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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Pavelski’

State of the Sharks: Disappointed

Posted by davefowkes on 05/14/2009

Disappointment, anger and frustration, those are the emotions the San Jose Sharks and their fan base continue to feel after the Sharks first round upset loss to Anaheim. The Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” event with their fans. CEO Greg Jamison, GM Doug Wilson, head coach Todd McLellan and players Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were on hand to face questions from a crowd estimated in the three to four thousand range.

The mood of the crowd was mostly upbeat. There were standing ovations for the players and the coach as they were introduced. Overall the mood of the event was jolly. But the underlying current of disappointment was certainly felt in the questioning and certainly in the answers.

“I thought the anger and disappointment would diminish by now but watching all these other game sevens, it has not,” Wilson said. “We built this team with high expectations and we will never lower them. We have some difficult decisions ahead.”

Wilson has spent the last few weeks since the end of the season as he says conducting an autopsy of the Sharks season. “I should not use that term but it is how it feels.”

While nobody would give details on what went wrong or what changes are to come, there was a clear theme that developed: The Sharks must improve their mental toughness.

“It takes a physical and a mental commitment,” Coach McLellan said. “We are close physically but Detroit is ahead of us on mental toughness. How do we help players be mentally tougher? I don’t know the answer to that. We can look inside the organization and we can look outside the organization. We have to be mentally tougher. Will this (a first round playoff exit) make us mentally tougher or will we wither away? I think we will be in the first group.”

The comparison to what Detroit has gone through was another regular theme. McLellan pointed out that the Red Wings stumbled a number of times before finally breaking through to the top.

Players were the focal point of a number of questions early on. Joe Thornton was asked why he did not shoot more? How can he play more angry in every game like he did in game 5? And why did he lead the league in getting thrown out of the face-off circle?

But while some of the questions were filled with laughs, and the players were able to have fun, the elephant in the room never left.

“This is a better hockey team then we had in Tampa,” Dan Boyle said comparing this team to the one he won a Stanley Cup with. “Come playoffs everyone has to step up. The top guys take a lot of heat but everybody needs to step up. Goaltending needs to be better, our top guys have to be better, and our second guys have to be better. I think this is a better hockey team but we have to come together. I look forward to getting back on the ice.”

“We take the blame,” team captain Marleau said on Anaheim’s top line out playing them. “We need to be better. Why did this happen? That is the soul searching we are doing.”

Thornton added, “They did out play us. Their power play was better than ours. They are three big guys that played well down the stretch. We should have played better.”

In the end the question that all Shark fans will be asking though is what will the Sharks do to improve themselves next year? While the answer to that question was evident in the Sharks management will clearly be looking to improve the team’s mental toughness, it was not clear how they would go about doing that. Will there be changes? It certainly sounds like there will be some.

“Who will be with us (next year)? I don’t know. But we will look into the mirror and we will do what it takes to get it done. We will bring back people committed to get where we want to go,” Wilson said. “The next couple of months will be uncomfortable. I like the players here but we need those who will fight through this. We want more guys like Mike Ricci.”

Ricci who is a member of the organization received a standing ovation when he emerged to take questions after the players left. “I wish I could put guys like Ricci and (Brian) Marchment (who is also with the organization) back in the lineup,” Wilson proclaimed.

One thing about the Sharks that is apparently very different from Detroit was this State of the Sharks event. “I can’t believe how many people are here tonight,” McLellan said as he compared it to his days in Detroit. “It strikes me just how passionate you are as fans. I came from a place they call hockeytown and I guaranty you, this would not happen there! Be proud!”

The event lasted well over two hours. In the end there were not grand gestures, there were no clues as to the Sharks offseason plans, but what was clear is that the Sharks management is trying to put together a winning team. The next step will be to improve the mental toughness of the team. The Stanley Cup question though is, will that mental toughness come from inside the organization or will it come from outside?  In all likelihood, a little of both.

Disappointment, anger and frustration, those are the emotions the San Jose Sharks and their fan base continue to feel after the Sharks first round upset loss to Anaheim. The Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” event with their fans. CEO Greg Jamison, GM Doug Wilson, head coach Todd McLellan and players Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were on hand to face questions from a crowd estimated in the three to four thousand range.

The mood of the crowd was mostly upbeat. There were standing ovations for the players and the coach as they were introduced. Overall the mood of the event was jolly. But the underlying current of disappointment was certainly felt in the questioning and certainly in the answers.

