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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 Misery

Posted by davefowkes on 04/24/2009

It has taken me all day to come up with the effort of typing over last night’s game. As a San Jose Sharks fan it just made me angry to watch the 4-0 loss to the Ducks. Losing the game is one thing. Had the Shark s come out and put forth a great effort only to see a few breaks go against them and lose the game, so be it. But last night was supposed to be a desperate game. An opportunity for the Sharks to even up the series coming back home.

Instead, the Sharks just looked like they were skating in mud. There was no urgency, there was no consistency, it just looked like there was no effort. The star players, the classy veterans, the young guns, nobody had good games last night. The Sharks laid a giant egg.

I have no excuse for it and I am pretty sure the Sharks themselves have no excuses for it. It just does not make sense to me how they could pull out that type of game in what was clearly states as their most important game of the year.

When the Sharks get eliminated there will be many questions asked. How do you blow up a President’s trophy winning team. I am glad I am not Doug Wilson. Because it seems clear that despite the regular season success, the Sharks current roster is just not capable of making a deep run into the playoffs. Is it the quiet leadership of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton? Is it the lack of raw-raw guys? There is just something about Shark hockey that just does not let them mentally take it to the next level.

In the past it has been 2nd round exits. This sure looks like a huge first round disappointment instead. If that truly happens (and being down 3-1 in the series it is hard to imagine it not happening at this point) then Doug Wilson is going to have some very big questions to deal with after the season.

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Sharks get their bite back

Posted by davefowkes on 04/22/2009

Great win for the Sharks last night. It was a must win game and the team came out and won the game. Not the typical result for a Sharks playoff team.

I said before the game (not in this blog) that for the Sharks to climb back in the series they would need two power play goals per game. Patrick Marleau’s game winner was the second power play goal in three tries. So much for the 0-for-12 in the first two games.

The Sharks brought energy from start to finish, Dan Boyle played his butt off, and most importantly the Sharks showed the urgency that lacked in the first two games.

The only downside to the game was that Evgeni Nabokov was not as sharp as needed, but he did get better as the game went along, making some great saves after the third goal he allowed.

Now the Sharks trail 2-1 in the best of seven series. If they continue to play like they did last night, I think the Sharks have a great chance of coming back to win. But if they revert to the style of play they had at the Shark Tank the first two games, then last night will just turn into a small glimmer of hope.

I will stick with my original prediction, if the Sharks play their best, they will win the series. But there is no margin for error against the Ducks!

OTHER NOTES:  Great to see Torey Mitchell back in the lineup. I thought it was a huge gamble by Todd McLellan to put him into the lineup in such a desperate game, but I thought it paid off. His minutes were down, but when he was on the ice you could see his speed take over and he created a couple of turnovers. Not too bad for a guy playing his first game of the season after recovering from a broken leg.

— The addition of Mitcherll really allowed McLellan to use four lines on a very quick tempo. Shifts were short, fast and sweet. At times it led to confusion, but mostly it meant the Sharks on the ice had fresher legs than the Ducks. It will be interesting to see how Anaheim reacts to that.

–Dan Boyle could do no wrong last night. Two goals and an assist are obvious but his play on defense was outstanding and his quarterbacking the puck on the offensive charge was a difference maker. Anyone remember….um…what’s his name?….that guy from Chicago the Sharks traded for last year….um….Soupy?  Boyle proved his worth last night!

–The star of the night goes to Todd Marchant’s wife. She delivered a baby boy on Monday, was relaesed from the hospital on Tuesday morning, and was at the game last night! Now that is playoff urgency! Talk about grit! Props to her!

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Sharks Drop Game One

Posted by davefowkes on 04/16/2009

(San Jose, CA) The Sharks skated hard, played physical, were solid on defense and got shots on goals, but despite all that they could not get the puck in the net. The Anaheim Ducks take game one of the first round playoff series with a 2-0 win over the Sharks quickly ending the Sharks home ice advantage.

Rookie Jonas Hiller made 35 saves and the Sharks went 0-6 on the power play as their offensive woes continue. The Sharks out shot the Ducks 35-17, but could not get that decisive goal that they needed.

Scott Niedermayaer scored on the power play and Ryan Getzlaf added a late goal in the third period to provide the offense for the night.

There power play was better than ours, that is what it comes down too,” Joe Thornton said. “We stressed that before the series started. Whoever has the better special teams will probably win the series. They got one and we did not, and that was the difference.”

Evgeni Nabokov did not need to work too hard in stopping 15 shots but finally midway through the third period he gave up a power play goal that would prove to be the winner.

“We felt like we had the majority of play, but that is just hockey,”Thornton said of the team’s efforts. “We just have to keep going to the net and getting shots and hopefully some of them will go in for us.”

What it lacked in shots it made up for in hits. 35 hits were registered between the two teams in what was a very physical, defensive period. Douglas Murray really pushed a few Ducks around with some crowd pleasing hits. “It is the playoffs,” Murray said. “That is playoff hockey. You have to bring the intensity, everybody does. Those that don’t usually hit, hit and those that do play physical like myself have to be even more physical. It is playoff hockey.”

The game was so tight in the first period that there was one span of 7:50 without a shot on net.

In the second period, the Sharks best opportunity came as the puck slid across the goal crease. With Jeremy Roenick virtually pinning Hiller to one side of the net, the puck was there for the taking, but Marcel Goc fanned on his poke attempt through the defense, and the puck skidded out of danger for the Ducks. There were a couple of loose pucks on both sides of the ice where players would be left to think about what could have been?

Finally five minutes into the third period the Ducks would score. Jonathan Cheechoo took a tripping penalty which would set up the Ducks power play. Niedermayer scored on a slap shot from the face off circle through traffic. It was the type of game where it felt like the team that scored first would probably win. Niedermayer’s goal would prove to be the game winner.

The Sharks could not mount much pressure despite getting two more power play opportunities in the third period. “We finished third overall (on the power play this season) but tonight we were out of psync and we did not convert on our chances,” Dan Boyle said. “The power play let us down tonight.”

The Ducks put the game away when Ryan Getlaf took a turnover and beat Nabokov between two defenders on a great wrist shot.

The Sharks need to find a way to generate offense in this series, something that they have struggled to do the last couple of months of the season. Since the all-star break, the Sharks are the third worst team in scoring on 5-on-5 play, the other two teams did not make the playoffs.

In general the Sharks players seemed up about the way they played, they just know the must find a way to convert on opportunities, especially on the power play.

Game 2 is Sunday night at 7pm in San Jose.

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Will the real Sharks show up?

Posted by davefowkes on 04/15/2009

We have waited 7 months for the regular season to end and let the real season begin! Playoff hockey is here! Now the question becomes, which San Jose Shark team will show up?

The Sharks won the president’s trophy and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs on their body of work. That body looked great a couple of months ago. But of late it has not looked so hot. The Sharks stumbled through February and March with injuries and as players came back it appeared the Sharks got better. However the Sharks ended their season against the 13th, 14th and 15th best teams in the Western Conference and they went 1-2 with that lone win being a 1-0 shootout win at home over Colorado. Not exactly an awe inspiring finish.

Now they square up with the Anaheim Ducks. I think it is safe to say that if both teams play their best, the Sharks will win the series easy. The question is can the Sharks play their best game?

Let’s face it, the team has not had a real meaningful game since December. Can a veteran team like the Sharks just flip the switch now that it is playoff time? They will need to, they can not afford to take any shifts, periods or games off. It is cliche to say, but the Sharks must play 60-minutes of hockey!

It sounds easy, but that is something the Sharks have really been struggling with. If they play their game the whole 60-minutes I have no doubt they will win. But if they get comfortable or take their collective foot of the gas pedal, the Ducks will win.

The Ducks are known for taking penalties. They have had to kill 85 more power plays then they have had this year. So special teams will likely be the deciding measure for this season. The Sharks lost 5-3 in Los Angeles Saturday to end the season, but the fact that the three goals all came on the power play should not be forgotten.

In the end I think this series will be more about how the Sharks play then how the Ducks do. The Sharks could win in 5 or lose in 6. Will Thornton, Marleau, Nabokov and others take their game to a new level?

Officially I will say Sharks win round one in six games. But I am far from confident with that prediction.

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Sharks clinch west in loss

Posted by davefowkes on 04/09/2009

The good news is the Sharks are the best in the west, the bad news was the 4-1 loss they suffered at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes. Al Montoya was outstanding in shutting down the Sharks making 40 saves on the night. Peter Mueller had a goal and an assist.

Travis Moen scored the Sharks only goal and Evgeni Nabokov made just 13 saves on the night. The Sharks out shot Phoenix 41-17 on the evening. The Sharks really dominated in the third period but Montoya was the star turning just about everything away.

”In my opinion we didn’t start playing until it was 3-0,” Coach Todd McLellan said. “At this time of the year there’s no chance of winning if you make that decision before the game. To wait and see and put your toes in the water to see how cold it is and if you want to jump in or not, it’s disappointing this time of the year. Will has to take precedent over skill… not sure that was the case today.”

