Archive for the ‘San Jose Sharks’ Category

With Boston’s 4-1 loss to Carolina last night, the four conference finalists from last season (Boston, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Vancouver) are a combined 6-13-3 in this young season.  All four are in the bottom third in the leagues in standings, although it is still early and there is plenty of time to turn it around.

Let’s take a look at what ails each team.

The Boston Bruins have only allowed 2.17 goals per game (10th) but can’t score.  They are dead last in goals per game (1.67).  They’ve only scored more than two goals in a game once, a 4-1 win over Tampa on October 8th.    Obviously, with the team’s offense struggling, one would assume that their powerplay would suffer.  That would be correct, as the Bruins are near the bottom at 8.3%.  Rich Peverley is the team’s leading goal scorer (3) and only he and Marchand have multiple goals.  This is a far cry from last season when they finished fifth in the league in goals for.

Roberto Luongo allows a goal in a loss to the Flyers.

Vancouver has scored more than Boston (2.33) but it’s not enough to get the job done, not with the lineup they have.  But their biggest problem is that they can’t stop anyone.  They’re tied for fifth worst in goals allowed per game (3.17).  Their penalty killing is near the bottom of the league at 79.3%, and they’ve been shorthanded 29 times so far, which is near the league high.  Looking deeper into the numbers show that starting goalie Roberto Luongo has continued his struggles from June.  After four games, he has a 3.70 GAA and a .856 save percentage.  Backup Cory Schneider (2.03, .953) has been considerably better, but he won’t wrestle the starting job from Luongo any time soon.

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Last season: 48-25-9 105 pts, 1st Pacific, 2nd Western Conference

Additions: Brent Burns, Jim Vandermeer, Michal Handzus, Martin Havlat, Ben Guite, Andrew Murray, Colin White

Losses: Jamal Mayers, Ben Eager, Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, Scott Nichol, Niclas Wallin, Kyle Wellwood, Kent Huskins, Ian White, Dany Heatley

Offense: There was a bit of a shake up at the Tank this off season that seen Setoguchi and Heatley jettisoned and seeing the additions of Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus to the fold. All in all, I can see this ending up pretty close to a washout since Heatley does seem to be on the downslide of his career. Despite a few changes with the likes of Thornton, Clowe, Marleau, Couture and Pavelski, I pretty much see business as usual for the Sharks on the offensive end of things.

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Here are some thoughts on some of the potential rule changes being looked at in the NHL Research And Development Camp:

NHL Research And Development Camp (Photo:THN)

 Hybrid Icing: Safety is the main issue that gets addressed here (Remember Kurtis Foster’s injury?), without taking away from the game. Easily something I think that should be implemented in the game.  Although some would argue about the officiating on certain calls, which is the only real argument against it.

No Icing While Shorthanded: If the NHL can find a way to boost scoring, they’ll test it out (Remember the idea of round nets?) Now, I understand the want to score more often, but I don’t really like this idea. You should be able to ice the puck while shorthanded, make the other team actually have to work on the powerplay. The other guy has two or five minutes in the box, that should eb enough of a penalty on his team.

Overtime Changes ( 4 minutes 4 on 4, then 3 minutes of 3 on 3): If this gets rid of the shootout (unless the shootout goes to 5 shooters), im all for it. However, I really do not like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey, it should be 4 on 4 minimum.  Would be interesting to do on a test run basis in the NHL.

No Line Change For Team That Is Offsides: Honestly, I like this idea, if a line can’t come into the zone onsides, they shouldn’t be able to change. Honestly, unless the players on the line have been on the ice a while, but, going offsides is their own fault, is it not? But,like the next rule, it could have an impact on the game negatively.

Faceoff In Own Zone After Offsides Is Called: Now this, I do not like, at all. This would encourage dump and chase hockey, which, just isn’t that good  to watch from a fan standpoint. I don’t see this rule making it very far at all, it will not see the light of day in the NHL.

Eliminate The Trapezoid: Yes, yes, and yes. Getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net has my approval. Goalies should be aloud to play the puck, there is no good reason this rule was ever implemented. Goalies doing a bit more work, I don’t see any defensemen who would have to chase the puck otherwise, that would argue against that. Let the goalies be free from the evil trapezoid!

