Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sharks' Losing Streak a Sign?

The San Jose Sharks finally snapped their 6-game losing streak the other night against the Minnesota Wild, a streak spanning 10 days and resulting in the Sharks being out-scored 27-12.

It has since sparked speculation of what to make of the Sharks breakdown with the upcoming playoffs just around the corner.

So what do we make of the losing streak? There were several things that clearly stood out. The first being the defense. The word to describe it was 'slow.' They were slow to react, slow on the penalty kill, and extremely laxidasical throughout the whole losing streak. There was no flow to the defense and they seemed plain awkward on the ice.

The other thing that stood out, and this isn't a secret, was Evgeni Nabokov not seeing the puck. I've said this before, and many others before me, the Sharks go as far as Nabby takes them. During the losing streak, Nabby could stop nothing. He went 0-5 on the losing streak that ended in 6 games, with Thomas Greiss losing one of the games. From what I saw, most of the goals scored against the Sharks were shots that should have been stopped by Nabby. But the Nabby we have seen since the Olympic break is not the same one we saw before. Specifically, ever since his his meltdown against Canada.

But is the losing streak just a post-Olympic hangover for the Sharks? Or is this a sign of things to come in the playoffs? I think it's got to be a mix of all the above. The veterans are tired, or they are playing tired, and the younger guys feed off of that. And Nabby seems to be affected by his Olympic play and it has carried over into the NHL season where they are coming down the stretch and need him more than ever.

Honestly, I hope this losing streak is not a sign of things to come, and the true Sharks team was not revealed over this losing streak. They were just going through the motions, and I think this losing streak is a wake-up call for this team. They have been on top of the Western Conference for so long that they were just, like I said, going through the motions. Now they have Marc-Edouard Vlasic back, and the defensive lines are now complete. Hopefully, they can build from being fully healthy, because there is no other excuse now.

As of today, the Sharks are 1 point back of the Chicago Blackhawks for 1st place in the Western Conference, which is shocking considering the Sharks have tallied 3 points in the last 7 games. But taking the 2nd seed or even 3rd seed in the playoffs would not be the worst thing, it might be the best thing for this team.

Now is where it begins. There are 9 games left in the regular season, with big games coming against playoff-bound teams that the Sharks could possibly face in the first round of the playoffs (Canucks and Avalanche). Down the stretch is where they will earn the fans' trust going into the playoffs, and prove this is not just another fluke year of crawling into the playoffs and making an early exit. And for the fans' sake, I hope that is not the case.

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