Despite the loss the Sharks ended up clinching the top spot in the Western Conference. Detroit lost to Nashville in a shootout just before the Sharks game started and that clinched the top spot for San Jose. However with Boston beating Montreal, the President’s trophy is still up for grabs. The trophy was at the Arena just in case, but it was not needed tonight.

It looked like it might be early, when the Sharks were out shooting Phoenix 5-1 to open the game. But the Coyotes got on the board on their second shot of the game. The first goal was a bang bang play that surprised everybody. Right out of a faceoff to the left of Nabokov, Scottie Upshell got the puck and whipped a quick shot through traffic that Nabokov never saw.

Near the end of the first period the Coyotes would score again thanks to a 5-on-3 power play. After killing off nearly a minute of the two man advantage, Ed Jovanowski got an open luck straight in front of Nabokov and the wrist shot beat Nabokov for the 2-0 lead.

Phoenix made it 3-0 when Milan Michalek’s brother, Zbynek, beat Nabokov from 13-feet with a wrist shot.

The game got physical in the latter half of the second period with a couple of fights breaking out. The first one involved Travis Moen, but the crowd really got excited when little Devin Setoguchi landed some good punches in his fight with Martin Hanzal.

The Sharks finally got on the scoreboard on their 33rd shot of the evening. Moen, fighting for space in front of the net, jammed the puck between Montoya’s pads.

The Sharks certainly had plenty of opportunity for more as they were granted four power play opportunities during the third period. But the special teams unit was cold tonight going 0/6 with a man advantage.

After the last power play failed, the Coyotes put the game away for good. Peter Mueller scored on a 2-on-1 break to make it 4-1 and send the crowd packing on fan appreciation night.

The Sharks did have some good news tonight with the return of Ryan Clowe and Patrick Marleau to the lineup. “I thought Clowe was very good today,” McLellan said. “Out of all injured players that came back I think he’s been, after game one, the sharpest. I thought he made an impact on the game. Patty (Marleau) skated. I’m not too sure their line got a lot done especially in this game we expect more from them. It’s going to take a little time.”

The Sharks last game of the regular season is Saturday in Los Angeles.

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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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Sharks Vs Ducks Weekend!

Posted by davefowkes on 04/04/2009

An interesting weekend has arrived for the San Jose Sharks as they go toe-to-toe with the Anaheim Ducks! It starts tonight in San Jose and ends tomorrow down south. The Sharks are playing much better right now, and are getting healthy, but the Ducks are hot and they are desperate!

The Sharks have opened up a 6 point lead over Detroit with 5 games left to play. It looks good for San Jose. The Alberta sweep this week was nice. Getting four points north of the border, playing some solid defense and getting some key goals. That is what the Sharks were good at earlier in the season that they had lost track of the past month or so.

It is also nice to see the Sharks start to get healthy just in time for the playoffs. Jonathan Cheechoo was back and contributed right away. Rob Blake played Thursday. Jeremy Roenick is in the lineup. Thomas Plihal is expected back tonight. More of the walking wounded are due by the end of the week, most specifically Patrick Marleau and Ryan Clowe. They are both needed for the Sharks to make a deep run in the playoffs.

But while the Sharks are getting better again, and playing for that President’s Cup trophy, here come the Ducks. A few weeks ago it looked for sure like Anaheim would be booking tee times for the end of April. But now they have won 8 our their last 10 games. They are in 7th place and need to keep winning to keep the playoff dream alive in what is a very close race that will go down to the final days for those last few spots.

The Sharks are sharpening their teeth. They look to continue to improve, and continue to get healthy. The but Ducks will bring their best of their best because it is do or die time for them!

It makes for an interesting two game match up. I look for the teams to split the next two games. But it is hard to predict in situations like this. It won’t quite be playoff hockey, but it could be really close!

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Sharks Clinch Playoff Spot

Posted by davefowkes on 03/16/2009

In the old days, the headline alone would be cause for celebration. But with this latest edition of the San Jose Sharks, it just makes official what we already knew. The Sharks are playoff bound! Now it is just a matter of when, where, seeding, etc.

The big news from the Sharks 1-0 shutout of the Ducks was the win itself and now a two game win streak. The Sharks are back!

Okay, so maybe that statement is a bit strong. The Sharks still have a few holes in the lineup due to injury. They are still struggling on offense scoring two goals in two games, and they failed to tally a power play goal during that same stretch. But the Sharks have a two game win streak!

