Sharks’s OT win breaks Kings’ home playoff win streak

Photo credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

By Pearl Allison Lo

LOS ANGELES– Patrick Marleau scored his third playoff goal in Game 3 of this series to lead San Jose to a 3-0 series advantage with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday.

Up until the Sharks’ win, the Kings had won all of their playoff games at home since June 11, 2012.

Besides two straight Los Angeles goals, the scoring went back and forth.

Marleau was aided by Scott Hannan at 6:20 in this much tighter game than the previous two. The goal was their only shot in overtime. Goalie Antti Niemi is now 12-2 in OT careerwise in the playoffs.

Teammate Logan Couture commented on overtime, “…they really took it to us for the first five minutes of that overtime, then we got a lucky bounce and that’s the way things go sometimes.”

On their second shot of the game and 11 seconds into their power play, San Jose’s Brent Burns scored at 3:16 of the first, helped by Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle.

The shot on goal margin for the Kings increased to 7-2, but they could not get the puck in the right spot.

The Sharks paid for a puck over the glass penalty by Jason Demers at 3:23 of the second. Los Angeles’s Tyler Toffoli was able to pass the puck just past Tommy Wingels, and Jarret Stoll shot right away to even the game at 1-1 at 4:48. Drew Doughty also assisted on the play.

The Kings’ Marian Gaborik then single-handedly intercepted one of the passes on his teams’ side and turned it into a 3 on 2 man advantage and goal at 7:59 for the 2-1 lead.

It was short-lived though. Marleau fished the puck out from alongside the boards and passed it to Jason Demers near the blue line. Demers then aimed at the net and Long Beach native Matt Nieto tipped in the puck, to even the game back up at two at 9:17. It was Nieto’s first career playoff goal.

Los Angeles got their fourth power play when James Sheppard was called for tripping. San Jose put the puck over the glass again, but the referees did not make the call.

The other half of Sheppard’s power play continued in the third. Seven seconds before it expired, Jeff Carter had a tip-in from Anze Kopitar and Doughty.

It took more than two power play opportunities following that goal, but three seconds after the second one at 9:17, Sharks’ rookie Tomas Hertl put the loose puck in, persisting several times after it went off goalie Jonathan Quick. Overall in the period, San Jose outshot the Kings 23-8. Hertl was aided by Wingels and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Kings’ head coach Darryl Sutter said, “It’s a tough field, and we won’t go away quietly.”

Game notes: The Sharks go for the sweep at Staples Thursday at 7:30pm.

Ducks win Pacific; Sharks will face Kings

Photo Credit: (USATSI)

By Pearl Allison Lo

ANAHEIM– The end of San Jose’s biggest game of the regular season equaled the Ducks’ second straight Pacific Division title, as the home team won for the last time this regular season series, 5-2 Wednesday.

The Sharks now know they will face a familiar Southern California foe in the playoffs, Los Angeles, for the second year in the row as well.

San Jose will have Joe Thornton, which was questionable as he crumbled near the end of the game. Afterwards, what happened was described as a “stinger,” as Coach Todd McLellan said “(Thornton) got hit up in the chest area.”

The game-winner was Patrick Maroon’s first career multi-goal game at 9:35 of the second and brought in goalie Alex Stalock. Teemu Selanne got his second assist and Hampus Lindholm chipped in on the attack. The Ducks never looked back afterwards. Rookie goalie John Gibson won his second game in a row and stopped 36 shots.

The team’s first power play opportunities came almost simultaneously. 15 seconds after the interference penalty to San Jose’s Brent Burns ended, Anaheim was called for too many men on the ice.

Gibson was able to fight off shots by Jason Demers earlier, but Demers broke through at 18:17 of the first, to score the game’s first goal. Joe Pavelski aided on the goal.

The Ducks’ Corey Perry, however, went stick to stick with Justin Braun and tied the game with three seconds left in the first period. Matt Beleskey and Francois Beauchemin got the assists.

Three individual mini fights broke out to cap the end of the first period and led to a Sharks’ power play to start the second period.

Anaheim got their first lead when Selanne passed the puck to Maroon. Maroon then went around the net chased to make the game 2-1 at 3:32 of the second.

17 seconds after San Jose killed their second penalty, Logan Couture re-tied the game at two at 7:23.

The Sharks’ goalie change didn’t halt the Ducks, as they moved further ahead when Beleskey got Perry’s rebound off Stalock. It was the game’s first two-goal margin at 16:46.  Ryan Getzlaf had the second assist.

Beleskey then went in the box with 24.8 seconds left and San Jose started the third period on the power play again.

Demers ran into Stalock who fell backwards and hit the goalpost. After he was down and later came back up again, Stalock was called for delay of game for the puck going beyond the glass at 12:35.

