The Sharks swam into town yesterday, arriving at about 6:30 AM after a red-eye charter from the West Coast. Officially had the day off, but a few did an informal skate yesterday afternoon. Some advance thoughts before tonight's game:
Looking Ahead? David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury heads his piece on the game with "Sharks Face Bluejackets Before Big Game at Detroit" . His lead line is as follows: "No one on the Sharks would want to be caught looking past the Columbus Blue Jackets today." The rest of the article pretty much talks about Detroit . . . except for a passing note that we played them hard on December 4, and maybe they can get a big lead so they can roll 4 lines.
Missing Pieces -- Jeremey Roenick is out, and may require surgery. Pavelski and Cheechoo skated yesterday afternoon on their own, but will be game time decisions.
Great Sharks Are Not Developed Overnight-- No question about it -- the Sharks have been the class of the NHL thus far this season, putting together some mind-numbing numbers. The Jackets can learn a lot from the Sharks experience, as can the Columbus fans. As a native of the SF Bay Area, I was at the first-ever Sharks game, held in the Cow Palace in Daly City, where the Sharks spent their first two seasons. With the laser shark images swimming in the ice and the slightly different aquamarine jerseys, there was a lot of enthusiasm in those first two year, but the Sharks set a record for futility that still stands -- 72 losses in the 92 -93 season. They retooled, and made the playoffs the next two seasons, then returned to the cellar for another two years before returning. All the while, they added a piece here, a piece there.
The Sharks today are not a team of All-Stars. Sure they have Marleau and Nabokov, but you can look at lots of other teams with far more "star quality" . The Sharks, however, are exquisite at the way they play together, much in the same way that Detroit does. This takes time. Watch, CBJ fans, as our team develops that chemistry more and more over the rest of the season. We may make the playoffs, maybe not, but we are past the point of needing an overhaul. Howson has done that. Let's take some Ritalin and let the team mature.
Notes on Freddy -- A lot has been written on the Fred Norrena saga, but from this vantage point -- see ya'! He seems like a nice guy, but his attitude through this whole process has been bush league. Refusing to sign the flag on his way out of Nationwide, as reported in the Dispatch, refusing the minor league assignment . . . give me a break. Nobody likes having their job taken (see Pascal LeClaire), but it happens, and it should motivate you to work hard to take it back. Instead of taking a conditioning assignment which would allow some scouts to see him play, he takes the low road, which leads straight out of the NHL.
Keys To Victory -- Nothing new or earth-shattering here: Stay out of the box, continue the good defense, control the puck in our own zone, maintain spacing in the offensive zone, bury our chances. We have the stuff to beat this team, especially on our home turf when they might just be peeking up north to Detroit.
Remember, these San Jose boys don't handle cold weather very well, so let's put the fish on ice. Go Jackets!