A few questions about the Sharks….

Now that the Sharks are in the playoffs, and making a legitimate push for 5th seed, we can stop worrying about the post-season, and take a step back and see what other questions linger around the team…

McAuley’s been a disappointment all season, with his offensive game missing. With the recent leg injury (hint: it’s a knee), the Sharks have admitted he’s been fighting through a knee issue all year; he’s now going to have surgery after the season. It sounds like he *could* play if he *had* to, but fortunately, it looks like Stevenson’s stepped up to make that unnecessary.

Remember when the Sharks had a guy on the team named Murray? Doug Murray? Seen him recently? No. Why? He suffered an upper body injury a while back, took some time off. When he came back, he didn’t look right to me. Now — he’s a “healthy” scratch. I’m guessing this is another of the “can play if he has to” category, but I fully expect to hear about surgery once the playoffs are done. Only question for me is: shoulder? or a muscle tear (abs or pec)?

Will Jim Fahey be with the Sharks next year? If he is, will he ever crack the starting lineup again? I’m sure he’s not thrilled to see his job relegated to “press box attendant” — did the Sharks really get that much better on defense, or did something else happen? It was only two seasons ago he was an 18 minute a night guy, coming out of college just like Carle did this year.

Speaking of Carle: were you as surprised as I was that he stepped out of college and into the lineup the way he did? I’ve watched every game he’s played so far, and the transition has been astounding: the first couple of games he looked hesitant and intimidated by the players and the speed, and somewhere around game 3 or 4, it started to click. And now — he’s averaging 16 minutes a game. Who knew?

My guess: Doug Wilson knew. This doesn’t seem to be a surprise to the Sharks organization, in fact, after Murray got hurt, they seemed to not be all that worried. Now I know why. Carle is what we always wanted Brad Stuart to be; he’s Sandis Ozolinsh with a defensive awareness. Watch this kid. he’s special.

Another reason I think Wilson knew: he’s also signed David Setoguchi out of juniors. Setoguchi was very impressive out of camp, essentially, eh was the final cut. Yet now that the Sharks have him under contract, you don’t hear them talking about getting him in the lineup the way they did Carle….

And the big question I have about the Sharks:

Who is the #1 goalie? Nabokov? or Toskala?

They are both good, legitimate #1 goalies. They both WANT to be #1 goalies. And should be. I don’t believe anyone would be happy or successful sharing #1 here in San Jose, someone has to go (and Nolan Schaeffer gets to come up and play #2 — for now… ). But Nabby has a no-trade clause.

Laurie and I have been talking goalies (I’m lucky to have a former goalie in the house, someone who’d make a really good goalie coach to someone), and it’s a tough call; but we both lean to Toskala as the #1. Not because he’s hot now, but because hit style seems to mesh better with the playing style of a team with Joe Thornton on it, and we both feel his technique is less susceptible to mysterious slumps nobody can figure out how to get out of. (laurie also thinks Nabby’s playing style stresses his glove shoulder in a way that could lead to rotator cuff issues down the road).

So we both agree that one of the goalies probably has to go during the off-season. Both guys like playing 60 games, both guys deserve a chance to do so; neither one will be happy being a 1A or second goalie. And in my mind, we have an asset here we SHOULD use to improve the club elsewhere — and let Nolan Schaeffer come up and prove he’s capable of being a #1, too. But Nabby also has a no-trade clause. He won’t go without his approval.

But I wonder how he’d react if Doug Wilson came to him and said “you can approve a trade to , or you’ll have to come into camp and try to win the starting job back”? I think Nabokov would accept a trade to a decent team that needs a goaltending upgrade (like, oh, Vancouver).

This is the kind of problem GM’s LIKE to have — too many players.

But — is Toskala ‘it’? Or are we giving up on Nabby too easily?