One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Tank, San jose, CA

Jonas Donskoi is on fire against Arizona, scoring the tying goal with 16 seconds left in the game.

Jonas Donskoi is on fire against Arizona, scoring the tying goal with 16 seconds left in the game.

Hey now, Happy New Year to all my readers!  The Sharks came off the mandatory 5 day bye week with a thrilling albeit sloppy game against the Yotes on Saturday night.  While it seemed there was no stopping San Jose’s vaunted power play, the Sharks couldn’t contain the leagues worse team, as they traded goals in the first period three times each.

Martin Jones looked lost, giving up 3 goals on six shots and was pulled at 14:01 of the first period!  Aaron Dell came in and steadied the goaltending, giving up two goals for the rest of the game.  Meanwhile, The Donfather as play by play announcer Randy Hahn calls him, was nearly unstoppable with two goals and the primary assist on Logan Couture’s 1st period goal.

The third period was wild and wooly as the Sharks and Coyotes traded goals, with Arizona briefly taking the lead after chasing the Sharks most of the night on a goal by Josh Archibald (who?).  That set up the heroics from Donskoi as he scored with almost no time left on a wrister from the Wookie Brent Burns.

This leads me to expand on the Sharks defensive woes after much of the year leading the LEAGUE in goals against and save percentage.  Martin Jones has been awful from a results perspective, losing six straight and getting pulled last night.  Thank God for G Aaron Dell, because he is the rock San Jose needs.  San Jose’s fourth line was kinda awful, a combined -10 for the night.

Brent Burns, he of the cannon from the point, is the teams worst in plus minus at -18.  It seems that every game I watch I see him on his belly as the other team’s play goes by him time and again to score.  When is he or the coaches gonna figure out that isn’t the way to stop today’s NHL player from scoring?  Stay upright and drill him!! Also, I know it’s cliche but he stops moving his feet, which is why he thinks he has to dive to check the puck.  It works about 1 in 20 times.

To sum it up, Sharks need to tighten up their defensive play, giving up 25 GOALS in six games.  Their last road trip was horrid, losing to Dallas 6-0, Toronto in OT 3-2, Ottawa 6-5 in OT after leading 5-2 in the 3rd and Winnipeg 4-1. Their lone win was in Montreal against the offensively challenged Montreal Canadiens and Carey Price.

As the second half begins, the Sharks have 3 games in 4 nights, playing the Kings tomorrow and Arizona at home on Tuesday.  LA is also muddling along right now after leading the Pacific for much of the first half of the season.  They started out 11-2-2 and after losing to the Shmucks of Anahymen are 13-12-3.  The Kings are beatable right now, but so is Martin Jones.

Hey Coach Pete DeBoer, bring back Paul Martin and play him with Burns.  Burns won a Norris Trophy with Martin as his D partner and put Brendon Dillon back on the third pairing with Tim Heed or Joakim Ryan.  Can’t be any worse than averaging almost FIVE GOALS AGAINST for your last six games?

Marc-Eduard Vlasic with the winning OT pickle in Saturday nights game against Arizona

Marc-Eduard Vlasic with the winning OT pickle in Saturday nights game against Arizona

 

$ In LaBanc Sharks win in OT

The Tank, San Jose CA

 

Joe Thornton scores his second goal of the game. Classic form!

Joe Thornton scores his second goal of the game. Classic form!

Yes this is last weeks news but hey its the holidaze!  With the OT win over a plucky Canucky squad, the Sharks showed some sack, some spunk and any other manly reference to testosterone with an overtime win in yours truly’s presence.

And what a present it was because San Jose seemed to have the upper hand scoring three straight goals after giving up the first one.  Vancouver has some shifty new players including Brock Boeser, who has rookie of the year candidate written all over him.

Before you could say Eddie Shore it was tied and the Sharks were lucky to get out of the period with a tie.  In the third both teams traded goals and went to OT.  Kevin LaBanc, he of the FOUR point night potted the winner in 3 on 3 time.

