Friday, November 16, 2007

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%.


Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, the only questionable part about moving/waiving Bryzgalov is that (a) he is pretty dirt-cheap this year, there won't be huge savings to put to Scott & Teemu, and (b) without prior announcement, J.S. Giguere has been unavailable for the first game of the playoffs each of the last two postseasons. Ilya has been a HUGE safety net.

But I like your Scott & Teemu odds :)

Mike said...

Hiller has played well though, hasn't he? Is it really a loss of confidence in Breezy, or a salary dump? Looks like a salary dump to me.

Earl Sleek said...

Hiller's been fine, so yeah, it's salary dump. But really, we are talking about the difference between $1.2 million and half a million, prorated for the rest of the year. What's that? $500k? That doesn't get either superstar signed for very long.

I guess I put some stock in Burke's 2+ year promise to find Bryz some playing time, as I don't really know what advantage the Ducks get (above that $500k) with one less Bryzgalov.

Mike said...

Maybe they ARE looking to purge Europeans. I'll speak out of turn for the Sharks- we'll happily take Pahlsson off your hands.

Ian Evans said...

I hate how my default reaction to a winning streak is doubt, but here goes....

I'll feel much better when the Sharks start winning consistently against teams whose names don't end with "oyotes". More specifically, win against winning teams, and beat the Red Wings convincingly (please?).

Can'tStoptheGrier said...

Sometimes you gotta beat up on the ugly stepchild to get healthy. Anahiem will be a good measuring stick tomorrow night.

Regardless, I'll take our #2 position in the Western Conference.

Nick said...

First, just stumbled across your blog while surfing for sharks news, it's now in my bookmarks.
While I wasn't convinced before about the whole selanne/niedermayer coming back thing (it strikes me as practically cheating the salary cap, i should have expected that from anaheim) i'm now convinced that it was the plan all along. However due to their poor start they have decided they need to bring neidermayer back sooner than expected, so 500k should give them a few more weeks out of him.

Earl Sleek said...

(it strikes me as practically cheating the salary cap, i should have expected that from anaheim) i'm now convinced that it was the plan all along.

I don't know. I never had the sense that Scott was guaranteed to return back in July (see Schneider). If you think it is a conspiracy that Burke allowed Scott more time and left room under the cap, then I guess there's a lot of conspiracies going down all the time.

I don't know why you'd associate cap circumvention with Anaheim, btw. Usually those associations are reserved for teams that have ever, at any point in their history, spent up to the cap.

Nick said...

Fair enough, to be honest in looking back I'm not sure what I meant by the anaheim comment, just a rivalry attitude i guess.

And at the beginning of things I didn't feel certain that Scott would return either, I don't intend to suggest conspiracy theory all along. I'm sure the retirement was legit, however if I had to guess how things went from there this is how it plays out.
I think Burke gave him calls encouraging him to think about coming back and Nieds started thinking about it. Burke, being a shrewd businessman, expects his Ducks to make the playoffs w/o SN but doesn't see any cups without him. So he encourages him to take all the time he wants and arranges casually for SN to return in the new year. This gives them some cap breathing room (with SN's full contract they are 4mil short of the cap, so with half of it... maybe around 6 or 7 under) to possible bring Selanne back or make moves at the deadline. Bryzgalov may not have been a necessary drop, but it certainly goes along this same line of thinking and if he's not playing why not? Also Anaheim is about break even in terms of annual profits, so that could be an important money consideration as well.
I don't mean to play a conspiracy card, it's certainly not illegal, but it's all very convenient and may have been planned is all i'm saying. I hope I haven't introduced myself as too much of a looney.

Earl Sleek said...

No, it's cool. I think generally you've hit Burke's motivations well enough--certainly he made Scott's possible return a possibility and a priority, for many of the reasons you've stated.

But really, if you want to talk about guys who've got salary and aren't playing, you could start with Bertuzzi and move onto Schneider--those moves would be big money savers and would free up all the money that would be needed and more. We'll see how Burke plays it, but if they go into the playoffs with a top-four of Niedermayer-Pronger-Schneider-Beauchemin then that seems to be a better blueline than they could have sustained for an entire season (more than half the cap would go to 4 defensemen plus a goalie).

So yeah, there's lots of ways to see it as "unfair"; at the very least it's rather "unique". But even with all that, it's tough to see Bryzgalov being a big part of Niedergate. There's hardly any savings (in fact, Hiller has a smaller salary but a much larger cap hit), and it's not like Bryzgalov is dead weight; he's started each of the last two playoffs and has been the winner of three series over that span.

I'm rambly now; I'll get more collected when I write a post about it next week.

Mike said...

Thanks for stopping by, Nick.

I agree it would be a shrewd move if Burke actually encouraged SN and TS to sit out part of the season, but there are risks associated with that. For one, the Ducks could lose ground in the Pacific (as they are now) and not have as good of a seeding in the playoffs as they might with both of those guys. Detroit is looking particularly tough this year, and Colorado too. No one wants to play both of those teams in consecutive rounds, which might happen if the Ducks fall to 6 or 7.

Secondly, the Ducks are dreaming if they think those guys can just come back and play in mid-season form right away. There's a different level of play in March vs. October. Frankly, I think it will be a few weeks, or even a month, before they hit their stride. Which is more opportunity for the Sharks. I mean, c'mon- SN is working out with Jeff Friesen, for Pete's sake.

Perhaps this is all a little off-topic, since the original discussion was about Breezy. To be honest, I'm still confused about it- why not hold on to Breezy for a while and try to get draft picks, even a second round or worse? I don't see the upside for the Ducks to just release him.