A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Reviewing the Sharks Offseason Thus Far

It’s been a while since the last hockey game of the 2009-10 season, and the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (bleh) are being dismantled.

Sharks public enemy No. 1 Dustin Byfuglien was traded to Atlanta, and a slew of other bottom-half forwards left Chicago.

San Jose has gotten in on the fun by signing Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (RFA) to an offer sheet.  Four years, $3.5 million per year.

Not bad, Doug Wilson. Not bad.

Hjalmarsson would be an excellent pickup for the Sharks, whose defense is the weak link of the team. Behind the incredibly bizarre resigning of Niclas Wallin for $2.5 million per year, and Jay Leach being resigned, Sharks fans have been left wondering if DW is really leaving the defense for dead.

There is hope that Douglas Murray or Devin Setoguchi could be traded for Toronto d-man Tomas Kaberle. If DW could somehow maneuver around the cap to sign Hjalmarsson and Kaberle, the defense would be a definite upgrade.

Boyle-Hjalmarsson

Kaberle-Vlasic

Huskins-Wallin

Whether they trade for Kaberle or not, another top-4 defenseman must be added. Former goalie Evgeni Nabokov was not resigned and will now play in the KHL in Russia. DW decided to sign Antero Niitymaki, which again left Sharks fans puzzled.

I’ve always seen Niity as a viable goaltender and hard to beat. Of course, now that he’s on the team, I’m worried about him — especially considering there were other options such as Chris Mason and Marty Turco who have better resumes.

That leaves the offense. Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski were signed for what looks like hometown discounts. The top four players seem to be set in stone. Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi have long been trade bait to fans including this one. If one were traded for a defenseman, that would leave a fairly significant hole to be filled by a youngster.

I’d rather sign another winger as the Sharks have way too many centers to go around. Logan Couture, Torrey Mitchell, Scott Nichol, and now-rumored Mike Modano would be fighting for two center spots on the bottom lines.

Owen Nolan or Arron Asham are options at wing but salary would be the biggest question there.

Either way, I expect one or two trades to clear some space and a few more free agents to be signed.

Hopefully, this new roster will be enough to win the Cup.

–Ray

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July 9, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 69

Quite the reversal game for the Sharks as they lost to the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime. The gameplay was completely flipped from last game against Nashville.

In the last three games, San Jose trailed going into the third, but each time they came back to win. That was an NHL record. Coach Todd McLellan was all but pleased with the effort of the Sharks though. It’s been tough to find a full 60-minute effort this season.

The Sharks got the message — for the first 20 minutes — and kept pressure on the Panthers throughout the first frame. Things were looking really good; the Sharks scored two goals and held the Panthers off the scoresheet after one.

All downhill from there.

Florida turned the heat up for the remainder of the game, and with Tomas Vokoun making stops at key times, the Panthers were able to tie the game up in the third at 2-2. It seems the Sharks forgot what it was like to have a lead so late in the game.

The Sharks actually attempted to score in overtime, coming as a shock to me. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to find the back of the net. A shot from the point doomed San Jose, and they leave HP Pavilion with one point.

It’s like McLellan is a one-period coach. He sure can get the guys ready to play and spark them for one period, but after that, it’s disgusting. That’s not on the coach though. He can turn the key to the ignition, but the players have to step on the gas and keep the pedal down.

I’m just glad this string of crappy play is happening now and not at the very end of the season. That occurred last year and we all know what went down in the playoffs.

Fight!

Brad Staubitz finally decided to appear, in his first scrap since Jody Shelley was traded. He took on Nick Tarnasky, and it was an uneventful affair. The two swung each other in circles before falling to the ice.

Manny Malhotra took it upon himself to defend Joe Pavelski in the third period. Jason Garrison slammed Pavs’ head into the boards, which sent Malhotra off. The two tussled, but it also was dull. Malhotra received an instigator and 10-minute misconduct for it.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 32  FLA 36; Scott Nichol and Dany Heatley both had six.

No photos were posted for the game. Odd.

The Sharks travel to Anaheim tomorrow to take on the Ducks.

–Ray

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sharks Report II

I feel as though I need to write something after the Sharks’ 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Watching the game, a concern of mine just grew, and that would be our defense.

Ryane Clowe attempts to get the puck past Panther goaltender, Tomas Vokoun

Ryane Clowe attempts to get the puck past Panther goaltender, Tomas Vokoun

The first report was mainly focused on the offense and how much they have improved. But with that improvement, the Sharks are forgetting what has made them successful the last 3 years — their defense. The defenseman are now playing so far into the offensive zone that they are forgetting their first responsibilities. This has led to so many breakaways, its making my head spin. Nabokov is definitely not the best goalie when it comes to facing breakaways and 2-on-1s.

Nabby has let in 14 goals the last 3 times, when usually that number would be around 4 or 5. Scary.

The Sharks had 50 shots on goal and still lost! This just shows that you can have 100 shots on goal and the other teams gets 4 or 5 breakaways and coverts, you will lose. I do give Vokoun credit, he played well.

I mentioned in the last post that Clowe should be the Sharks’ version of Tomas Holmstrom. Well, he is doing that more often, but Cheechoo seems to be taking over that role. Every game, it looks like he is less scared of planting himself in front of the net, which is great to see. The D feeds the shots from the point and Cheechoo and Clowe get the garbage goals. They still count as 1. “Weak” or not.

Alexei Semenov played awful last night. One play he slapped the puck back between his legs which went right to a Panther, and that led to a pass and goal. Douglas Murray needs to get healthy and get back there. Semenov doesn’t cut it. At least cut his ice time. Vlasic needs more. He is our best defensive defenseman. Hopefully, the Sharks can limit Tampa’s goals tonight to 2 or less, and show a better defensive mold than what they have put on the ice the last couple games.

– Ray

October 25, 2008 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment