San Jose Sharks podcast with Len Shapiro: Sharks have the date circled ready to battle the Blackhawks Sunday

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

On the Sharks podcast with Matt:

#1 The San Jose Sharks’ Marcus Sorenson scored twice on Saturday night as the Sharks and Joe Pavelski scored his 36th goal of the season.

#2 Sorenson was out for the last two game of the Sharks last road trip due to taking a puck in the face, but returned on Friday.

#3 Evander Kane has been getting banged up. In the game against the Boston Bruins on the last road trip, Kane got into a fight with the B’s Zdeno Charo, but Kane is battling.

#4 Erik Karlsson has been suffering with a groin injury. How’s his progress and also talk about Gustav Nyquist and what his acquisition has meant to the team.

#5 The Sharks host the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday and Patrick Kane has been playing lights out and Corey Crawford has been in the nets and some nights standing on his head.

Matt does the NHL podcasts each Saturday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

2019 NHL All-Star Game: Central Division Eliminates Pacific 10-4

Photo credit: @NHL

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The First round of the All-Star Game was between the Central and the Pacific Divisions, with the Central Division winning 10-4. The Pacific Division was coached by Bill Peters from the Calgary Flames, while the Central Division squad was coached by Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets. The coaches came from the teams with the best record up to the All-Star break.

The All-Star Game was broken into three parts, two Conference contests and a third between winners of those. The games were made up of two ten minute periods of three on three play.

The Central Division scored first, with goals from Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog against Anaheim’s John Gibson. Both were assisted by St. Louis’s Ryan O’Reilly.

San Jose’s Erik Karlsson got one back for the Pacific Division at 4:51 in a breakaway against Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. John Gibson got an assist on that one.

Nashville’s Roman Josi scored a third for Central, followed seconds later by a fourth goal from Chicago’s Patrick Kane. Kane assisted on Josi’s goal and Josi assisted on Kane’s.

A fifth goal came from Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, assisted by O’Reilly. Gibson gave up a sixth goal to Rantanen, his second of the game. Patrick Kane also got a second goal, the Central’s 7th. That was 8:11 into the first period.

For the second period, the teams changed ends and goaltenders. Las Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury took over for the Pacific Division and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk took the Central Division net.

Colorado’s Landeskog scored a second goal to start the second half, less than a minute into the period. He was assisted by Roman Josi. Fleury made a number of valiant saves before Ryan O’Reilly took the puck away from Brent Burns in the neutral zone. Fleury came way out of his net as if to steal the puck. He did not and O’Reilly went around him to score.

Yet another Central goal came from Landeskog, his third with about five and a half minutes left. Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler got an assist.

The Pacific Division got one back courtesy of Johnny Gaudreau with an assist to Connor McDavid at 4:47. They got another courtesy of two Sharks, Erik Karlsson assisted by Joe Pavelski. San Jose’s Brent Burns added a fourth goal for the Pacific Division at 5:52. Pavelski also got the assist on that one.

The Central Division squad went on to the second round.

Sharks Earn “Good Point” in 4-3 Loss to Blackhawks

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: nhl.com San Jose Sharks Marc Edouard-Vlasic

The San Jose Sharks fell 4-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime Sunday. It was the Sharks’ second loss in a row on this road trip, but it was a much better performance from the Sharks than we saw on Friday. Without several key players, the Sharks took the lead twice and hung in there against a formidable opponent. With this loss, the Sharks fell to 3-7-1 in their last 11 games against Chicago.

Sharks goals were scored by Joonas Donskoi, Tommy Wingels and Joe Pavelski. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his 200th career point in his 700th career game. Blackhawks goals came from Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and the game winner was scored by Jonathan Toews. Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 33 saves on 36 shots.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

We gotta stay with it. We gotta stay with it ’cause we played a pretty good game. You know, it wasn’t good enough, that’s a good team over there and they find ways and we needed to find a way tonight and we didn’t.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

That’s a good point for us, considering the circumstances. Coming in here, Karlsson went down just before the game, so we’re a little shorthanded. Played a lot of, you know, gave the young guys a lot of good minutes and they held up.

