So, the Sharks have a new gaggle of coaches this year, a whole new corps of defensemen on the blue line and entirely new system to adjust to. Seeing as that they're 8-2 thus far, it seems like the adjustments are coming fairly naturally to most of the guys. But not to everyone...
The core of the Sharks offense consists of Captain Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and former league MVP Joe Thornton. While the first three guys look to be doing fine under new head coach Todd McLellan, there's been talk that Thornton's just not feelin' it. Whether it's skating off before McLellan has finished his time-out instruction, or blatantly ignoring the coach on the bench, #19 has really looked like he's not on board. And man, it'd be one HELL of a loooong season without him in the mix. Joe's amazing on-ice vision and ability to create scoring opportunities is what the Sharks' whole offense is centered around.
There's also been some talk that #19's on board, but is not completely healthy. Well, from where I sat on the couch last night, that may very well be true. He did sustain a groin injury during the preseason and perhaps he's still struggling with that. Groin injuries can be notoriously problematic, especially in sports that require so much lateral movement. As amazingly as he played, Joe didn't look quite as agile as he has in games past. What's really going on, here? Who knows.
But, after last night's routing of the Pittsburgh Penguins, I think it's safe to assume that whatever was chapping Joe's ass seems to be gone. He was really giving it a go as he finished his checks, made brilliant passes and generated scoring chances. Not to mention the big role he had in holding the very flashy Sid the Kid and then rest of the Pens to only 11 shots on goal...FOR THE WHOLE GAME. I think Sharks fans can collectively breathe a sigh of relief now that it seems that old Thornton appears to be back. And can I just say how much fun I had this morning razzing CBKWit about the Pens loss?! Loved it! =)
Tomorrow night, DJC and I will be joining BL at The Tank to watch the Sharks in an early season test against the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. It'll be a hell of a game. I'm really looking forward to it.
Now, if I could only get whatever bug I'm fighting to give it a rest long enough for me to enjoy some nachos and beer tomorrow night, that'd be great, kthnx!! GO SHARKS!