Fast forward to Saturday nights rumble in the jungle with the LA Kings, who at the time were in 1st place.  The first period was scoreless yet highly entertaining because there was a whole lotta smackin goin on.

Recent callup Marcus Sorensen, the Slick Swede opened the scoring with a speed rush that was too much for Drew Doughty and the slightly less Quick JQuick.  Beautiful move, hard to the net, score from the slot! God we need more of those!

In the third the intensity ramped up even further with some dirty play from Doughty and Tyler Toffoli, the Slashin Twins, with a side of Jake Muzzin employing the same methods. In a rare display from Pavs, he tackled Toffoli following the aforementioned two hander and it was on!!

On the ensuing PP, Captain America Joe Pavelski netted the second goal on a trademark redirect to make it 2-0.  From there on, it was tight checking in the neutral zone, amazingly clutch saves from Martin Jones who shut out his former team for the win.

Tonight the Calgary Flamers come to town, lets go boys!

 

Pavelski Pots 300th Goal Sharks Roll

Sunrise, FL

The Sharks are on a roll on the road, taking their second straight road game and third win in a row Friday night against the Florida Panthers, winning 2-1. C Joe Pavelski scored his 300th goal in the second period and Chris Tierney scored the winning goal at 7:13 of the third period against Roberto” Louie” Luongo on a crash bang play.

C Joe Pavelski celebrates with his fellow Joe and linemaet on his 300th goal.

C Joe Pavelski celebrates with his fellow Joe and linemate on his 300th goal.

Stingy defense, great goaltending and timely scoring are the recipe for winning this season, as the Sharks lowered their league leading GAA to 2.12.  Marc Eduard Vlasic, Justin Braun and the rest of the D corp are smothering opponents every night.  It doesn’t hurt to have Martin Jones in net with his .930 save % and his backup Aaron Dell is sporting a gaudy .933 save %.

AaronDell is strong in goal as Joel Ward pancakes a Panther in front of the net.

Aaron Dell is strong in goal as Joel Ward pancakes a Panther in front of the net.

San Jose has 7-2-1 road record as they seem very comfortable away from the Shark Tank. Their home record is a little fishy at 7-6-1, leading this writer to be cautious when considering attending a home game.

The Sharks won without Jonas Donskoi, their Flashy Finn catalyst, as he nurses an injury incurred against a dirty and frustrated Flyers team on Tuesday night past. He is listed as day to day with a “mid to lower body injury.”  Goalie Martin Jones’s injury status is also day to day with an injury suffered against the Winnipeg Jets last Saturday night, but is on the trip.

San Jose continues to fly under the radar in the NHL, with almost no mention of their play on the NHL Network or any other hockey website.  Perhaps its because they win with defense, or play on the West Coast but the Hockey Proletariat continues to yawn regarding the Sharks.  Its OK, just win baby.

Brent Burns skating and creating down low.

Brent Burns skating and creating down low.

 

 

 

 

 

Sharks Make the Preds Prey

 

The Tank, San Jose, CA

Captain America needs to save the day.

Captain America scored on a trademark redirection.

Wednesday night at the Shark Tank was a splendid affair, for the simple fact that it was  my first game of the season, I was with #1 daughter and oh yeah, San Jose put a PLB (parking lot beating) on the Nashville Predators.

In uncharacteristic fashion San Jose was the heavyweight, throwing their weight around and making the Preds pay in 5 on 5 play scoring three times.  Throw in a power play goal, several fights and stifling goaltending from a resurgent Martin Jones and it was a recipe for the Sharks third straight win and seventh in their last ten games.

The only thing that soured me a bit was an injury to Marc Eduard Vlasic on a horrid hit by Ryan Johansen, as he boarded the Pickle and hit him in the head with a right shoulder.  He received a two minute slap on the hand as the Sharks lost their best defensive D man.