It looked like a 6 on 4 with 2:44 left, but Gibson came back and Jakob Silfverberg scored a shorthanded empty net goal at 18:22. Andrew Cogliano got his 20th assist.

Both teams were coming off 3-0 games as Anaheim killed all five of the Sharks’ power plays.

Game notes: The Sharks’ Bracken Kearns played after returning from Worcester Tuesday. Before the game, it was announced that the Ducks’ Luca Sbisa would not play because of an upper body injury. San Jose’s Marty Havlat and Raffi Torres were also ruled out. Anaheim’s Cam Fowler returned from his mid-March knee injury.  The Sharks’ second to last regular season game will be Friday at 7p versus the Colorado Avalanche.

Sharks fall short against Hurricanes

By Ivan Makarov

San Jose Sharks have not played well against Eastern Conference bottom dwellers this season, having lost to Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders at home. The game against 13th spot Carolina Hurricanes became another one of those, as Sharks fell 3-2 in overtime.

San Jose started game slow, generating only three shots in the first 10 minutes of the game and being outplayed on all parts of the ice. They looked rusty, and out of sync, which often happens when team comes back home after a long road trip or a break. Carolina capitalized on the sleepy Sharks, taking 1-0 lead in the game as Juri Tlusty scored on a breakaway at 12:07 mark.

The goal seemed to have woken up the Sharks and they responded with one of their own. Marty Havlat scored his fifth goal of the season on a rebound from Tyler Kennedy’s shot. Havlat’s goal was even more memorable because he scored it while falling down.

Brent Burns increased the Sharks lead towards the end of the period. He scored on a slap shot from near range when Raffi Torres set him up on a great play just in front of the goal.

Hurricanes tied the game at 2-2 in the second period when Elias Lindholm scored a similar goal to Brent Burns earlier, as he shot a slap shot from a short range that left Alex Stalock with no time to react, thus setting the third period with no team leading.

Both teams traded good scoring chances in a fast paced game, but failed to score, taking the game into the overtime. The game seemed to have been heading towards another shootout, but Carolina ended it with less than a minute left on a broken play inside the Sharks own zone. Jay Harrison jumped into the play from the blue line as he got the puck from his teammate Elias Lindholm, and became wide open right on the edge of the crease. With plenty of time to pick a corner and Andrew Desjardins failing to cover him, Carolina player sent the puck into the net, thus ending the game.

It was not a loss in which the Sharks played well, but they have a chance to rebound against the best team in the East Pittsburg Penguins, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin make their rare appearance at the SAP Center.

Ducks win New Year’s Eve battle

(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

By Pearl Allison Lo

 

ANAHEIM– Matt Belesky’s goal was the first consecutive goal for either team as the Ducks left for New Year’s Eve celebrations with a 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Belesky’s goal came at 18:30 of the second period, as he was aided by Nick Bonino, who had just scored about three and a half minutes earlier.

Anaheim’s now 15-0-2 record at home is their best such start in franchise history, as they snapped the Sharks’ four-game winning streak after losing to them Sunday.

San Jose’s Logan Couture commented, “We didn’t play very well tonight, you know, the second period, we were awful, one of the worst periods for our season, if not the worst…”

The 5-on-5 on ice with two players in the box became a 5-on-4 when the Sharks’ Matt Irwin was called for holding at 5:38 of the first period.

The Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri scored the first and lone goal of the period at 16:24, aided by Beleskey and Cam Fowler.

Antti Niemi made consecutive saves against Anaheim’s Corey Perry with just over 2:47 left in the period. As the first shot bounced off Niemi, Niemi’s second save became a glove catch from straightaway.

Perry then had a slashing penalty with 15 seconds to go to give San Jose a power play.

After a faceoff with about 14.7 seconds left, Couture thought the puck went in the net but it bounced off the goal post and then after a teammate’s missed attempt, Patrick Marleau got the rebound off Jonas Hiller and put the puck inside. However, the goal went under review and it was ruled that time expired before Marleau made the shot.

The Sharks made up for it though by scoring 35 seconds into the second period to tie the game. Dan Boyle was helped by Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton on the continuing power play.

A bouncing puck on top of the net as Niemi tried to find it and Boyle tried to prevent the puck from going in, almost led to an own goal.

The Ducks thought they scored later near the net but Niemi was able to stop the puck with his leg against the goal post.

Anaheim ended up outshooting San Jose 25-8 in the second period, after the Sharks outshot the Ducks 17-8 in the first.

Francois Beauchemin’s first goal of the season put Anaheim up 2-1 at 11:00 of the second. It was the third attempt by the team during the possession and went between Niemi’s legs. Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg assisted on the play.

