Maple Leafs @ Sharks, Jan 11, 2011
I really liked how Heater and Seto played tonight. They seemed to stay on their feet and on the puck with more grit than in recent games. I also liked the way Braun played. In particular I was impressed by the way he recovered from the giveaway in the third period. Sure, he gave it away, but he jumped back to defend, fast and hard. I just thought he handled it well. How you handle a mistake says more about you than whether or not you make one.
I decided to start writing that stuff down because I had a bad feeling about this game, I wanted to make note of the positives. Like, I thought Nemo did pretty well with moments of excellence. You forget that stuff when the game goes south.
I was still not anticipating a win, once the Leafs pulled ahead. The Sharks don’t do so well when they fall behind. Then again, they can’t seem to maintain a lead either. I have no idea what they need to stay calm, collected, cool, whatever. They need to find a way to stop freaking out.
Especially Boyle. The once staid leader is going to pieces. I still think he will pull out of it before most but right now he is scattered, confused, befuddled. In a muddle as wide as the sea. When the hell is that All Star game? Get him out of town ASAP. He needs to clear his head.
“Sometimes you need just one, two or three guys to lose a game and I take responsibility for what happened out there. I was very, very bad. Terrible game.” -Working The Corners
I could take issue with that. If it only takes one or two players to fall apart, then the team needs to do some task redistribution. But like I said: get him out of town, out of this funk. Send him to maybe work with Lavi for a few days, please.
I don’t know what the Flyers are taking, doing, being told by their coach. They may fall behind but they don’t freak out. They buckle down and get back to work. They may not always win but they mostly do, lately.
Sure, you could say the Flyers have more talent, more depth. But that doesn’t account for total team meltdown, group stupid attacks. If the Sharks were just being outpaced or outmuscled or out shot, talent could be the root cause. But they are not being beaten in races or pushed off the puck or outshot. They are just ending up in the wrong place, at the wrong time, without a plan.
The caliber of teams in their respective conferences no longer accounts for the discrepancy. The Sharks just lost to two of the least ominous teams in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers’ conference. Sure, Miller is amazing, but the Sabres are not all that deep. The Maple Leafs? The fact that they have won five in a row ranks among the seven wonders of the season, right up there with the implosion of the Devils. It propels them all the way to 26th in the League.
I think I might start leaving Flyers games on the DVR, and watching them after the Sharks games. That could mean some late nights of hockey viewing, but at least the Sharks will stop ruining the Flyers games for me. That Briere and Timonen and Richards and Leino were marvelous should not be overshadowed by how badly the Sharks fell apart in this game. That Bob fought the rust off and got it together and his team looked after him, while clobbering the other team in the O zone at the same time… all that should not be pushed out of my head by the sorry state of the Sharks.
I guess it is always like that. Sad news always trumps happy news. Still, I’m going to experiment with the delivery order and see if I can sort it out.
About the gravity of Couture’s injury, I can’t even speculate. The hit was ugly, it was dirty, or at least irresponsible. It did not look to me like Couture’s knee was twisted or torqued, but that still leaves muscle damage, bone injury, hip issues, less grave but still troublesome knee issues to guess about. No point. I hope he isn’t hurting too bad, I hope he can keep his spirits up. Right. Poor Tweety. That sux.
As for last year’s record losing streak, six games that ended with a loss to the Oilers, it might be optimistic for me to hope that is where it ends for this year’s team. Sure, they already need to muster a herculean effort to make it into the playoffs. Sure, another loss will make it even harder. But there must be some symmetry, some symbolic balance to how these things go. There simply must. The Devils’ Pit cannot be the only destination for presumptively elite NHL teams.