The inequity of that sticks in my craw, but hopefully his injury isn’t too serious.  Coach Pete DeBoer had no update on the injury last night.  Captain Joe Pavelski fought the aforementioned dirtbag Johansen and had a nice takedown in their short bout.

What conclusion can we draw from this game?  First, I have to say that no one is talking about San Jose as a major playoff contender, and I watch a lot of NHL Network.  Secondly, there is little to no buzz in San Jose as the arena was not sold out and there were numerous blocks of empty seats. So what you say?

To answer my question, what I’ve observed about the Sharks is this: they don’t care what you think about them and their 26 years with no Cup.  They have a big skilled team with a very solid goalie and they are on track to have a nice season.

San Jose has two rookies on defense because of an injury to Paul Martin and the departure of David Schlemko in the expansion draft.  They’ve filled in nicely and one, a Swede named Tim Heed has an absolute howitzer from the point and scored his 1st NHL goal against the King, Henrik Lundquist of the Rangers.

GM Doug Wilson has built a team with almost no change in personnel from the last two years, one of which they went to the Cup Final and lost to the Sidney Crosby’s.  Quite frankly, I think the West is up for grabs and I think San Jose has a team “thats been there before”, yet when it comes to winning a Cup they can’t say “been there done that.”

Yet.

Reilly Predicts a Sharks Victory in Game 6

Reilly Predicts a Sharks Victory against Anahymen on Saturday

 

 

 

Sharks Finally Put a Game Together

Bianca distracts the shooter.

Bianca distracts the shooter.

Aw shit, do you really want me to tell you about San Jose beating a team with an equally mediocre record? You do don’t you.  The big dogs for Los Tiburones got off the schneide porch, scoring and beating up a sorry Habs team, 5-2.  Logan Couture scored twice, Pavs got his first goal, Tomas Hertl with a PP tally and Jumbo with,,, yes you guessed it an empty net goal!!!

Martin Jones outdueled the Greatest Goalie in the World Carie Price

Color Me Gone

Manson's Monster Mash on McLeod.

Manson’s Monster Mash on McLeod.

Twelve teams are gone from the NHL Playoffs, among them some very good teams. The President’s Cup winners Washington Capital, Atlantic Division winners Montreal, Western Conference Champions Chicago Blackhawks.  Columbus Blue Jackets, 106 regular season points, Edmonton Oilers 101 points, Minnesota Wild 104 points.  And that’s only six teams.

Of the four teams that are left, Cup Champs Pittsburgh playing a gutsy Ottawa Senators squad, are in a 2-2 tie, with the Anahymen Ducks and the Smashville Preds being the other series.  The aforementioned Preds won last night to take a 3-2 lead, playing a fast paced style vs a Ducks team that is trying to pulverize Nashville puck carriers.

As we move towards the Cup Final, it is extremely evident that the Playoffs are a game of attrition.  Pittsburgh is missing key components, like Kris Letang, Brian Rust, Justin Schultz and it appears Sidney Crosby is playing with a concussion.   Smashville lost its #1 and # 2 centers two games ago.  The Ducks are playing without two of their top four scorers and their #1 goalie.  Ottawa’s two time Norris trophy winning D man Erik Karlsson is playing with broken bones in his feet and so is Anahymen C Ryan Getzlaf.

As I write this, the Pen are up 5-0 in their home game vs Ottawa with half the game to go.  What I wanted to point out next is that the scrubs from the minor league teams are being plugged into the lineup and scoring the winning goals and winning the bulk of the faceoffs they are being asked to win.  Are they really scrubs?  Naw, they are mostly high  draft choices on deep teams that just couldn’t crack the lineup.  Until now, when its for all the marbles.

