Wednesday, October 19, 2011

San Jose Sharks: What To Make of the Team's Slow Start

How do you explain a team with this many talented players and that much of a hype surrounding them starting the season off 1-3?

You got me. In fact, you may have everyone.

The offense, on paper, is solid. The defense, on paper, is a surefire hit. Then why have they lost three games in a row at the beginning of the season?

The bounces simply have not been going their way, but that is not the entirety of what we make of this.

The chemistry on the offense is lacking, to say the least. It is not true for the first line, who have had so many open chances at the net that it makes my stomach curl just thinking about how many point-blank shots have been missed this season. But the second, third and fourth lines have struggled with communication and overall chemistry, and that is the whole of why pucks have not found the back of the net.

Another kicker is that the chemistry issue will have to be re-established once Martin Havlat makes his debut, quite possibly this Friday in New Jersey. He will be on the second line with Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture, most likely.

Surviving a six-game roadtrip on the east coast is one thing. Establishing a consistency with your linemates during that time is quite another.

Another idea as to explain the sluggish start in San Jose is the admission that maybe the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are simply better than the Sharks at this time.

The Blues are projected to finish anywhere from sixth to eighth in the Western Conference, and the Ducks are projected among the top-tier teams in that league.

Missing Havlat, paired with a rusty Niemi and mediocre Thomas Greiss, and adding in new players and no chemistry simply equals an average team in the Western Conference, which is what the Sharks have displayed thus far this season.

They are learning. We will give them that.

Niemi will be quicker, Havlat will fit right in and the offense will find consistency. It may be as easy as that, although we know it is not.

It was tough to see this slow of a start coming, what with the massive potential on paper, but this start to the NHL season was inevitable. They are learning to play with Brent Burns and Michal Handzus in different situations, and missing open opportunities just adds fuel to the frustration.

How do explain the slow start?

You don't. The talent is there, the potential is there and it is just a matter of time before this team meets the hype.

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