Good morning sports fans, those of you who are baseball fans know what I’m talking about. That time around August where teams are hot, tired, have already played 120 games and they just seem to lose interest and intensity.
Well, there are ten games left in the regular season and every game is critical for about 24 of the 30 teams that are in the hunt for a playoff spot. For those on the bubble or on the outside looking in, (see Detroit, Washington, Dallas, Columbus,Toronto, etc.) every game has value and darned if those boys are playing harder than ten games ago.
Even teams outside the chase (see Calgary, Buffalo, Vancouver, the Islanders) are giving certain playoff teams fits because….. why? Well, is it because their players are playing for a roster spot next year? Is it because the shoo in teams aren’t playing with the intensity required to beat cellar dwelling teams? Are the bottom feeders playing fast and loose because they have nothing left to lose?
These questions are hard to answer, but one team in particular jumps out at me as one that has trouble with bad teams. That’s right, the San Jose Sharks have a lot of trouble beating lower echelon teams. Los Tiburones have a gaudy regular season record, third in the entire league with 101 points. They have overtaken the hated Anahymen and lead their division. Yet they have lost three out of the last four games, one to the Panthers in regular time and two games in the shootout to Washvechkin, and to the lowly Flamers last night.
Their only victory was a thriller against the Ducks at home 3-2. It isn’t goaltending, the chances are there consistently night in and night out to score 4 or 5 goals a night, and they lead the league in shots per game at 35. Their goalies save percentage is second in the league .917.
This is why most analysts are not bullish on the Sharks chances to win the Cup this year. Do they play a schizophrenic style, do other teams get revved up to play the Sharks or is it the bounces don’t go their way? Coaching? Don’t know…
I cannot reach a conclusion until I see more games, like will San Jose even get past the first round? They have clinched a spot for the 10th straight year, second only to the DeadThings record of 22 straight years. Here’s hoping Detroit’s streak is broken this year and we see some new blood in the best tournament on the planet.
One day after tax day it all begins, 4/16/14, until then watch every game you can because they are very intense and entertaining tilts almost without exception. The playoff seeding isn’t settled and won’t be til the last day of the regular season.