(photo credit: Dinur Blum)
News Alert: Torres to be out at least six weeks if not a few months with ACL injury.
SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks have qualified for the NHL’s postseason in nine consecutive seasons. Currently that is the second longest streak in the league behind only the Detroit Red Wings whom have reached the playoffs a whopping 22 straight seasons.
Now over those nine seasons the Sharks have played 19 total playoff series, an average of slightly over two rounds per season. The point to be had is that despite failing to hoist the cup or even reaching a final, the Sharks have done some significant postseason winning.
However, for the majority of the past nine years, it has always felt like there was a missing ingredient in the roster. All the years with the Cheechoos, the Michaleks, the Marleaus, the Thorntons, the Heatleys, the Boyles, the rentals of Bill Guerin and Brian Campbell, etc., etc., there was something about the roster that just wasn’t polished.
It’s not as if San Jose hasn’t been a physical enough team to win the cup, (some pessimists in Sharks territory like to think this to be the case) but no, physical play is not the problem. The Sharks have had good physical play over the years. See McLaren, Kyle and Murray, Douglas as examples.
But until Raffi Torres showed up right before the trade deadline last season, San Jose hadn’t employed a player that could put the kind of fear into opponents that Torres can.
Fear is a powerful weapon, and while players like McLaren and Murray were feared to an extent, it doesn’t come close to the level of fear that Torres puts in the minds of opponents. Murray and McLaren were stay at home defensemen whom opponents could often do a fair job of avoiding.
But because he is a solid two-way winger with tremendous speed, no opponent is safe when Torres is on the ice. If Torres wants to hit you hard, he’s going to hit you hard and there is nothing you can do about it. And that type of physical presence is a powerful weapon, especially since No. 13 often plays against other top players.
Fear is apart of sports. In baseball, Nolan Ryan used the fear of his blazing fastball to strike hitters out. In football, offensive players were made scared whenever Ronnie Lott was lurking over the middle.
And while Torres may not be of the same caliber skill level of said hall of famers, he does bring to San Jose that added element of fear.
For the majority of the past nine years, the Sharks haven’t really been feared. Their captain Joe Thornton can be a physical player and will drop the gloves on occasion, but Marleau, Logan Couture, Martin Havlat, Devin Setoguchi and even Ryane Clowe, none of the Sharks skilled forwards over the years have really put fear into opponents.
Sure, Clowe is a tenacious player who can hit and fight but he’s never been known for open ice hits. His lack of foot speed doesn’t allow him to be overly feared.
Torres on the other hand can skate like the wind which allows him to be an incredibly intimidating physical presence.
Now obviously not every cup winner features a player of Torres’ caliber. Therefore the element of fear he brings isn’t a must have if the Sharks are to win the cup.
But after all the recent in years in which the Sharks have been (fairly or unfairly) been labeled “soft”… think back to the Edmonton series in ’06 (with Torres then the villain), the Calgary series in ’08, the Ducks series in ’09, isn’t it nice to have the ingredient of intimidation?
Isn’t it nice as a Sharks fan knowing that with Torres in the mix, the Sharks can no longer be labeled as weak because they have arguably the league’s most talented bad ass on their side? I think so…
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