Admirable to say the least and downright clutch in most cases.  Hey San Jose, fucking pay attention.  Jettison players that are taking up valuable roster spots and costing an arm and a leg.  Everyone else is doing it.  Is it ridiculous to have Joe Thornton play with a torn ACL and MCL?  Hell yes, he was ineffective.  Even Logan Couture, who I love as a player, was largely a liability vs the Edmonton Oilers because his jaw was destroyed by a deflected puck in a game against Nashville in the regular season.

The point is, when players suffer catastrophic injuries it isn’t a good idea to let them play.  End of story.  Writers with better access to players than me, fawn over these guys like they’re gods because they’re “playing with pain.”  As a former hockey player I can tell you that we all played with pain, even in beer leagues.  There is a huge difference between playing with pain and playing injured

Everyone plays with pain in the playoffs. Bring up the scrubs, they often can play more effectively than an injured star.  Hell, you might make the team next year by how well you rise to the occasion in this years payoffs.

Get well soon Cooch!!!  Oh yeah, you too Joe and Patty, he said grudgingly.

A Puck is a Terrible Thing

A Puck is a Terrible Thing

 

 

Don’t Cry for Me San Jose

The Tank

Someone Left the Cup Out in The Rain

Someone Left the Cup Out in The Rain.

Hey folks, here we are again in a do or die game for Los Tiburones.  Edmonton has pushed the Sharks to the brink of of the golf links and a long summer of what if.  Now that the sting (or stink) of the Game 5 OT loss has lessened slightly, I can face the fact that the younger, faster Oilers just might be moving on to play the Anahymen Ducks in round 2.

Not so fast you say?  I get that, what about the team that put up a touchdown on the slippery suckers from the Great White North?  Well, lets hope they show up today.  Get the lead early and score often.  That’s my strategy for forcing a Game 7.

Coach Todd McClellan knows the Sharks well and did a masterful job convincing his team to put their 7-0 loss in Game 4 behind them.  Oil Captain Connor  McDavid was a relentless force in Game 5 and his fellow Oil came at the Sharks with speed and skill, knocking them back on their heels, in spite of San Jose taking a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.

From that point on, Martin Jones was the Sharks best player, making 44 saves to keep them in the game as Edmonton continued to attack in waves.  Brent Burns cavalier attempt to clear the puck went over the glass for a delay of game penalty.  An ill advised penalty to say the least, and Edmonton made them pay scoring a PPG with 1:27 left in the second period, 3-2 Sharks.

San Jose tried to defend their lead in the 3rd period, and were 2:36 away from winning when the Oilers scored to tie it.  From that point on and into overtime, it was all Oily as they outshot the Sharks 14-2 in the extra period.  David (who) Desharnias scored the game winner at 18:14.

Now that I have purged my sick feeling (almost), by recounting the count of my despair (a 4-3 loss) after scoring 3 straight goals to take the lead,(maddening), what next San Jose?  Hey Coach Pete DeBoer, you got anything different to offset Edmonton’s speed?  Joe Thornton, will you cement your legacy as great but not good enough (again)?  Joe Pavelski, will you find your magic again?  Brent Burns, WTF?

Captain America needs to save the day.

Captain America needs to save the day.

 

 

 

 

Stanley Summary

Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs might just be the most entertaining series of all 8 because of the Presidents Trophy winners Caps vs the upstart youngsters Leafs.  All games are close, the Caps can’t stop the Leafs offense but Toronto’s defense is shaky at best.  Perhaps its because they’re always up on the rush lol.  The series is tied 2-2, no one gave the Leafs a chance, let alone seeing them tied after four games.

 

The Anahymen Ducks become the first team to move on to the great 8 dispatching those pesky Calgary Flames in four straight.  Although Bianca hates the Fowl, she does respect the ownage the Ducks have on the Calgary franchise.  As in 29 straight home wins against the Flamers and defeating the Flames on their ice decisively.

 

I love to Dominate

I love to Dominate

Pittsburgh Penguins can advance tonight on home ice by closing out the Blow Jackets.  A plucky squad, garnering 106 points on the season, Columbus is well balanced on offense, getting great goaltending and has great young defensemen.  That all being said, lose tonight and yer out and the Defending Cup Champs move on.

