Saturday, February 7, 2015

Whose Sharks performed better in the past week? San Jose's or Katy Perry's?

After suffering a second consecutive loss at home this week to a last-place team, there are two ways of looking at the maddening and irritatingly inconsistent San Jose Sharks this season: Plexiglass half full or plexiglass half empty with cyanide.
Though they were roundly booed on several occasions in a 5-4 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, the Sharks have perhaps the most passionate and patient fans in the National Hockey League despite having never made the Stanley Cup Finals once in their 23 years of teal existence. They have made the conference finals three times yet won only five of 17 games. They have won six division titles and even a President’s Trophy, but spend each offseason trying to explain how they got run over by a Zamboni.
When it comes to the playoffs, the Sharks are usually met with huge expectations and ultimately are a Viagra short of exceeding them. In other words, they can’t finish the job.
Well, with ugly losses to Carolina and Edmonton this week, expectations in the Shark Tank are as low as they have been since Link Gaetz/Cow Palace days.  Led by Joe Pavelski – maybe the most underrated player in the game -- the Sharks still have a top tier potent power play, a former Stanley Cup winning goalie (Antti Niemi) in a contract year with extra incentive and the size and speed to match any team.  And Patrick Marleau, who has only 11 goals in 54 games and the worst plus/minus (-11) on the team, is bound to snap out of it, right?
So the Sharks just may have the rest of the Western Conference right where they want them by playing somewhere between under the radar or under the rug.  There’s diamond somewhere in that compost, er, rough. There’s a ray of hope. Let’s not forget that in the last 11 years two No. 8 seeds, one No. 7 seed and a No. 6 seed have come out of the Western Conference to play for Lord Stanley’s Big Gulp.
That’s the optimistic outlook. OK I’m using a magnifying class. The point is the Sharks are long overdue for an unexpected and pleasurable result.
Now comes the half empty Sharks, which to say that team ownership is down to its last sips of the kool-aid general manager Doug Wilson has been serving for 12 years. Let me put it into terms that you might better understand: Doug Wilson has more to prove that 49ers’ GM Trent Baalke and Wilson has had a running start.
Wilson fired Darryl Sutter as the Sharks head coach and succeeded Dean Lombardi as the Sharks general manager and they have won two more Stanley Cups in Los Angeles than Wilson has in San Jose.  After the Kings rallied from a three games to none deficit to win four straight games and their quarterfinal playoff series last year, the biggest shake-up the Sharks made in the offseason was passing the “C” from sweater to sweater, trying to find a leader in the dressing room.
The roster, for the most part, remained intact and now, with the trading deadline approaching March 2, Wilson’s job is squarely on the line.  His defense is too young and inexperienced  and 36-year-old blue liner Scott Hannan is morphing into Reggie Dunlop. The Sharks have infused youth into the lineup – they dressed six rookies on Thursday, the most in six years, yet they are not getting enough ice time to measure their worth.
Where can the Sharks get help? Niemi has never been the same goaltender he was when he won a Stanley Cup yet Wilson will be hard pressed to trade him because they don’t have a reliable back-up goalie.
In the meantime, Wilson has lived and died with the potential of Patrick Marleau over the years and Marleau right now sadly has about as much credibility as NBC’s Brian Williams.
Yet if Marleau finds the magic, Wilson pulls off a deal for a veteran defenseman at the trade deadline and the Sharks’ wealth of young, talented players suddenly play over their heads and beyond their years, there is still a chance. A one in a million chance, but it’s a chance.


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