With the world thinking this morning of Barack Obama and the local, national and global ramifications of the election, its nice to know that some things remain unchanged.Like Gary Bettman and Don Fehr in a room arguing about make-whole provisions.True, conflating the events of Tuesday and the non-events of the past several months is probably stretching the points well past its elasticity level, but the NHL lockout has already sped into comedy gridlock. A change of atmosphere seems impossible in the same room with the same players, so maybe changing the air outside will help.And if that doesnt do it, and the owners decide that no games at all are still the optimal solution, then thats how it has to be. If the hockey world cannot bend when the rest of the nation is showing its collective flexibility, then maybe a lost season is all that will save these guys from themselves.RELATED:End in sight? NHL, players bargain deep into nightPut another way, the owners already put two shotgun holes in the Winter Classic, and they dont have any more scheduling threats to run. Only an acknowledgement that this strategy isnt working, a full concession, or a moment of mad atmospheric inspiration saves this season.And of all the things on Obamas to-do list, putting up new sheet rock at the Romneys guest house master bathroom ranks higher than involving himself with the idiocies of the National Hockey League.Hence, the atmospheric inspiration theory. In the few days window after an election, when adrenaline is highest and the job of dashing ones hopes has not yet begun in earnest, one can sense a feeling that even the most intractable problems can be solved, even if they really cant.RELATED:Sharks hopeful talks lead to CBA progress; Boyle mumAnd in a world of stark reality, any illusion can serve as an icebreaker. No pun intended.You see, the NHL and its various minions have passed the point where victory can reasonably be declared by either side. The owners clearly didnt get their main goal, which was Fehr face down in a puddle. The players didnt win their core issue, which was the preservation of their four-sevenths of the revenue pie. And the philosophical argument who has to pay when franchises are run badly, their fellow owners or the players through salary concessions remains unanswered.And so it will be if this deal is ever to be made. It will be a cobbled-together settlement that makes both sides throw up in their mouths, and to date, that has been insufficiently appealing to either side, sure as they are in ultimate victory.Not unlike the country, to be frank. Obamas mandate is smaller, the House of Representatives remains proudly Republican and as such unrepentantly obstructionist. Without getting deeper into the morass of political analogy, the next four years will be four more years of hoisting a pipe organ up the side of a building by hand. Change is coming, but at an annoyingly incremental rate.Thus it will be with whatever the NHL decides to do with its business. It can do a deal just to do a deal and give Gary Bettman and the hardline owners a break from universal revulsion, and the union can agree while holding its nose, proclaiming that getting a point in the other guys building works just as well in the conference room as in the arena.But the longer this weeks negotiations grind on, the more likely that neither side will find such an agreement palatable, and weve pretty well reached the point where there is no more turning radius room before the abyss.So youre left to root for atmospherics, a sense that springs forth in the room of what the hell, if the country can figure out a way not to blow itself up, why dont we give it a go?Or maybe the NHL and NHLPA just needs to introduce a woman with a flag stuck in her hair into the room, just to stand behind whoever happens to be talking at any given moment. That seemed to work last night, and its not like these yobbos have any better ideas.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com
The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.
The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.
The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start.
There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.
Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.
In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday.
Now comes the hard part.
It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups.
Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.
Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.
We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season.
And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.
SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.
Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.
Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.
On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.
"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."
Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.
Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.
"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."
Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.
"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."
Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.
The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.
Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.
"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."
Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.
"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."
Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.
The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.
NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.
Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.
Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.