Sunday, October 7, 2007

Avalanche 6, Sharks 2

As Sharks commentator Randy Hahn astutely noted on the telecast, not since the Coyotes drubbed the Sharks 8-0 last December has a Sharks loss been this embarassing. San Jose was able to use that rout as motivation to turn their season around, and it paid off in a big way last year as the team posted a great record down the stretch. Hopefully they can put the same positive spin on this 6-2 loss to the Avs.

There's definitely not much I liked about the Sharks this game. Their power play was atrocious as the team simply refused to shoot the puck with the man advantage. The defense persistently turned the puck over, with Craig Rivet in particular having a lackluster game on the back end. Up front, the Clowe--Pavelski--Bernier unit was the only Sharks line with any semblance of offensive pressure, an issue Ron Wilson certainly seemed to notice when he swapped Jonathan Cheechoo with Torrey Mitchell on the top line.

Everyone knew it would be a tough road stretch to open the season for the Sharks, but for a team many have pegged to win the Stanley Cup, they sure haven't been dealing with adversity very well. They'll have a bit of a break after playing three games in three different states in two different countries in four nights, with their next contest Wednesday against the Blackhawks, which should help the team focus. Wednesday also marks the first day training camp tryout Sandis Ozolinsh will be eligible for signing. The offensive-minded defenseman traveled with the Sharks to Denver and with the recent power-play issues, it's entirely plausible that Doug Wilson inks him to a bare-bones contract similar to the one Jeremy Roenick signed in September.

Overall, a brutal game for the Sharks, but kudos to the Avs who can more than mask their mediocre goaltending and defense with contributions like this from Paul Stastny, who is quickly making a case to be considered alongside Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the league's next breed of stars. Hopefully, the Sharks can learn from this early-season experience that talent doesn't immediately translate into wins and play a more well-rounded game from here on out.

Three Stars:
1. Paul Stastny: 1G, 4A, +3
2. Milan Hejduk: 2G, 1A, +3
3. Ryan Smyth: 1G, 1A, +3

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