About a minute and a half later, Couture switched stick sides and then aimed at the top of the net to retie the game, aided by Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Ducks scored on the power play when Bonino was able to go around Niemo’s leg. Getzlaf and Fowler got their second assists of the game with Bonino’s goal to make it 3-2. This would be the first of four straight goals for Anaheim.

Before Beleskey’s goal, Thornton had an empty net but Ben Lovejoy was able to come up from behind and block Thornton with his stick.

Getzlaf got into a semi-breakaway and shot off the goal post and into the net to make it 5-2 at 1:14 of the third period. This gave him his fourth career 20-goal season and took Niemi out of the game.

Down shorthanded about 15 seconds later, Saku Koivu went into a clean breakway about a minute into San Jose’s power play. Koivu’s shot missed and Andrew Cogliano scored off the rebound against Alex Stalock, Niemi’s replacement.

The Sharks scored their second power play less than a minute later. Bracken Kearns got his second goal in two games against the Ducks as he tipped in Matt Irwin’s shot from the blue line in front of the net.

 

Game notes: Cogliano has started 500 straight NHL games, the fifth to do so in NHL history. San Jose starts the New Year playing the Edmonton Oilers January 2 at 7:30pm.

 

Joe Thornton, Power Play Ease Absence of Hertl

By Matthew Harrington

SAN JOSE, CA – On a day when Sharks fans received coal in their stockings it was a man known for his beard, larger-than-life figure and propensity for giving to others that delivered a present to San Jose fans. With the news that rookie-phenom, Youtube sensation and dream aficionado Tomas Hertl would require surgery on his knee, injured on a knee-on-knee hit by Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown last Thursday, Jumbo Joe delivered a Sharks victory over the red-hot Colorado Avalanche in a 5-4 shootout at the SAP Center Monday night. Jolly Old Saint Joe erased any fears of a dip in production without his usual running mate, wrapping up the second-straight Sharks win in games without Hertl with a bow on top.

The Sharks captain finished the night with what should be called a Joe Thornton hat trick, assisting on three of San Jose’s four regulation goals in 20:22 of ice time. His second assists of the night, coming on line-mate Brent Burns’ tenth goal of the season was an absolute work of art. Thornton curled along the boards to shake an Avalanche skater before feeding a streaking Burns with a backhand pass to the tape of Burns’ stick. Burns fired the trigger in the slot point-black to tie the game.

It’s not the first time Burns has been the prime beneficiaries of Thornton’s play this season, notching 19 points (10g, 9A) in just 24 games while skating primarily on a line with the Captain but it’s rookie Hertl’s chemistry with the two veteran forwards that had people taking notice. The youngster established himself as an offensive force with 15 goals already this season on the left wing beside Thornton and Burns. Now the Sharks, already struggling for offense amidst power play woes and a Logan Couture scoring slump faced the quandary of replacing another potent offensive weapon.

“I think you’ve seen it, we’re confident in our group,” said Brent Burns. “We have a lot of elite skill. Sometimes it’s just about switching it up.”

Coach Todd McLellan held open auditions to fill Hertl’s vacancy on the top trio on Saturday, shuffling lines in the Sharks 3-2 shootout defeat of the visiting Dallas Stars. While Jumbo Joe scored the game-winner in the skills competition Saturday, the more promising sign that the Sharks could sustain the loss of Hertl is Thornton’s connection with Joe Pavelski.

“He’s playing well,” praised Thornton of the Plover, Wisconsin Native. “He finds himself in front of the net wide open. He just has such a nice shot. Tonight he just complemented me and Burns so well. He’s such a smart player, he’s feeling it right now.”

How sizzling is Pavelski? Twice Pavelski and Thornton have combined to produce points in the standings out of nothing Pavelski received a Thornton pass for a dramatic goal to force a shoot-out Saturday night then again Monday the Thornton to Pavelski connected on late-game heroics, with diminutive Joe tying the game with Antti Niemi pulled and 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

“Pavs has been a real clutch player over the past two weeks,” said McLellan. “He’s the go-to guy. He’s been getting it done. We’re happy for him and we’re happy for us.”

McLellan is likely more satisfied with the sudden gelling of a power play that was empty on its last 13 opportunities. McLellan scrapped the stagnant groupings of five and introduced two new power play units Monday night, with the results paying immediate dividends to the tune of a 2-for-4 clip. Jason Demers and Matt Irwin each cashed in on man-advantage opportunities, with both blue liners scoring from point shots with traffic in front.

“That’s the reason, pretty much, why you win or lose in the NHL right now,” said Thornton. ”Your penalty kill has to be good and your power play has to be good. Our power play hasn’t been very good but we’ve been able to win a couple games without it but it’s something we needed.”

Other than recapping the play of the evening, McLellan played coy with the media regarding the more difficult questions regarding player confidence.

