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Posts Tagged ‘Detroit Red Wings’

State of the Sharks: Disappointed

Posted by davefowkes on 05/14/2009

Disappointment, anger and frustration, those are the emotions the San Jose Sharks and their fan base continue to feel after the Sharks first round upset loss to Anaheim. The Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” event with their fans. CEO Greg Jamison, GM Doug Wilson, head coach Todd McLellan and players Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were on hand to face questions from a crowd estimated in the three to four thousand range.

The mood of the crowd was mostly upbeat. There were standing ovations for the players and the coach as they were introduced. Overall the mood of the event was jolly. But the underlying current of disappointment was certainly felt in the questioning and certainly in the answers.

“I thought the anger and disappointment would diminish by now but watching all these other game sevens, it has not,” Wilson said. “We built this team with high expectations and we will never lower them. We have some difficult decisions ahead.”

Wilson has spent the last few weeks since the end of the season as he says conducting an autopsy of the Sharks season. “I should not use that term but it is how it feels.”

While nobody would give details on what went wrong or what changes are to come, there was a clear theme that developed: The Sharks must improve their mental toughness.

“It takes a physical and a mental commitment,” Coach McLellan said. “We are close physically but Detroit is ahead of us on mental toughness. How do we help players be mentally tougher? I don’t know the answer to that. We can look inside the organization and we can look outside the organization. We have to be mentally tougher. Will this (a first round playoff exit) make us mentally tougher or will we wither away? I think we will be in the first group.”

The comparison to what Detroit has gone through was another regular theme. McLellan pointed out that the Red Wings stumbled a number of times before finally breaking through to the top.

Players were the focal point of a number of questions early on. Joe Thornton was asked why he did not shoot more? How can he play more angry in every game like he did in game 5? And why did he lead the league in getting thrown out of the face-off circle?

But while some of the questions were filled with laughs, and the players were able to have fun, the elephant in the room never left.

“This is a better hockey team then we had in Tampa,” Dan Boyle said comparing this team to the one he won a Stanley Cup with. “Come playoffs everyone has to step up. The top guys take a lot of heat but everybody needs to step up. Goaltending needs to be better, our top guys have to be better, and our second guys have to be better. I think this is a better hockey team but we have to come together. I look forward to getting back on the ice.”

“We take the blame,” team captain Marleau said on Anaheim’s top line out playing them. “We need to be better. Why did this happen? That is the soul searching we are doing.”

Thornton added, “They did out play us. Their power play was better than ours. They are three big guys that played well down the stretch. We should have played better.”

In the end the question that all Shark fans will be asking though is what will the Sharks do to improve themselves next year? While the answer to that question was evident in the Sharks management will clearly be looking to improve the team’s mental toughness, it was not clear how they would go about doing that. Will there be changes? It certainly sounds like there will be some.

“Who will be with us (next year)? I don’t know. But we will look into the mirror and we will do what it takes to get it done. We will bring back people committed to get where we want to go,” Wilson said. “The next couple of months will be uncomfortable. I like the players here but we need those who will fight through this. We want more guys like Mike Ricci.”

Ricci who is a member of the organization received a standing ovation when he emerged to take questions after the players left. “I wish I could put guys like Ricci and (Brian) Marchment (who is also with the organization) back in the lineup,” Wilson proclaimed.

One thing about the Sharks that is apparently very different from Detroit was this State of the Sharks event. “I can’t believe how many people are here tonight,” McLellan said as he compared it to his days in Detroit. “It strikes me just how passionate you are as fans. I came from a place they call hockeytown and I guaranty you, this would not happen there! Be proud!”

The event lasted well over two hours. In the end there were not grand gestures, there were no clues as to the Sharks offseason plans, but what was clear is that the Sharks management is trying to put together a winning team. The next step will be to improve the mental toughness of the team. The Stanley Cup question though is, will that mental toughness come from inside the organization or will it come from outside?  In all likelihood, a little of both.

Disappointment, anger and frustration, those are the emotions the San Jose Sharks and their fan base continue to feel after the Sharks first round upset loss to Anaheim. The Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” event with their fans. CEO Greg Jamison, GM Doug Wilson, head coach Todd McLellan and players Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were on hand to face questions from a crowd estimated in the three to four thousand range.

The mood of the crowd was mostly upbeat. There were standing ovations for the players and the coach as they were introduced. Overall the mood of the event was jolly. But the underlying current of disappointment was certainly felt in the questioning and certainly in the answers.

“I thought the anger and disappointment would diminish by now but watching all these other game sevens, it has not,” Wilson said. “We built this team with high expectations and we will never lower them. We have some difficult decisions ahead.”

Wilson has spent the last few weeks since the end of the season as he says conducting an autopsy of the Sharks season. “I should not use that term but it is how it feels.”

While nobody would give details on what went wrong or what changes are to come, there was a clear theme that developed: The Sharks must improve their mental toughness.

“It takes a physical and a mental commitment,” Coach McLellan said. “We are close physically but Detroit is ahead of us on mental toughness. How do we help players be mentally tougher? I don’t know the answer to that. We can look inside the organization and we can look outside the organization. We have to be mentally tougher. Will this (a first round playoff exit) make us mentally tougher or will we wither away? I think we will be in the first group.”

The comparison to what Detroit has gone through was another regular theme. McLellan pointed out that the Red Wings stumbled a number of times before finally breaking through to the top.

Players were the focal point of a number of questions early on. Joe Thornton was asked why he did not shoot more? How can he play more angry in every game like he did in game 5? And why did he lead the league in getting thrown out of the face-off circle?

But while some of the questions were filled with laughs, and the players were able to have fun, the elephant in the room never left.

“This is a better hockey team then we had in Tampa,” Dan Boyle said comparing this team to the one he won a Stanley Cup with. “Come playoffs everyone has to step up. The top guys take a lot of heat but everybody needs to step up. Goaltending needs to be better, our top guys have to be better, and our second guys have to be better. I think this is a better hockey team but we have to come together. I look forward to getting back on the ice.”

“We take the blame,” team captain Marleau said on Anaheim’s top line out playing them. “We need to be better. Why did this happen? That is the soul searching we are doing.”

Thornton added, “They did out play us. Their power play was better than ours. They are three big guys that played well down the stretch. We should have played better.”

In the end the question that all Shark fans will be asking though is what will the Sharks do to improve themselves next year? While the answer to that question was evident in the Sharks management will clearly be looking to improve the team’s mental toughness, it was not clear how they would go about doing that. Will there be changes? It certainly sounds like there will be some.

“Who will be with us (next year)? I don’t know. But we will look into the mirror and we will do what it takes to get it done. We will bring back people committed to get where we want to go,” Wilson said. “The next couple of months will be uncomfortable. I like the players here but we need those who will fight through this. We want more guys like Mike Ricci.”

Ricci who is a member of the organization received a standing ovation when he emerged to take questions after the players left. “I wish I could put guys like Ricci and (Brian) Marchment (who is also with the organization) back in the lineup,” Wilson proclaimed.

One thing about the Sharks that is apparently very different from Detroit was this State of the Sharks event. “I can’t believe how many people are here tonight,” McLellan said as he compared it to his days in Detroit. “It strikes me just how passionate you are as fans. I came from a place they call hockeytown and I guaranty you, this would not happen there! Be proud!”

The event lasted well over two hours. In the end there were not grand gestures, there were no clues as to the Sharks offseason plans, but what was clear is that the Sharks management is trying to put together a winning team. The next step will be to improve the mental toughness of the team. The Stanley Cup question though is, will that mental toughness come from inside the organization or will it come from outside?  In all likelihood, a little of both.

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Big Win For Sharks

Posted by davefowkes on 03/10/2009

It was not how you draw it up, but the Sharks got the win tonight 5-4 in overtime over the Wild. For a team that had lost 4 in a row and 5 out of their last 6, the win is truly what is important! Joe Thornton had two goals, Travis Moen and Milan Michalek each scored before Christian Ehrhoff got the game winner in overtime.

But the story of this game for the Sharks was survival. Because this is the second time in a week that the Sharks have blown a three goal lead to Minnesota. Thursday night in San Jose it was the Wild who ended up winning in overtime in one of the worst regular season losses for the Sharks. For San Jose, tonight was a bit of revenge. But more than revenge, maybe it will be a confidence boost.

The Sharks looked great in the first period. Thornton’s goal from the corner deflected in off a stick and you have to think maybe the Sharks luck will change. Patrick Marleau made a great play short handed that turned into a nice hustle goal for Moen who trailed the play and picked up the rebound. After one period it was 2-0 Sharks, the were out shooting Minnesota 8-3 and with the exception of two poor penalties they really controlled the action.

But the Sharks could not maintain. The Wild controlled the tempo the next two periods. It is not like the Sharks went into a shell but the Wild was clearly the aggressor especially after Thornton’s second goal. Give the Wild lots of credit for not giving up again. I have no idea why the Sharks can not maintain their pace for three periods anymore. If you asked them I would guess they are not sure either. But at some point they need to get back to dominating for an entire game.

It’s been awhile since the Sharks have looked like the Sharks of the first half of the season. Tonight they looked the part for about a period. Maybe a win like tonight where they held on after surrendering the three goal lead will lift them back up, and put them on a run again. Let’s hope, because if this team can’t hold on to 3-0 leads, forget about the post season!

In the end the Sharks will be happy with the win and hope for even better next time!

NOTES:

If there is one person that needed to bring the Wild back it was nice to see Owen Nolan be the one to do it. He scored twice in the third period, career goals 400 and 401. For a guy who looked like was going to see the end of his career because of a knee injury, it is nice to see him finding continued success. Hopefully next time it won’t be against the Sharks.

Before Sharks fans panic too much, remember last year’s Stanley Cup Champ Red Wings went 1-8-1 during on February stretch. Let’s just hope the Sharks are getting this out of their system.

Detroit also won in overtime tonight so the two teams remain tied atop the Western Conference.

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Sharks Stumble In Hockeytown

Posted by davefowkes on 02/25/2009

That was not quite how we drew it up on this road trip. Lose to Dallas or Ottawa maybe, but Sharks fans wanted that win in Detroit! It was not meant to be. The Sharks did not bring their A game and Detroit played very well across the board letting them defend their home ice with a 4-1 win over the Sharks. The home team in this series goes undefeated in four games this year!

The story for San Jose really were penalties. The Sharks excel when they play on the power play. But instead, they had 9 penalties and spent too much time in the box. Detroit had 8 penalties but for the Sharks they just could not get it going.

Tonight Detroit was just the better team across the board. Better on offense, defense and Conklin out played Nabokov tonight. The better team won the game! It started early when Clearly smashed Thornton into the glass. Thornton would spend a few shifts in the locker room before returning late in the first period. But that one hit, illegal as it was, set the tone for the Red Wings. The Sharks tried to play physical but in the end the Wings just forced them into taking penalties.

It is not to say the Sharks played badly, they did out shoot Detroit 35-33, but tonight Detroit was just the better team on the ice. No excuses, just reality.

The Wings cut the Sharks lead in the Western Conference to 3 points tonight. It seems clear to me that what is best for the NHL is a sharks/Wings rematch in the Conference Finals because I still believe these two teams that faced off tonight are the best in the NHL. It will be a great playoff series if it happens!

Until then, we shake our head in disappointment and move on to Ottawa tomorrow. It is just another regular season game as we set our sights toward the playoffs! Hopefully the Sharks recover with a win tomorrow. Given the home ice advantage in this series, the real fight down the stretch run will be to keep the number one seed! The loss tonight drops the Sharks to 4-26-1-2 all time in the regular season at Joe Louis Arena!

Home ice in the playoffs would seem to be important!

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Big Game For Sharks

Posted by davefowkes on 02/25/2009

Okay, so maybe it is not that big a game. The Sharks have the most points in the NHL. Detroit is second in the west 5 points behind them. But as they face off in Joe Louis Arena tonight, for Sharks fans this is a big game! Why? Because it is Detroit!

This rivalry was first forged when the upstart Sharks upset to top dog Wings in the Sharks first ever trip to the playoffs. Since then, Detroit has always been top notch and therefore a benchmark team. Now it is the Sharks on top of the world looking down at Detroit. Sure both teams are playoff bound. Sure there is a real good chance they will face each other in the playoffs with much more at stake. But for now, this is just a classic show down of the two best teams in the NHL! For regular season hockey it does not get much better!

The home team is 3-0 in this series to date. The first two games were blowouts, but that third game in San Jose in Mid-January that the Sharks won 6-5 was regular season magic! (Of course I missed that game due to other commitments and am still kicking myself!) So tonight it comes down to this, does Detroit hold serve? Or do the Sharks show the Wings they can beat them at home and away, potentially a huge mental lift for a potential playoff matchup?

With the Sharks on a 4-game, 6-day road trip you can be sure all their energy will be focused on this game tonight. Sure, both sides will say “it is just another game” but we all know that it is not. This is San Jose vs Detroit! This is the two best teams in the NHL! This should be a great game! I know I can’t wait to watch!

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