Goldobin, Goodrow Stand Out in Sharks Pre-Season Win

By Mary Walsh

STOCKTON, CA–  No Daniil Tarasov at the Stockton preseason game between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks. For me, that simplified the list of players likely to make the Sharks NHL roster at the end of camp. The game re-complicated it. Nikolay Goldobin and Barclay Goodrow looked good enough to make anyone think twice. The Sharks won 5-2, and outshot the Canucks by an embarrassing margin to boot.

In the first four minutes of the Stockton game, the Sharks got credit for  three shots to none for the Vancouver squad. In goal for San Jose was Troy Grosenick, with Jakob Markstrom at the other end for the Canucks. After nine minutes, the shots were 8 to 1 for the Sharks. By the end of the period, it had stretched even more to 16-5 Sharks. Astonishing, really, that even prospects in the preseason can so accurately follow the Sharks’ classic MO: outshoot the opposition without much to show for it.

That did not last, that part where they had nothing to show for it.

Of the players to watch in Stockton, I had Tarasov near the top of the list for forwards, and his absence was disappointing. The game was a chance to get a better look at Nikolay Goldobin, the Sharks’ first round pick from this summer’s draft. With such a plethora of forwards competing for a spot, some with NHL experience, others with a lot of pro time in the minor leagues, the odds that a rookie drafted just this summer would make it were slim. Still, he played so well with Goodrow that I had to rethink. His skillset could be something the team needs right now. Goodrow and Goldobin stood out even before they started scoring: they found each other with passes, they knew when to help the other out. And then there were the two goals they scored- those were pretty showy too.

The first period ended scoreless, but things really picked up in the second. A too many men penalty from the Canucks put the Sharks on their second power play of the game. It took the top line a heartbeat or two after puck drop to take the lead. Joe Thornton skated across in front of the net, with Hertl trailing behind in case needed. Joe Pavelski got the puck to him without much trouble and Thornton put it in.

Nick Bonino took a slashing penalty at 9:30 of the second period. Goodrow and Goldobin were out there to start the power play and they  made the best of their communication skills. Goodrow scored off a neat pass from Goldobin. He got the puck from Mueller, a nice showing from the Sharks most recent first round picks.

The Sharks got yet another power play on a delay of game (puck over the glass by Vancouver’s Bobby Sanguinetti.)  With so much practice, it seemed inevitable that the Canucks would improve on their penalty kill. They did. They killed that one, but during the power play Marc-Edouard Vlasic demonstrated one of those new rule changes: he dove for a puck and reached it, while a Canuck was close by. The Canuck did not take advantage of the chance to skate into Vlasic’s outstretched stick and trip over it so no penalty was called. Nevertheless, that call is going to be hard to avoid.

Justin Braun took the Sharks’ first penalty of the game, holding at 9:30  of the second. Twenty seconds later, Vlasic joined him in the box for delay of game. That left  51, 67 and 10 to start the five on three. They were quickly replaced, as they cleared the puck a couple of times. 80, 67, 41 had the longest shift. The penalty killers did a very good job to keep the Canucks off the board in such a long five on three.

With under two minutes left in the period, Goldobin added a goal to his tally with a lovely wrap-around, preceded by some misdirection on the other side of the net. He squeezed the puck just between Markstrom and the post, possibly under the goalie’s skate blade. However it got through, it was snug. It was Goodrow, of course, who got the puck to him.

A quick check of the roster stats told me that Goldobin and Goodrow did not play on the same team last season.

The Sharks went up 4-0 with Pavelski’s first of the preseason, from Eriah Hayes & Dylan DeMelo at 4:17 of third.

The Canucks finally scored about nine minutes into the third period. Nick Bonino got the puck past Grosenik, and past DeMelo and Abeltshauser.

The Sharks got that back with a goal from Thornton, assisted by Dylan DeMelo.

Unfortunately, DeMelo and Abeltshauser were there again when the Canucks went the other way and scored a second goal for the Canucks. This one was scored by Niklas Jensen.

Final score, 5-2 Sharks. The final shot count was listed as 34-12.

John Scott acquitted himself well enough when he had a chance to move the puck, but he could be skated around by the quicker Canucks without much difficulty. A hard hit by Scott on Cedarholm drew the ire of Tom Sestito, who took a 10 minute misconduct for instigating a fight with Scott.

Braun and Mueller skated together quite a bit.  The only thing I would fault Mueller on in Tuesday’s game is that he was a little tentative.