Goal Line Camera: A brilliant idea I can’t believe they didn’t think of sooner! So many close calls, some right , some wrong . Now, if we can work on defining “kicking motions”, that would be another huge step forward. I would really like to see this implemented in the NHL. But I feel it might not be 100% fool proof depending on the camera’s position if say, the goalie was on top of the puck.

Through the summer doldrums, I decided to share some of the games I’ve been at.  And before you call me bad luck, my Flyers winning percentage is over .700, so these five games are just a small sample.

This is only part one of two.  Sometime later in the summer I’ll chronicle five awesome games I was at.

5. Kings 1, Flyers 0 (2/13/11)
The highlight of this game was a monster pre-game tailgate we had. And we needed it.  Drew Doughty scored the only goal of the game very early in the second period. During the second intermission, @MikePatota didn’t even realize the Kings had scored (since it was so early in the period). Our frustrations boiled over when Jarret Stoll boarded Chris Pronger and no penalty on Stoll was called, this the day after the Islanders-Penguins brawl.  Jon Quick had 40 saves to earn the shutout and sent all of us home unhappy.

4. Devils 3, Flyers 1 (1/22/11)
You guys know when you play the Devils it’ll either be 1) fun if you’re scoring or 2) painful to watch. This game was in the second group.  I honestly couldn’t tell you who scored but my guess would be Patrik Elias, the Flyer killer. (Checking the boxscore showed he had two goals).  I do remember that it was Johan Hedberg, not Marty Brodeur, who shut the Flyers down.  Johan Hedberg of all goalies!

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In 2006, Ryan Kesler signed a 1 year, $1.9 million offer from the Flyers.  Then-GM Bob Clarke was crushed by the hockey world for violating a “gentleman’s agreement”, in which teams wouldn’t sign other team’s restricted free agents.  Fans were calling for their team to try and poach a young player from the Flyers.  People were wondering if the Canucks would match $1.9 million for a kid who only had 23 points in 82 games in a new, unknown, salary cap era.  (Hindsight would show it was a good move by Vancouver.)  It was the first offer sheet to an RFA in almost eight years (Carolina’s offer to Sergei Fedorov in 1998).  In 1997, Clarke also signed Tampa’s Chris Gratton to a 5 year, $16.5 million offer, with a $9 million signing bonus, fully knowing that Tampa did not have the finances to match that type of offer.

As years passed, more players have been tendered offer sheets.   There have been six players to sign offer sheets since the lockout, with only one (Dustin Penner) changing teams.  Yet, people still believe signing Restricted Free Agents is an unwritten no-no.  The rule has been in place for over 25 years (with changing compensation), and if it is so unpopular, it would have been repealed by now.

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After the regular season, we took it upon ourselves to vote for five major NHL awards (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Adams).  With the awards show tomorrow night, let’s take a quick look back on how we did voting wise and who the frontrunner for those awards are.

Hart Memorial Trophy
This year, the three finalists are: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. Our voting had Perry, Sedin and Tim Thomas. With no disrespect to St. Louis, this is a two horse race. Corey Perry had 50 goals and dominated down the stretch. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals, and 104 points, winning the Art Ross. Both guys are deserving but there can only be one winner. This season Perry’s been the most valuable to his team and should pick up the Hart. However, Sedin should win the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player) award.

Vezina Trophy
The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Bruins’ Tim Thomas are the finalists for the Vezina trophy. All three made were our finalists also. Thomas should dominate the voting and easily pick up the hardware this year, which would be his second Vezina (2009).

James Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber are the 2010-11 finalists. Our voting was close, with those three defenseman along with Lubomir Visnovsky finishing as our top vote getters. (Yes, I know that is four, but we had a 3-way tie for 2nd). Even though he’s not as well known as his co-finalists, Weber had a fantastic season and should win his first NHL trophy.

Calder Memorial Trophy
This year, the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Islanders’ Michael Grabner and Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner are the NHL’s finalists. Once again, our top 3 voted finalists match the NHL’s. All three topped 30 goals and 50 points. Couture and Skinner will likely go 1-2 (in some order) but Couture is the pick here.

Jack Adams Award
The NHL’s finalist for the Adams Award are: Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault. Unfortunately, of those three only Bylsma made our finalists. The other two were Tampa’s Guy Boucher and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire. The frontrunner should be Bylsma, who almost won the Atlantic Division, despite his two best players (Crosby and Malkin) being injured.

Our voting produced 12 of the 15 NHL’s finalists. So who will win some of the other awards?