“I thought the anger and disappointment would diminish by now but watching all these other game sevens, it has not,” Wilson said. “We built this team with high expectations and we will never lower them. We have some difficult decisions ahead.”

Wilson has spent the last few weeks since the end of the season as he says conducting an autopsy of the Sharks season. “I should not use that term but it is how it feels.”

While nobody would give details on what went wrong or what changes are to come, there was a clear theme that developed: The Sharks must improve their mental toughness.

“It takes a physical and a mental commitment,” Coach McLellan said. “We are close physically but Detroit is ahead of us on mental toughness. How do we help players be mentally tougher? I don’t know the answer to that. We can look inside the organization and we can look outside the organization. We have to be mentally tougher. Will this (a first round playoff exit) make us mentally tougher or will we wither away? I think we will be in the first group.”

The comparison to what Detroit has gone through was another regular theme. McLellan pointed out that the Red Wings stumbled a number of times before finally breaking through to the top.

Players were the focal point of a number of questions early on. Joe Thornton was asked why he did not shoot more? How can he play more angry in every game like he did in game 5? And why did he lead the league in getting thrown out of the face-off circle?

But while some of the questions were filled with laughs, and the players were able to have fun, the elephant in the room never left.

“This is a better hockey team then we had in Tampa,” Dan Boyle said comparing this team to the one he won a Stanley Cup with. “Come playoffs everyone has to step up. The top guys take a lot of heat but everybody needs to step up. Goaltending needs to be better, our top guys have to be better, and our second guys have to be better. I think this is a better hockey team but we have to come together. I look forward to getting back on the ice.”

“We take the blame,” team captain Marleau said on Anaheim’s top line out playing them. “We need to be better. Why did this happen? That is the soul searching we are doing.”

Thornton added, “They did out play us. Their power play was better than ours. They are three big guys that played well down the stretch. We should have played better.”

In the end the question that all Shark fans will be asking though is what will the Sharks do to improve themselves next year? While the answer to that question was evident in the Sharks management will clearly be looking to improve the team’s mental toughness, it was not clear how they would go about doing that. Will there be changes? It certainly sounds like there will be some.

“Who will be with us (next year)? I don’t know. But we will look into the mirror and we will do what it takes to get it done. We will bring back people committed to get where we want to go,” Wilson said. “The next couple of months will be uncomfortable. I like the players here but we need those who will fight through this. We want more guys like Mike Ricci.”

Ricci who is a member of the organization received a standing ovation when he emerged to take questions after the players left. “I wish I could put guys like Ricci and (Brian) Marchment (who is also with the organization) back in the lineup,” Wilson proclaimed.

One thing about the Sharks that is apparently very different from Detroit was this State of the Sharks event. “I can’t believe how many people are here tonight,” McLellan said as he compared it to his days in Detroit. “It strikes me just how passionate you are as fans. I came from a place they call hockeytown and I guaranty you, this would not happen there! Be proud!”

The event lasted well over two hours. In the end there were not grand gestures, there were no clues as to the Sharks offseason plans, but what was clear is that the Sharks management is trying to put together a winning team. The next step will be to improve the mental toughness of the team. The Stanley Cup question though is, will that mental toughness come from inside the organization or will it come from outside?  In all likelihood, a little of both.

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Sharks Get Healthy, Then Get Win

Posted by davefowkes on 04/07/2009

The San Jose Sharks needed a shootout to get their only goal of the game, but that was enough for a 1-0 win over Colorado and two more points in the standings as San Jose march toward the President’s Cup.

 

Joe Pavelski scored a goal in the shootout which proved to be the only goal of the game and Evgeni Nabokov stood tall in net knocking away all three Avalanche attempts to preserve his shutout. Nabokov stopped 20 saves in the game to earn his 41st victory of the year.

 

The two points are important ones for the Sharks who watched Boston lose to Ottawa to start the evening. With the win in hand, the Sharks now has a 5-point lead over Boston and a 6 point lead over Detroit in the race for the President’s Cup and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Sharks and Red Wings still have two games left while Boston has three.

 

The Sharks also got good news on the ice as they prepare for their playoff run. Mike Grier and Claude Lemieux both returned from the injured reserve to see ice time for the first time in months. Both showed rust, but the Sharks are just happy to see them on the ice with a few games to shake off the rust. Patrick Marleau did not suit up but there is hope for his return on Thursday.

