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Sharks Gameday: Turning Points

Is this the beginning of the end or just another step into the "We overcome adversity" marathon? If you're looking at stats, it's going to point to the former -- something like 15% of teams that lose the first two games at home wind up coming back to win.

Stats, of course, don't really mean much as things can change with one bad bounce or one strong shift. Still, we've been tootin' the same horn here for several years now. It's funny how the one Ron Wilson team that actually skated the way we wanted them to -- a fast transition and forecheck that attacked in waves -- was probably his least-skilled team: the 2003-2004 season. That year, before getting pounded into submission by Calgary, the Sharks looked like they exploded out of cannons every night.

As Gary Coleman would say in his infomercials, though, the past is the past. The focus is on this series and what little life span it has left. Let's review what has plagued the Sharks since last Friday night:

-Bad coverage down low. Letting Brendon Morrow and Mike Ribiero run rampant isn't good, even when you're limiting the Stars shots on goal.
-Poor transition. Yep, when you get that puck, everyone's supposed to skate hard the other way to drive the defenders away and create space for the puck carrier. Want to see a team that did that effectively? Check out tape of the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. That team was one of the best transition squads I'd seen in a long time.
-No crease crashers. Notice how with every shot that Dallas takes, they've got 2-3 guys jumping in front of Evgeni Nabokov. That ain't happening the other way. On the power play, you've typically got your two point men, Joe Thornton on the half boards, Patrick Marleau down by the end boards, and someone else in the high slot. Why does it seem that every other power play manages to have at least one body screening in front instead of 20-30 feet in front of the crease?

I'll give the Stars credit for taking advantage of their opportunities. However, despite this quote from Marty Turco, I don't think the Sharks have especially tested him that hard:

"For me, the complete understanding of what I need to do for this hockey club has come to me," Turco said in San Jose, where the Sharks threw everything they had in his direction and it still wasn’t enough.

Perimeter shots and few rebound chances aren't "everything they had" despite the shot totals. I have no problem losing to anyone as long as the right combination of smarts and effort were employed. I do believe the Sharks as a whole are trying, they're just not trying the right way when they've faced adversity (at least with Dallas). Flailing about and trying to saucer pass through all five Dallas players isn't going to work.

Once again, that's what is most frustrating about this team. They show flashes of being so much better, then they collectively fall asleep for entire games. Or in the case of Game 2, do all right for about half the game, then start to fall into their defensive shell rather than forecheck and keep the pace going.

Ron Wilson's a smart tactician even though he's not a good motivator. From an X's and O's standpoint, he can probably figure out a way to bust Dallas' trap. Can he motivate the Sharks to effectively execute this even when they face adversity? I don't know, but nobody said this was going to be easy.