That's right, I said it: the Islanders are Nazis.
Happy (?) Veterans* Day everybody! How are you? Do you have the day off today? What are your plans? Are you going to head down to the bank and get annoyed when it's closed, in the finest Veterans Day Tradition?
The Sharks don't have the day off. They face the New York Islanders, a team which, by all available standards of measurement, sucks. The Islanders managed to eke out a loss last night against the Ducks, and are coming in to San Jose on the second night of a California road trip.
It's a strange time right now in Shark land, to be sure. Our team seems to be bi-polar, looking like champions one period and a bunch of rubes the next. Even our stats are weird! Take a look:
The Good: The Sharks power play is the fifth best in the league. Coupled with the strong cycling play we saw in period three vs. Anaheim that forces the opponent to take penalties, this should lead to goals.
They lead the league in shots per game and are fourth best in the league at limiting shots-against. Over time, unless something really bizarre is going on, that kind of shot differential will lead to victories.
They also lead the league in faceoff winning percentage, with 56.7%. Not a huge deal, but it's still better to be first than last (the Hurricanes, at only 39%!).
The Bad: The Sharks are 11th in the West and 21st overall. That's unacceptable.
They're mediocre in terms of goals scored and goals allowed per game. That needs to change.
The version of the San Jose Sharks that showed up in the third period against Anaheim are an amazing team. They have several lines that can dominate play, solid goaltending, and a tenacious defense that jumps on to loose pucks. They draw penalties with their puck possession game and put an assload** of shots on the net. They out-shot Anaheim 22-6 in the third period, and if not for an excellent game by Jonas Hiller the Sharks would have prevailed.
The trouble is that the Sharks who showed up in the third period were not the team we saw in the first two periods. Too often in the first two periods we saw a team that looked lazy or sloppy. We saw a team that couldn't force the game to be played the way they wanted it to be played. That version of the Sharks is not going to win often enough to make the playoffs, let alone win the Stanley Cup.
How can one team be so different at different times in the same game? What happened prior to the third period that transformed the Sharks so dramatically? Can we PLEASE PLEASE have that version of the team on the ice from the beginning of the game, each and every game, from now on?
The Sharks need to work hard to improve their play, right here and right now. The season is long, but it's getting shorter every day. It's not going to be easy. In fact, it's going to be really damn difficult. As noted hockey fan Winston Churchill said, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." But if your aim is victory, then that's exactly what it takes.
Prediction: Sharks win 5-2, with two goals from a triumphantly returning Joe Thornton, and one each from Boyle, McGinn, and Winston Churchill.
* = Veteran's? Veterans'? For punctuation nerds, Veterans day is our Christmas.
** = Is 1 assload greater than or less than 1 shitload? Another fun debate to enjoy on Veterans Day.