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?