“It’s Christmas, let’s all go home and enjoy it,” ended McLellan. “I’ll answer those questions when we come back.”

Back Where They Belong: Unchange the Sharks

(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mary Walsh

At the first intermission during the Sharks game Saturday, Jamie Baker said the Sharks seem to be missing something, possibly their mojo. If the Sharks have lost their mojo, it might be buried in Todd McLellan’s higgledy-piggledy line adjustments. It could be time to unchange all those lines.

Or maybe they found their mojo Saturday, in the process of being outshot 46-39 by the Dallas Stars, who average 31.6 shots a game. Maybe the Sharks found their mojo and that is how they survived going down by two goals, made it to a shootout and won 3-2. They won. That is important. But if a 4-2 victory in Toronto foretold of a losing streak to come, it isn’t likely that the Sharks will rest on those Dallas shootout laurels.

The Sharks started the season outstandingly well. To get back to that could be impossible, but to get back to winning more than losing is a reasonable goal. The key is to put the pieces back where they belong and leave them there for at least as long as they have been out of place. That would be nine games or so.

The Sharks’ coaching staff spent a lot of time thinking up forward lines during the off-season and training camp. The lines they started with might have some merit, even if you account for the insertion of players who came and went due to injury. During the ten game experiment the team just completed, only the Hertl-Thornton-Burns and Couture-Marleau connections lasted.

Those were dismantled Saturday against Dallas, beyond replacing the injured Hertl. John McCarthy took Pavelski’s spot as third line center, Pavelski moved to a new line with Thornton and Marleau, and Burns to Couture’s line with Havlat.

Putting McCarthy at center is not wrong per se. He played there in college and also in the AHL. But he’s been in San Jose for most of this season, playing wing. Maybe tossing him back to the middle isn’t the best way to stabilize the team.

When the Sharks started this rough patch after Toronto, San Jose started making line adjustments. Eventually, they made every line adjustment there was to make, until finally Martin Havlat was skating on a fourth line with Andrew Desjardins. The experiment may have provided some as yet unseen benefit to the team, but it certainly didn’t generate many wins.

Obviously, the inquiry into whether or not a pass can connect between Havlat and Desjardins was answered with an unequivocal “no.” But what about all those other adjustments? What about moving Pavelski to the wing? Pavelski is a perfectly capable winger, but moving him away from center punched a hole in one of the team’s most coveted qualities: daunting depth through center.

The decision to sit Tyler Kennedy for a game, then put him back in on the fourth line looked a lot like the path Havlat followed back to the second line. It’s all well and good to make a player watch a game to sort things out, then have him come back in with limited ice time.

Except it really isn’t well and good. Using the fourth line as a gateway back into the game can thoroughly handicap the fourth line if said player is not accustomed to fourth line duty. It’s hard enough for the energy line to do its job with limited ice time and the continuous changing of their membership.

When the rotation included McCarthy, Sheppard and Brown as wingers for Desjardins, at least it was just those four. They could get a feel for each other. Tossing Havlat and Kennedy in there didn’t do them any favors. They have to work fast and hard, they’re not a rehab service for top niners.

It wasn’t ideal for the top niners either. Martin Havlat, before Thursday’s game, was preparing to skate on a line with Couture and Marleau, the third line he’d played on in as many games. Despite playing all over the lineup, did Havlat think his game was becoming more consistent or not?

Not, but like you said, I’ve been all over the place. So we’ll see. I played with these guys half of the year last year at the end and it was great. So we’ll see how it is.

It went pretty well, better than other lines that night. It was the only line to score a goal and finish without a minus by their names. Tyler Kennedy was the only other skater without a minus.

Whether he sees it or not, Havlat’s game has been getting stronger. It may be taking longer than it would if he’d been left consistently with the same line-mates. While his game has suffered along with the team’s, he has at least maintained some defensive equilibrium. McLellan commented on that after the win in St. Louis last Tuesday:

When we look at Marty, I think since he’s been back in the lineup, he’s only been a minus player three nights. That’s pretty darn good. There’s not a lot of other guys that are in that situation. Would we like more offense from him? I think it’s coming.

Havlat isn’t the only player who might profit from a consistent line configuration. Kennedy did better than Havlat on the fourth line. He even got an assist in his second game there. Maybe all he needed was a little more time with his new linemates, a second game?

In Los Angeles, it looked like McLellan was ready to put the old bands back together, with Havlat and Marleau flanking Couture, and Pavelski back at center with Wingels and Sheppard. When Hertl went down, emergency changes had to be made, but otherwise the team was taking a familiar shape again.

Those lines did not win that game, but wins have been scarce for the kaleidoscope of line formations before and since. Those won three of eight games. Perhaps if McLellan gives the old lines a chance to find their footing again the team can reverse this losing trend.

