Thursday, December 20, 2007

Moving? Sorta

We've accepted an offer to begin blogging on the Sharks at David Johnson's site, The two of us are now admins and bloggers at the Sharks subsite, which you can get to by using the teams link on the upper left, or the direct one below. We might still post here a little bit, but the frequency will go down pretty drastically. So come on over, the water's fine! Until Grier peed in it, that is. But here's the new link, nice and big.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Agony and the Ecstasy 2 - Electric Boogaloo

The evening could not have started better. Good steaks, beers, the stiffest jack and coke I've ever had, winning a Patrick Marleau-signed souvenir stick- all the makings of a great night. Then the Sharks played.

The atmosphere in the Tank was hyped up in anticipation of a good matchup, and while the game stayed close and well contested, the Sharks were never really in it. The Sharks probably had two, maybe three decent scoring chances. That's besides the "dump it towards Giguere and see what happens" style of chances. No odd-man rushes that I saw, no breakaways, no strong moves in tight. The Sharks just can't create offensively.

The Ducks are the better team. They match up physically with the Sharks, have better scoring threats and better D. They cashed in on two of three breakaways, and that was the game.

With Cheech, JR, and Clowe out, the Sharks are seriously hurting for goals (not that Cheech has really contributed in that department this year). As long as the Sharks are in the 20s in scoring (as of now, they are 23rd out of 30 teams in goals scored) they don't have a prayer in going far in the playoffs. Everything will just get tighter as the season progresses. If Marleau, Cheech, and Michalek catch fire, it all might turn out ok. But unless and until that happens, the Sharks are worse than Dallas, Detroit, and Anaheim in the West. We'd be looking at another 4-5 or 6-3 matchup, which today would mean the Avs or Wild. Then Detroit, then the Ducks. Does anybody honestly think the Sharks could win those three series in a row?

It way too early to really think about that. But Ron Wilson needs to start putting some effort and practice time into putting the biscuit in the basket. If the Sharks still can't do that in a month's time, the other Wilson needs to find some players who can.

P.S. I swear I didn't read this article before I wrote the last post. Synchronicity, eh? It warms the cockles of my hockey heart to see that Carle has such a good attitude about his current predicament, and I'm that much more certain he'll be an impact player in the NHL.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

This is the mostly highly-anticipated game of the season for me. Grier and I plan on eating some steaks, having some drinks, and breaking down the Sharks (yet again) before the game tonight. I'll be wearing my plain Sharks jersey- Carle will likely be a healthy scratch. The game tonight is the ecstasy part.

But Carle is the agony part. I'll be honest- I'm getting a bit worried. I don't really care about the contract extension- I'm not paying the salary. It might put a bit of a crease in the Sharks' payroll plans if Carle doesn't pan out, but my concerns are different. To me, in his first season, Carle showed an insane amount of promise. He was confident with the puck, a good skater, competent passer, and eager to score goals. Those kinds of skills aren't gained once you are in the NHL. On the other hand, the defensive side of the puck often needs to be taught in the bigs. The list of players that turned from solely offensive threats into solid two-way players is long and distinguished.

So I was excited when I saw Carle's offensive upside. Sure, he wasn't exactly Nik Lidstrom in his own zone, but that comes (or can come) with time. Then the sophomore slump hit, and hit hard. The last month, Carle's ice time has become miniscule, with the few minutes he does play riddled with errors and poor judgement. He seems scared to try and create a scoring chance in fear of showing defensive liability. The other times, he sits in the press box.

In one way, Carle's signing to a multimillion dollar, multi-year extension may help him. If Carle was a 7th round draft pick 6 years ago, he would likely be in the minors or on waivers right now. The fact that the Sharks apparently believe (as I do) that Carle could turn into a top defensemen might just get him some more ice time than he rightfully deserves. For his and the Sharks' sake, I hope he can make the best of it. If he doesn't, he may very well become trade bait to a team that's willing to take a flyer. The clock is ticking.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


It looked like it was going to be one of those nights.

They couldn't get it going on the powerplay. Michalek took the laziest penalty shot in recent memory. The refs F'd the Sharks on two calls, Corey Perry's crashing of the Sharks bench and Travis Moan's third man in.



This team stuck together and Joe Thornton put it past J.S.G in round six of the shootout to give the Sharks their biggest win of the season.

Kyle McLaren was so physical, dishing out hit after hit, it has been so great to see the old Kyle back. We missed you Big Mac. The Davison-Pavelski-Brown line was extremely pesky and aggressive. Torrey Mitchell could have quit on that breakaway when he got hooked, but he made an amazing play and brought the Sharks back to life in the 2nd period. The Sharks outshot the Ducks, won more facoffs and matched their physical play. As Randy Hahn said after the game, this Ducks team plays with so much arrogance against the Sharks - they play as if they don't believe San Jose can't beat them. Well tonight might have taken them down a peg.

I hate to see Matt Carle in the press box, but adding Rob Davison to the line up tonight was a great call by Ron Wilson and the staff. I think we can expect to see this same line up the rest of the week and poor Mikey has to put his Carle jersey back in the closet...for now. As I said this morning, this team was either going to answer the bell or turtle up. This was a gut check and the importance of this win should carry over to Tuesday night with Team Teal brimming with confidence. They got it done without Cheech, without JR, without Clowe and without Semenov.....well, I guess they didn't miss Frankenstein out there. PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ!!!

So the question is out there if you are Doug Wilson. If these Marleau rumors are true, and Dougie has been listening to offers, what do you do? You let these guys stick it out. We've been waiting all year for this team to click and now, DW's patience is paying off. Don't make the big splash Doug. Keep the Captain. Keep the boys together for now and tinker down the road. The ship has been righted. Abort Operation Major Shake-up....if there ever was one.

Looking forward to Tuesday night. It's going to be a live one at the Tank.

Emotions Will Be Riding High Tonight

Yesterdays loss was disappointing, but I wasn't disappointed in the Sharks overall team effort. To my eyes, the Sharks have shown more life in the last three games than they have all season. This is why I've found it odd that Bay Area sports reporter, Ryan Garner on, picked today to blast the Sharks for their total team effort, lack of fire and intensity.

Here is my take Ryan.

1) The Sharks outhit Dallas 26-14

2) Rivet made a statement by roughing up Dallas agitator Steve Ott, assessing 17 penalty minutes in the process - all of them well worth it.

3) The Sharks crashed the net and scored a goal that didn't require three passes or Joe Thornton.

4) 4-2 is a deceiving final score. The Stars scored one goal on a fluke puck rolling up the back of the net and off Nabby's back. The other was an empty net. So really, in my eyes, this was a 2-2 matchup and a great game by both sides.

The effort was there - the result wasn't. Now the team is walking into an emotional game in Anaheim - a showdown with the Ducks featuring their two new players - former Captain Niedermeyer and Doug Weight. The crowd will be electric. The Ducks will be fired up. How will the Sharks respond?

I think this could be a pivotal game for the Sharks season and potential roster changes. If the Sharks play hard, physical hockey like they have this week and pull out a road win or lose a close, hard fought battle - Doug Wilson will feel inclined to keep this roster intact before the trade freeze next week. If the Sharks turtle up, like they have before this year in the face of adversity, then perhaps Ryan Garner is right - and change could be in order. The rumored deal with Montreal netting the Sharks NHL iron man and poster boy for overcoming adversity, Saku Koivu, for our Patrick Marleau would certainly shake things up. At this point, I would not part with my favorite whipping boy of the early season, Steve Bernier, in any deal. This kid has finally found himself and we're seeing what a potential physical force he could be in the NHL. Don't trade Bernier, Dougie. If he has to be in the package, its not worth it. Use your poker face and tell Gainey to "go fish".

Do you think the Sharks play the party pooper role tonight at the Pond?

Friday, December 14, 2007

And Now...the Latest Episode of GM's Against Brian Burke

This week on GM'S AGAINST BRIAN BURKE! Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson plots against his Western Conference rival in his underground lair. Let's take a listen...

Doug Wilson: Alright boys, welcome to the third annual meeting of the Legion of GM's Against Brian Burke. Let's recap our past accomplishments, shall we? This summer, we almost convinced Scott Niedermeyer to retire, but someone wasn't able to finish the job....Lou.

Lou Lamoriello: Sorry Doug. I let you down.

Doug Wilson: Yes you did, Sweet Lou. You let us all down here in the Legion. That's the last time I take a salary dump off your hands....Last month, we convinced Brian that waiving Breezy was a good idea. Nice work everyone.

Wayne Gretzky: Thank you so much guys. To show my gratitude, I've got a great tip on the Patriots/Jets game tomorrow from my wife...

Doug Wilson: Hold it. How the #%&@ did you get in here Gretzky? You lost your GM license a long time ago. Now go fix your hair and pretend to coach that team of yours. Okay, GM's...this week we have to find a way to completely screw over Brian Burke as he tries to dump salary to get Niedermeyer back. Any ideas?

Kevin Lowe: I'll offer five years, 55 million for Corey Perry!

Doug Wilson: Put a sock in it Lowe. Next?

John Ferguson, Jr: Please stop booing me. I'm doing the best I can. Does anyone want Andrew Raycroft? Anyone?

Doug Wilson: Stop begging John. Have some dignity. Come on boys! Doesn't anyone have an aging veteran, an unknown prospect and a bag of shit to offer?

John Davidson: How about Doug Weight, Michal Birner and a 7th round pick for All-Star center Andy McDonald?

Doug Wilson: Brilliant!

JFJ: Damn it! Does anyone want Mark Bell?

Doug Wilson: This meeting of the Legion of GM's Against Brian Burke is adjourned....Good work everyone.