After a very cold stretch where they gave away the best record in the West to Detroit, the Sharks are doing the little things to win again. They are starting to win the 5-on-5 battles. They are playing solid defense now. They are competing for the full game rather than just dominating for 20 minutes or so. And of course they are getting stellar goaltending again!

It can not go unnoticed that this dramatic shift occurred when a fresh and rested Evgeni Nabokov returned to net for the Sharks. He has been brilliant the first two games limiting an underrated LA Kings team to one goal and just one goal in an 8 round shootout, and then responding the next night with his 6th shutout of the year. Nabby is back!

And with him, so are the Sharks. It was not pretty. It was not their best. But it sends the Sharks back on the winning track with an opportunity to gain some confidence and taste some of the glory they had at the beginning of the year. Improvement is still needed, but they found a place from which they can start to build!

With the playoffs a month away, now is the time for the Sharks to get on a roll, find some good health, get some confidence, and heat up heading into the playoffs! This weekend was a good start.

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Big Win For Sharks

Posted by davefowkes on 03/10/2009

It was not how you draw it up, but the Sharks got the win tonight 5-4 in overtime over the Wild. For a team that had lost 4 in a row and 5 out of their last 6, the win is truly what is important! Joe Thornton had two goals, Travis Moen and Milan Michalek each scored before Christian Ehrhoff got the game winner in overtime.

But the story of this game for the Sharks was survival. Because this is the second time in a week that the Sharks have blown a three goal lead to Minnesota. Thursday night in San Jose it was the Wild who ended up winning in overtime in one of the worst regular season losses for the Sharks. For San Jose, tonight was a bit of revenge. But more than revenge, maybe it will be a confidence boost.

The Sharks looked great in the first period. Thornton’s goal from the corner deflected in off a stick and you have to think maybe the Sharks luck will change. Patrick Marleau made a great play short handed that turned into a nice hustle goal for Moen who trailed the play and picked up the rebound. After one period it was 2-0 Sharks, the were out shooting Minnesota 8-3 and with the exception of two poor penalties they really controlled the action.

But the Sharks could not maintain. The Wild controlled the tempo the next two periods. It is not like the Sharks went into a shell but the Wild was clearly the aggressor especially after Thornton’s second goal. Give the Wild lots of credit for not giving up again. I have no idea why the Sharks can not maintain their pace for three periods anymore. If you asked them I would guess they are not sure either. But at some point they need to get back to dominating for an entire game.

It’s been awhile since the Sharks have looked like the Sharks of the first half of the season. Tonight they looked the part for about a period. Maybe a win like tonight where they held on after surrendering the three goal lead will lift them back up, and put them on a run again. Let’s hope, because if this team can’t hold on to 3-0 leads, forget about the post season!

In the end the Sharks will be happy with the win and hope for even better next time!

NOTES:

If there is one person that needed to bring the Wild back it was nice to see Owen Nolan be the one to do it. He scored twice in the third period, career goals 400 and 401. For a guy who looked like was going to see the end of his career because of a knee injury, it is nice to see him finding continued success. Hopefully next time it won’t be against the Sharks.

Before Sharks fans panic too much, remember last year’s Stanley Cup Champ Red Wings went 1-8-1 during on February stretch. Let’s just hope the Sharks are getting this out of their system.

Detroit also won in overtime tonight so the two teams remain tied atop the Western Conference.

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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 Injuries Mount

Posted by davefowkes on 03/05/2009

First it was Jeremy Roenick and Mike Grier, and now it is Evgeni Nabokov! David Pollack of the Mercury News is reporting that Nabokov “tweaked” something this week and will again be out of action tonight when the Sharks host the Minnesota Wild. Somehow I can’t say this surprises me. I thought it was a bit fishy that Boucher got a third straight start for San Jose on Tuesday when the returned home and eventually lost to Dallas 4-1. In true hockey tradition, no details about the injury have been leaked or more importantly how long Nabokov will be out. Fortunately for the Sharks, they have a very competent back up in Brian Boucher to carry the load for as long as needed. Thomas Greiss has been called up from Worcester to back up Boucher.

In other Sharks news:  Jamie McGinn has been summoned from Worcester. Newly acquired Travis Moen and Kent Huskins will be in San Jose this evening but neither will debut with the team until Saturday night in Vancouver.

Big game for San Jose tonight. They don’t want to drop two games at home. They have not been playing well. They are talking a good game about taking fewer penalties and playing smarter, but tonight they need to turn the talk into action! The must stay out of the box!!!

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