The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for 2013-14 San Jose Sharks
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"The good, the bad and the ugly" is not a unique theme; however, it is special to the Bay Area where fans of the San Jose Sharks reside.
The title was used for a spaghetti Western classic that Clint Eastwood starred in. He is from the Bay Area that has also been the setting of many of his movies, including the entire Dirty Harry series. Thus the man most associated with that theme's popularity is a fixture of the region.
Regardless of his diatribe against a chair that was in opposition to most of the region's views, he has a lot to be proud of. His achievements reflect well on his home.
He is one of the finest artists in cinema. Directing classics like Unforgiven, he took a completely new look at a familiar genre upon which he built most of his reputation. It broke down the glorifying of gun-fighting and examined one man's growth in a role that Eastwood played spectacularly.
He is also an accomplished jazz pianist, restaurateur (I found Hog's Breath a lovely dining experience) and former mayor of Carmel, Calif.
What better theme is there to use when taking a look at the Sharks, a team residing a mere 75 minutes north of Eastwood's jurisdiction?
Examining the team's outlook for the 2013-14 NHL season, this slideshow details the significant good, bad and ugly facing San Jose. Some of those areas have more things to list than others, but all have more than one.
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The San Jose Sharks have more good things facing them than bad and ugly things put together. That is why Bovada listed them with the third-best odds to win the new Pacific Division.
They should be second, given they barely lost to the top team and swept the other in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. The teams are almost the same, save for the Vancouver Canucks bringing in the confrontational and some would say condescending John Tortorella to be their new head coach.
The Sharks know they can win against tough teams. Some players are on the last years of their contracts, so time is running out for them to reach the mountaintop together. They developed the type of tight-knit dressing room that makes that more of an inspiration than a burden.
More than anything, this team has talent. The Sharks have four of the world's best forwards, one in net and another leading one of the deepest blue lines in the NHL. Their supporting cast is short on scorers but is defensively stout.
San Jose is consistently among the best in the faceoff circle and blocked more shots in 2013 than any team except for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Logan Couture was second among NHL forwards and is not even 25 years old.
Young players off the blue line are looking to step up into their first real role at the top level, like Alex Stalock (26) and Tomas Hertl (19). This team is poised to be in contention for home ice in the first round that will almost certainly stay within the Pacific Division, which the Sharks will also have a shot at winning.
San Jose has one of the best coaching staffs in the NHL. The team has a stronger identity than at any time in its past and plays to its strengths well.
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The biggest problem that the San Jose Sharks face is the same one they have been facing for a while. They are in the division with the Los Angeles Kings, who have proved to be better two years in a row.
Both teams are a little different than they were last season. LA's Jonathan Quick was virtually unbeatable for San Jose, and there is little reason to believe this year will be different. They lack scoring depth at both forward and on the blue line, leaving too little margin for error.
Tyler Kennedy is a much better offensive threat than T.J. Galiardi was, and that upgrade is more important than the lost defensive prowess of that personnel change. But losing Scott Gomez and Tim Kennedy hurts the team's depth at the position.
That leaves a lot on the teenage shoulders of Tomas Hertl, who has never even played North American hockey. Most of the Sharks' other contributors will be lucky not to drop off in play, as they have more key players past their 33rd birthday than on the right side of their 29th.
Even if the Sharks had gotten one extra inch on the shot followed by an overtime game-winner to best the Kings, they would have been no match for the Chicago Blackhawks. After sweeping the season series over San Jose, they dominated the team that advanced at its expense.
This team is at least one player away from being ready to make a Stanley Cup Final.
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The San Jose Sharks have only a couple of ugly things facing them. Just as Eli Wallach ("the ugly") teamed up with Clint Eastwood ("the good) at one point in the film, some of these can be turned to the team's advantage.
The biggest potential bit of ugliness is the Martin Havlat situation. The team is too professional to say it, but I think San Jose is looking to get rid of him almost as surgically as one would remove a cancer.
He lost the team's faith when he said he could play but did not finish either playoff game he dressed for, which left an already thin unit thinner. It was not the first time he failed the team, as he seemed in no hurry to return from injury in the previous season.
He also had just 12 hits and 25 blocked shots in two seasons. That would have been fine if he had been consistent offensively, but he seemed almost bored at times.
The Sharks cannot remove him right away, but they can put Havlat in remission by moving him to long-term injured reserve once the season starts. If he returns, they will have to take action because he has become almost a pariah on his team.
Then again, that time on LTIR and whatever they can do when he returns could free up money for them to make a move for a scoring-line forward who is more reliable.
Similarly, another potential ugliness could be advantageous: Raffi Torres is somewhat of a loaded gun. The potential that he will cross a line can play to San Jose's advantage in making teams uneasy while he is on the ice, but a suspension of him would leave the team thin at an already weak position.
If they can get these ugly things, the Sharks can avoid the ugliness of a fire sale, which would ship off many veterans in the last years of their contracts. Maybe the Sharks can finally conquer the ugly stigma of never having won a Stanley Cup.