Game 5 Disappointment
Not much to say about last night's San Jose Sharks/Detroit Red Wings game. For 2 periods San Jose was by far the better team, making Detroit look like a team of zombies which, considering their age and injuries, might not be too far off the mark. For two periods the Sharks look unstoppable. Problem is there are 3 periods in hockey, and the team that came out in the third period wasn't the same as the one from the first 2. It was as if the teams had changed sweaters, that's how different the 3rd period was.
Through 2 periods San Jose controlled the puck more, spent more time in the offensive zone, and just seemed the calmer, faster, harder working team on the ice. We scored first in the first period, then again in the second for a 2-0 lead. Detroit would score late in the 2nd, but we were still in the lead, but more telling we were dominating play. The start of the 3rd saw us going up 3-1, for what I think is the Sharks biggest lead of the series. And seeing how all the games had been decided by 1 goal, this was a wipe out. I was guilty of thinking who I'd rather see in the next round Vancouver or Nashville.
Then the problems started happening. You saw Detroit spending more time in our defensive zone, there was a more frantic pace from the Sharks players trying to ward off Detroit. But even when Detroit scored to make it 3-2 I thought we'd finish it out. Even at 3-3 I was thinking we'd right the ship and score the game winner. Even when we were down 4-3, with a handful of seconds left on the clock I was picturing a Patrick Marleau game tying goal (as he did quite often down the stretch) to send us to overtime, where everyone knows the Sharks own OT. Instead we're looking at game 6. In Detroit. The building where Stanley Cup dreams die, unless you're a Red Wing.
Now you figure it's bad enough for Sharks and Sharks fans to have to deal with that loss, but to have an ex-player, and a very visible one at that, call one of the Sharks stars "gutless" on national TV is just a whole other type of problem. Jeremy Roenick is that rare hockey player who made a career out of solid play and speaking his mind, at time bluntly, about the league, the game and his teammates. He's not the most talented hockey player in the world, but he was hard working, and for the most part a fan favorite because he wore his emotions on his sleeve for all to see. Patrick Marleau couldn't be more opposite of him. He's quiet, he's extremely talented, and he's fast. They're both hardworking, and they're both fan favorites. Here's Roenick's words:
Patrick Marleau has been my favorite player on the Sharks for most of his time there, but I feel he, along with the rest of team, has struggled in the playoffs. He's been unable to find that next gear that is needed in the post-season. He finds it occasionally though, and when he does he can dominate. Last year against Chicago he was the only Shark who could score. Sadly it wasn't enough as Chicago beat us, but he's shown that he can take over and make things happen. This series he's got 0 points. That's no assists, and no goals. He hasn't been useless, I don't think. He's been creating traffic in front of the goalie, he's been good on creating opportunities, and been good defensively. Last night though he looked horrible on the game winning goal for the Red Wings as he had the puck stripped off of him by a known injured player, and just looked bad trying to get it back unsuccessfully. Do we need more from Patrick Marleau? Yes. Is he capable of showing us more? Yes. Is he gutless? No. As Drew Remenda said in a post game segment on CSN California, criticize the play, not the player. The play of Patrick Marleau is lacking, and there's no doubt he knows it. Will game 6 be the game where he shows up? The Sharks sure hope so.