A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 31

Quite the fun game tonight as the Sharks defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Dany Heatley played his former team for the first time, as did Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo.

Things were very spirited in the first period. Those three players definitely tried to make statements to their former clubs, and one was very successful.

Michalek netted two goals, so as far as I’m concerned, only Sharks scored tonight. He looked like a man on a mission to score. He pushed the Sens’ play and forecheck, constantly battled in front of the net. What else can I say? Milan deserved it. Buuuttt, the Sharks are too good.

A fourth man entered the ring to prove something; Patrick Marleau played his 900th game, all with the Sharks, and showed everyone it was a good decision to not trade him after all these years. He scored two goals as well and almost had a third, but lost the puck on a cut-in towards the net.

It was just a fun game to watch. There wasn’t a shortage of effort, maybe lack of intelligence (I think of one player to be named later), but all the players tried hard.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau celebrate after Marleau scores (From SJSHARKS.com)

Frazer McLaren dropped the gloves with Matt Carkner in the first to continue the entertainment. Unfortunately, McLaren dropped another decision. It was close after Carkner ended the fight on purpose by dragging Frazer down, but Carkner had more punches land. Frazer needs to start winning some fights soon and not continue this Jody Shelley syndrome.

Both the second and third periods started off considerably slower than the first period; however, things picked up about halfway through each time.

Ryane Clowe came through with a goal after a tough battle between Manny Malhotra and Sens defenders. My tune is slowly starting to change on Manny. He scored an empty netter tonight and has shown some good speed and toughness lately. But I’m not so quick to change my mind on people. Hopefully this stays consistent.

Thomas Greiss manned the net for the Sharks. He hadn’t started in two weeks so coach Todd McClellan gave Evgeni Nabokov the night off. “Jesus” Greiss sure likes to flail. Reminds me of Magikarp from Pokemon. Both Greiss and Magikarp have one move: Flail. Obviously Greiss is more effective at it. He made some spectacular saves to preserve the lead. This backup situation could get juicy next season. After the Sharks decide whether or not to resign Nabby, will they put all their stock in Greiss as the heir apparent? Or will they look further to stud prospects Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith? Who knows, but that’s getting a little ahead of myself.

The Sharks’ top line of Heatley-Thornton-Marleau amassed six points tonight continuing their William-Sherman-March-to-the-Sea trek torching any team in their path.

Douglas Murray

This guy took three penalties in the third period alone. What in the world was he thinking? Maybe he was excited because his grandfather was watching him play for the first time since he was in college. I don’t know, but regardless, this is the kind of thing that gets you in the coach’s doghouse. I mean, almost half of the period was shorthanded because of Murray. Use your friggin’ head, son.

Cheech ‘n’ Seek

Boy has Cheech ever fallen off the radar. He’s a third-liner in Ottawa and has been reduced to scrubbing the poop deck every game. Long gone are the days of him scoring 50 goals. Poor Cheech. Guess you really find out how good Joe Thornton is when the sniper leaves Jumbo’s side.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 21  OTT 18; Scott Nichol (4) and Devin Setoguchi (3) led the team.

Seto and Torrey Mitchell aren’t getting much important action on the fourth line. Torrey received an extra minute compared to last game and Seto’s ice time was decreased. I wonder how much rust these two actually accumulated, because I think we all know these guys are much better than fourth liners. Patience is a virtue I guess. Can’t wait to see them fully recovered.

The Sharks play St. Louis on Thursday.

–Ray

Advertisements

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Sharks Report I

6-1.

That is the Sharks record thus far, going into tonight’s matchup against the Florida Panthers. The Sharks are in the midst of their East Coast swing and the spotlight will be on Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich when they head back to Tampa Bay for a game against the Lightning. The Sharks are coming off a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Flyers, via shootout.

Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi scores on Flyer goalie Antero Nittymaki, as captain Mike Richards looks on

Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi scores on Flyer goalie Antero Nittymaki, as captain Mike Richards looks on

The 2008-09 Sharks look extremely formidable. Under new coach Todd McClellan, I can clearly see the difference in style of play, and it is paying huge dividends. Gone are the old Ron Wilson days of dump and chase and don’t shoot unless you see the whole net (exaggeration). All the players are working hard for every puck and through every scrum. I’ll highlight some stats the Sharks have put up this year, good and bad:

34.9 Shots per Game (2nd in NHL) 244 Total Shots (2nd in NHL)

This is one of my favorite stats to see. Last year was so irritating seeing our total shots only end up in the teens. Because of that we hardly scored 3+ goals, even with all of our talent. McClellan has come in and implemented an excellent, and quite obvious strategy that everyone should use. More shots = more goals. Simple as that. The defense has been instrumental in this statistic. Rob Blake and Dan Boyle on the point for the powerplay has been fun to watch. Blake’s shot is a fantastic addition to the PP. Ehrhoff is no longer the lone powerful D-man shot.

169 Total Hits (4th in NHL)

This stat tells me the Sharks are constantly forechecking and keeping up the pressure, and they are actually using their size to their advantage!! Something they wouldn’t do under Ron Wilson.

Faceoff Percentage 56.4% (1st in NHL) Marleau 63.4% (3rd in NHL)

Great stat right here. If you are going to have a consistent forecheck, you must be able to win faceoffs in the offensive zone. San Jose is doing it, and doing it well. This also shows that Marleau is being the player he should be. Being the captain, and helping his teammates get the puck and put it in the net. On that note:

Marleau: Points 8, Goals 4, Assists 4

The captain is doing his job. No slump here. With the media constantly on Patty’s case, it is great to see him rebound from a sub-par year to being on fire. Now, those stats only put him in the lower half of the top 20, but there is a reason for that. The Sharks are getting scoring from everywhere. Every player who has played for the Sharks this year has a shot on goal, even Alexei Semenov. That is amazing stuff. Marleau has 26 shots, as do Rob Blake and Devin Setoguchi. More shots = more goals. Philosophy holds.

No Shark is in the top 30 of total ice time per game

McClellan is rolling all four lines, and not changing lines very much. Last year, Wilson would change lines, oh I don’t know, about 60 times a game until they scored. That is ridiculous. McClellan is preaching patience, and although that is hard to learn, the Sharks are responding. Everyone is staying fresh and ready to go when their name is called. This will bode well for games in March and April, when you need to bring it even more every night.

Power Play 16.2% (16th in NHL) Penalty Kill 79.3% (19th in NHL) 8th in NHL – Power Play Opportunities

Here is the Sharks’ problem. Special teams is not helping them, and letting other teams get back into games. Being in the bottom half of both special teams stats is troubling for a fan to see. The thing I would suggest here is to get more screening going. They have gotten better at it, but still seem a little hesitant on the power play. Make Ryane Clowe watch a 24-hour video on Tomas Holmstrom. He is the guy that needs to pull up a chair in front of the goalie. Joe Thornton should stay there and then you need another dangler/shooter. Cheechoo or Pavelski would be a good addition there. As for the backline, Boyle and Blake should stay. If there continues to be problems, switch it up and try Ehrhoff or Vlasic (to allow no more shorthanded goals).

73 Giveaways 41 Takeaways

This is a tricky stat. I think the giveaways stem from a lot of time in the offensive zone, so there is more of a chance to turn the puck over. Still, protect the puck better and don’t make dumb passes to the middle when no one is there. Cut down that number 73, it does not look good, and another reason why Jeff Carter score 2 SHG on the Sharks on back-to-back nights.

It really is great to see the Sharks show some actual character. When their opponent scores they don’t give up anymore, and when they get ahead by 2, they don’t relax. I cannot tell you how many times I saw that last year. Keep up that pressure, and don’t blow leads. I think McClellan is doing an excellent job so far with the Sharks’ 6-1 record. Continue to progress, evolve, and gel into the best hockey team possible. First thing’s first. Take care of Florida tonight.

– Ray

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment