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Too familiar by half

(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, February 11, 2013)

The pre-game transaction news was really more interesting than yesterday’s game.  I couldn’t decide whether the Sharks were all playing with flu symptoms, or if Tippett’s Coyotes and McLellan’s Sharks are way too familiar with each other.

They say familiarity breeds contempt.  Contempt seems like a waste of perfectly good scouting reports, but it might have been more entertaining than yesterday’s stalemate.   The game felt lost even before the shootout started.

But that’s crazy, if they are so familiar with each other, wouldn’t they be able to anticipate each other’s moves, and compensate accordingly?  Yep.  And if they were both doing that, I think it would look exactly like it did: a choreographed, scoreless skate.

@SharksStats: Today was the 2nd 1-0 shootout loss in Sharks history. Nabokov was the losing goalie in the other instance, Oct. 12, 2009, also vs Phoenix.

There’s that.

The Sharks did find some offense in the end, but it still looked like the Coyotes could predict where the Sharks would go, where they would shoot, and vice versa.  It shouldn’t have looked like that.  If the Sharks could muster a little extra speed and determination at the end, why couldn’t they do it sooner?  The Coyotes weren’t tired, they hadn’t played the night before.

The ice was a factor.  I have never seen so much snow scraped off during breaks, not on a rink that wasn’t outdoors with actual snow falling on it.  Pucks were bouncing, etc etc… still, that bouncing wouldn’t favor anyone if it didn’t favor the home team.  Just like the Ducks fall less than visitors do on their messy pond ice, you should know how to play on your own bad ice better than the other guys do.

The Sharks made one last attempt to confuse onlookers by putting seven defensemen on the ice for warm-ups.  It wasn’t much of a ruse, if you consider yesterday’s practice pairings.  With Burns-Stuart, Vlasic-Boyle, Demers-Braun out there, obviously Douglas Murray was the odd man out.  His partner, Matt Irwin, was reassigned to Worcester.  The only player on the roster still waiver-exempt, he was the clear choice to make room for Burns’ activation.  Andrew Desjardins’ maintenance day ran over too, turned out he has the flu.

If there was one single thing that would make me start believing the whole “flu” story, that was it.  What was really missing from the story about Boyle suffering the effects of a contagion?  Contagiousness.  Thank you for volunteering, Desi.

I like that Thomas Greiss is featured in the pregame video montage.  That seems long overdue.

If Burns still doesn’t look like his frolicking self of Fall 2011, the decision-makers must have felt that game time wouldn’t set him back.  Who knows, I’ve heard of goalies playing better when they are sick, or their game improving after an injury.  I’ve never heard of them playing better before they were all recovered, but that’s goalies.  Burns, even at 80%, could probably still out skate most players.

With Petrecki on waivers, Irwin could go back on the San Jose roster today.  But should he? Does the team need eight defensemen here, when Irwin could be getting ice time in Worcester?  Seems like a waste of young talent for him to be sitting up in the press box.

I had mixed feelings about Douglas Murray sitting.  One the one hand, I was happy to see the blue line so full of young products of the Sharks system.  It is their time. Demers with his confidence restored, Braun hitting his stride, and Vlasic, possibly the youngest guy you ever thought was a seasoned veteran.  That has to make the organization and its fans proud.

I still feel sorry that a player so long relied on was sitting.  It made me want to pick apart some unflattering tweets about his absence, the kind that make me cranky.  Instead, I’ll use a tweet that isn’t about Murray as an example of how to make a point without being hateful:

@ViewFromBensch: Dont like Thornton and Clowe together. Two best puck protectors in #sjsharks top 6 on same line

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  I confess to saying worse about that top line, something about a tractor pull I believe.  I agree completely with Bensch’s point, that doubling up on strength is only a good idea if you have an excess of that particular strength.  You could make a similar statement about why Havlat and Marleau shouldn’t be on the same line because you’re lumping the team’s fastest forwards together instead of spreading them out.  There’s no need to harp endlessly on anyone’s shortcomings when you can say the same thing in terms of players’ strengths.

I’m going to try to abide by this rule, making an exception for specific bad acts, like not looking before passing the puck, or worse, passing it to the wrong team while looking.  That is a really dumb thing to do, even if it isn’t a mark of bad character or general uselessness.  Everyone does stupid things once in a while.  I can forgive it while still mentioning that it was dumb.

=================

@xarexerax: Hockey Fans: a Very Serious Internet Poll for you. Would you accept a 0% PP if it meant a 100% PK?

That tweet is from February 6th, and it has been bugging me ever since.  I still don’t really know how to answer it.  I suppose, being defensively inclined, I would go with the perfect penalty kill, but I’m not sure.  If you can’t score, stopping the other team from scoring on the man advantage has limited value.  You can still end up with, oh, say… a 0-0 tie.  That’s no reason to look a gift horse in the mouth.  There is no evidence whatsoever that the Sharks successful penalty kill is stifling their scoring ability.  It isn’t a trade you can make, you don’t get one for giving up the other.  So yay Sharks penalty kill!  Keep up the good work!

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