Of the team’s resilience after the second tying goal, he said: “We played a real solid game, I was real proud of our group and the effort top to bottom.”

The Sharks went into the game without forwards Joel Ward and Melker Karlsson. Joel Ward’s injury occurred in the final minute of Friday’s game in Ottawa, when Mark Borowiecky pushed him into the boards. Ward has historically been a very durable player, so for him to be injured bodes ill. After the game, DeBoer said that Karlsson had the flu.

Of Ward’s absence, Tommy Wingels said:

He’s a guy that plays big minutes for us, big situations, plays power play, penalty kill and a lot of five-on-five minutes. I think the guys did a good job of filling his minutes but we’ll see and we hope that he’s ready to go for the next game.

Still without Logan Couture, the team dressed seven defensemen after sending Barclay Goodrow back to the AHL Sunday. Just off of injured reserve, Ben Smith was in the lineup to face his old team. Dylan DeMelo was also dressed to fill out the bench, though the Sharks were still short one forward.

Of all the missing players, DeBoer said:

It’s not just Joel Ward. You know, Joel Ward’s a big missing piece, but when you add Couture and Karlsson to that, it’s a… you know… a second… first/second line for us that’s out of the lineup. It’s a big hole for us but I thought everybody stepped up and did a good job.

The Blackhawks were without forward Marian Hossa and had played the night before.

The Blackhawks took an early lead when Paul Martin lost the puck much too close to the Sharks net. Martin was hooked, causing him to bobble the puck instead of clearing it out of danger, but the officials did not agree. Really, Patrick Kane used his stick in such a way that had the hook on MArtin’s hands been missed, it could have beena tripping call since the stick that touched Martin’s hands was also between Martin’s legs, prying up one knee. The goal went to Artem Anisimov at 4:18.

Joonas Donskoi tied the game just over three minutes later, Patrick Marleau won a faceoff in the defensive zone, kicking the puck to Marc-Edouard Vlasic by the goal line. Vlasic tapped it to Justin Braun, who gave it right back as Vlasic went behind the net. Vlasic carried it around behind the net and sent a pass almost to the Chicago blue line, where Donskoi caught it for a breakaway. Donskoi escaped two pursuers and drew Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford out of position, then put the puck home to tie the game.

At 8:25 of the period, Mike Brown and Brandon Mashinter had a scrap. While they sat in the box, Andrew Shaw was called for interference, giving the Sharks the first power play of the game.

The first unit of Marleau, Pavelski, Hertl, Burns and Thornton did not have much luck, but the second unit of Donskoi, Wingels, Vlasic, Nieto and Marleau gave the Sharks a lead. A pass from Vlasic at the point got to Vlasic aboe the faceoff circle. Wingels sent a shot through traffic, including a good screen by Donskoi, right into the top corner. Assists went to Vlasic and Donskoi.

The lead did not last long. Under two minutes later, Duncan Keith took a shot from the Sharks’ blue line. Martin Jones stopped it, and then stopped another shot from Dennis Rasmussen. He could not stop Patrick Kane as he picked up the puck by the post and bounced it gently off of Jones’ back, into the net. The Sharks challenged the play as offside, but the goal held up and the Sharks lost their timeout. Assists went to Rasmussen and Keith.

The first ended with some minutes of back and forth, all chances being snuffed out early. Neither team managed to get very close to the other’s net.

About six minutes into the second period, Joonas Donskoi blocked a Duncan Keith slapshot with his right kneee and was slow to get up. He stayed on the ice, finally got to his feet and moments later blocked a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot with his left ankle. That got the puck out and he was finally able to get off the ice.

After that, Tomas Hertl took a shift in Donskoi’s spot on a line with Marleau and Nieto. Hertl turned up on various lines throughout the game, as the most-moving piece with only eleven forwards available.