Ryan Kesler seems like the heavy favorite to unseat 3-time defending winner Pavel Datsyuk (a co-finalist) for the Selke Trophy. Datsyuk isn’t even going to Las Vegas for the awards show, and could be a sign of a new winner. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews is the other candidate.

The Lady Byng was another Datsyuk specialty, winning four times since the lockout. However, he was in a fight this season which prompted the internet to joke that he “blew his Byng chances.” Last year’s winner Martin St. Louis is in the running once again, along with Lidstrom and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. St. Louis will probably win the award again this year.

The Masterton trophy is given to a player that shows perseverance and this year’s field has gone through a lot. Ray Emery (degenerative hip condition), Daymond Langkow (neck injury) and Ian Laperriere (brain injury) all are deserving, but this year’s winner has to be Emery. Thought to possibly have trouble walking in the future (let alone playing hockey), Emery rehabbed most of this season, and signed with the Ducks in February, playing in 16 games (including playoffs) for Anaheim.

One other award up for grabs is the Messier Leadership award. Chara, Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Shane Doan are this year’s finalists. The Coyotes battled relocation rumors all season and still managed to finish fifth. Doan’s been Phoenix’s captain since 2003. He was also Canada’s captain in the 2007 World Championships. He should be recognized for his leadership.

The three of us continue our mock draft from Part I (1-15).

16. Buffalo Vladislav Namestnikov, C (London, OHL)
His speed and forechecking will be 2 valuable assets to the Buffalo Sabres system.  Another plus is his ability to switch from center to wing, making him fit on any line with little to no effort.

17. Montreal Zack Phillips, C (St. John, QMJHL)
Centering the top line at St John’s and improving his linemates scoring outputs in addition to his own makes him a great option if still available at #17.

18. Chicago Tomas Jurco, RW (St. John, QMJHL)
What hands he has, a real whiz with the puck.  A Youtube star already.

19. Edmonton Oscar Klefbom, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Will be a great addition to Edmonton’s defense, he adds decent size (6’4″, 200lbs), and a nice shot to the blueline.

20. Phoenix Joel Armia, RW (Assat, SML)
An intriguing prospect that can appear quite high for many teams from the 10 pick onward. His combination of size and skill would complement Phoenix well.

21. Ottawa John Gibson, G (USA U-18)
Already 6’3, 205 at age 17, he covers up a lot of net.  Lead USA to gold at the U18s.

22. Anaheim Brandon Saad, LW (Saginaw, OHL)
The Ducks will love Saad’s ability on the ice, speed is his greatest asset. Has a nice balance of offensive/defensive ability.

23. Pittsburgh Nicklas Jensen, LW/RW (Oshawa, OHL)
A strong skater with good scoring ability at the RW will fit well for the Pens in due time under a Dan Byslma system. Add in his size and you also may have a future net front presence.

24. Detroit Jonas Brodin, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Brodin is a good skating, two-way defenseman.  Plays a smart game in his end, and will fit right in with Detroit.

25. Toronto Boone Jenner, C (Oshawa, OHL)
The Leafs are going to love this guy, a shot blocker, board battler, and he’s not too bad at scoring either. And more all around good players, is exactly what Toronto needs in their system.

26. Washington Mark Scheifele, C (Barrie, OHL)
His size and skill down the middle would fit the Capitals to a T. As they recently have had an abundance of big players who still have skill and speed.

27. Tampa Bay Jamieson Oleksiak, D (Northeastern, HE)
The 6’7, 245 monster may need some more time to develop, but could eventually be Tampa’s Twin Towers with Hedman.

28. San Jose Scott Mayfield, D (Youngstown, USHL)
Extremely sturdy on his feet, smart, great puck carrier, but never afraid to fight or deliver a big hit when it’s needed. Could be huge for the Sharks in the future.

29. Vancouver Jonathan Miller, C (USA U-18)
While the Canucks can use a pure scorer in their talent pool. This late in the first round they may have to accept a project of a good two-way player who didn’t quite put it all together this past season. A worthwhile risk.

30. Toronto Tyler Biggs, RW (USA U-18)
A big, physical forward that likes to use his size and isn’t afraid to work hard.  Definitely a Brian Burke player.

Cujo picks: 16,19,22,25,28
Joey picks: 17,20,23,26,29
RD picks: 18,21,24,27,30