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Don’t Look Down

Sharks @ Oilers, November 27, 2010

The reason you should not look down isn’t only that a hockey player might rush up and flatten you.  In a broader context, sooner or later, you go where you look.  I know I didn’t make injuries happen to the Sharks by mentioning how many there had already been– my superstitions have abated somewhat.  Just in case, I will stop speculating about calamities and try to focus on the positive, like this photo:

Nitty and Kurtis Foster chat during warm-up at Rexall Place.

I watched the game again in HD without sound.  I also had company which made it more difficult to focus on what I was seeing, but kept me from having fits as the game unraveled.

What should have been a straightforward win turned out to be just what Couture calls it: a big one.  No win is a sure bet, but the Sharks should have been able to handle the Oilers.  They did, until a twist in the rule of attrition made itself felt.

The Sharks were already having a terrible time winning.  Some amorphous malaise was among them.  Now they have a rash of injured key players. The challenge has taken physical form.

The team started the game minus two forwards, Nichol and Seto, and also missing Demers.  Braun, Wingels and Ferreiro played in their stead.

Wallin went down early in the first with an injury that appears to be grave.  Huskins was out a little later.  Boyle limped to the bench.  He returned to the game but that doesn’t tell me much I didn’t know– he is bloody minded.

When the defensemen went down, the team responded.  McLellan explained:

“All of a sudden, we didn’t turn the puck over. All of a sudden, we didn’t give up too many outnumbered rushes. All of a sudden, we won a lot more faceoff battles,” McLellan said. -Mercury News

So, how else do forwards help out when the defense is in trouble?  No, they don’t fill in on the blue line.  Paddy does not get moved to D.  They do what they do, only more of it:

“The more time you can keep it in the offensive zone and out of our end, the better it is for them. I thought we did a good job of getting pucks in and establishing a forecheck…” -Dany Heatley, quoted by Working the Corners.

The team also got some lively and timely performances from the Worcester players.  Some were making return appearances, others still on their first visit.  The Red Wings game will certainly be an education for those still in the lineup.  I look forward to seeing Moore again. (That is speculation: I do not know if he will be brought up again soon.)  The Oilers game may not have been the perfect primer for the next one, but it will have to do.

The leaders in the group should find it easier to rise to this challenge, easier than it was to untangle the mystery malaise.  So many new young players will make everyone remember things forgotten and maybe even notice things not before seen.  Newcomers by necessity will think and see outside the box that is “how things have been going for the Big Team.”

It all started out pretty well.

I’m trying not to think about the particulars of all the injuries, especially Nichol’s.  I hate eye problems.  And I’m sorry I suggested everyone should have some time off.  I didn’t mean all at once and with injuries at all.  I thought I should say that, just in case.

As for the Flyers, I cannot be too concerned about a team that has merely fallen from first place in the League to second.  Losing to the Devils was disappointing, but it made the Devils really happy and the Flyers will survive.

On the bright side, the Sharks kicked the trend of not being able to win on days the Flyers lost.  Small mercies?


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