 

The game started off very slow. It is not that either team played particularly badly, it is just that neither team could get a shot on net. Even 2-1 breaks ended with missed passes or off line shots. Colorado held just a 3-2 shot advantage after the first period.

 

“I don’t think we played that well,” Coach McLellan said. “They did a very good job in defending us, getting above us, making it difficult to enter their zone. We didn’t handle it well early in the game. In the second period after we discussed it a little bit, we got going. We can play a lot better and we expect more from each other.”

 

The second period heated up some with San Jose getting 16 shots on net. But at no point could they get one past Peter Budaj who made 30 saves on the night.

 

The Avalanche seemed to control the puck in the third period but Nabokov was excellent make three point blank saves during the period and single handedly saving the game for the Sharks. Colorado would end up taking penalties, one near the end of regulation and one in overtime to give the Sharks a 4-3 advantage for 3 of the 5 overtime minutes. But the Sharks could not score.

 

Finally in the shootout, Pavelski got the puck past Budaj on his stick side. Nabokov shelled Colorado’s three shots while Budaj turned away the final two attempts from San Jose. 1-0 is your final score!

 

“As a team we talk about control… and we ARE in control,” McLellan said of his teams ability to wrap up home ice on Thursday. “It’s where we want to be. But that doesn’t means, the opposition we play against or the other teams we are battling with are just going to roll over and play dead. We don’t expect that. We have to take care of our own business and we look forward to that opportunity on Thursday.”

 

The Sharks wrap up the home season on Thursday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Thoughts

Posted by davefowkes on 03/06/2009

A few quick hits to take us into the weekend:

–Great win for Stanford last night. Nice to see the seniors come together and get a road win this year. With three losses by one point and a 24 point blown lead at Cal, this is truly a season of what could have been for the Cardinal! Too bad. But at least they seem poised to finish strong.  Terrible loss for ASU though. A loss to Cal and they would take a four game losing streak into the Pac Ten Tourney and to me that puts them squarely on the bubble.

–Huge win for Cal. There was fear that a three game losing streak and an early ouster from the Pac Ten Tourney could cost them. Forget it, punch the ticket, the Bears are heading to the Madness! As for Arizona though: See ASU. Right now the Cats are out of the picture and looking in.

–Terrible loss for the Sharks last night. Great teams do not blow 3-goal leads at home. The Sharks at one point this season was the best team in the NHL. They are far from that now. That said, I am still a believer. The faces in the locker room were angry and frustrated. If they bring that emotion to Vancouver on Saturday they could run away with it! They need to get back to Sharks hockey, shoot the puck, get in front of the net, and keep the pressure up for 60-minutes! They are slumping now, but I still expect them to right the ship and be ready to roll come playoff time!

–The second line with Joe Pavelski, Ryan Clowe and Milan Michalek have really been clicking of late! If the top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi could raise their level of play and sustain it, the Sharks will be dangerous again!

–I love this time of year. Basketball on all the time. As I type this I am watching quarterfinal play in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.  10-days of fun all leading up to the big dance and everybody filling out their brackets. March is fun!

–JT O’Sullivan signed a contract in Cincinnati to back up Carson Palmer. Probably a good place for him and his style to be. Good to see him there and not in San Francisco! Given Palmer’s injury history there is a good chance we could see passes from JTO to Ocho Cinco this year!

–The A’s will be interesting the next week or so to see how they deal with Bobby Crosby. It would be great if Crosby would be open to being a utility infielder. As stated earlier, I actually expect a big year from him this year thanks to a new swing and an expiring contract. I could envision him taking hold of 2B, SS or 3B if one of the starters fall apart. But right now he sounds VERY unhappy about being replaced and does not seem excited to be in camp. It should make for an interesting time in A’s camp.

–If healthy, I love what Justin Duchscherer brings to the table, but as his elbow pain grows so does the comparison to Rich Harden. Great talent but can he stay healthy! The A’s need him out there. But you just have to wonder how many starts he’ll really be able to give them.

–Bye, bye Dave Roberts and thank you for stealing our money! Roberts was released by the Giants who will eat his $6.5 million contract. That free agent signing will not go down as one of Brian Sabean’s finest!

–Great story here about Carney Lansford the Giants hitting coach who had to watch his hitters take on his son who was pitching for  the A’s. Well, everyone else watched!