Keep Them Doggies Rollin'

Yeah, the Canucks are pretty banged up. Bobby Lou, Morrison, and various other players were out last night. But a team that lost to the Kings without Cammaleri and Frolov beat the hell out of Vancouver last night. And when their grip on Vancouver's neck loosened a bit when the lead was thinned to one goal, the Sharks squeezed harder, got quick goals by Jumbo and Bernier, and coasted to a 5-2 victory. The Sharks are 3-0 against the Northwest leader this season.

The story of the evening was clearly the blinding speed shown by Patty and Michalek en route to their mirror-image goals. Michalek turned the jets on down the right side, and Marleau the left. Both cut to the middle and beat the goalie far-side high.

I can't imagine what ran through Drew McIntyre's head when he saw Big Joe barreling down on him on a breakaway in the third period. He probably could have used a diaper when Joe wound up for the slap shot. Welcome to the NHL, meat.

In other news, Semenov went out of the game in the 2nd with a hand injury. I don't pay that close attention to who is getting ice time when, so I didn't discover that until this morning. But I admit, my first thought was, "There is a God." Not very nice of me. I wouldn't actually wish an injury on him, but I take favors when they come. Hopefully it will give my boy Carle an opportunity to work himself back into the lineup for good.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shh! Don't Wake the Giant!

Someone in the Sharks organization leaked Alexei Semenov's team picture before color correction and cosmetic surgery:

In the latest installment of "Did You Know", did you know that last night's +1 effort was Frankenov's first plus game of the season? Brings him up to a glistening -6 in 12 games. On the positive side, he's a big dude. Big. Really Big. The problem is he seems to be made of wood, and he doesn't use his size for the forces of Good. Only for the for the forces of Slow. Yeah, he got into a fight last night, and promptly got his ass kicked by Todd Fedoruk, who's entire face is now made of paper maché. Or as the Canadians would say, "POP-i-yay MA-shay". Or as Semenov would say, "UNNNHHHH".

In fact, I heard the build-up to the fight, because it was near section 124:
Semenov: BRAINS!
Fedoruk: What the fuck d'you say to me?!
<drops gloves>

But we kid because we love. Sort of. I still can't understand why Semenov is out on the first PP unit every night. He has three points, none on the power play. I've been reduced to thinking that Ron Wilson has an overdeveloped sense of irony.

But as Grier said, it was an all-around great effort by the Sharks last night, and I would rank it as the Sharks' best of the season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wild for San Jose!

I've decided the Sharks are like a bad case of herpes....they show up unpredictably from time to time , when in full force they are a huge pain in the ass to those they encounter and they are a part of Chris Pronger's life eight times a year.

The Sharks played their best game in weeks tonight against Minnesota. This was not a phantom win. They finished checks. They crashed the net. Bernier and Pavelski showed up and demonstrated all that "potential" we've been waiting to see. Marcel Goc and Kyle McLaren finally got out of the press box and both of them had excellent games and were seemingly everywhere on the ice. Fittingly, Goc, Bernier and Pavelski were the games three stars and McLaren kicked Aaron Voros' ass in a fight during the third period. Super Joe didn't have to carry the load tonight. Even Semenov was a +1.

The goals weren't pretty. They don't always have to be, something the Sharks have a hard time getting through their Teal skulls. Minnesota, a team known for hard work, hustle and team defense looked outmatched tonight. This would be a first round match up if the playoffs began today, and I'm sure the Wild hope this won't end up being the case. The Sharks finally looked like the biggest team in the NHL and won back the home fans tonight.

So....will the "Teal Herp" return again in full force vs. Vancouver on Thursday or will the Canucks have taken their Valtrex? If the Sharks play like they did tonight - the Canucks, without Luongo in the pipes due to injury, will be next on the homestand hit parade and remission for the rest of the NHL will be tough to come by.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Countdown on Marleau....

An interesting bit of news from the Ottawa Sun. Patrick Marleau's no trade clause apparently kicks in on January 1st, 2008 - so we can expect these Marleau rumors to continue the next few weeks and then finally disappear.....or come to fruition. While I think the Sharks need some new blood and an infusion of energy, trading Patty and getting equal value is going to be difficult. I don't see Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal offering anything that can help this team RIGHT NOW become better and take steps to defeat the Red Wings or the Ducks in a seven game series. Vermette and a pick? Kaberle for Marleau and McLaren? No thanks.

Will Patty stay or will he go?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Broken Record

Round and round we go, when the Sharks will win at home - nobody knows.

I count my lucky stars that I wasn't able to attend last nights embarassment, but I was in Downtown San Jose having a late dinner with some friends at a San Jose landmark restaurant, Original Joe's - the type of place you would expect Tony Soprano to walk into at any moment. We were surrounded by Sabres fans and right behind me was a table of Buffalo players, including Derek Roy, Brian Campbell, Maxim Afinogenov, Ales Kotalik and Tim Connolly. I was impressed by how awesome they were with their fans, signing autographs, shaking hands and posing for pictures while they were trying to eat their dinner. It only further illustrates that hockey players are the most gracious professional athletes in the United States and that they really get how important the fans are to their sport.

I texted Mike and said. "We are sitting behind a bunch of Buffalo players."

MIKE: "Tell them to go #$&@ themselves."

ME: "Wow. I just heard them say it was 7-1."

MIKE "No comment".

I can only imagine how terrible the game was. I tried saying last week that the Sharks are still not themselves, even though they went 3-0 on the recent road swing. They beat Colorado without Sakic and Svatos, they beat Dallas who really isn't that good, let's face it and they barely beat Phoenix in a game that was dull beyond belief. To an outside NHL fan, it appears the Sharks are still alive and well with a winning record and in playoff position, but for a team that we say over and over should be taking that next step, to lose at home to a Buffalo team that is not the powerhouse they were the last two years 7-1? Unreal.

Where is McLaren, by the way? Great to Semenov get another -2. What is going on here? Are we turning into a defensive team that will run out seven defensemen and try to hold on for 2-1 wins night after night? How will this Jekyll and Hyde team respond against a very good Minnesota club on Tuesday? What does Doug Wilson need to do to get this team on the right track?

Eklund posed the question of Marleau and McLaren for Kaberle this morning and it made me dry heave.

I am so confused by this team that, for the moment, I have to agree with Mike.

No comment.

Sabres Stab Sharks in the Nuts

Pretty embarrasing game, losing 7-1 like that. Especially after leading 1-0 after the first. The speed and crispness of Buffalo's breakout was apparent throughout the entire game, but it wasn't without risk. The Sharks had at least two breakaways, and a two-on-one. If the Sharks scored on at least half of those, it might have been a different game.

Really, the most interesting thing that happened during the game is the complete and utter failure of Dmitri Patzold. I've no doubt this guy could mature into a NHL caliber goalie, but he just ain't there yet. He gave up 3 goals on 9 shots, and looked very tentative, especially his lateral movement. The first goal he gave up, he just didn't get a good push across, or hesitated to do so. The far side of the net was wide open.

It's clear now why Nabby has started every game, and will probably continue to do so. Lack of confidence in your goalie will greatly affect the way you play, and if Patzold starts a few games, I would predict the offensive output to be even more anemic than it already is. It's time to grab a veteran backup that may not be a solid #1 all the time, but you can at least know that he can face down NHL competition. Patzold can't do that right now. Or maybe the Sharks should try Griess out. He's 6-6 in Worchester with a 3.33 GAA and .895 SV%.

All NHL teams go through bad games and slumps. The measure of a good or great team is their ability to bounce back. Will we see the Sharks in the Detroit series, who were a shadow of their former selves once they lost the OT game? Or will we see the Sharks after the "Destruction in the Desert" game last year, when they righted themselves quickly after an 8-0 blowout in Phoenix? We'll definitely know after this week's games against the Wild, Canucks, and Stars.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Phoenix, More like Colorado than Dallas

Hoo boy, the game last night was boring. If it weren't for Grier and some others buddies over, complete with beer and pizza, I don't know if I would have stayed awake for the whole thing. There were only a handle of quality scoring chances for either team in the game it seemed, and a broken play (Thornton was really looking for Roenick) resulted in the game's only goal.

Like the Avs game, the Sharks seemed to recede into a bit of a shell late in the game, with extra drama inserted by Rissmiller's completely retarded penalty. I know it was a total accident, just bad luck really, but taking an offensive zone penalty with two minutes left in a one goal game has to be infuriating for the coaching staff. The 6-on-4 last minute was pretty tense, but no great scoring chances came about.

That's enough of that- even reading about that game is giving me the yawns.

In other news:

  • We were flipping around various games on Center Ice, and we watched some of the last of the Dallas-Ottawa matchup. First of all, I LOVE CENTER ICE. Second of all, if Ottawa is doing their thing, and there were only flashes of it that I saw, nobody in the NHL could hang with them. I know they've lost a bunch in a row, but they get their ass in gear, they'll give anybody in the playoffs all they can handle. Even Detroit. I can't say the same about the Sharks right now.
  • Recchi was claimed by Atlanta. They still have the same problem they had yesterday- if Kovalchuk goes cold or gets hurt, Atlanta is in a world of hurt. And even if he stays healthy, they could start sucking again at any time. Hmm, kind of like Nabby and the Sharks.
  • Things have quieted down in Toronto for the time being, nothing like winning a few. I'm still stunned that for all the trade rumors that have been floating around, none involved Tucker. Could it be that he's the name that GM's have been keeping under their hats, trying to throw JFJ and the press off the scent?
  • Listen to the Teal Spiel tonight if you can- Randy Hahn will be on taking questions. I might try to call in, but I'm probably meeting friends for dinner before tonight's game.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nieds and the CBA - Updated

So I see this quote from Bob McKenzie at TSN:

The Ducks' committed payroll for next season is the issue. With Niedermayer potentially returning, and with another year left on his contract after this season, the Ducks could not add him to the roster now without freeing up cap room for next season. In the new CBA, it's called 'tagging' room and the Ducks don't have enough of it next season to allow Niedermayer back on the roster this season – unless they move a player who is under contract for next season.

And since I'm a geek, I have to figure out what this means. I have a copy of the CBA on my desktop (doesn't everyone?) and I look up this "tagging" rule (50.5(e)(iv)(C)):
In order for a Club to sign such a Player to a multi-year SPC after December 1 of a season, the Club must have Payroll Room equal to or in excess of the Averaged Amount of the Player Salary and Bonuses for the remainder of such season. If, however, the Averaged Amount of the SPC exceeds the Club's Payroll Room for the then-current League Year, the Club may still sign such SPC, provided that it has Payroll Room and, if such Payroll Room is insufficient to acquire the SPC, it has an amount equal to one or more SPCs that will expire at the end of such League Year, in an amount equal to or in excess of the amount by which the Averaged Amount exceeds the Club's Payroll Room (the "Tagged Payroll Room"). Until such time as the Club has or makes Payroll Room in the current year in excess of such Tagged Payroll Room, the Club may not engage in any Player transactions requiring Payroll Room, including but not limited to, acquiring an SPC or "extending" or entering into a new SPC (the "Tagging Rule"). In the event the Club does have or creates such excess Payroll Room, it may use such excess Payroll Room in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.

It's like a friggin' obfuscated code contest. But I think I figured it out. The salary cap (around $51M) is actually pro-rated daily for the regular season, 187 days. So now that SN comes back, the Ducks don't pay him his entire $6.75M salary, it's pro-rated for the days he missed. That enables the Ducks to be under the cap this season, even though his average salary puts them over it. But the 'tagging rule' above says that if it's a multi-year deal, which SN's is, the team must also have salary at the end of this year equal to the amount they went over (based on his average salary, not the pro-rated one). If they don't, they need to clear out other players with multi-year deals before Scotty can suit up. I've tried running the numbers, but I don't see the Ducks over the cap this year, even taking SNs average salary cap hit, so I'm confused on that point.

For those wondering, the rule for single-year SPCs (standard player contracts) is that a club can sign them for whatever amount they want, as long as the total amount paid comes in under the cap. So if the Sharks have $1M left under the cap, they could theoretically sign Selanne to a $187M single year contract on the last day of the season, paying him $1M for a single day's work, and come in under the cap. This means the Roger Clemens idea is is full effect- there is no CBA prohibition on joining a team at any point of the season.

Update: It turns out the Ducks also need to pre-calculate the cap for all the years of SN's contract, and given the raises to Getzlaf and Kunitz next year, factoring in SN's numbers, they Ducks will by over. It's seems very odd the Ducks need to correct that overage now, but it is what it is. Thanks for the comments.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Niedermeyer's "retirement" part of a larger problem...

First, Joe was amazing tonight. He has put the team on his back lately, with seven points in the last three games. But Mikey, I wouldn't say we "housed" the Stars tonight. One thing about Dallas, they come to play and they play hard. There was a stretch in the 3rd period when I thought we were in trouble, but the Sharks played through it and held on for another close win. Good to see Marleau involved as well. Did anyone else notice f'ing Frankenstein was on the ice for that Modano goal? I hate that douchebag.

I want to say something about this whole Niedermeyer situation. I think it stinks. Not just because it's the Ducks. Not just because it's Niedermeyer and his stand out play will have a huge impact on the Pacific Division and probably give the Ducks a huge boost. Not just because he is convienently coming back when the Sharks and Ducks play head to head three times, like Mike said. My problem is that players going into "retirement" and then magically changing their minds after the rigors of training camp and the boring part of the season has past could soon become a more regular occurance in the NHL. Hell, it is Roger Clemens favorite summer trick. Wait until the highest bidder comes around, missing Spring Training, join the team in middle of the season for the fun part and make a ton of cash. Bogus teammate and bad for sports in general. What kind of message does this send? Hey kids - don't bond with your teammates, serve as a role model for younger players and work your ass off through the rough patches at the beginning of the season like everyone else. If you're an aging superstar, you can skate with your buddies and join the big boys in the clutch, and look like a hero in the process. This year in the NHL, we have three of these situations. Niedermeyer's fate has been determined. Will Selanne be the next to decide retirement isn't for him? What about Forsberg, who is waiting until the best team with the right offer comes along in 2008 so he can jump right in for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Do you see the problem? What is going to keep Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby from saying...hey - I don't want to play until December either! My back hurts too! This type of behavior could become more common place in the years to come. I hope not, but this isn't a good trend so far.

So, welcome back Niedermeyer. Your team hasn't been the same without you. Now you can hug your brother and cry over family photos of you two holding each others Cup. Drew Remenda speculated tonight that the Ducks will likely have to make a trade to accomodate the Ducks impending salary cap problems for next season, when they must resign RFA Corey Perry. I think Schneider is gone. And if I were him, I would flip Niedermeyer the bird on his way out the door.

F You Ducks, and Thank You Stars

Although all the mystery was gone, the Ducks tried to do it up nice, and announced Scott Niedermayer is coming back. I was shocked. Shocked! The real question is, how long has this been planned? I wouldn't doubt this was the whole idea back before the season started. The Ducks save a bit on salary, Scott gets to miss some of the drudgery of the regular season, and they get to stage a nice dog and pony show once the Ducks struggle a bit. Amazingly, Nieds will be back just in time for the week when they play the Sharks three times. How about that.

In the meantime, the Sharks again housed the Stars in big D and won 3-2. Funny how we're 3-1 against the Stars, the division leader, but 1-2 against the Kings, the division goat. I refrained from writing a game recap post after the Colorado game, mostly because I was lazy, but also because I was pretty frustrated with the Sharks play in the second half of the game. I thought I was seeing things, because I saw quotes from Ron Wilson in the paper the next day about how the Sharks played better, and did a good job late. I couldn't disagree more.

The Sharks went into a shell once they gained the lead in the Avalanche game, and didn't come out for 30 minutes. They'd chip it out to center, barely forecheck, and wait for the Avs to gain the zone, where they would push them to the outside, and chip to center again after 45 seconds or so of nail-biting. They didn't even try generate scoring chances. Maybe that's the kind of hockey you're supposed to play on the road, but I thought the Sharks were playing with fire. They were leaving counterattack chances on the table, and giving Hejduk, Stasny, and company way to much time to create.

The opposite happened tonight with the Stars. The Sharks had a 2-1 lead going into the third period, and before the ink was dry from the columnists making notes on Modano's game-tying goal, the Sharks were skating hard again. I didn't even have time to bitch and complain about the Sharks playing for the tie. They drew penalties, kept the Stars deep, and Joe scored on a pretty Michalek feed to put the Sharks up 3-2. I braced myself again for the prevent defense, and I didn't see it. Instead of letting Zubov jump into the play, the Sharks pressed the pace, keeping the Stars' D honest. More scoring chances followed, and the Sharks won 3-2 going away.

Joe has now scored or assisted on 137% of the Sharks goals this season, his GAA is 1.02, his save percentage .989, and his plus-minus requires exponents. He's the early leader for the Hart, Vezina, Ross, Masterson, Calder, and Heisman trophies. I mean seriously, is there anything this crazy bastard can't do?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One Dougie Might Want Back....

As more trade rumors abound about the Sharks and Toronto hooking up for another big deal, I wanted to reflect on the one major deal between the two clubs and a subsequent trade that Doug Wilson probably wants to take back.

Remember March 3rd, 2003 when the Sharks traded away franchise poster child Owen Nolan to Toronto for a package that included Leafs captain Alyn McCauley, prospect Brad Boyes and their 1st round pick. The Sharks were in the middle of a dismal 73 point season and a last place finish in the Pacific. Trading their captain for a role player, prospect and draft pick made sense for a team rebuilding - this is not the type of package that Doug Wilson would accept for current Captain and rumor-hound, Patrick Marleau. But then....the interesting move....after posting impressive numbers with the Sharks top farm club (60 points in 61 games) the Sharks traded Boyes and the 1st round pick, the two centerpieces of the Nolan deal, to Boston in a three way deal that netted Team Teal nice guy and current healthy scrach, Curtis Brown. Boyes had 69 points the next year in Boston and has since landed in St. Louis, been converted to wing and currently has 15 goals in 24 games. That draft pick also ended up being young, promising defender Mark Stuart.

Brad Boyes and Mark Stuart for Curtis Brown. Think Doug Wilson wants a do over?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Teal Spiel Roundtable with Dan Rusanowsky

So here's the segment, me in the "roundtable discussion" on the Teal Spiel, the only existing Sharks radio show. Before I was just your regular schmuck caller, and now I was the schmuck roundtable guy. It was cool to be on with Mr. Rusanowsky- he's forgotten more about hockey than I'll ever know. To be honest, after listening to it, I thought I was pretty bland and uninteresting. Great plug, huh? Is it that obvious I don't have a marketing degree?

Seriously though, it was pretty fun. Might have been a one-time thing, but I'd do it again anytime they'd ask me.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Day Off, Let's Monger Some Rumors

As Grier has said before, Eklund is a nice source of entertainment (no link purposely). He's right some of the time, but a lot of times he seems to be talking out of his ass. But hey, it's Sunday! What else are we going to talk about?

So I'm going through my usual hockey blog list, click on the latest Eklund, and see a story on the new ownership group falling through in Tampa Bay... then this:

So does that mean that Vinny LeCavalier, perhaps the best player in the world, could be gone?


I talked to another source who told me something that I also believe. "Of course every team out there would cherish Vinny, but a there are a few that would massively overpay for him. Two are of course Montreal and Toronto, but don't count out Philly, Pittsburgh, San Jose, or LA."

