Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sharks Stage Legendary Comeback, Assist to the Shark Tank

The second period nears its end, and the San Jose Sharks trail the Phoenix Coyotes 0-3. As the Sharks fans make their objections known, the Sharks struggle to come together, being thoroughly dominated by the Coyotes team in every category: goals, shots, and puck control. In frustration, Coach Todd McLellan pulls the goaltender, Antti Niemi, to give backup Alex Stalock (who had just been recalled from the Worcester Sharks farm team) an opportunity to play.

It clearly does not appear to be a favorable day for the Sharks.

With just under a minute left in the second period, Phoenix takes a penalty, and the Sharks quickly take control of the power play and gain the Coyotes’ zone. Ten seconds left, nine seconds left, eight seconds left…the time continues to tick away as the Sharks try to score…seven seconds…then GOAL! The loud, triumphant goal horn echoes through the Tank, the fans growing with increasing enthusiasm. Joe Pavelski has scored with seven seconds to go!

If there is any team that feeds on emotion, it is the San Jose Sharks. As the Shark Tank is infamous among visiting NHL teams, Sharks fans are the fuel to the Sharks’ flame, and responsible for their historically dominant home game campaign. Although Sharks fans are extremely supportive of their home team, they are also not afraid to show their disapproval when their team plays below expectations, whether it is a visible lack of effort or failure to convert power play opportunities into goals. This 2010-2011 season has had its fair share of ups and downs, with the current standings as proof, as the Sharks are currently tied for seventh place in the Western Conference standings with the Chicago Blackhawks, effectively making them tied for last place for teams that qualify for playoffs.

The Pavelski goal that brought the Sharks to a 1-3 game gave the fans hope, perhaps a spark that would perhaps give the struggling team a chance. After all, a twenty minute third period is plenty of time for the Sharks to regroup and stage a comeback.

And come back the Sharks do.

Just over a minute into the third period, Joe Pavelski scores again from the same spot (and into the same upper left corner) to make the score 2-3. Only a few minutes later, newcomer Kyle Wellwood crashes the net to beautifully tip in a Ben Eager rebound, scoring his first goal as a Shark, bringing the score to a 3-3 tie.

The fans become ecstatic. (Perhaps that is what drove the team to play better.) Suddenly, the defense comes together and the offense becomes more aggressive. Star player Patrick Marleau, who had just been recognized before the game for his 1,000th game with the Sharks (Congratulations, Patty!), charges the Coyotes defense while on a penalty kill for a very questionable call against Ben Eager to earn a breakaway, where he promptly scores a SHORTHANDED goal.

With the 4-3 lead, the Sharks increase their defensive potency, preventing the Coyotes from scoring for the rest of the game. Joe Thornton manages to score with ten seconds left on an empty net from a last resort opportunity for the Coyotes to tie the game.

With the final score of 5-3, the Sharks execute a fantastic win, with their five unanswered goals becoming one of their greatest comebacks. (Assist goes to the Shark Tank for their exuberant support.)

With some final thoughts about the game, I commend the Sharks with some effective net crashing during the third period, which I believe is the reason for their scoring. My greatest criticism for the Sharks’ playing style is they typically fail to have players open for the “back door” goals. I tend to watch the Vancouver Canucks (since they execute it best), since they can frequently manage to get one of their players open in front of the net, usually from a well-placed pick in front of the net to draw an opposing team defenseman, leaving another player wide open for a shot. Once the Sharks can set up their offensive zone shot positioning, they will be an awfully difficult team to beat.

3 comments:

  1. Amazing 3rd period and killer recap, thanks Jarrod!!!

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  2. Its sooo lame it was blacked out... had to watch the highlights on NHL on the Fly.

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