Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Anatomy of a Slump

It's the thought that weighs heavy on every Sharks fan's mind. Is this a slump?
This is inevitably followed by other questions:

Is this just a bump in the road? Is this who our team really is? Are we feeding off past disappointments of yesteryear and redirecting them to now? Do we buy into our own hype too much, despite desperately trying to avoid that this year? Are we too sensitive to hat other in the hockey world say, that we often feel that our team has to win all 82 regular season games? I won't mention the ever present post season concerns. Those are well documented and not yet applicable to this situation.

The fact is, in most Sharks seasons, this wouldn't be a slump. In most of the recent Sharks seasons, it's been up and down from the start. This is par for the course. It's mid season, everyone' tired, a bunch of guys have the flu, we have injuries, the team slows down, it happens. February has also usually been a harsh month for the Sharks. That's nothing new.

So here's the question, is it really a slump if you can come back from some terrible play and take the game into OT? The Sharks, despite dropping several games this road trip, have gotten at least a point in all of them. They have battled back from less than stellar play and been able to keep themselves in games that, if you only saw the first, you'd think they had no business staying in. That alone could be considered a victory. The Sharks are often accused to tuning out, sitting back and not playing with heart and grit. They have shown they have heart and grit this season, though it hasn't always resulted in a W. And maybe the high standard set in the beginning of the season are the true root of all our insecurities this season. We didn't want to fall from the top, we didn't want to be seen as human, and now we are.

The hockey season is long and full of glorious highs and heartbreaking bumps in the road. To write it off in February seems suspect. Is this a slump? Maybe, but if it is, it's not the worst we've ever seen and it won't be the last. We knew these days would come, all we can do is wait them out and try to enjoy the ride.

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