Sharks Lose to Kings 4-1, Hertl Injured

By Mary Walsh

LOS ANGELES- It appears that the Visitor’s Curse still haunts the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center. The mischievous spirit might even be getting more violent. Thursday night, the Sharks lost to the Kings by a score of 4-1. They also lost star forward and rookie Tomas Hertl to a knee-on-knee hit from LA’s Dustin Brown. How long the team will be without Hertl is not yet clear.

The fact that the Kings won was not at all out of the ordinary for these teams, the home team has won going back 15 games now. What was unusual was the score: 4-1. It has been some time since a game between these two ended with such a lopsided result. Patrick Marleau, playing his 1200th NHL game, scored the only Sharks goal.

McLellan made a couple of lineup changes for Thursday’s game, including moving Martin Havlat to the second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. He put Scott Hannan back in, paired with Brad Stuart. He also put Tyler Kennedy in, on the fourth line with Mike Brown and Andrew Desjardins.

The first penalty of the game went to the Kings at 3:25, to Drew Doughty for holding. The Sharks had several good chances, a couple that looked like dead certainties (one for Couture, another for Irwin) but they missed. The Kings had a good short-handed chance late in the penalty but Niemi gloved it.

The Sharks lost a lot of races to the Kings in the first period. Dump-ins were about as effective as turnovers. As a result, the Sharks were outshot through most of the period, though by the end of it they were only behind 13-11.

With a minute left in the period, the Kings’ Dustin Brown collided with Tomas Hertl just inside the Sharks’ zone. The knee-on-knee hit earned him a five minute major. Hertl left the ice hobbling. During the ensuing delayed penalty, Brent Burns earned a penalty for interference. The teams finished the period playing 4-on-4. James Sheppard was tapped to fill in for Tomas Hertl on the Thornton line.

The second period started with the teams still at 4-on-4, and when Burns’ penalty expired the Sharks still had over 2:30 left on the man advantage. The Sharks finally found a way to sustain pressure, but two good chances in close and an Irwin shot off the post were all the Sharks had to show for the power play.

The Kings’ goaltender Martin Jones was very good, but the Sharks were unable to take advantage of the second chances they did create. As McLellan said before the game, how well Jones has played was not the Sharks’ biggest challenge:

I think for our group it’s more about preparing to face six players rather than one goaltender. The five others that are on the ice do a tremendous job for them defensively and they position themselves well around the net, it allows the goaltender to feel comfortable and make a lot of saves. They’ve been successful playing that way. It’s not just the guy wearing the pads, it’s the other five that you’ve got to beat as well.

The first goal of the game came at 5:26 of the second, scored from above the left circle by the Kings’ Alec Martinez, with an assist to Tyler Toffoli. The goal came from a shot made possible when the Sharks failed to clear the puck or control it despite several tries. At least three, maybe four Sharks touched it in the defensive zone before Martinez got it.

Joe Thornton was called for holding against Anze Kopitar at 9:03. Despite starting in their own zone, the Sharks’ penalty killers (including Mike Brown now) cleared the puck five times and even got a couple of short-handed shots off. As soon as the power play expired, however, Slava Voynov made a clean pass from the Kings’ zone, right onto Tyler Toffoli’s stick at the Sharks’ blue line. He skated in and put a shot in the far corner to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.

An impressive series of saves by Martin Jones was punctuated by three inexplicably failed shots from Sharks Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels. Wingels even tried from both sides of the net, and he almost poked it in behind Jones but the rookie goaltender twisted around and stopped it with his glove.

During the second period, the teams were even in shots at ten, with total shots being 23-20 for the Kings. Of course, the 2-0 score was more significant, especially since the Kings had not lost when leading after the second since March 30.

Instead of challenging that pattern, the Sharks gave up another goal 36 seconds into the third period. Jeff Carter was given far too much time in the Sharks’ zone, and an ill-advised slide to block a shot left Niemi alone with one of the better shots in the league. Assists went to Dwight King and Robyn Regehr.

The Sharks drew another penalty when Jake Muzzin pushed Martin Havlat into the boards from behind. From camera distance, Havlat didn’t appear injured but he was certainly shoved from behind. He was out playing a shift later on the second power play unit.

The Kings killed the penalty off, and then they scored again. This time it was Dwight King’s goal, with the assists going to Carter and Regehr.

The Sharks got another chance on the power play when Mike Richards went to the box for high-sticking at 6:37. As soon as the penalty expired, the Kings went the other way 3 on 2, but didn’t score.

With just over two minutes left in the game, San Jose’s second line made it in to the Kings’ zone and Marleau scored his 16th of the season. A lone assist went to Martin Havlat.

