Tuesday night's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets left many Sharks fans with a sour taste in their mouths. But more important than that was the insecurity Sharks fans are faced with once again as the postseason looms.
Will the Sharks continue to live up to their "choker" name tag, or is it finally the year that the Stanley Cup can make her maiden voyage to the city of San Jose?
The answer in simple terms? Yes.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Sharks have the talent and depth to not just win one Stanley Cup, but several.
A roster that is packed with Olympic athletes, all stars, previous Stanley Cup winners and a coach with one of the smartest minds in the league.
So what's the problem this year? The Sharks only sacrificed a couple of players in the off season to strengthen their defensive core.
What's happened to all the goals they used to score? Why can't Niemi win games?
The answer to that? Teamwork.
Hockey is a team sport. The biggest problem the Sharks are having right now, is the players are almost subconsciously pointing the finger at the other guy and blaming everyone but themselves. They aren't functioning as a unit, but rather as single units who are just looking to go out, score some goals and come home with a win.
How do you take the most shots of any team in the NHL, and have one of the lowest scoring percentages? By not working together, that's how.
And the issues in the Sharks crease? It's also effected by this. It's a trickle effect of sorts.
Hockey teams work as a machine, all the parts need lubrication. If one doesn't, the whole machine fails. The Sharks play, or lack of therefore, has caused not just Niemi, but backup Thomas Greiss to almost appear distracted in net.
It seems they're out there, but they really aren't.
We've seen the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Finals the last two consecutive seasons. And that in itself is no small feat. But they can do it again, only this time, they should be able to advance further.
Of course, it's merely a matter of keeping everyone healthy. Keep components such as defenseman Douglas Murray, winger Martin Havlat, even the injuries to some of the Sharks third and fourth line fillers, are all players they are going to need back if they hope to have another successful postseason run.
An old friend of mine who is a veteran NHL scout told me after Tuesdays game that he'd never seen the Sharks look as pathetic and unorganized as they did against the Blue Jackets. He also threw in after, that if they can get everyone healthy, the Sharks are his, and several other scouts in the NHL's picks to win it all this year.
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