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/2009/03/05/why-carney-lansford-went-awol-in-the-fifth-inning-thursday/

–I am out of here for a weekend in the wine country! I’ll be posting again on Monday! Be well!

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Sharks Vs Wild

Posted by davefowkes on 03/05/2009

Big game for the Sharks tonight. Losers of two straight, they are looking to right the ship before heading out on the road. Brian Boucher is in net for Evgeni Nabokov who is out  because he “tweaked” something. The new Sharks Travis Moen and Kent Huskins will wait until Saturday for their Sharks debut. This is the Sharks first game not atop the Western Conference in a long time. They were past by Detroit last night. They need the win tonight to reclaim the most points in the Conference.

The Wild come into the game on a four game losing streak and stand in 11th place in the Western Conference. The Sharks lost to the Stars on Tuesday against a team that had lost 5 straight games. It is also yet another return to the Tank for Owen Nolan. Always fun to see the former team Captain here.

Tonight is a must win for San Jose. The key: STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX!!!

Joe Pavelski is in the lineup tonight. No word yet from the NHL whether they will rescind the game-misconduct penalty Pavelski got in the alledged head-butting incident against the Stars.

FIRST PERIOD:

Great first period. That is just what the Sharks needed. They came out strong, skated fast, and played the role of the aggresor. But they stayed in control of the tempo and their emotions. I had to beat the same drum, but the lack of penalties in this first period can not go unnoticed. Both goals were beautiful and they are the type of goals the Sharks used to get. Joe Pavelski charged the net and Ryan Clowe passed the puck from the corner just in front of the goalie for Pavelski to knock into the net. Pavelski was covered by two Wild and still got his stick on the puck. Ryan Clowe’s goal was nice play in the offensive zone and a pretty shot from the slot that just flat out beat Niklas Backstrom.

The Wild ended up peppering Boucher to get 11 shots before they really did not have any good scoring chances. Good hustle from the Sharks drew a penalty late in the first so the Sharks will have 1:46 of a power play when the second period opens. An excellent start for the Sharks tonight! Let’s hope they can keep it up!

2ND PERIOD:

I was going to type what a great period, but two goals by Minnesota soured that. Ugly end to the period. Both goals went in above Boucher’s shoulder. Good shots by Minnesota, just heavy shots through lots of traffic. It looked so good earlier on a beautiful put back by Joe Pavelski. That was his 20th goal of the year, a career best. The Sharks still have not gone to the penalty box, so at least there is that. I still think the Sharks win this they need to tighten it up again.

3RD PERIOD:

What can you say? That is just one of the all time bad goals to give up. It was not even a shot really. But the puck was shot in from center ice by Marek Zidlicky and Boucher got lazy and did not get down on both knees, the puck took a weird bounce right through his legs for the game tying goal. Horrible! He knows it, the players know it, the coaches know it. Not much you can do about it. The Sharks were out hustled in that period by the Wild. It looked like they would get away with it and the win until Boucher’s mistake. Now, we go to OT. The Sharks get at least a point to tie Detroit for the Western Conference lead. But it has to feel bittersweet right now if they can’t get that second point here.

FINAL:

Terrible loss. A good goal by Minnesota with 13 seconds left to complete the comeback. Horrible! First time the Sharks have blown a three goal lead at home since 1996. Not much else you can say. That is just a terrible loss by a hockey team that is supposed to be one of the best in the league! They certainly are not playing like it now!  Yuck!

PS. The Sharks held a team meeting after the game. Nobody was in a good mood afterwards that is for sure! Let’s hope they carry that anger and frustration with them to Vancouver.

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Sharks Vs Stars (Post Game Audio)

Posted by davefowkes on 03/03/2009

llasHere is the raw audio from the post game locker room if you are interested.

Joe Pavelski

Ryan Clowe

Patrick Marleau

Coach Todd McLellan

And some coaches notes courtesy of the Sharks PR staff:

Score: Dallas 4 – San Jose 1 Final

Date: March 3, 2009

SHARKS, HEAD COACH, Todd McLellen:

“It made a huge impact on our team [to lose Pavelski]. He’s perhaps been our best player over the past few games, a penalty killer, he anchors a power play – when you lose him you have to have people pick up their game a little more, and that didn’t happen tonight.”