Of course there's a firestorm of comments with various trade proposals. One from an Sharks fan that offered Marleau, Carle, Bernier (or Cheech) and a 1st round for Vinny.

For one, It would actually be pretty difficult to "massively overpay" for Vinny if you just offer young players and/or prospects. Outside of Crosby, Kane, Toews, Phaneuf, and AO, it's more or less a crapshoot. Anybody outside of that group that isn't an established NHL player yet is a roll of the dice. Some with pretty damn good odds (Sam Gagner) and some not as good (Gilbert Brule).

The trade the Sharks fan offered above doesn't make a whole lot of sense from the 'Ning's standpoint- they would be taking on some big contracts, and the whole point of the trade would be to reduce salary.

So to the Lightning I say: You want young talent? How about this deal: Bernier, Pavelski, Ehrhoff, Greiss or Patzold (your choice) and a 2nd rounder.

I'm trying to hide the fact that such a big trade doesn't make a whole lot of sense from the Sharks' perspective either- ownership doesn't appear to want to gain salary, and we would be adding yet another high-priced center. Unless Patty becomes a winger (and I'm not convinced that's a good idea) the Sharks would be idiotically deep at the pivot position, and still troubled at the wing.

That being said, Vinny is the clear-cut leader in the Hart trophy race right now. Who among us wouldn't want to see him in teal?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Little Something Extra

There was a little extra spring in the Sharks' step last night en route to their win against Colorado. Joe again was "The Man"™ in scoring two goals and assisting on the third. I actually thought at first that the third goal went in off the defenseman's skate and not Grier's, which would have given Joe the hat trick.

It would be easy to launch into a lament here about the lack of secondary scoring and so on, but there were several encouraging things about the Sharks play last night:

  • They actually carried the puck into the offensive zone most of the time on the power play. And pretty much every time they did that, they maintained control and set up. Imagine!
  • Like the game against the Kings, they weren't afraid to stand in front of the net. Colorado's biggest defenseman is now Scott Hannan, who isn't quite big enough to bang with some of the bodies we got.
  • Save the 30 seconds at the end of the second period where Colorado scored that power play goal, I'd say the Sharks played a complete game. Rarely were they pinned in their end, and they were able to keep the puck low and give the Avs fits by maintaining possession behind the net and in the corners.
Always great to see stuff like that, but the inevitable question is, can they keep it up? That's a question that won't be answered until Monday against the Avs or Wednesday against the Stars.

I did attend the "Ice Insights" thing last night at the Tank, open to season ticket holders. The four broadcasters for the Sharks fielded questions from the angry mob. And they did seem angry. Stuff like "why the F is Wilson juggling the lines so much", "who should be benched", and "who should be traded". The most interesting answer of the night was when Drew said the three players he would bench were Patty (no surprise), Cheech (<yawn>), and Mike Grier (hey now!). He didn't have time to elaborate on that, but it was surprising. I'm hoping our Grier might do a Real Grier Breakdown.

Friday, November 30, 2007

We Rule

This will be our 37th post in November, by far our most prolific month in the history of this blog. Thanks to Grier for helping to make it our best month ever, both in terms of posts and in terms of readership. Though I could have done without that last one.

What Mikey Wants for Christmas...

Someone tell Santa to put this gift under the tree of my fellow blogger. I think Mike would want his in Matt Carle.

Seriously hilarious.

Purdy reads Shaved Ice??

Good article in the Merc today by Purdy that follows up on what we talked about yesterday. Does he have Shaved Ice on his favorite bookmarks?

My diagnosis: They have a climate-control crisis. The team temperature never seems to rise or fall. Behind or ahead, the Sharks operate at the same constant level of intensity. Some nights, that's enough. Other nights, when the temperature needs to be turned up, it's definitely not. And of course, when you're talking about a hockey team's attitude, you tend to look at the captain. That would be Patrick Marleau. He is the ultimate Mr. Climate Control. A coincidence? Marleau's biggest asset might also be his biggest weakness. His demeanor seems to stay the same, no matter what goes on around him. He's never too excited. He's never too depressed.

Check out the rest below. He makes the similar argument I did yesterday that, with Marleau at the helm, this team may never rev up the intensity enough to take the next step. Marleau knows he plays on the even keel, but his self comparison to Vinny D is pretty off the mark. Vinny has several season of 70+ PIM's, so I'd say he played with a little more tenacity.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Royally beat down by the Kings...

Let's face it Sharks fans. This team isn't lacking skill - they are lacking intensity and heart. To allow yourself to get beat two nights in a row AT HOME by a team that is currently assembled of players no one wanted mixed with a few young guys is inexcusable. The fans in our section (props to 124!!) were disgusted by the result and you can feel the Tank is not the home ice advantage it used to be. The Sharks don't own "Sharks Territory" anymore and the Kings certainly aren't afraid of coming to town, it might be their favorite place after all. I think I saw Kopitar and O'Sullivan skipping through Christmas in the Park actually. Cute couple.

You can't teach heart. Some of these guys on the Sharks just don't have it. We know who Marleau is - a very good skill player without much fire and prone to slumps. When that is who your Captain is - the teams attitude reflect it. When your Captain is Chris Pronger or Brendan Morrow....I think you know the answer.

GM Meeetings are upon us. Doug Wilson, your move boss.

Lean On the Guy With One Leg

You know what really sucks about last night? The Sharks couldn't even beat the last-place team in the division missing two of their top three scorers. Kopitar was the only King in the lineup who the Sharks really needed to watch out for, and they didn't. Kopitar's goal was a bit of a flukey play in that the puck was just laying under Nabby, unbeknownst to him, but the Sharks launched into their 'woe is me' bit again after that. They used the kooky Kopitar goal as an excuse to play like crap for the next twenty minutes or so. Flat-out missed coverage led to the second goal, and the Sharks had to scramble to tie it. Then they sat on their haunches, like they are automatic in OT and the shootout. Note to Sharks: not so much. Nabby looked foolish on all three shootout goals, and it was game over.

On Friday we play a team that will make the playoffs this year, and if the Sharks take a period off like they did last night, we'll suffer another 6-2 beatdown like we did on October 7th.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ask, and Ye Shall Receive

So Nick asked in the comments of the previous post:

in my limited-knowledge opinion I think the one name that hasn't been talked about, but should be, is Cheechoo. I know everyone think back to 2 years ago and how he broke out under big joe but in the end I think history will show that he had one miracle year and fizzled out. While he doesn't pull a huge contract I think he would be the best form of trade bait despite his poor numbers this year. Your thoughts?

I decided to make a whole post on it, because I tend to get long-winded at times like these.

Let's talk about the prospect of the Sharks trading a major player first (Marleau, Cheech, Joe, etc.). It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, given Doug Wilson's history of deliberate moves. I think it's a unnecessary panic move. Given how stacked the Sharks are with young talent, I don't think any trade like this would happen this year. Unless the Sharks gain a big time piece that would stick around for several years. This isn't an aging team that needs to win now.

About Cheech- first of all, being tied for 14th in the league (last year with 37 goals) isn't 'fizzling out' in my opinion. Here are some players who scored fewer goals than Cheech last year ( a 'disappointing' year according to some): Hejduk, Zetterberg, Briere, Jagr, Smyth. Let's not call him a flash in the pan quite yet. Only 1 guy since 2000 has had back-to-back 50 goal seasons, and only 3 guys have had back-to-back 40 goal seasons.

None of that means he's not having a brutal year so far. Of course he is. As I said in my first Teal Spiel call, I'm not convinced the Sharks' coaching staff are giving Cheech the best opportunity to succeed. At that time, I thought they were punishing him for playing badly, putting him on the fourth line where he has basically no chance to score. He needs a guy feeding him. Since then, he's showed a bit more spark, hasn't spent as much time on the 4th line, and still hasn't opened it up. He's working very hard, but the biscuit ain't going in the basket.

We're still only a quarter of the season in. I don't think you trade a guy who's in a 20-game scoring slump after he had two great years. Reason #1 - you won't get the best value for him. Reason #2 - it's bad business. As you said, he's not breaking the bank, and the Sharks aren't up against the cap. The problem with the Sharks right now seems to be lack of scoring- why would we want to dump our top scorer the last two years? Even if we package him with other players or picks for a truly elite scorer, is that really going to make enough of a difference? Best case is we'd gain 50 goals (if we're damn lucky) plus a huge contract and lose 30 goals and a cheap contract.

So here's my prescription. You don't trade Cheech this year, regardless of what happens. He goes half a season with 10 goals, you put him on the fourth line again, you put him in the press box, and you hope the disincentive pushes his buttons. He's a ferociously competitive guy. I've seen it personally at Sharks practices. He's the first guy that knows he's sucking, and the last guy that wants to drag his team down. If that mentality changes AND his output stays horrible, you consider trading him after the season is over.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Just Can't Shut My Trap

What can I say, I get excited about Sharks hockey. And there's only one radio show. Here's my latest... I talk about the Carle contract, Sharks trade ideas, and the Kings matchup last Saturday (before it happened, of course). Don't forget to hear the part where I claim the Kings have "horrible goalie problems", and of course, LaBarbera played great, making 26 saves on 27 shots.

After that loser of a comment, I don't know why they'd want me back, but I'll be taking part in the "roundtable discussion" segment of the show this week, with Dan Rusanowsky (voice of the Sharks on radio). Don't kid yourself- I won't be going in cold, but I can always use help. If you have an interesting topic of discussion, or questions for Mr. Rusanowsky, please leave them in the comments. I'll bring them up if the discussion steers that way.

