In four games so far this season the Sharks have played about three periods of decent hockey. The last game against Carolina was pretty embarrassing. Fans worried about possible defensive problems this season but we never imagined that it would be such a team-wide issue, with some of our biggest and most important players making bone-headed moves that really hurt the team.
To analyze what went wrong with each of the goals against the Sharks last game, I painfully endured watching the highlights over and over. Here are the breakdowns for your enjoyment, complete with sci-fi analogies to entertain any readers lured in by Earl's Star Wars gamedays.
Hurricanes Goal 1: The Sharks are on a powerplay. The Hurricanes win the faceoff and try to clear it around the boards. Dan Boyle gets his stick on it just enough to turn it over, then is flat-footed and can't get back in time. The Sharks only play with one defenseman on the powerplay so Joe Pavelski is back defending against a 2 on 1. Eric Staal scores a shorthanded goal.
Excuse: If Boyle had gained possession of that puck the Sharks would have been in the offensive zone with good positioning and pressure on the power play.
Yeah but still: The turnover itself wasn't as bad as his awkward recovery and inability to get back and support on D. He looked as slow and lumbering as Rob Blake out there.
Sci-Fi analogy: The scene in Jurassic Park when Dr. Grant lures the T-Rex away from the cars with a flare and then Ian Malcolm tries to do the same thing but screws it up and gets hurt and ruins everything. Dan Boyle is Malcolm here, with good intentions but poor execution
Hurricanes Goal 2: Late in the first period, Vlasic turns the puck over off the boards in the neutral zone. The Hurricanes bring it in and shoot it a bunch of times while the Sharks collapse in low and don't get to any loose pucks or rebounds. The whole team looks stupid and finally the Hurricanes score on their fourth or fifth opportunity of the sequence.
Excuse: None, really. This sucked.
Yeah but still: This was painful to watch over and over. This is NOT how a good team plays D.
Sci-Fi analogy: The Sharks are Earth and the Hurricanes are the aliens in Independence Day. The Sharks just scramble around looking completely hopeless while the Hurricanes destroy all of our shit.
Hurricanes Goal 3: The Hurricanes dump it in and Niemi goes behind the net to play it. Mike Moore takes it from him and tries to shoot it out, but it deflects off the stick of a Hurricanes player standing right in front of Moore and goes out between the face-off circles. The Sharks scramble and Moore fails to cover his guy and the Hurricanes score again.
Excuse: Moore is so young! Give him a break.
Yeah but still: He's two years older than Vlasic. Everybody on this team needs to be accountable for their dumb mistakes.
Sci-Fi analogy: Mike Moore is Lt. Gorman from Aliens. He's too young and inexperienced for his job and keeps screwing things up and getting people killed (metaphorically).
Hurricanes Goal 4: On a perfectly normal play Douglas Murray gives the puck away and the Hurricanes get an easy one.
Excuse: Umm....uh....Murray's so strong!
Yeah but still: This was a terrible terrible error on Murray's part that killed the momentum the Sharks had gained by scoring the previous two goals.
Sci-Fi analogy: The part in The Day After Tomorrow where the director decided that it would be a good idea to have bad CGI wolves chase the characters around for a while and you just go "What the hell was he thinking?" Murray's giveaway was the hockey equivalent of that.
Hurricanes Goal 5: Joe Thornton lazily gives it away in the neutral zone and the Hurricanes come in with speed and Joni Pitkanen blasts a slapshot into the net.
Excuse: Was it the end of a shift for the Sharks or something? The players look so tired.
Yeah but still: Get possession and at least dump that puck in, Joe.
Sci-Fi analogy: The surprise ending of the film The Mist.
The Sharks go on a brief road trip now to play the Avalanche, Oilers, and Flames before returning to San Jose on Wednesday to host the Devils. The Avalanche and Devils have to be considered tougher opponents than anyone else the Sharks have played thus far, so the team is going to have to get its act together to avoid further embarrassment.
Niittymaki will probably play tonight, which is fine by me. Niemi's tendency to give up big rebounds is NOT meshing well with the Sharks' tendency to have their heads up their own asses.
The Sharks are a good team that have been playing like a bunch of rubes. Let's hope they find a groove and put that all behind them.
Prediction: Sharks focus on defense and win 2 - 1, with goals from Murray and Thornton to make up for last game's errors.