With 5:15 left in the second, Paul Martin took a shot from the blue line, which Joe Thornton slowed down with a touch of his stick. The puck carried on towards the net, where Joe Pavelski stopped with his stick. This aloowed him to slide the puck around the goaltender for his seventh point on the road trip. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Paul Martin.

During the last 12 seconds of the period, Patrick Marleau was called for interference after he skated backwards into Corey Crawford.

The Sharks killed off the penalty, most of it in the third period. 2:15 into the third, Matt Nieto drew a holding the stick penalty. The Sharks did not convert on the power play, and had another chance at 4:35. Patrick Kane went to the box for high-sticking Vlasic, as he followed Vlasic into the corner.

Again, the Sharks did not score and just seconds after the power play expired, Andrew Shaw tied the game. After thwarting a three on one, the Sharks saw Shaw escape Paul Martin in the corner and then put the puck up over Jones’ shoulder.

The second half of the third period was so fast as to make overtime seem redundant. They went to the three-on-three session anyway, since no one scored in the mad scramble that was then end of regulation.

The overtime period was a good one. Where the first overtimes were helter-skelter, and some of the later ones have been too conservative, this one struck a nice balance of speed and defensive awareness. It was still a setting for unexpected situations, like the one that ended the game. The period saw several two-on-ones at both ends, until finally Matt Nieto was the one against Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Kane had just come on the ice as Toews crossed the blue line. The pair made two passes to get around Nieto and then Toews beat Jones on the far side.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in hits with 11. Patrick Marleau led in shots with 9. Martin Jones made 28 saves on 32 shots.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the Kings in Los Angeles at 7:30 PT.

USA Men’s Hockey, Falters, Falls Short

By Mary Walsh

USA hockey fans watched their women lose to Canada last Thursday, by one goal, in overtime, during a 5 on 3 penalty kill. It was disappointing, heartbreaking. The men followed that up on Saturday with a loss so stunning it left me more baffled than emotional.

In my short time here I’ve realized that there’s big momentum swings with this team and … we just got to stay calm… When other teams come back on us like that, we know we have the firepower to score off the rush. We have a pretty good offensive team when we get going.

Something like that would have been nice to hear from someone on USA’s men’s Olympic hockey team Saturday. They didn’t say that. Riley Brace said it, after what turned out to be the last game the SF Bulls played at the Cow Palace. The team was gone a week or so later.

There was no national audience watching that game.  There were no big contracts on the line. The players had good reason to suspect they might be on the move soon. They didn’t have their country’s pride to uphold. They were just playing one ECHL hockey game, one night in San Francisco. Still, they took pride in a lead, they came back after falling behind, they played the game to win. They believed they could score. It doesn’t matter what level you are at, belief is necessary for getting a job done.

“Stay calm… We know we have the firepower to score off the rush…” No one on team USA said anything like that on Saturday after they were blown out 5-0 by Finland. You could argue that it is harder to score in that company. You could also argue that if you are in that company you can probably score against them.

Zach Parise said he was embarrassed, Jonathan Quick said they weren’t good. Both are warranted and truthful understatements.

I read one column that eviscerated Patrick Kane for his performance. I thought he was one of the few players really fighting until the end. When you are outnumbered you tend to make mistakes, but at least he was making something. He was shooting, he was getting break aways, he was engaged. I didn’t see that from many on his team. So he missed the penalty shots. How many skaters score those? Besides, that he drew the calls is more proof that he was trying to do something while the rest of his team was… not.

Is it easier to score when there’s no pressure? Perhaps. Many questioned how young teenage girls would cope with the pressure of Olympic figure skating. I think they were too young to grasp the full scope of that pressure, they might have been partly unaware of it.

But NHL players? Grown men, professionals used to playoffs? Surely they have some coping tactics in their satchels. Surely they were not knocked off their feet by the bright lights of the world stage.

So did they just not care enough? Did they not face enough adversity leading up to the last two games? Did they enter the contest with a “gold or nothing” mindset? Did some of them spend too much time with the Austrians? Did they believe too much, have too much confidence, not worry until it really was too late?

