Home » More & Less Hockey » Every which way to lose

Every which way to lose

(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, February 12, 2013)

Holy flashbacks, Batman.  This is what Sharks fans mean when they say “these are the same old Sharks,” when they start making suggestions like the ones described in this tweet:

@BroThornton: bring back irwin! trade marleau! go back to the cow palace!

It was the sort of game that leaves you speechless.  You could go rant somewhere about this or that mistake, but… where do you start?  Where does it end?  Beaten by Columbus 6-2?  It makes me tired just thinking about it.  I don’t know if I’ve got a rant left in me to do it justice.  McLellan described that speechless, astonished feeling very well  post-game:

“It’s a pretty simple league — the team that works the hardest wins,” a visibly intense McLellan began. His team, he added, was “outworked, out-executed, out-detailed, out-goaltended, out- a lot of things.”

The team lost in every way they could.  In that respect, they succeeded with flying colors.

@SharksStats: Columbus’s -15 goal differential entering tonight was 2nd-worst in the NHL (Florida Panthers: -16).

Those Columbus fans must have had a really nice time tonight.  That’s something to be glad of.  But it feels like all I’m writing about lately are losses.  I don’t enjoy that,  it gets monotonous.  So I won’t.  The Sharks didn’t show up, neither will I.  Instead, I’ll take a stroll down memory lane.

“You can only shake your head,” McLellan concluded. “We’ve got to get that out of our game. So are we going to play a fast, aggressive style or are we going to muddle around and go nowhere?” -Mercury News

Coaches say stuff like that all the time after a breathtakingly, shockingly, really outstandingly horrible loss.  So do players:

“We’re not playing good, sound positional hockey right now,” Boyle said. “But we didn’t become a bad team overnight. Ninety percent of this locker room is intact from last year. We can get ourselves back to where we need to be.” -ibid

In case you didn’t follow any of those links, I’ll clue you in: they were from October of 2010.  Those quotes were an improvement over one of the very first things I ever read about the Sharks.  It got me kind of riled:

In today’s paper, I read David Pollak’s Sharks Report.  It was a bleak tale.  The gyst of the story was: the team is working on it, looking for a way out of the losing streak.  Near the end, Sharks captain Rob Blake was quoted as saying: “We’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning and say ‘Oh, we’re going to play better’” What the? Actually, that sounds like exactly what you need to do.  

That was March 2010.  The title the Marin IJ used for the article I mentioned was “San Jose Sharks are searching for way to end six-game slide.”

If the Sharks start throwing the word “fragile” around again I may start spewing obscenities that no one will listen to.  I hate when that happens.

One of the bright spots in tonight’s game was the intermission feature that Drew Remenda built up so much that there was no way it could possibly meet expectations.  I liked it anyway because of what Larry Robinson said on the subject of thinking:

You never want to change a player… the worst thing you can do as a player is think.  You think and you learn and you work on things in practice, but [in] the game it’s all reading and reacting.

We all know that you shouldn’t “think too much.”  I still liked that he said it.  It resonated with something Evgeni Nabokov said in March 2010, and how I reacted to it:

“We talk all the time about making the save and let the other guys clear the rebound, but I wish I could have….”

Stop right there.  I can’t be hearing a goalie say this! During a game, a goalie can’t think twice about how or when or what to do with the puck!  Why not throw an angry Rottweiler in the net, it would be less distracting for him. Doubt is catastrophic. Sure, people can talk about new things and even learn to do them, but when you are in the thick of it, let it go, shut out the noise. If they’re not on the ice, then ffignore them. Play your game.

In the same vein, I still think this too:

I’m going to take a wild leap and assume that any player in the NHL knows how to play hockey. He probably even knows the rules, and at one time or another was pretty good. So actually, all you do need to do is wake up from what ever muddle you’re in, remember that you know how to do this, and just play.

Muddle? Muddle? Yes, muddle, like a dirty puddle. You don’t know what’s in it, you can’t see through it, it’s splashing all over your pants and ruining your day. If you knew what it was, you might call it coffee. But you don’t, you don’t care, you can step the hell away from it. How do you step away from self-doubt, uncertainty, confusion, a curse of a losing streak, in short, a muddle?

You leave behind the things you don’t know/understand/can’t seem to apply/don’t agree with.  You wipe them off your shoes, you stop trying to figure out what the heck lives in that puddle. Let it go. If you don’t already know it, you probably don’t need to. Or you can figure it out later. Usually you do, as soon as you stop thinking about it.

—End rewind—

Now that I got that out of my system, there was one little thing in tonight’s loss to Columbus that I thought was memorable in a good way: Brent Burns and Justin Braun helping Greiss out with a save that he had to make because they let Brandon Dubinski storm by them.  Burns fell to his hands and knees behind the goalie, and Braun scooted in close in front to keep any rebound from sneaking out again.  It looked to me like Greiss had the puck safe and sound, but his remorseful defensemen were really really sorry and they were going to make damn sure it was okay.  That was a sign of life, emotion and a sort of apology.  I doubt they had any idea how much there would be to apologize for.  The score was still 1-0, but it’s the thought that counts.

I hope that game cleared the stinking, festering muddle out of their heads and they can just go play tomorrow.  I’m not sure they can do worse, maybe there’s nowhere to go but up.  Of course, I’ve been wrong before.

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