The Fourth Line

The grinders. The grit. The muscle. These are the guys who you usually find on the ice on an NHL 4th line. The offensive line of a hockey club, doing the thankless work that rarely shows up on the stat sheet. Winning a key face off, delivering a meaningful hit, intimidating an opponents star player. The Sharks lack a truly effective 4th line. We have seen different versions of it the past few weeks, but the combination usually revolves around Goc, Bernier, Brown, Rizz and now the new and improved LW Rob Davison. While Bernier has shown flashes of life and physical play as a 4th liner, the others have rotated in and out of the line up and haven't performed the duties described above with any consistency or fire. The 4th line is just the collection of players that suck enough to not be on the top two lines, but good enough to avoid being scratched.

I'm not a big Rizz guy - Mike and I both agree that he does everything average and we've seen everything there is to see from him. Good guy, tries really hard, but we know what we know about the Rizz. He needs to be replaced. I certainly don't think he is in the Sharks long term plans. Send him to the press box. I suggest rolling Bernier-Brownie-Davison for now, but this is an area DW needs to address before season's end.

A few other comments/notes

- Toronto continues to implode. Maybe Mike and my wish for Darcy Tucker could become a reality??? He has never played out West and maybe he has no desire to. We will see...

- Eklund has gone off the deep end, I've decided. Today he commented that the Sharks and Ducks are asking Montreal about Huet. Huet now? What do the Sharks want with another #1 goaltender? The Ducks just got rid of one - so now they want Huet? Nonsense. I enjoy reading his blog for fun but his rumors are going sour...

- Hey Ron Wilson? Please no more rolling out seven defensemen please. I would rather see the Sharks call up Kaspar or Armstrong than endure another game of seven D.

See you at the Tank on Wednesday!

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Hype it up"?

You may have noticed that there's a new little link at the end of each post that says "hype it up". It's a tracking mechanism, kind of like Digg (if you know what that is). I registered at a site called BallHype, which tracks sports blogs. If a particular blog entry gets enough 'hype' (i.e. readers click on the 'hype it up' link enough times) it'll show up over there, which might just send a few more readers over here. A tiny way for us to get a bit more visibility. And a decent spot to find cool hockey blogs, if you're into that sort of thing. Which you are, because you're reading this drivel.

So hype up the posts you like. It's not gathering personal information on you or anything, unless you sign up over there. I totally understand if you can't be bothered to click on a link every once in a while- I have a remote control for a fan in my bedroom that is literally three feet away from where I sleep. And here I was using my arms like a sucker.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No Offense, Ho Hum

Again with the losing. The Sharks gave up two power play goals in the first period and went on to lose 2-1. They didn't really show any urgency until quite late in the third period, when they managed to score. The Kings were wandering around at the end of the game, with the Sharks buzzing, but L.A. managed to run out the clock, barely. I actually turned to Grier with about ten minutes left in the game and said, "They're playing like the game is tied." It was 2-0 at the time. The lack of desperation was palpable.

One thing that is interesting is the Sharks again outshot their opponents, this time 27-17. The Sharks have lost eight times in regulation this season, and only three of those times were they outshot. The two losses to Detroit, and the one against Columbus (outshot 18-17). In total, the Sharks have outshot their regulation betters 219-188 (on average 27 to 23).

What this means, I'm not exactly sure. Could they be watching stats during the game, thinking that outshooting the opposition somehow excuses their lack of tallies? That seems pretty unlikely. Eight games is not exactly a sample size, but only being outshot 3 of 8 times seems extraordinarily odd. The Ducks have lost nine games in regulation, and only two of those times they weren't outshot. The Kings have lost twelve in regulation, and were outshot in ten of those games. It's a very odd circumstance, but I honestly have no idea what it means. It could just mean the obvious, the Sharks are able to hit the broad side of a barn with the puck, but they can't actually get it past the goalies.

I have a feeling this might have something to do with their dismal play at home. Their five losses at home they've outshot the opposition 165-106 (33 to 21), much more lopsided than the overall numbers above. Are the Sharks just soaking up the adulation at home, knowing the fans will cheer the slightest scoring chance or the most routine save?

I'm pretty well stumped, any ideas?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Great Job Doug Wilson!!!

Resigning Matt Carle is a great way to start the Thanksgiving break. Even though he has been in and out of the doghouse this year, Carle and Vlasic are the future of the Sharks blueline, along with Rivet and Ty Wishart. I think Wilson showed Carle a ton of confidence by making this deal and we could see the results immediately on the stat sheet. I know he got four years - and I'm going to guess he got around 14 million - a similar deal that New Jersey Devils defensemen Paul Martin got in the offseason.

Now Doug has to decide who is next on the list - do you extend Pavelski? Bernier? Do you extend Clowe now or wait and see how he comes back from injury? What does this mean for Ehrhoff and Goc? Well you know my opinion - I think all of these players, except Clowe, are available in trade market for an impact veteran. I think you keep Bernier, especially the way he has recently found out that checking people and standing in front of the net is a good thing for someone his size, and see what kind of impact player Ehrhoff and Pavelski can fetch. I think it could net someone pretty good.

Okay. That's really it from me until after Saturday's game, barring some major news to discuss. Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Fan(s) Have Spoken

Before now, I used sitemeter to gather statistics for this site (you can still see the little counter all the way at the bottom of the page). But yesterday, I signed up for for Google Analytics, because they will report not just how many views and visitors you have, but pretty charts and maps and referring sites and all the crap a math-loving dork like me loves.

It takes about a day for the first stats to start rolling in, and I just checked it for the first time a minute ago. As expected, we get referrals from chompboard and BoC, but there was another table that reports which keywords the visitors searched for that ended up here. Here it is. I swear to God I did not Photoshop it.

To our wonderful reader that is looking shave his or her <shudder> ass, stay tuned. I'll try to convince Grier to write it up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Koivu and Ohlund

You've probably heard about this story already- it's been around the hockey media pretty quickly. Just watch the video:

So Ohlund gets a 4-game suspension. FOUR GAMES. I'm not exactly sure how far Colin Campbell's head is up his ass, but I bet his breath smells like shit.

I guess I thought the NHL was interested in cracking down on some of the extraneous dirty stuff in the league. We see Steve Downie get a 20-game suspension, and Jesse Boulerice get 25. Then this, which makes absolutely no sense.

Let's give Ohlund the benefit of the doubt. Koivu got his elbow up, and probably deserved a penalty, perhaps a major or even a misconduct. But it's inarguable that happened during the course of play, dirty though it may be. But Ohlund's chop had nothing to do with the game; it was revenge. Personally, I don't care if Koivu was anally raping Ohlund's mother while pouring sugar in his gas tank- Ohlund deserves a 25 or 30 game suspension, at least. He deliberately broke Koivu's leg from behind with his stick.

To me, this incident is much worse than the Downie hit, and maybe worse than the Boulerice hit. You could at least make a (poor) case that Boulerice didn't mean to get his stick up so high. But Ohlund did exactly what he intended. Mission accomplished.

NHL Meetings on the Horizon

The Mercury News had a great article today where Doug Wilson made an interesting statement that I think should not go unnoticed.

The question Wilson asks himself is this: "Are we getting better as a hockey team at the things that will allow us to be successful at the end of the year?" And his answer? "I've seen a couple things recently, but we're certainly not satisfied with where we're at," Wilson said.

Here's the link.

Hmmm.....We have to remember that even with the recent upswing, Thanksgiving is Doug Wilson's favorite time of year. Two years ago he brought us a giant Holiday surprise in Joe Thornton. While I certainly don't expect a franchise altering move like that, I think we should take Doug Wilson seriously. He sees what I see. Yes, the Sharks have been playing harder and the result has shown up in the win column, but is this team better than last year, or the year before, when they have come to a dead stop in the 2nd round? The answer is, unfortunately, no. They aren't better. They are the same, if anything. This current collection of talent won't beat Detroit in a seven game series. Wilson needs to tweak the roster, not overhaul - and his comments lead me to believe that this could be coming sooner rather than later. An agitator? The number one D-man Wilson has wanted under his tree for years? A power forward to replace Ryane Clowe? A back up goalie? Take your pick - we have the right combo of NHL ready young talent and cap room to get almost any deal done Doug Wilson desires.

So dig in for a potential exciting end of November - we could be seeing a new face or two in Teal Town - but only if Dougie doesn't overload on too much stuffing and yams.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thomas Greiss, Come on Down....

...You're the Next Contestant on the Back Up is Right!

I'm not sure I understand Doug Wilson's reasoning for playing musical back-ups. Whether its Patzold or Greiss, if Nabby goes down with an injury - the Sharks are most likely busted. Nabby hasn't played more than 50 games in a season since 2003-04 and he missed fifteen games last year due to injuries. I think we have to expect that Nabby isn't going to be able to handle a Brodeur type load. With Alex Auld being waived by Phoenix today, why not put in a waiver claim on him? Auld won 33 games for Vancouver in 05-06, putting up solid numbers on a decent team. Can we really judge him for his performance on two poor teams in Florida and Phoenix? Weren't people saying the same about Ozo and Roenick, two of the best players in Teal this season?

I say claim Alex Auld and let him spell Nabby. What's the risk? We have tons of cap room (9.6 million) so assuming Auld's 0.5 million is no big deal. Don't get me wrong, I'm not down on Greiss - he could be the future netminder for this organization at age 21 and he showed flashes of excellent play in the preseason - but to put the weight of the season on Patzold/Greiss if Nabby goes down is unfair to the rest of the team. At that point, Doug Wilson will have to overpay for Halak or someone else....

On a side note, did the Ducks really dump Breezy so they could deal for Brian Sutherby? Not sure I totally get it - now the Ducks have Marchant, McDonald, Pahlsson, Sutherby and Getzlaf up the middle. Is this only the first of other moves in Disneyland?