Captain Serious heads for the locker room after a brutal hit by Penguins D man Brooks Orpick in the second period.

Captain Serious heads for the locker room after a brutal hit.

Chicago is facing elimination tonight by the Smashville Predators, who are up 3-0 in their series.  The Hawks don’t appear to be ready to run the tables this year getting blown out once, losing a 1-0 game and choking with a lead late and losing in OT.  Preds too fast and  the Chicago defense is not engaged enough to keep up with the lil waterbugs Nashville uses as forwards.

Bianca is concerned about the rash of injuries in today's NHL.

Bianca is concerned about the Bruins.

Ottawa is leading 3-1 in their divisonal series, and the Bruins are way banged up

Bianca is concerned by the rash of injuries in today's NHL.

Bianca is concerned by the rash of injuries in today’s NHL.

Look for Ottawa to swarm Tuuka Rask and end Boston’s season in their next game.

Next up, a vastly entertaining series featuring two of the premier goalies in the NHL, Carey Price for the Habs and the King Henrik Lundquist for New York.  Hard fought, low scoring and tied at 2 games to 2.  The series returns to Montreal tonight, who will come out with the pivotal win to go up 3-2?  Tough to say as both teams have great offensive fire power, but I give the edge to New York.  To say that the goalies are gonna make a huge difference is a HUGE understatement because each one has stolen a game.

Bianca distracts the shooter.

Bianca distracts the shooter.

The Minnesota Wild staved off elimination last night by defeating St Louis last night, bring that series to 3-1 for the Blues.  Can the Wild go Girls Gone Wild on the Bitch Blues and win in Seven?  Unlikely, but as Shark fans know it can be done.

San Jose/Edmonton is a puzzler because of the wild mood swings exhibited through four games.  San Jose dominated the first game in Edmonton, with the OIL taking games 2 and 3 by stifling the Sharks on their anemic power play and scoring 2 Shorthanded goals for further gagability.  In Game 4 the Sharks shit down their neck, scoring 4 PP goals and winning by a Touchdown 7-0.  It was the first time in recent memory that San Jose made an opponent pay for bitch play.

The Head little bitch is Connor McDavid, who after Game 4 looked like he was going to cry.  San Jose has done well to limit his chances but he is Sofa King Dangerous that the Sharks have to stick to him like skidrow undies.

Sharks celebration

Sharks celebration!

Yes I’m a homer and proud to be a long suffering fan.  Please end my suffering, find your game and dispatch these lil pretenders in blue, the Edmonton Oilslick.

 

 

 

Lucky Tattoo

Edmonton, AL

Zack Kassian destroys the Sharks in Game 2

Zack Kassian destroys the Sharks in Game 2.

Welcome to the Stanley Cup playoffs, where unlikely heroes are made daily.  Little known forward Zack Kassian, noted goon and marginally talented fourth line winger was a force on Friday night, almost single handedly beating San Jose in Game Two of this opening round.

If he wasn’t leveling Sharks players, he was scoring on a shorthanded goal that was the difference in a hard fought but frustrating game for the Sharks.  San Jose had no answer (as usual) to heightened, hard nosed playoff checking and was not able to match the intensity of the younger, faster and more talented Oilers.

Edmonton took a page from past years playoff series where the opposing team beats on the Sharks and then dares San Jose to beat them on the power play.  San Jose was 0 fer 6 with the man advantage, continuing to look out of sorts and befuddled by the Oilers penalty kill.

I don’t know if the directive comes down from on high or if San Jose doesn’t like to fight back when there are OBVIOUS transgressions by their opponents, but as a lifer Sharks fan I can tell you it happens way too often.  The aforementioned Kassian left his feet to knock down Logan Couture.  This is charging, no call by the refs and NO response from his teammates coming to his defense.