In the end it was just one game. Not one of seven chances, but one lone chance to avoid coming home empty-handed. Someone was going to lose, but to lose like that has to sting. Perhaps some of those players will return to the NHL with something to prove. Or maybe it was just one game, badly played.

Blackhawks enjoy home-away-from-home atmosphere in the desert

NHL WEST COMMENTARY

By DANIEL DULLUM

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes enjoyed their largest crowd of the season Saturday at Jobing.com Arena, with an announced standing-room sellout attendance of 17,321 to watch the Desert Dogs do battle with Chicago.

While good news for the franchise’s bottom line, the bad news was that at least 10,000 of those fans were donning Blackhawks gear, yelling, “Go Hawks, Go.” This scenario left the Coyotes with the odd and frustrating task of trying to take the crowd out of its own building.

“It’s crazy. It seems like it’s always like that when we’re here,” Chicago left wing Brandon Bollis said following the Hawks’ 5-2 win. “I honestly think we had more fans here than (the Coyotes) did.”

To compound matters for the Coyotes, early turnovers and a team penalty for too many men on the ice gave Chicago a 5-on-3 power play less than two minutes into the game. Patrick Kane cashed in on the two-man advantage for the first Blackhawks goal, and by the midway point of the opening period, Chicago had a 12-3 advantage in shots and a 3-0 lead.

Phoenix came back with a pair of goals in the second period, but the damage was done. Bollis’ goal at 10:49 of the third period provided the visitors with some breathing room. An empty-net tally by Marian Hossa in the final minute finished the job for the NHL’s best team (44 points, 20-4-4), as they finished a seven-game road trip 6-1-0.

“It’s frustrating. You feel that, when (Chicago) is at the end of a long road trip, this is a game you can win,” Coyotes Coach Dave Tippett said. “When you’re playing the top team in the league, you can’t come out like we did in the first period.

“This is a good lesson for our team,” Tippett added. “We just have to play better. It’s an attitude.”

Yes, there was some grumbling about Phoenix being a transient sports market and it usually comes up in games like this, or against Detroit, Minnesota, Vancouver and other teams whose fans travel well. The NFL Cardinals have had the same problem for years. But as long as the tickets are sold, there are no complaints from the Bidwell family.

As for the Coyotes, until they start winning more consistently, nights like this will be the norm. But 17,321 is a terrific night at the box office, especially when facing stiff competition from Arizona State vs. University of Arizona football.

Blackhawks Embarass Sharks, Hand San Jose Toughest Loss of the Season

By Matthew Harrington

The San Jose Sharks were downed by the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 Sunday evening at the United Center, suffering their worst defeat of the season. Patrick Sharp had 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) while Brandon Pirri and Kris Versteeg notched a goal and an assist each. Joe Pavelski scored the lone goal for the Sharks who saw a three-game win-streak snapped with the loss.

Chicago opened up the scoring in the first period when a Patrick Kane shot deflected off Scott Hannon’s leg. The puck landed on Brandon Pirri’s stick and he fired it past an out-of-position Antti Niemi with 3:26 remaining in the first for the 1-0 lead.

Pavelski evened the score 8:16 into the second period when what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot popped out of Corey Crawford’s glove and trickled in to the back of the net. Tyler Kennedy and Justin Braun were credited with the assists. Crawford would go on to turn away the rest of the Sharks shots, making 23 saves in the game.

Patrick Sharp scored the game-winner just 3:58 after Pavelski’s tally, cashing in on a Marcus Kruger one-timer feed to beat Niemi. Niemi made 22 saves on 27 shots.

Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg, who made his first appearance back in a Blackhawk jersey following a trade with the Florida Thursday, added third period scores. Sharp finished the scoring with a penalty shot goal with 1:11 left in the game after Marc-Edouard Vlasic hooked him on the original breakaway attempt.
The Sharks faced a 27-24 shot deficit. San Jose failed to score a power play goal on two opportunities, while the Sharks foiled the Blackhawks on their lone chance.

The Sharks will have a few days to dwell on the loss. They return home to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at the SAP Center for a Thursday night contest.