The final shot count was preposterously even at 32 for each team. The Sharks’ power play went 0-4, their penalty kill was 1-0.

The Sharks play their next game at home on Saturday against the Dallas Stars. Puck drop at 7:30 pm.

California teams dominate in battle for top spot in NHL Pacific

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary

SAN JOSE–The Sharks played like a Stanley Cup Champion during this five game homestand in which they won all five games at SAP Center. The Sharks now head to the road to face Toronto, Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Minnesota for a four game road trip. The Sharks concluded their five game homestand with a overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night 4-3. These were no doubt the two best teams in the Pacific in the NHL.

This was a very physical game there were five fights already in the first period. These two teams don’t like each other and these are two excellent teams as a matter of fact I was looking at the Western Conference there are three teams from California that occupy the top three spots in the Pacific San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. One of those teams is going to win the conference those are the best three teams right now and they have the best chances to stay all the way through.

I like the Sharks chances their playing very tough and one other team in the Western Conference that is tough is the Chicago Blackhawks and watching the NHL this last month the western teams are much more physical and they dominate the Eastern Conference which is interesting and for many years it was the east but now the west rules they seem to have bigger players, faster players more physical and the Sharks have a very good mixture of players so it’s going to be a good season for the Sharks.

 

Sharks play by play announcer Dan Rusanowsky before the game on Saturday night the voice of the Sharks for radio told me to keep my fingers crossed he thinks this might be the year but we said that last year too. The Sharks are very aggressive and their aggressive again on Saturday night as they fought the Ducks from a 3-3 tie to win in overtime 4-3. There is still a lot of game left and they have lost only one game in San Jose this year and the Ducks are undefeated at home.

The Sharks are now 18-3-5 with 41 points and the Ducks are 18-7-4 with 40 points, this is a real good homestand that the Sharks put on with wins over Tampa Bay, New Jersey, L.A., St. Louis, and Anaheim. The game on Saturday night was a big game for the Sharks because right after Saturday’s win they flew to Toronto to begin a four game road trip which starts on Tuesday night. The Sharks will be playing seven games in nine days which includes a brief return to San Jose for two games before heading back out again for another three games on the road.

The Sharks delivered on Saturday night and it was a good rivalry and it’s not a like the Dodgers and the Giants because that’s baseball since their days in New York. This is a very good rivalry, if the Sharks ever had a rival they have to look at the Ducks and the Kings. The Ducks are a very good team and organization they play in a beautiful place the Honda Center and a few years ago it was known as the Arrowhead Duck Pond just across from Anaheim Stadium from Highway 57.

The Ducks have a good thing down there and they get the crowds down there and a population of 354,000 people live in Anaheim almost like the size of Oakland. San Jose has over a million but it’s a good rivalry and we like to see these three teams in the Pacific Conference and the three teams I like their odds are the Kings of Los Angeles, the Ducks of Anaheim and the Sharks of San Jose. Like I said before one of those three teams from California is going to win the Pacific and the Western Conference.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary each week for Sportstalk Radio

Sharks Beat the Blues, Again

sharks-blues-20111210-blog2

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-Friday afternoon, the San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues, scoring six goals against them for the second time this season. Four of those came in the first period, during which time the Blues went scoreless and only registered two shots on goal. The Blues’ game picked up after that, but that first period gave the Sharks a lead too great for St. Louis to overcome. The final score was 6-3, with three goals for the Sharks coming from Brent Burns, and one each from Tommy Wingels, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl. The Blues’ goals were scored by Ian Cole, David Backes and Jaden Schwartz. The Sharks outshot the Blues 32-24.

Is scoring six goals against St. Louis likely to become a pattern? Tommy Wingels addressed that and some possible reasons for the Sharks’ success against the Blues this season:

I think our game is simplified when we play a team like that, … making the easy play. We know that they’re aggressive and if you don’t, we’re probably going to be hemmed in our zone… are we going to score that many goals against them every time? I doubt it. Other games might be 1-0, 3-2 games but we’ll take the goals as they come.

The Blues started Friday’s game with a blind spot that their starting goaltender Brian Elliott could not make up for. Through the first period, the Blues treated the space between the inside of the right face-off dot and the slot like dark territory. Three Sharks scored from that space: Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Tommy Wingels. Joe Pavelski took a shot from there as well, but Elliott grabbed it.

Two first period goals were scored by Burns. The ex-defenseman went on to score again in the third period, for his first career hat trick. Burns might seem to be back to 100% since returning from injury, but he thinks there is more improvement to come:

Hopefully the legs are going to keep getting better… I feel like I stayed in really good shape but gym shape and game shape [are] different, so I think it’s going to get better every game. I’m hoping to feel better than… today was a little weird with Thanksgiving yesterday, a lot of food, and then no skate in the morning. I think it’s going to keep getting better and better.

Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan was very pleased with the start.

A hell of a period. Really happy with it, excited about going out and playing the next, a really good start.

Nevertheless, the Sharks had to be prepared for the Blues to push back, as they did:

They’re a first place club for a reason. They’re not going away, they weren’t happy obviously with their first. They came back and played their game and that’s the type of team you’ve got to play against for the last forty minutes.

The Sharks started the game fast and furious, going right to the Blues net. After 25 seconds in the Blues’ zone, Brent Burns put the Sharks up 1-0.

The Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk went to the box for interference 2:06 into the first. A shot from Couture bounced off of Brian Elliott. Pavelski picked up the rebound and back-handed it to Joe Thornton, who did not wait to shoot it. 

With the score 2-0 Sharks, after four minutes of play, the Blues still did not have a shot on goal. Their first came in the next minute, but it was clear that the Sharks had come ready for the top-ranked opponent.

The Blues did not score with that shot, and did not get credit for another shot until 6:40 into the period, when they also took another penalty. Patrick Berglund was called for cross-checking Martin Havlat. Eight seconds later, Logan Couture went to the box for hooking Roman Polak, so the Sharks’ second power play was neutralized.

No matter. Shortly after the penalties expired, the Sharks made another fast rush through the neutral zone, and Burns scored his second from the slot off a pass from Thornton. The second assist went to Tomas Hertl.

Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock called a time out. When that was over, the Sharks went right back on the attack.

Wingels got on the board at 11:27 of the first, putting the Sharks up 4-0. The shot count now stood at 11-2. Assists went to Couture and Justin Braun.

With 5:08 left in the period, Patrick Marleau was called for tripping Alexander Steen, giving the Blues their first full power play of the game. They did not register a shot through the power play, though one shot rang loudly off the outside of Niemi’s post.

The Blues started the second with more composure and a new goaltender as Jaroslav Halak replaced Elliott. The Blues had a good early chance in front of Niemi, and the Sharks’ goaltender had to be sharp, stretching out a toe to stop a shot from T.J. Oshie. It took the Blues a little under six minutes to triple their shot count.

By then, it was time for another penalty. David Backes took it, two of them: a cross-checking minor and a ten minute misconduct. The Sharks’ power play did not score, though Couture had a good chance off a Thornton pass.

With nine seconds left in that power play, Pavelski was called for interference. The Blues’ power play started to show some of its mettle, with the Blues holding the zone fairly well and getting a couple of shots off.

As the power play wound down, the Sharks had a short-handed chance but that ended when Havlat was called for high-sticking Alec Pietrangelo. The Sharks would have had to kill back to back penalties. Instead, the Blues’ Derek Roy took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 1:21 left in the Blues’ power play.

With the teams playing four on four, the Sharks had a couple of good chances before the Blues went the other way and Ian Cole shot the puck in to make it 4-1.

The Sharks took another penalty at 17:23, when Dan Boyle was called for holding Vladimir Tarasenko. As that penalty expired, Niemi made a beautiful glove save on a shot from the blue line, despite being screened by numerous players. That puck had been going right where the first Blues’ goal got by him.

By the end of the second, the shots for the period were even at 12 apiece. The total count was still 24-14 Sharks.

The Sharks started the third period with an early penalty, to Brad Stuart for tripping Tarasenko. It took the Blues over a minute and 20 seconds, but their power play finally produced, closing the gap to two goals. The goal was scored by David Backes, with assists going to Derek Roy and Alexander Steen.

That goal woke the Sharks up. They made themselves comfortable in the Blues’ zone for a couple of shifts after the goal, but the Blues were not backing down. The teams traded chances and both goalies were busy for a few minutes before T.J. Oshie took an interference penalty at 5:19. This gave the Sharks their fifth power play of the game, and possibly their least impressive. They didn’t score and spent too much time trying to get set up. The Blues’ penalty kill made it nearly impossible with timely clears and extended board battles.

The Blues followed up that penalty kill with some very tough play in the Sharks’ zone. Brad Stuart was pushed into the boards but it went uncalled. After a couple more players were knocked to the ice, Niemi covered the puck as it sat on the outside of the net. Tensions boiled over behind the net but the referees quieted the scrum without assigning any penalties.

At 9:26, they did call Boyle for high-sticking. Sharks blocked shots relentlessly, and managed three good clears, including a solid kick of the puck from Stuart. With several line changes and a timely stop by Niemi, the Sharks’ penalty killers stayed fresh until the Blues’ power play was neutralized with a holding call to Kevin Shattenkirk. With just seven seconds left before the Sharks’ power play would start, Vladimir Sobotka skated into the sharks’ zone, two-on-one with Jaden Schwartz. Sobotka passed and Schwartz scored, making it a one-goal game at 11:19. The second assist went to Roman Polak.