Me, the GM

I called into Teal Spiel again this past weekend, and spoke a little bit about what I think the Sharks still need. I've written about it in this space before, but now you can hear me in my eloquent glory here. Here's the embedded player again:

Comments welcome.

Douglas Murray and His Monstrous Plus-Minus

So you go over to the ESPN stats site right now, and you'll see that Douglas Murray (can't I call you Doug?) is tied for the league lead in plus-minus, at +15, tied with Chris Phillips. Holy God! That's a pretty amazing stat, given that the Sharks are +10 overall (including PP) while the Sens are +20.

I've never put a huge amount of stock in plus-minus as a purely defensive measure, because lots of things can skew it. I did an analysis once that showed that teams with a poor power play generally have players with a higher +/- than teams with a good power play. It makes sense. If you don't score on the PP, that means a higher percentage of your goals must come on even strength (ES), which boosts your +/-. Only ES and short handed goals count as a plus. And only ES and SH goals against count for a minus.

In my view, when you're rating a defensive defenseman, you really want only half of what the +/- stat give you. You want ES goals against only, because a defenseman's job is to prevent goals, not score them. If Larry gives up 20 ES goals, but they score 21 when he's on the ice, he's +1. And if Pete gives up no goals, and scores 1, he's +1, just like Larry. But Pete is a much better defensemen than Larry.

So let me start with a little factoid: Douglas Murray has not been on the ice for a even strength goal against since October 18th vs. Detroit. That means, he's been perfect for 10 games, over a month. Unbelievable.

The NHL doesn't publish this information exactly (you'd have to pore through the game logs) but luckily there are some good stats sites out there, and I turned to They have a stat called EH-, which is defined as "Goals against average while on ice @ even strength". They don't publish the formula, but I'm assuming it's goals per 60 minutes of time. Murray is the best on the Sharks, with an EH- of 0.3. If that means what I think it means, that's pretty astounding. Just for the record, and unsurprisingly, Alexei Semenov is the worst with an EH- of 4.1 (Kaspar is technically worse, but he only played 3 games).

So I went overboard, as I usually do, and made a spreadsheet. Here's the list of the top 10 defensemen in the NHL this year (who have played over 10 games) in EH- (and I have no idea why there's a big gap here):

PlayerGames PlayedEH-
Douglas Murray (SJ)150.3
Petteri Nummelin (MIN)150.3
Alexander Edler (VAN)120.4
Mike Stuart (BOS)180.9
Glen Wesley (CAR) 210.9
Nicklas Lidstrom (DET)201.0
Marek Malik (NYR)121.0
Ville Koistinen (NAS)131.1
Luke Richardson (OTT)161.1
Marc Staal (NYR)201.2
Murray leads the league. Chris Phillips, the man who is tied with Murray at +15, is not in the top 20 (1.6). There are other factors that can skew this stat, like strength of linemates and strength of opposition, but this is a better raw stat than regular +/-. Douglas Murray has been one of the best two or three defensive defenseman in the NHL this year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sharks-Ducks Redux (Re-Ducks?)

Like last year, the Sharks-Ducks matchup seems to have a little extra 'oomph' than many of the other regular season games. These teams are clearly measuring themselves against each other, and like the other meeting between the two this season, they came out pretty even. I'm sure it was frustrating for the Sharks during the first half of that game because for the most part, the Ducks were shutting the Sharks down defensively.

But the Sharks didn't panic, and this is where I think the last four wins came in handy. They continued to press, didn't overskate or overpursue, and got a nice little redirect from Torrey Mitchell to tie the game at 1. Other than a couple of heart-dropping giveaways by the Sharks, it stayed pretty deadlocked. And the shootout is the shootout- the Sharks suck compared to everybody else.

So what did we learn? Not much. The Sharks and Ducks are pretty closely matched, which is what most (reasonable) people expected. When (I no longer say 'if') Niedermayer and Selanne re-join the team, that may no longer be the case. However, although both teams are a little banged up, I'd say the Sharks were more so than the Ducks, with Rivet, Michalek, and Clowe out. Ducks were missing Schnieder and Bertuzzi. Schneider hurts, but Bertuzzi is a 3rd or 4th liner now, and of limited utility.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I Can't Resist

quoting myself:

Speaking of the Ducks, they waived their backup, Ilya Bryzgalov, this morning. Grier and I agree that this is definitely a cap-clearing move for them. Given the number of other teams with goalie issues (the Coyotes among them)...

Ok, maybe it wasn't a cap-clearing move, but I love it when I'm right. And I have to point it out, since it happens so infrequently.

Friday, November 16, 2007

SOR Address

Y'know when you get into a new relationship, pretty soon you have to have that, "so what the hell are we doing?" talk. I call it the "state of the relationship" address, or SOR for short. I'm an tech guy, and three letter acronyms (TLAs, of course) dominate my daylight conversations in my corner of the cube farm.

I'm not gonna get all 'feely' with you about the blog or anything, but Girl with a Puck just did a long post about the state of hockey blogs in the raging sea of hockey journalism. And Sleek at BoC had a post on it as well. Since we at Shaved Ice are just a dingleberry on the ass of the hockey world, I figured I'd throw in my 2 cents, especially since we weren't asked.

First of all, I think hockey journalism is about informing people, and hockey blogs are about (or should be about) entertaining people. C'mon, are you going to find a dingleberry reference on I'm sure that my obsession with reading hockey blogs and news does occasionally yield a post where a few of our readers learn about some story or another, but that's just luck. Largely, blogs are about analysis and opinion. Regurgitiating news is boring, and that's what RSS feeds are for.

So why the hell are you here? Most probably because you know me or Grier personally, or through some other blog. Maybe you even read us a lot, because it's pretty obvious that we both care a lot about hockey, and we care about the Sharks. I'd like to think we both have more hockey knowledge than the casual fan, and can level a critical eye at the team and the sport. We're fanboys in that we want the Sharks to do well, but we're not in that we don't mindlessly support everything the Sharks do or don't do.

And we take your crap. Journalism is inching slowly towards a more interactive model (like David Pollak's blog), but here we say what we think, and you can blast us in the comments. We always read them, and 9 times out of 10 respond back to you. If you want to click back to the go-go days of the Detroit series last year, it got a bit heated. But that's what sports fandom is all about- arguing.

To me, hockey blogs provide a jumping off point for further hockey discussion, because it's often a matter of opinion or analysis. That kind of stimulation doesn't spring from your regular hockey articles, like "Team x beat team y", or "so and so got traded". Good hockey blogs have good writing and insightful points. They make you question your assumptions about teams, players, and the game.

Or they just make you laugh through strategic use of profanity.

Thanks for Playing, Yotes

So the Sharks completed their third beatdown of the Coyotes in a week, and the prognostication that JR's 500th goal would set off a Sharks resurgence is bearing fruit. Although keep in mind that they've played only 4 games since then, three against the worst team in hockey, and a 4th where they almost lost by coughing up 2 third-period goals.

But this last game was really something to behold. Other than Semenov doing his wooden indian impression yet again and almost getting scored on, the Sharks played a near-perfect game. Some thoughts:

  • It's weird, but having Michalek and Clowe out of the lineup might have helped this team. The guys like Rizz and JoePa and Bernier have to think to themselves in the locker room, "Ok, now WE have to make something happen, we can't wait around for the stars to win the game for us." I've had a similar experience in my games. Our two top scorers are out, and we play a much better as a team with everyone pitching in.
  • Howsa bout that Doug(las) Murray? He's really shaping up to be a very good player, far exceeding my expectations. In my estimation, he's ahead of Semenov, Ehrhoff, and (though it pains me to say it) Carle in the depth chart right now.
  • I'm very excited that the Sharks have decided to move their feet on the power play. Pavelski's second PP goal last night should be on a continuous loop in the locker room, so they all get the message.
  • Cheech is still trying hard, but he seemed to go a bit backwards in this game. I think he'll pick it up against the Ducks- he's killed them in the past.
Speaking of the Ducks, they waived their backup, Ilya Bryzgalov, this morning. Grier and I agree that this is definitely a cap-clearing move for them. Given the number of other teams with goalie issues (the Coyotes among them), the fact that they didn't trade him is telling. I do wonder why they didn't try to get draft picks for him. Either way, I'd now put the chances of Selanne and Niedermayer re-joining the Ducks this season at over 90%.

Ducks waive Breezy. Clear sign of Neidermeyer's return

Just a quick hit on the waiving of Breezy by the Ducks. They clearly could have dealt him, but in my opinion the Ducks didn't want to take anything in return so they could clear the cap space for Neidermeyer to return in December.....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

As Socrates said, 2 points is 2 points

Maybe that was Yogi Berra. No matter. The Sharks did manage to salvage two points against the Stars after playing only 20 real minutes of hockey, and for that, they are to be commended. I can't help thinking we'd be off the bandwagon if they lost in the shootout (to the historically best shootout team in the NHL), but then I think of the title. Ends justify the means, right?

Glad to see that Marleau is trying to seize his own chances again- his goal was a beaut, and he drove in towards the net another couple of times, each of which could have resulted in a goal. And I have to give Ron Wilson props- Marleau is historically awful in the shootout (0-6 before last night), but putting him in there took some onions. It may seem like a no brainer to do that since Patty scored, but think of it like this- you put a guy that's brutal in the shootout against possibly the best shootout goalie, and if he comes up short, you cough up a point in a game that should have been won? Not a slam dunk choice anymore.

Winning tonight against Phoenix will be tough, because they will be ready (they haven't played since Monday), but then I picked the Sharks to lose both games to the Yotes, so what the hell do I know?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Shootout Miracle!!!

Let the good times roll! The Sharks get another division victory deflating the Dallas Stars after they dominated play in the 3rd period. Marleau won the game with his shootout heroics, stepping up and playing like the Captain he hasn't been all season. The Sharks are on a roll and when things are going good, everything falls into place - including the ever difficult shootout victory. These are games that good teams win and the fact that the Sharks didn't crumble after Dallas roared back shows that they are confident again. An important win tonight and a solid test of mental toughness.

I would expect that Rivet and Mitchell might be out tomorrow night, neither of them saw time in the 3rd period. No news after the game on their injuries. Expect Carle to return so Rivet can get a night off.

I'm predicting Patzold gets his first start of the season tomorrow night with the big showdown against Anahiem looming on Saturday. They have to let him play sometime....right?

How good is the Gooch? Mikey should be nervous about our bet because Devon is Joe's new favorite target. At this pace, Rookie of the Year isn't an unreasonable thought....Look out Kane and Toews. If Thunder Joe keeps feeding the Gooch, he could score 40.

Can you say four in a row? Let's punk Phoenix tomorrow boys.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Night We All Smiled

There was a sense of relief at the Tank on Monday night. The fans were high fiving, smiling and gave the Sharks multiple standing ovations. The team was smiling too, playing their trademark style we were so used to seeing last season. They dominated Phoenix in the third period, cycling at will and embarrassing Gretzky's boys. It was so many weeks in the making but oh so worth it. The Sharks, my friends, appear to be back.

Bernier is growing up before our eyes on the 4th line, doing the dirty work he avoided when on the 2nd line. He drew two fighting majors and really got under Phoenix's skin with his physical play. Cheechoo and Marleau both had a point, with Cheech playing noticeably better last night. Nabby was solid, the D held up and the Sharks dominated play when it mattered most. As I said before, Phoenix is not good. They are young and play hard every night, and with an experienced blue line, they will stay in most games, but up front they are severely lacking. We should beat them 5-0. And finally, we did.

The chance to go on a run is finally upon us. The Sharks need to recognize the opportunity to pull away from Anahiem now before Neidermeyer and Selanne return in the New Year, as I suspect they both will. Could we win all three games this week vs. Dallas, Phoenix and Anahiem? Sure. Am I being greedy? Probably.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Can Roenick save the season?

Could we not only have witnessed history on Saturday night in JR's 500th goal, but did we perhaps see the turning point of the Sharks early season woes? His passionate response to his milestone had an effect on the entire team's effort, which was solid from the drop of the puck. The Sharks needed something good to happen to them after weeks of bad calls, dumb luck and lackluster effort. Saturday night could be their chance to turn the corner. We'll see if they keep it up tomorrow night because Phoenix, though lacking in talent, plays with tons of heart and hustle.

A few other thoughts

- Thank you for pulling Semenov. He adds nothing on the ice but a chance for us to make jokes at his expense. Ehrhoff went from a healthy scratch to playing the 2nd most minutes on the team. I think they may have got his attention, whether he stays or is trade bait.

- I liked Bernier on the 4th line. He played more physically than I've noticed this year, which is the major part of his game that is lacking right now. I thought the fact that RW didn't juggle the lines much meant he was happy with the overall play and he may have found a great 3rd line in Roenick/Mitchell/Grier.

- Carcillo's play for Phoenix further proves my point that we need an agitator on our club. He goated Rismiller into a penalty. We don't have a player like that right now.

- Marleau showed some flashes of life in the 2nd and 3rd period.......

Mike and I have a wager on who will score more goals by season's end - Setoguchi or Cheechoo. I have Gooch and Mike has Cheech. The bet is off is either is traded or if Gooch is somehow sent to the minors. Right now they are tied at three apiece. Who do you think will score more goals?

Friday, November 09, 2007

A few comments...

- Semenov continues to mistify. He should not be on the ice again. Period. End of story. His defensive lapse on McDonald cost the Sharks the game.

- Douglas Murray is a key member of this team and should be out there every night. Without Clowe, he is the only Shark that will keep players like Brad May accountable. Did you see how fast May skated away from Murray? You can bet that won't be forgotten.

- Has anyone else noticed that in only four games, Ozolinsh is the new face of our blueline? He is everywhere, demands the puck and the other defensemen are deferring to him regularly. He logged 23 minutes of ice time tonight, putting him right behind Rivet and Big Joe. Ehrhoff has been replaced. Time to see what you can get for him.

- Marleau got only 15 minutes of ice time and he looked terrible again. Bernier was so non existant that Wilson just stopped rolling him out there.

- Grier was excellent and Thunder Joe and JR had solid nights.

- Tonight further hammers home the fact that we need a guy like Pahlsson. We don't have a guy like that. He was such a pain in the ass to Joe tonight. Cut bait with some young talent and get us an agitator!!!

- The Sharks should just leave the bench and go home when it comes time for the shootout. They look like they've lost before it even starts. And Pavelski and Cheechoo are the first two guys? Come on Ron - give us a chance! Let's roll out a guy who played 11 minutes and someone who can't hit J-Lo's fat ass with a brick right now. Where is Roenick? Where is Joe? Where is Ozolinsh for Christ's sake!

Anyways, just a few rambling thoughts after the game. Putting things into perspective, we did get a point in Anahiem - a place we have always struggled to play respectably - but we got a glimpse at the new look Ducks. Less talented but same hard hitting, high energy style. I wish the Sharks played with as much heart as Anahiem and I'm with Mike, I am afraid Phoenix will out work our boys and continue our home woes tomorrow night.

More of the Same

I could easily just copy and paste old stuff I wrote here to sum up tonight;s game. The Sharks has some dominant stretches, got soft as the game went on, had a horrible defensive breakdown, and ended up losing. At least it was late enough so they got a point. The Sharks will be facing tougher competition tomorrow and Monday night, so look for the inevitable breakdowns to happen sooner, and the losses to be more decisive.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sharks Prescription : Theo Fleury

Just kidding, but only half. The disappointment continues. The Sharks can't catch a break right now. They did not play a bad game last night. Nabby had his worst game of the season so far, and he needs a bit of a rest. He's spent the last two years trying to be the undisputed #1 again- now that he's got it, he will not take himself out of the game or refuse a start. Look for Patzold to start Saturday or Monday against Phoenix.

Unlike my esteemed blog partner, I don't believe a major shakeup is needed, trading Marleau, Cheechoo, or firing Ron Wilson. Although if Boston goes for that trade he proposed they should be contracted out of the league. Maybe that's why he's kicking ass at fantasy and I'm not.

It's my belief that the Sharks need a relatively small catalyst to drive their recovery. With the face of the team being Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, two laid back guys, I think some passion, energy and emotion needs to be injected into the Sharks lineup. I wish JR could be that guy, and Lord knows he's trying, but he just doesn't get enough minutes to make it happen.

We need Sean Avery.

Well, somebody like Avery anyway. Not a star. A guy that talks trash on the ice, makes a pest of himself, and can contribute good minutes. Look at Detroit. They have at least three pests- Holmstrom, Maltby, and Draper all get under your skin. They can take the other team off of their game while inspiring their team to play harder.

With Clowe out, that role is not being filled. Bernier is playing tougher, but he's not a pest, just a big guy. And it's hard to be taken seriously when you're talking trash with a French accent. What we don't need is another silent leader. We need somebody to stir the pot, on and off the ice.

Letting Mark Smith go was a mistake. We need him back. Ian Laperriere, Raffi Torres, even Chris Simon. Ok, maybe not Chris Simon. But Darren McCarty.

Let's not cram Joe and Patty into a box that says "VOCAL LEADER". Forcing them into a role they are not suited to play is counterproductive and stupid. The captain doesn't have to be the guy that makes all the speeches. Doug Wilson needs to give them room to create, the room to lead on the ice, knowing that somebody's got their back.

How about our old nemesis, Brendan Witt? Scott Parker would have scaled the Eiffel Tower to get at that guy. That's the guy we need.

Sharks Broken. In Need of Repairs.

I know we all have theories of what is wrong with out underachieving San Jose Sharks. I have preached patience at times. I have encouraged Dougie Wilson to explore a few trades. Is it the coaching? Is the biggest roster in size in the NHL smallest in heart? Is there a lack of a big time blueliner? Is the Captain to blame?

Take your pick - but there is something wrong in Teal Town. The boys played hard last night but some mental mistakes allowed two breakaway goals and Turco stood on his head, something every goalie from Aubin to Tim Thomas seems to do when the Sharks take the ice. So what do you do if you are Doug Wilson? You have to be racking your brain searching for an answer. While the season is not even 20% done, you have to be losing patience. I know the season ticket holders are, myself included. With reports of Neidermeyer now eyeing December for a return to the ice, the Sharks window of opportunity to grab the Pacific title by the horns is running out of time. So - what do you do?

Fire Ron Wilson? Make a major trade?

Most imporantly, it is a quesetion of philosophy. Doug Wilson has stated he admires the system that the Ottawa Senators have in place. They were patient with young players, allowed them to develop and made the major deal (Hossa for Heatley) that allowed them to take the next step. It looks like adding Joe Thornton is not going to be enough, Dougie. Here is my answer - this roster is flawed. We knew it during the offseason when Drury/Smyth/Souray/Redden all turned their backs on the Sharks. This team has too many duplicate players (Setoguchi/Cheechoo), too many big players who don't use their size (Bernier/McLaren) and too many centers (Goc/Mitchell/Pavelski). A statement needs to be made to this team that management isn't willing to wait and watch them flounder about. Marleau endured a painful offseason after a terrible playoff performance and how has he responded - with five points and a -4 rating. Trade Marleau - the Captain and the root of the emotional weakness of this team. He has a two year extension (very carefully constructed that he could be traded this year before his no trade clause takes effect). Trade him now and get new, veteran pieces - not young players for the future - but guys who can help NOW and change the landscape of this team. Get a back up for Nabby, who has never proved he can endure a full season as the #1.