“We worked on our defenses and coverage in practice yesterday. Some of the mistakes we made tonight were directly addressed. Either we did a very poor job as coaches addressing them, or we didn’t pick up on some of the cues that we need to. We’ll go back to the drawing board and try a different approach as coaches and make sure they get the message.”

Stars HEAD COACH, Dave Tippett

“Two games in a week we’ve played against that team that we’ve played very well. We didn’t get rewarded for our work in the first game but I thought we got rewarded for it tonight. We created a lot of chances and capitalized on those chances, we defended hard when we had to, and Marty Turco made some great saves when he had to. We competed really, really hard and that’s the way it’s going to have to be if we’re going to be successful. We did that tonight and found a way to win.”

“We needed to get rewarded for some hard work. We’ve played some very good games, over that five-game losing streak. I thought three games we had a real good chance to win, a couple of them we didn’t play very well, but we needed something to give us that jolt of energy that our work would be compensated, and the win is a good compensation for that.”

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Sharks Vs Stars – Live Blog From The Tank

Posted by davefowkes on 03/03/2009

The Sharks return home from a 4 game road trip to play the Dallas Stars tonight. The Sharks went 2-2 on the road trip including a 1-0 win in Dallas to open the trip. The Sharks enter the night tied with Boston for the NHL lead in points and three points better than Detroit. But the Sharks have injury issue. Mike Grier (knee) and Jeremy Roenick (shoulder) are out indefinitely. Brian Boucher will make his third start in a row for Evgeni Nabokov who is out recovering from the flu (or so it is being reported). Claude Lemieux joins them on the bench as a healthy scratch.The last time the Sharks were home between those long road trips, they swept the three game homestand.

Dallas has really struggled. They are coming off a 1-5 homestand. It is the first time they have lost five straight home games since 1978. With 65 points the Stars are now in 11th place in the western conference but that is only 2 points less than 7th place. It is shapping up to be a wild stretch run for those final playoffs spots in the west.

As they experiments continue, I will be back in this blog space with constant updates through the game. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments if you are watching at home:

First Period:

14:40: Welcome back to the big leagues Brad Staubitz! An eventful start for the rookie just called up as an injury replacement. On his first shift with the 4th line, Staubitz drew a holding penalty. Sharks did a nice job killing the penalty giving up two shots. Stars had a couple of nice looks but could not find the net. After the penalty was over Staubitz came out and got in a fight with Krystofer Barch. We gave Staubitz the win but not by much.

13:25: Stars strike first. James Neal had an open net on a rebound from a shot from Brian Sutherby. Boucher did a great job trying to stop it but the defensive breakdown in front of him left too many Stars to cover it all. Stars are up 1-0. It is the 4th straight game the Sharks have allowed the first goal to their opponent.

10:53: That is the way you respond! The Stars take a penalty, the Sharks cash in! Just when we were complaining about how the Sharks would not take a shot, they put together a great play. A nice pass from Setoguchi to Ehrhoff on the side who took the shot that Thornton deflected right in front of the net. Tough to tell whether Ehrhoff was actually shooting or passing to Thornton. Very timely though. Stars game to play. They are out shooting the Sharks 8-3.

5:27: It is getting ugly for the Sharks now. They would really be a much better team if they did not take all these penalties. 4-minute penalties to each side and now Plihal goes to the box for holding. Another kill for the Sharks now.

8: WOW! The rivalry is heating up. Joe Pavelski has just been tossed with a 5-minute “attempt to injure” penalty and a game misconduct.  Daryl Sydor got a two minute penalty so in the second period the Stars will have a 3-minute power play. Pavelski has been in the midst of a few scrums and has really turned up the heat on this game.

End of 1st: The Stars are clearly the desperate team. The Sharks looked good in the first shift of the game. Since then it has been just about all Dallas except for the tying goal. The Stars have more jump and have been more aggressive causing the Sharks to skate on their heels and take penalties. It is clear the team that has lost 5 straight is playing for their playoff lives and the Sharks well, they already have their playoff reservations. The Stars are out shooting San Jose 13-5 and the last two shots for the Sharks came in the final couple of minutes. They’ll need better effort and a few more shots in the next two periods.

2nd Period:

We are still trying to figure out what Pavelski did to get tossed. It looked like the every day punching that always goes on. It should have been a 2-minute roughing or maybe a double minor on the roughing. The game misconduct is a bad call unless something happened that we did not see.

