Friday, December 19, 2008

Sharks Unable to Bite Wings

Evgeni Nakokov had a rough night, and it is understandable that he would look exasperated. It is just that sometimes it looked like he had his eyes closed while facing shots.

The Sharks already had a tough road to hoe. Playing in the second consecutive night—an overtime game, no less—and having to travel in between. That would make any foe, much less the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, tough to overcome, especially at Joe Louis Arena.

But there are many ways in which the Sharks made things harder for themselves. For instance, as Coach Todd McLellan pointed out in the interview before the third period, the Sharks were not getting the puck deep. They were constantly on their heels because they did not make the fresher Wings turn to chase the puck.

In perhaps the worst example of this, Marcel Goc threw a puck up the middle that Pavel Datsyuk easily intercepted for an unassisted goal to make it 5-0 and eliminating any possibility of this not being an embarrassment. On a couple occasions, the Sharks were caught watching the puck instead of playing their man. Detroit is not a team you can get away with these mistakes against.

But now I have a bigger problem: playing Nabokov on both nights. Boucher played on Monday after Nabby had played Saturday, when he would have had a day off. Then Boucher does not play in either of the back-to-back nights.

Aside from how much of a drop-off Nabby had in net in April after being overplayed last season, he has not done well in these situations this year: he is 2-1, but with an .815 save percentage and a 3.95 GAA. In the rest of his games, he is 15-2-2 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.34 GAA.

When Boucher is 8-1-1 with a .928 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA, why would you not start him instead of the guy who is tired and struggles when he is? Yo, coach, play the back-up more!

In any event, you cannot give up six goals and score none. The Red Wings have the bad goaltending, not the Sharks, but they get the shut-out and San Jose gives up six.

I do not care that you had no Milan Michalek or Jeremy Roenick. I do not care that Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo had not been on the ice for quite some time and likely were rusty and maybe not even fully recovered. I do not care about you having played the night before or traveling in between.

Detroit had to face similar obstacles in the match-up of the two at the end of October, and they at least put up a fight in a 4-1 loss. Someone has to step up for the Sharks and score. Someone has to make an extra save or two, block an extra shot or two, and make an extra hit or two.

In the first period, the Sharks were dominating early. Nine of the first 11 shots were from the team in white. Then Nabby lets two in he should have stopped, and all life goes out of the Sharks.

San Jose is a lot better than anyone else in the league, but we need to see more fight when the chips are down. There is a chance to bounce back at home when they face a New York Rangers team that is more rested Saturday—this has to be a better effort.

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