To Boston: Patrick Marleau and Christian Ehrhoff
To San Jose: Glen Murray, Chuck Kobasew and Zdeno Chara

Time to Shake It Up!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bertuzzi - Now a Waste of Space On and Off the Ice

Todd Bertuzzi, once a dominant force when he was with the Vancouver Canucks, now has completed his meteoric fall from grace. He had the tools to be a legendary power forward in this league, and then the whole Steve Moore thing happened. He sat out a long time, traded to Florida, sucked, traded to Detoit, sucked, signed with Anaheim, and sucked again.

For whatever reason, I knew that his hit on Moore was vicious and outside the bounds of the game, but it did have a hockey context- he was retaliating against Moore for a hit he put on Naslund some games before. Worthy of the suspension, worthy of scorn for his lack of control, but the sentiment wasn't entirely out of place, though his methods were. Maybe there was something salvagable in Bert.

Now, that illusion has come to an end. In a true holiday spirit, Bertuzzi offered Moore $350K to settle his $15M lawsuit. Wow, Todd! 2.3% of the asking amount! How generous of you! You ended the guys career, he's still experiencing symptoms, and you offer him 9% of your yearly salary. For this year only. Thank God next year you get to keep the whole $4M.

There is no longer any doubt that Todd Bertuzzi is a miserable human being on the short end of a disappointing hockey career. Sleep well with your millions, jagoff.

Monday, November 05, 2007

10:09 and counting...

I found the Teal Spiel recording of the most recent show here. I encourage you to listen to all of it. If you just want to listen to the highlight of the show- me talking about Cheechoo - I ripped that part out and posted it here. Or maybe you can play it right now:

Maybe I was a bit manic, but it's entertainment, baby! Gotta keep things hummin' along.

I believe a Saturday evening AM radio show call counts as fame, so that's what the title refers to.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NHL Network Gives Insight Into Chris Pronger

So I discovered that finally, I get the NHL Network on DirecTV channel 215. I see it on the guide, I switch to it, and I see that there's a show called Stanley Cup Summer. It's about various Ducks players going to their hometowns and sharing the Cup with family and friends. Not exactly the kind of show I would want to watch, but it IS the first time I'm watching the hockey-only channel, so I figure I'll give it a chance.

It's one of those feel-good fluff shows, and they have pieces on Teemu Selanne and Sammy Pahlsson taking the Cup to Scandinavia (with graphics obviously created from Google Earth, which I found pretty funny). Then they switch to Chris Pronger, who took the Cup back to Ontario someplace to show his folks. They show him with a family friend who's been stricken with cancer, and my heart goes a bit soft. A bit. Especially since he didn't elbow her in the head, even though she was in a vulnerable position (a hospital bed in her living room).

But then this happens. He goes to a pediatric cancer ward in a local hospital to cheer up the kids. Here is my transcript directly from the show:

Chris Pronger (voiceover): You always wanna try and go see kids in the hospital... there's not a lot of them in there but the ones that are in the cancer ward are going through a tough time. You want to bring a smile to their face.
Woman: Bill, do you want to introduce your granddaughter?
Bill: This is Taylor.
Chris Pronger: Ok.
Bill: My granddaugher.
Chris Pronger: Helloooo.
Bill: She's a cancer survivor.
Chris Pronger: Perfect.

At this point I turn to my wife and said, "Did he just say 'perfect'?" And then I laugh for about ten minutes.

Thanks NHL Network!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Chompboard and Teal Spiel

Yes, Virginia, there is a Sharks radio show. It's called Teal Spiel, and it's on 1220AM on Saturdays from 5 to 6:30pm. I just called in and ranted a bit about Cheech, but not in the way you'd expect. I learned about this from a Sharks message board called, and we happened to see this on the JumboTron last night. Serendipitous, doncha think?

Listen to the podcast if you get a chance. Don't know when they post it, but I'm the second caller of the night, at the end of the second segment. Oh yeah, and when I said Marc Bergeron, I meant Marc Savard. I always get those two mixed up for some reason.

Dear Dougie....

Last nights loss to the Kings was a heartbreaker. This was the chance for the boys to reign supreme in the Pacific and instead they laid an egg against a mediocre team with a has-been goalie who stood on his head. Disturbing. Change should be afoot for this team that seems lost right now.

If the Sharks lose tonight, could Ron Wilson be gone on Monday? Very possible.

If the Sharks lose tonight, could a major roster shake up been in the works? Very possible. It's hard to put much stock into Eklund's rumors, but his lead today of Toronto trading two veteran players to a team out West for a young forward and a young defensemen smells of San Jose being that other team. He also mentioned a player waiving a NTC. Ron Wilson's obsession with a #1 defensemen has been well documented. Could this be McCabe for say Joe Pavelski and Christian Ehrhoff? Just a musing...With Kaspar/Mithcell/Setoguchi around and Bernier finally showing up to play - do we need Pavelski, who will be due for a raise as a RFA next year? We have Couture waiting in the wings as well. Ehrhoff, who is also due for a raise, is looking clueless lately and perhaps he should be moved while the value is still high. Signing Ozo to me means a defensemen is on the move. You don't need Carle, Ehrhoff and Ozo - three duplicate guys who play a little soft and like to jump into the play.

But of course, the Sharks will win tonight - continuing their Jekyll and Hyde ways, and all changes could be off.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Serious Injury to the Wrong Player

Just recently I found the Broadcaster's Blog on the Sharks web site (now on the blogroll --->). The four Sharks broadcasters (Randy Hahn - TV play by play, Drew Remenda - TV color, Dan Rusanowsky - Radio play by play, and Jamie Baker - Radio color) are the contributors. It's really a great inside look to the Sharks organization and players.

The latest entry from Randy Hahn claims that Ryane Clowe will be out for an extended period of time:

If you were to come up with a list of 5 players the Sharks could least afford to lose to injury, Ryan Clowe would have to be on that list. He scores, he checks, he fights and he can play on any one of four lines. He's going to be out long term and others around him are going to have to figure out how to pick up the slack...

That hurts. Clowe, before he was injured, was the playing the type of style that I think the Sharks should be playing. The kind of style they played against the Stars. If it is as serious a knee injury as it sounds, he could be out the rest of the year.

I like that Bernier has found a little sandpaper to go with his game, and I hope he understands that this is a big opportunity for him to step up his game and fill a desperately needed role - a skilled player that won't take shit from anyone. A player that leads the team in physicality, while still being disciplined.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ron Wilson - The Fastest Juggler Since Ringling Brothers

There's a quite fascinating article on Ron Wilson in the Mercury today, and his tendency to swap lines around. Other coaches- Dave Tippet from the Stars, Mike Babcock from the Red Wings, and Scotty Bowman, are also quoted.

I think these other coaches ain't got nothing on Ron Wilson. He throws out so many different looks in a single game I bet the NHL scorekeepers curse his name. In the case of the Wings, Zetterberg and Datsyuk almost always play together on even-strength and the PP, and with the Stars, Brendan Morrow and Mike Ribiero are also paired. I can't name a single offensive pairing that has really been consistent this entire year. Joe and Michalek would be the closest thing we got, but I can think of plenty of times they didn't play together.

This quote from Wilson is particularly interesting:

I don't have the time to wait for a guy to play well. It might take only one guy or two guys that can ruin everybody else's effort by not being alert, by not being involved. Your job as a coach is to recognize that right off the bat. You go down and say it's got to be better, then when it's not that next shift or two - boom! - you change lines.
I'm no hockey coach, but I question the wisdom of this. Two bad shifts gets you demoted? What if you've been clicking with a player for the past two or three games- one bad period and you're back to square one?

I've been playing hockey for over ten years now. There are players that I've played with for so long where I just know their style, and I know where they are going to be and what they are going to do without having to watch. We're more than the sum of our parts. In my view, shuffling lines this readily stunts the ability of the players to form those kinds of relationships with other players. Gretz just knew where Kurri was going to be. Can Marleau say that about Torrey Mitchell? No matter- he'll be playing with Marcel Goc tomorrow night.

He's won over a thousand games as a head coach, so clearly Ron Wilson knows a little bit about coaching. But is this the right style for this group? Can't you motivate players without flipping them around like a three card Monty game? Isn't building confidence in your players also a worthy goal?

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Importance of Being Earnest

I knew that title would grab you. What can I say, I play to my base. And although the plot of the play has nothing to do with Sharks hockey (which I only just found out by reading wikipedia), the title itself is still apropos.

The Sharks came out shooting. And shooting. And driving. And shooting. On Saturday, they had 17 shots all night. Tonight, they had 16 in the first period, 9 in the second, and 10 in the third. They dominated the first 10 minutes of the game, and what always seems to happen happened. There was a tricky rebound that bounced right to Mike Ribiero, and he chipped it over Nabokov for a 1-0 lead on the first Dallas scoring chance of the night. But the Sharks continued to fight, and Pavelski, on a great (one might say earnest) second or third effort swept a wraparound in before Turco could cover his far post.

Then, in the second, Dallas got an early Christmas gift with a shot from Niskanen that changed direction twice off of two different Sharks players and went in the net. The Sharks went into the third down 2-1.

But they kept digging, and we saw two beautiful feeds from Thornton to Setoguchi to take the lead, then Bernier was rewarded for his strong forecheck with a nifty little screened wrister that darted in on the near side. All Sharks goals were even strength, which is icing on the cake.

But as the Keith Jones in the Vs. studio seemed to say at every opportunity, the Sharks don't play a consistent style. Tonight's style suited them. With a billion division games coming up, I hope they continue to go with it.