthusiasm abounds in all 30 NHL cities.
Well, not ALL 30. But to be fair, could you show enthusiasm if you were an Islanders fan?
Meanwhile, in San Jose, the Sharks are going about their business with confidence and enthusiasm. Andreas Lilja arrived as a training camp tryout on defense, and a player who completely understands the system that coach Todd McLellan wants from his team. There is expectation and hope for further development from the likes of Jason Demers, Mike Moore, Nick Petrecki, and others as the competition for Rob Blake’s 21:00 of ice unfolds.
What do other Sharks fans want to see happen here? Do you want Lilja to get a lot of ice time? Even though he's old and slow? With Wallin still nursing a nagging foot injury and Huskins still being terrible, that 21 minutes of ice time Blake was putting in seems like a HUGE question mark.
As a man of boundless optimism when it comes to young players, I'd like to see Demers, Moore, and Petrecki get as many minutes as they can handle. Turn up the pressure early in the season and see if one of these guys can handle it, so we know who to put on the second D-pair. It's a risk, but then again we never would have known how good Vlasic is if he didn't get some serious minutes to develop his skills and show what he can do. By the end of the season I'll be pissed if Huskins, Lilja, or Wallin are playing anywhere other than the bottom pairing.
In goal, the Sharks are fully confident with Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi joining Thomas Greiss in a strong competition, and even with the conventional wisdom showing Greiss to be the odd man out, there are no guarantees in hockey that can’t be voided by training camp performance and results.
It would be awesome if this were true. How great would it be to see Greiss kick so much ass in training camp that he takes the number 1 job? I want this guy to get some playing time, but I just don't see how that's going to happen, barring injury to either N1 or N2.
Coaches and GMs always say that there are no guarantees on the roster, and that "anything can happen" in training camp, but that's pretty much bullshit. If you're paying a dude millions of dollars you're going to give him the benefit of the doubt and have him play. If not, then you just look dumb for paying him that much. As long as N1 and N2 aren't embarrassing the team, they'll be getting the starts.
Up front, the competition for spots look very interesting. Camp opened up with Joe Pavelski centering Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, while Joe Thornton was between Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi. But don’t read too much into that just yet.
Okay I won't. Still, I'm a big fan of experimenting with different line combinations, and I'd be thrilled if the team can get some solid scoring from each of the top three lines this year. During the regular season the team relied really heavily on Marleau-Thornton-Heatley, and then in the playoffs those guys struggled and the team had to scramble to adjust. I'd like to see the team try a lot of different line combinations during the year so there will be more flexibility and scoring support if certain guys hit cold streaks.
Instead, check out the fierce competition among the other forwards. There is a lot of anticipation at the continued development of Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, and Torrey Mitchell. There is excitement at what Jamal Mayers and Frazer McLaren could possibly do while working with Scott Nichol. Additionally, there is the interest in seeing the skills of Cam MacIntyre, Benn Ferriero, Brandon Mashinter, John McCarthy, and Tommy Wingels, among others vying for a spot.
A line of Jamal Mayers, Frazer McLaren and Scott Nichol would be fun. They're not going to score or anything, but they'll sure annoy the hell out of the other team.
Also, I want Couture playing on one of the top two lines. He's definitely ready. Give him the puck!
For now, let’s enjoy the unfolding of the greatest sport in the world for fans of all ages. I’m Dan Rusanowsky, in the Broadcasters’ Blog.
Damn right it's the greatest sport in the world. I absolutely love it when broadcasters say stuff like that. Screw impartiality - hockey rules!
I'm Megalodon, in the Battle of California Blog.