Ratto: Sharks to show true colors Wednesday

December 7, 2010, 4:40 am
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Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

We won't know for sure whether the Sharks played well Monday night in Detroit until Wednesday in Philadelphia.By then, we'll know whether they figured it out. Casual fans would swear they did, but they don't know what the Sharks are just now learning -- that for them, it seems to take a kick in the groin to get the heart started.They blitzed the Detroit Red Wings, 5-2, by playing perhaps their best 40-minute stretch of the season against a good team. They sought out, handled and shot the puck as though they'd bought it. They got in Detroit's passing lanes. They won the one-on-one battles. They outshot the Wings, the best team in the West, 24-11 in the final two periods, 34-14 over the last 50 minutes. They were in every sense the dominant team.RELATED: Couture, Sharks batter Red Wings 5-2 in Detroit
But only after they had another one of their come-to-Jesus meetings to see if they were capable of, well, coming to Jesus, at least in the hockey sense."I don't know that we need to SEE that we're a good team," defenseman Dan Boyle said, referencing a between-periods meeting in which the general theme was anal-cranial inversion and how to combat it. "We know what we can do. I would just like to see us come out and take the game to the other team right from the start and see where it takes us.""Me, I'm very disappointed in our guys," head coach Todd McLellan said, revising and adding to Boyle's remarks. "The first period, the first 10- minutes, we obviously didn't understand what we were coming into. We somehow didn't know how good the red and white team is, especially in their building."In short, McLellan was saying that spotting the Red Wings 20 minutes is a bad idea, and that dominating the final 40 as San Jose did means they still may be thinking they can turn their level of play on and off at will.It is why a post-period meeting was needed to vent their anger after falling behind, 2-1, giving up four penalties of which two turned into Detroit goals, and in all measurable ways looked like they believed they could not play with the Wings.When asked if the meeting was a quiet or loud one, goalie Antti Niemi said, "Both." Everyone else seems to think it was more the latter.In fact, the meeting was a contentious one, filled with self- and team-wide excoriations, first from McLellan ("I said, Get a clue") and then from unnamed players."I think we were all just pissed off that we played like a bunch of . . . blank in the first period,"Boyle said, and he said the world "blank" only because there were tape recorders on the job. "It's just so easy to see. Offensively, defensively, the second and third periods, were really good. But some nights, some guys just don't want the puck, and we're not very good when we have that."The result of the meeting was goals from Niclas Wallin and Logan Couture eight seconds apart, and then a Dany Heatley snap shot right before the end of the second. The Sharks were as dominant as the Wings had been before, and stayed that way through the remainder of the game.Only they've had these little epiphanies before -- so often, in fact, that McLellan isn't sure whether to trust this one."To be honest with you, I think backward," he said. "The number of times where we've had what you call a catalyst . . . the one (Edmonton) where we only had four defensemen . . . going to Ottawa, playing for a teammate (Heatley, who was demonized before the game for sins against the Senators) . . . Chicago, we were playing for our goaltender (Niemi, the former Blackhawk). But we can't keep needing those to play the way we're supposed to.""We didn't talk about a lot of technical stuff. The first period, we could have put in a whole new system and it wouldn't have made any difference. We have to get past the point where we have to get them fully committed before they do anything. This is all really bittersweet."So then it's agreed. This was the worst Sharks five-goal performance in Detroit ever -- conveniently, there has only been one other, the Game 1 playoff win in 1994.But it may also have been the best one ever. All we need to do is look at the film.From Philadelphia. Then we'll know for sure. Maybe. Depending on how they play in Buffalo on Thursday.What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.