With the other Sharks squad falling 4-2 in Vancouver, it seems that the 6,810 fans in the Stockton audience were the winners of the night. While a full-sized NHL arena can be hard to fill for a preseason game, the Stockton arena was just right. It gave the players an enthusiastic audience up close, and the audience got to watch the game in a more cozy setting with the arena mostly full. Stockton Arena is a very pleasant venue, and bringing the Sharks’ preseason squad there was a brilliant idea. It begs the question: will the Sharks renew their old affiliation with the Thunder? As of now, San Jose has no ECHL affiliate. Stockton has an NHL affiliate (NY Islanders) but many ECHL clubs are having to double up since the league contracted recently.

NHL Free Agency Day 2: What Are The Sharks Doing?

By Mary Walsh

What are the Sharks doing? This is a question that came up over and over on Twitter today, from near and far. Today the team made three announcements. The first announcement was that the Sharks are holding auditions for women to join their co-ed ice crew, and they will wear short tops and tights. Men’s auditions tba. Second, the Sharks signed 31 year old left wing John Scott. Third, they traded a 2015 3rd round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for 23 year old left wing Tye McGinn.

The team’s activity at the draft and on the first day of free agency seemed consistent with General Manager Doug Wilson’s promise that he was not going to make any big moves that would cost picks, prospects, or young players. He used his picks, trading them only for more picks.

He signed Taylor Fedun, a 26-year old free agent defenseman from the Oilers system on the first day of free agency. He signed him to a low-risk two-way, one year contract at a modest salary. Fedun spent last season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL, scoring 38 points in 65 games.  Fedun has played 4 NHL games. He played four seasons with Princeton University, finishing with 68 points in 127 games, and receiving collegiate honors.

All seemed to be going as promised. On the second day of free agency, the gloves came off.

The ice crew is not exactly an addition, though broadcasting public tryouts for it is new. Additionally, while the ice cleaners of the past all wore simple pants and shirt, the female crew members will now wear a sort of midriff-baring modified jersey and tights, while the men will wear a style-coordinated version of what they have always worn: top and pants. The team is not calling these female crew members ice girls, but few teams do. While that news was sinking in, the Scott signing was announced.

The last GM to acquire Scott is now out of a job, after he put together a team that broke records with its awfulness. On a team that performed as badly as last season’s Sabres, Scott averaged 6:45 of ice time and managed to rack up 125 penalty minutes (25 minors, 5 majors, 4 misconducts) in 56 games. He had one goal, his first since 2009. Scoring is not what Doug Wilson expects Scott to do.

“John brings a physical, no-nonsense element to our lineup,” said Wilson. “As we integrate more younger players to our team, John’s presence alone can act as a deterrent and help keep teams and opposing players honest.”

Wilson has brought other players to the team over the last two seasons, advertising their toughness, grit, energy, or combination of those. Raffi Torres, Adam Burish and Mike Brown all got introductions of that sort. Unlike those players, the 6’8″, 259 pound Scott has not demonstrated a lot of versatility in his game. He is unlikely to surprise the team with a multi-point game just back from injury, or a timely goal, or bursts of speed at just the right moment. It is hard to say how his fighting ability will help the team, since few players will engage him. In any case, he is now a Shark. It may be safe to say that this dwarfs recent roster moves in shock value.

Tye McGinn is an interesting acquisition. Younger brother of former Shark Jamie McGinn, Tye has spent his professional career with the Flyers organization. Early last season, while the Flyers were flatlining in the starting gate, while captain Claude Giroux couldn’t score a goal to save his life, McGinn was given a chance with the big club. He scored three goals in his first two games of the season, all in losing efforts to Vancouver and Detroit. Like his brother Jamie, he seems to have a knack for performing well when everyone else is reeling. After that, he went pointless for four games before being sent back to the AHL for most of the season. The Flyers’ rationale for this is unclear, in view of the players who were put in the lineup in his place. Zac Rinaldo, penalty-taker of some repute, was probably the most productive of them. What a struggling team does might not be a model anyone should follow.

Of McGinn, the Sharks’ news release said:

“Tye is a hardworking player who plays an honest game,” said Wilson. “We’re excited to add him to our group of young forwards.”

McGinn could be a very good addition to the Sharks, if they can instill the confidence and structure he needs. He has speed and grit and has shown flashes of skill. Despite playing only 18 games a season in the NHL, his shooting percentage went up significantly from season one to season two. In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he had 33 shots and 3 goals. Last season, he took 19 shots and scored four goals. He also cut down on his penalty minutes by a large margin, going from 19 to 4. The addition of John Scott makes me wonder if the Sharks care about minimizing penalties, but fans might. McGinn is a bit of a dark horse, but he is still young enough to grow into a bright spot.

These moves still do not answer the question “what are the Sharks doing?” They do, however, open up a host of possibilities. The team appears to be determined to change its image, every which way it can. Who knows, they may move after all, to Seattle or parts unknown. Maybe it’s time for the NHL to go south of the border.