Killer Instinct — Or Lack Thereof


Not so long ago, the San Jose Sharks responded to a 5-2 drubbing and several suspension-worthy cheapshots by the Nashville Predators by amping up their game and taking over their first-round playoff series. The result? A five-game series win that said, “Hey, you ain’t gonna push us around this year. We’re bigger, faster, and meaner.”

Unfortunately, they didn’t say anything about consistency or killer instinct. And that’s been the problem with their series against Detroit.

In theory, if the Sharks showed the consistent pedal-to-the-metal killer instinct that has floored the Red Wings at times, the Sharks would be done and resting and waiting for their Conference Final opponent. Instead, the series is tied 2-2 and the Sharks know that Detroit’s two victories were handed over to them on a platter.

I’m not discounting what Detroit has done — you don’t win the President’s Trophy through dumb luck. But it’s a fact that the Sharks blew two-goal leads in both the second and fourth game — the fourth game with just 20 seconds to go. If the Sharks were in bunker-down intense defensive mode during these critical junctures, these things wouldn’t have happened.

I don’t buy into the myth of momentum in a playoff series because everything shifts from game to game. The Red Wings theoretically had all the momentum after winning Game 2, but the Sharks showed up and proved to be too much. Then the Sharks theoretically had all the momentum after a convincing Game 3 win, but then commited enough bonehead mistakes to hand over Game 4. The Rangers/Sabres series has the same sort of media flip-flopping when ultimately, every game is different. In this series, the advantage the Red Wings really have is two games with the last change so they can try to match up with Joe Thornton. Ron Wilson has countered this by double-shifting Thornton on his third and fourth line, along with mixing things up with Patrick Marleau and Bill Guerin.

So what does it come down to? The Sharks have shown up as advertised — bigger, stronger, faster, and inconsistent. Sure, there’s some injury concern: Jonathan Cheechoo‘s obviously still not 100%, and anyone watching Patrick Marleau can tell that he’s dealing with both upper-body (Marleau’s not shooting or finishing his checks and looks awkward handling the puck) and lower-body (he’s skating at about half-speed right now — an anomoly for one of the league’s fastest guys) issues. Still, the Sharks have built this whole season around winning the Stanley Cup and they’ve essentially given away what would be a surefire series win because they ease up after getting a lead.

I said it before and I’ll say it again — when the Sharks play their best, they are unbeatable in a seven-game series. Their only flaw is their lack of consistent intensity, and if Detroit winds up winning, it’s because the Sharks had all the tools and didn’t have the drive. It’ll be an interesting 3-game mini-series starting on Saturday morning.


3 Responses to “Killer Instinct — Or Lack Thereof”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Hey Chen….do you actually believe your own inane babblings about how great the Sharks are? To here you tell it, Detroit couldn’t win a game unless SJ gave it to them. This just proves what I’ve always suspected in wasting my valuable time reading your pre- school efforts at journalism. you are an idiot wrapped in a moron. De5troit will win the series handily without any ‘help’ on their part by the Sharks. In the meantime, you and Ron wilson should get together and do what the two of tyou are best suited for….filling chum buckets for tourists.

  2. 2 cup_4_07

    Check your facts. Buffalo won the Presidents Trophy, not Detroit. Not that they needed to. Killer instinct may still be there for SJ, just no discipline to execute it properly. SJ’s Wilson has a propensity to blame and criticize everyone else but his own team and himself when things go badly.

  3. 3 Mike Chen

    you are an idiot wrapped in a moron.

    That’s fine by me as long as the moron wrapped around me is Natalie Portman.

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