Sharks had a great opportunity when Marleau redirected a shot through is legs, but Turco made a diving stop!

17:33: From bad to worse. Already down a man for three minutes, Rob Blake takes a cross check. This is 5-3 for two full minutes. Huge time in this game!

13:55: Killing a 5-3 for a full two minutes is tough. It looked good for a bit and the crowd was into it, but that was a great pass from Ribeiro to Mike Modano who was dead on with the one-timer. All you can do is tip your cap to them on that play.  Still, only being down 2-1 at this point the Sharks should feel lucky. And just like that the Stars take a penalty. Hopefully the Sharks can get this one back. And maybe THEY CAN STAY OUT OF THE BOX!!!!

5:41: Sharks are still lucky to be down only one. They are taking stupid penalties and basically just not playing well. Give the Stars credit for not fighting back at some of the Sharks who are sniping at them. The referees though appear to be calling this pretty one sided against the Sharks. Some of these calls may be by the book, but calls that only get made once a month or so. The call on Shelly? Very questionable. That said, the last couple of minutes the Sharks have been throwing their bodies around legally! So maybe the wake up call has finally been heard?

End of two: Shots were 9-9 that period. A nice comeback in energy for the Sharks the final 7 minutes or so of that period. They are picking it up a bit. That said, the first half of the period was so lopsided, I am still saying San Jose is lucky to be down just one goal. Without Pavelski, Todd McLellan has Thornton center between Ryan Clowe and Milan Michalek and Marleau centering between Jonathan Cheechoo and Setoguchi. The Sharks are on the power play for the first 36 seconds of the 3rd period. A goal would of course be great, but just keeping up the effort and energy and staying out of the penalty box should be enough for them to climb back into this.

The Red Wings beat the Blues 5-0 cutting the Sharks lead in the Western Conference to just one point at the moment.

Third Period:

13:28: That should do it. Sharks looked good the first minute and a half of this period but then went flat. The game as a whole went a bit flat. But then Dallas turned up the heat in the offensive zone and used tremendous pressure to create a backhanded shot for Brian Sutherby for the 3-1 lead. Man things got quiet in here! Normally I would say the Sharks can score two goals in 13 minutes, but I have not seen anything tonight to make me think this is the game they can do it.

10:45: Sharks are unraveling? Setoguchi turns it over, nice pass from Modano, great shot by Neal! 4-1. Sharks go on the power play but this one definitely feels over to me!

END OF GAME: That was clearly not the Sharks best effort. Very disappointing to have them come back from the road trip and play like this. Give the Stars credit, they are a desperate team and they played like it. The Sharks will need that type of effort in the playoffs. We may see some more games like this in the next couple of weeks. The Sharks need to get back to shooting the puck more and staying out of the penalty box. The cheap penalties are just killing them and the momentum. 4-1 final. Worst home loss of the year. (not that there have been many)

At some point tonight I will post the audio from the locker room for anyone interested in raw audio.

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Sharks Battle Thrashers (Live Blog From Shark Tank)

Posted by davefowkes on 02/21/2009

It feels pretty darn bizarre to be here in the midday. I apologize in advance for any reference I make to “tonight,” a hockey writer’s curse. Anyway, big game today. Sharks wrap up a three game homestand against Atlanta. The Sharks come into the game riding a pair of 4-2 wins. The Sharks still lead the Western Conference by one point over Detroit. They have a four game road trip coming up against Dallas, Detroit, Ottawa and Montreal. It will be a tough grind so getting a sweep on the homestand today would be huge.

It is a winnable game as Atlanta is wrapping up a road trip of their own. The team with the second fewest points in the NHL beat Anaheim, beat the Kings in a shootout, then lost to Phoenix on Thursday in a shootout. The Thrashers actually have a much better record on the road than at home: 12-15-4 vs 9-17-2.  Ilya Kovalchuk has been red hot with goals scored in 6 straight games (9 goals during that stretch)

The Sharks sent some of their youth back to Worcester today. LW Jamie McGinn, RW Brad Staubitz and RW Lukas Kaspar were where all sent to the minors today. That tells me we may see a return of some of the injured today. I do see Jeremy Roenick on the ice for the pregame skate.

