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Sharks may have too many goalies

Sharks may have too many goalies

The most important season in San Jose Sharks history opened Thursday night. The March to the Stanley Cup.
And 36 seconds into the March there was already controversy.
Vesa Toskala gave up a goal 36 seconds into the season, and the second-guessing started. When he gave up another goal at 3:42 you could almost hear the "Nabby, Nabby" rumblings in the building.
Is that fair? Absolutely, 100 percent not. But if you're marching to the Stanley Cup, every minute of every game is worthy of scrutiny. Particularly the first minute of the first game of the predicted first Stanley Cup season in Sharks history.
And when you have the very interesting situation of having two No. 1 goalies, then every goal allowed is worthy of scrutiny. Including the first two goals in the first game of the predicted first Stanley Cup season in Sharks history.
"It was kind of hard to get into it today," Toskala said after the Sharks' 5-4 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues, a win that featured a bloody referee, an 18-minute board repair delay and Toskala allowing the tying goal with 5.6 seconds left in regulation.
These aren't your scrappy, just-happy-to-be-here Sharks anymore. These aren't the Sharks who will just slip under the radar. These are self-proclaimed Stanley Cup contenders.
The Sharks appear to have all the right parts this year. In fact, they might have too many of the right parts.
They have two No. 1 goaltenders. Not a No. 1 and a backup. Not an aging goalie and an heir apparent. Two Number Ones, right in the prime of their careers, both under contract for more than one season.
Toskala started on opening night, based on how he finished last season. Evgeni Nabokov will start Saturday night. Future games are TBA.
"I can't think about it too much," Toskala said. "I just try to be ready next time."
If either player has mixed emotions about the situation, well, too bad.
"I don't care about somebody's hurt feelings," Coach Ron Wilson said Wednesday when I broached the possibility that there could be an emotional component to this rotation. "Boo hoo. The Kleenex is right there."
In other sports, rotating players in crucial spots is virtually impossible. You can't rotate quarterbacks in the NFL without asking for trouble. You can't shift your batting order on a nightly basis. You can't change point guards like underwear.
But apparently you can revolve goaltenders regularly without a problem.
"The thing about hockey players is nobody is bigger than the team or game," General Manager Doug Wilson said.
No doubt, hockey is different. Hockey players are far less ego-driven than other professional athletes. Nabokov and Toskala are friends. They're being very classy about the situation.
But they're still humans behind those pads. Still athletes full of emotion and adrenaline and desire. Late last season, Nabokov expressed frustration at sitting.
Could Toskala's shaky start stem from knowing how much he has to prove every night?
Will either goalie have trouble getting into a rhythm or game intensity if they're being flipped like pancakes?
It certainly happens in other sports and creates the potential for controversy. You could see that just 36 seconds into the March to the Stanley Cup.
In other National League Hockey action: NY Rangers 5, Washington 2; Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 0; Vancouver 3, Detroit 1; Tampa Bay 3, Atlanta 2, SO; Toronto 6, Ottawa 0; Chicago 8, Nashville 6; Minnesota 3, Colorado 2, OT; Phoenix 6, NY Islanders 3; Edmonton 3, Calgary 1.


Updated : 2021-04-15 00:34 GMT+08:00