The refs gave San Jose plenty of chances and they were unable to make Edmonton pay.  The Oilers will continue to play on the edge and push the envelope, as San Jose’s wretched power play fizzles.

As the Connor McDavid era opens to much fanfare, the darling of the NHL, scoring champion and game changer is a major force in every game and has burned the Sharks multiple times in the regular season.  Last night was no different as he scored the Oiler’s second shorthanded goal of the game in the 3rd period, effectively icing the game for Edmonton.

Yes, that’s right, 6 chances to score on the man advantage and TWO goals for the other team.  Shameless?  Yes.  Frustrating?  Obviously.  Where was the team from Wednesday that outhit, outskated and outplayed the Oilers in Game 1?

Nowhere to be found.

Game 3 on Sunday night.  Sack up San Jose, play Michael Haley to give the Sharks a little jam and allow for a response to the physicality of the Oilers.  Or better yet, how about a response from the Sharks leaders and pop Connor McDavid in the mouth?

I’m not advocating deliberately injuring a player, but do SOMETHING FUCKED UP back to the team that is bullying you.  That’s how you win Cups. After all, isn’t that the point?

Jim Carrey's hockey alter ego.

Jim Carrey’s hockey alter ego.

Pacific Postulation

Edmonton, AL

Teams hanging by a thread to a playoff spot

Teams hanging by a thread to a playoff spot

The Pacific Division race is closer than ever before, with three teams separated by two points.  Thats right, Anahymen is leading with 95 points, Edmonton and San Jose have 93, and the Oil and Sharks play tonight at Rogers Arena.  Calgary Flames, despite losing to the LA Queens last night remain 3 points behind with 90 points.

Thats a pointy paragraph but a necessary one to illustrate the parity in talent and the monstrously large importance of the last six games.  After 76 games, only two points separate three teams.  Staggering.  Allow me to distract.

She shoots she scores!!!

She shoots she scores!!!

Connor McDavid of the Oilers is the driving force of this dangerous Edmonton team but they aren’t a one trick pony by any means.  Very good goaltending from Cam Talbot, an upgraded defense that has gained a nastiness with the addition of Darnell Nurse (yes that’s really his name) and Adam Larsen who was acquired in a trade for Taylor Hall.  Three lines that can score, almost all # 1 draft choices, BTW.

Bianca nurses your affliction.

Bianca nurses your affliction.

I digress, the Ducks led by Randy Carlyle are leading the Pacific Division despite having 34 losses including 11 in OT.  Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kessler and a very good young mobile defense are a big reason the Ducks have hung around in the standings.  One must remember that Anahymen has lost four straight game sevens in the playoffs at HOME!  Yes I take solace from that.

Calgary, a fast skilled team led by Johnny Hockey, Sean Monaghan, TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton.  I think some of these guys don’t even shave yet, they’re so young.  But led by veteran goalie Brian Elliot, they are dangerous and right behind the three leaders in the Pacific, trailing San Jose and Edmonton by only three points.

That brings me to the Kings who are 11 points behind with six games to play.  No Jonathan Quick for 3/4 of the season probably doomed them to finish out of the playoff picture, but there are also other reasons they only have 79 points after 76.  They can’t score and lose a lot of games 2-1.  Their role players that carried them to 2 Cups are either retired, ineffective or were traded because they were making too much $.

San Jose?  Will the real Sharks stand up and fight back?  Yes I know they are good, but have sucked badly in the last 10 going 3-7 including a six game losing streak.  While they weren’t getting blown out initially, losing 4 by one goal and scoring 2 or less in every loss, the roof fell in last weekend.  Losing to the Dallas Stars 6-1 and Nashville 7-2 exposed their lack of grit IMHO and is a concern going forward.  Coach DeBoer preaches discipline and they are one of the least penalized teams in the NHL.

Show some sack San Jose, Sharks still sublime yet running out of time.

Puttin on the Foil

Putting on the Foil