Patrick Marleau has been hot for San Jose. He has a 4 game goal streak scoring 6 goals on that streak. Joe Pavelski has a 5 game point streak (4-1=5) and Joe Thornton has a 4 game point streak (1-8=9)

Bad visiting team, early start, I will be curious if we get close to a sellout. Personally I would start Brian Boucher today to get Nabby some rest going on the road, but it is going to be Nabby instead. Coach knows best I guess! That is it for now, more to come with faceoff!!! GO SHARKS!

Jeremy Roenick is in fact back in teh lineup, so are Tomas Plihal and Jody Shelley. Nice to see the Sharks get healthy in time to hit the road!!!

1st Period:

McLellan again has the line of Pavelski, Michalek and Clowe going against the opposition’s top line.

With the return of the injured, the top line is back together with Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi. Tomas Plihal centers the third line between Cheechoo and Grier leaving a very physical 4th line of Roenick, Lemiuex and Shelly.  That should be fun to watch!!!

We in the press box are guessing that the 4th line might be the oldest front line in hockey. It certainly has to be one of the oldest. Shelly is the baby at 33 to go with Roenick at 39 and Lemiuex at 43. That is what you call experience! 🙂

Not much juice to this first period. Sharks got a delay of game penalty when Vlasic cleared the puck into the stands. They end the period on the penalty kill thanks to a Rob Blake penalty. The crowd is trying to pump the game up but just not much going on. I would say both teams are struggling to wake up with the early start but they both seem to have some jump. Just neither team is using the jump to do anything but skate up and down the ice. The Sharks have a couple of more scoring chances but really not much at this point either way. Even the shot totals are down with San Jose out shooting them 7-5. I’ll hope for a more entertaining 2nd period and hopefully some Shark goals!

2ND PERIOD:

Good way to start the period. Huge save from Nabby and the penalty kill comes to an end. Atlanta now 0-2 on the power play. Let’s see if San Jose can get momentum out of it.

The Sharks are now channeling last year’s club. First power play opportunity and they did not get a single shot on net. This game has gone from wildly unentertaining to flat out sloppy!

FINALLY! Okay, no goal but the Sharks have finally picked up the pace a bit. Over the course of the last five minutes they are outshooting Atlanta 5-0 and more importantly getting some quality shots. Unlike the first half of the game when every shot was at Lehtonen’s belly. The Sharks keep up this pressure they will get a goal this period. Of course the big question, can they keep it going?

Welcome back Jody! now the crowd is pumped. Shelly and Boris Valabik just dropped gloves. Shelley clearly got the win grabbing Valabik’s sweater and then just jabbing him in the face numerous times. The crowd enjoyed, both teams seem to have some fire now.

Well we go to to the third still tied at 0. Fun, fun, fun! Things were definitely more interesting that last 10 minutes but overall the Sharks can not be pleased with this game. Heading on a 4-game road trip, the Sharks just can’t lose on home ice to the second worse team in the NHL. The Sharks need to score early in the 3rd and try to put this one away. The later this 0-0 games the more it opens up for weirdness to happen. We’ll see.

3RD PERIOD:

Now we are talking. I was just telling my colleague the Sharks would score in the first 5 minutes of the period. How about 30 seconds!!! Ryan Clowe did a great job of crashing the net and backhanding in the rebound. Now the Sharks need to put this away so they don’t have something screwy happen in a close game. Here is an opportunity as the Thrashers go back to the box!

That should be the ball game there! nice to see Cheechoo get on the scoreboard again. Power play goal, his 9th of the season and Roenick gets the assist. Do the Sharks now have 3 lines for the power play? Just what the doctored ordered. A quick start to this period, get out of dodge with a win…we hope.  By the way, that assist was career #700 for JR.

Uh oh! This is huge. 1:17 of 5-3 for Atlanta! Thrashers take advantage with one goal. Bad play by Murray. He should have come down and played the puck on Kozlov. By staying out in front he hung Nabby and Boyle out to dry on the shot/pass option. At least the Sharks were able to kill the second penalty to keep the lead.

Okay, I would like to be able to call this game over this time! Very nice pressure by the Sharks on the power play. JT did a great job keeping the puck in the zone. After that it was just like they draw it up: Shot from the defender, dribbles through traffic to the side of the net, JT pokes it home! 3-1!

SUMMARY: Far from the prettiest game. Our expectations are high for the Sharks so 0-0 through 2 periods against the second worst team in the NHL was a bit scary. In the end, the Sharks sweep the three game homestand to right the ship, they get healthy, and now they hit the road for a very difficult road trip!

I am going to try and post Sharks sound at some point soon in case anyone cares about post game interviews.

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Sharks vs Oilers (Blog from the Tank)

Posted by davefowkes on 02/17/2009

The Sharks are back in action at the Shark Tank tonight. They return home after their monster 5-game 10-day road trip. They have been slumping of late. They went 1-1-3 on the road trip, but of bigger concerns to the first place club is just the effort that they have put forth. The penalty kill has struggled the last couple of games. The goals against are up, and so are the losses. On top of that the injuries are up as well. With Marcel Goc out, Coach Todd McLellan decided to mix up the lines. Lukas Kaspar is skating on the first line tonight while Patrick Marleau is playing center on the third line between Mike Grier and Jonathan Cheechoo. The Sharks have traditionally been slow their first home game back from an extended road trip. Should be interesting to see how they react tonight against Edmonton. The road team is undefeated in the two games these two teams have played this year.

PREGAME:

There is some debate among my colleagues and I about whether a few members of the crowd actually booed Nabby. I did not think so but my two neighbors say there was a smattering of boos. Interesting the fans would turn on him after just a few bad games. But in goal it is what have you done for me lately. And when the backup has a 1.79 GAA and 93 percent save percentage, the natives get restless quickly I guess.

1ST PERIOD:

Well that was interesting. The Sharks looked good early. They were forcing the play. Had a couple of nice scoring chances that they could not convert. Then they scored first on a nice shot from Joe Pavelski. First time the Sharks have scored first in 6 games. Unfortunately that is when Edmonton decided to play. The Oilers scored just 2:10 later. But the real back breaker was with just under two minutes to go. On the power play, Sheldon Souray sent the puck in on the boards and as Nabby went behind the net to play the puck, it took a hideous bounce off the boards right out in front of the net for an easy empty net goal for Erik Cole. Terrible play. The Sharks opened good but again they are showing problems trying to keep up their intensity. And unlike in the beginning of the year, when they make mistakes Nabby has not been bailing them out. Now Cheechoo is off in the penalty box putting the Sharks behind the 8-ball again when the second period opens. Apparently the Sharks have not fixed their problems from the road trip!

2ND PERIOD:

That is what I call a wildly entertaining period. Goals, power plays, fights and 56 minutes worth of combined penalty minutes. I am not sure what the original catalyst was but these teams clearly hate each other right now. Just about every dead puck someone would be getting in an extra punch or two to cause a ruckus of one sort or another. Huge props to the Sharks in that period for finally waking up. And you can thank captain Marleau for that. The Sharks looked a bit listless to open the period, but Cheechoo made a pass to Marleau who tipped the puck behind the defender and skated in with a nice shot top shelf to get the crowd roaring. Later in the period after killing off a 5-3 penalty Marleau’s shorthanded goal really erupted things here.

Meanwhile, both benches keep getting thined as the fighters keep rotating through the penalty box. We have not had a great head to head matchup but we certainly have an abundance of scrums. It has been fun to watch. The Sharks used the energy of the goals and the fights to build this 4-2 lead outshooting the Oilers 17-7 in the period. This is the Sharks we have come to know and love earlier in the season! Let’s see if they can keep it going for one more period.

A couple of notes: Marleau’s first goal was his 600th career point. He has 5 goals in his last 3 games.

3rd Period:

After that 2nd period that was a pretty safe and sane 3rd. Not much action. I think both teams were a bit tired after the 2nd period. I expected the Oilers to have more pop since they were down. The Sharks played it just as they needed. Safe. Some nice shots, Nabby made some nice saves. They did what they needed to do.The most excitement came at the end as the Sharks needed to kill off a 6-4 thanks to a delay of game penalty.

All in all a good win for the Sharks. Just what they needed in their home coming!

A few of the game notes for you:

Ø Patrick Marleau recorded his 600th NHL career point as he scored his 31st goal of the season. He finished with two goals on the evening for a career total of 601 points.

Ø Patrick Marleau scored his fourth short-handed goal of the season, tying him for second among all NHL skaters in short-handed goals.

Ø San Jose tallied a single-game season-high of 40 penalty minutes. The previous high for the season was 34 minutes at Nashville on Nov. 17.

Ø The Sharks set a new 2008-09 season high for most penalties in a game with 13. The previous high was 11 penalties, also at Nashville on Nov. 17.

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