Seconds later, as the Sharks’ power play was just getting under way, Burns skated down the left side with the puck, evaded the Blues’ defenders and threw the puck at the net from the left faceoff circle. With Pavelski in front of the net, Burns’ shot went by Halak on the far side, giving the ex-defenseman his first NHL hat trick. That also restored the Sharks’ two-goal lead.

With just 3:54 left in the game, the Blues took a defensive zone tripping call on Shattenkirk.

That power play didn’t pay off for the Sharks. The Blues pulled their goaltender. With under 50 seconds left, Tomas Hertl extended the Sharks lead to 6-3, with assists on the empty netter going to Burns and Thornton.

The Sharks’ scratches were James Sheppard, John McCarthy and Jason Demers. That left room for both Mike Brown and Matt Pelech on the fourth line, and Matt Irwin on the blue line.

Sharks hot to get mileage on current trip/Bulls look to have close games on homestand

by Larry Levitt
DALY CITY–The San Jose Sharks are on very long road trip and I don’t mean long as in time although as in multiple days in an eight day, five game road trip but the amount of travel they criss cross the United States and Canada twice. The Sharks are doing rather well, they’re not really executing and playing a very good defensive game right now
To say they got lucky Thursday night and beat the Vancouver Canucks in an overtime goal by Dan Boyle is an understatement, they didn’t really deserve to win but then again they deserve to win a couple others they didn’t get the goals scored, for now it’s payback. The best line I heard was ”the hockey Gods might be even things up.”
When the Sharks had Ryan Clowe and Michal Handzus that was their go to team and when you trade them away and they traded them away for speed but they don’t have that skill. I love that quick shot of the Sharks Joe Pevelski and Logan Courture they really get their shot off their stick quickly. You got to give the goalie some credit too but they didn’t seem like they had much of a game plan going in the last game on Thursday.The Sharks did what they could, they got what they got getting one point even though you lose a game getting one point is better than none.
The scary thing about facing a team like Edmonton in last place, the Oilers have been shut out for the last three games in a row. So you know their going to be aching to get a goal and against a team that’s struggling defensively like the Sharks are. Edmonton has a young team their in transition for quite awhile. They’re suppose to be there now and they’re working at having a good team now. The Oilers are struggling so maybe it’s a good time for them to catch up to them and straighten out your own woes.
Two inured Sharks Raffi Torres and Brett Burns the two injured Sharks, Torres is the team’s spark plug but the Sharks have been doing pretty good without them. Raffi is supposed to be the big heavy hitter but they didn’t really need a big heavy hitter. They’ve really been playing okay without him. Burns is a bigger miss. I don’t understand why he’s been out so long. Burns has been out with a mouth injury and Torres out with a torn ACL.
For sure Burns is really missed and he’s out for more than just a chipped tooth it’s going to be interesting when we finally find out probably at the end of the season to find out how bad this injury is. Burns may have a broken bone that still needs to heal. They miss his speed, they miss his recklessness down on the ice that really plays havoc with other teams.
It was also reported that Burns is suffering from an injury that could be a concussion related so the Sharks are going to have to make due without him. When Torres comes back he can bring some offense he doesn’t have to be a heavy hitter. He’s a big guy, he’s a good skater he can shoot so their out there and the team has been getting along okay and the Sharks look forward to see what comes up.
San Francisco Bulls update: The Bulls are on a two game winning streak they won their home opener on Friday night and then they won in Stockton on Veterans day Monday night, they’re looking pretty good the thing that is most impressive getting the road win in Stockton on Monday night. The thing that’s most impressive is the goaltending and they have hot goaltending with Tyler Boskorowany he’s a big guy at 6’5 210 pounds he moves really well.
Boskorowany moves pretty well, he got caught out of position a few times in Stockton but recovered really well and saved a goal. If the team can learn to play with him he’s a new goalie for the team. If they can get used to his style and used to his defense that’s in front of him they can really be a good team. Boskorowany he talks a lot and they seemed to be thriving on that and a lot of the defenseman are pretty young and are pretty new to the league.
They have been performing quite well, offensively it’s pretty interesting that the Bulls have been had some really lousy luck in terms of losing some players that had been called up or an injury. Center Ryan McDonough and right winger Dale Mitchell with injuries and left winger Riley Brace with the call up to Worcester. Players like Chris Crane have been filling that gap, he was in the top half of the shots taken so he seemed primed to move up a line but offensively they’ve had some difficult loses of players but they seem to be holding it together anyway.
Larry Levitt does Pro Hockey commentary each week for Sportstalk