Friday, October 31, 2008

Statement game deferred, Sharks crush a weary Red Wings squad 4-2

San Jose Sharks Jody Shelley
San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
Detroit Red Wings right wing Marian Hossa

Notes from the San Jose Sharks 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings will be posted soon. A photo gallery from the game is available here. Youtube video highlights from the game are available here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forbes releases annual NHL franchise valuations Wednesday, how valuable are the valuations?

Forbes NHL Valuations revenue estimates

Forbes National Editor Michael K. Ozanian and Sr. Statistics Editor Kurt Badenhausen released the annual NHL Franchise Valuation report yesterday. Forbes ranks the Sharks 19th out of 30 NHL teams, with a franchise valued at $179 million. Forbes estimates the Sharks increased revenue 9% over last season to $85 million.

In his Morning Buzz column for the Mercury News, John Ryan notes that the Forbes $2.4 million estimate for Sharks revenue in 2007-08 differs with what Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison told beat reporter David Pollak earlier this month. Jamison told Pollak that the Sharks lost $2-3 million last season. Ryan also noted a Sharks statement that the figures were put together without any cooperation from the NHL, something that differs with the Forbes MLB valuations which saw all but 2 teams contribute information (operative quote "to some degree").

James Mirtle states in a caveat to his 4-year analysis of Forbes revenue estimates, that the figures in the graph above for the Pacific Division are net of revenue sharing. Mirtle also says in an email that concrete numbers are impossible to come up with. Facts matter. The National Hockey League and the NHL Players Union burned an entire season due to the numbers, and the memory is still fresh in the minds of many fans.

There are fundamental principles at play that are not up for debate, everything must even out on the books. Determining a team's concrete revenue figure and developing an accurate franchise valuation involves navigating a maze of complex revenue sharing agreements, determining hockey-related and non-hockey related revenue, franchise value appreciation vs depreciation and amortization, travel/affiliate costs, and any number of local or business factors that Forbes could not accurately represent without involvement from individual NHL organizations.

The Sharks have reportedly told the Mercury News that they were not contacted by Forbes. They confirmed that to this blog. Washington owner Ted Leonsis said Forbes was wrong in 2006, noting that the Capitals were going to lose money that season instead of running a $4.6 million operating profit as noted in the Forbes valuation report. The Los Angeles Kings were apparently upset enough by the estimates to let money manger and Kings fan Philip Propper evaluate the books in 2003. A pdf file of his report was linked on the sidebar of this blog for several years. The Kings claimed to lose $105 million since AEG bought the team in 1995, and were on pace to lose $10 million in 2002-03 according to Ralph Frammolino of the LA Times. Propper found a serious discrepancy between the Kings financial claims and the Forbes estimate of a $7 million operating profit for the franchise in 2001-02.

So, how accurate are the figures developed by Michael K. Ozanian and Kurt Badenhausen? How complete is the information Forbes used for each team? An email and a phone call to Michael K. Ozanian for this post was not returned. Prior to the lockout three competing financial assessments released by Forbes, the Levitt Report, and Moag and Company painted three disparate pictures of league finances.

With no publicly available alternative, and no transparency from individual leagues or the NHL, the Forbes numbers are accepted by most at face value. Teams allege that releasing comprehensive financial information could significantly impact their business negatively, and they have a point. Evaluating the Forbes estimates can also be instructive up to a point. Ozanian writes that the NHL's biggest problem is the financial health of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise, who at $68 million according to Forbes has the second lowest revenue for 2007-08. The Coyotes are ranked 30th out of 30 NHL teams with the lowest franchise valuation in the NHL at $142 million. Other than a sale price of $193 million and an enterprise value (equity plus net debt) of $174 million, nothing about the Nashville Predators is mentioned. Lynn Zinser of the New York Times reports the Predators have jumped from last place to 23rd in one year, but she notes that Forbes also recently included Nashville on a list of top 10 sports franchises most likely to move.

Forbes estimates a league wide revenue increase of 13% for a $92 million per team average, and an operating income average (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) that rose 48% to $4.7 million per team. O.C. Register beat reporter Dan Wood reports the Anaheim Ducks are ranked 16th with a franchise valued at $202 million, and revenues equalling $90 million. Rich Hammond of the LA Daily News reports that the Kings are ranked 12th, with a franchise valuation of $209 million. Hammond also notes that a reported operating income of $1.2 million is far higher than the Kings claims of losing millions each season.

So, how accurate are the Forbes numbers and what do they mean for the NHL and the San Jose Sharks? Your guess is as good as mine, and apparently, as good as that of Forbes.

[Update] In addition to the league valuation, Forbes also published an article by Peter J. Schwartz on the best fighters for the buck. Sharks enforcer Jody Shelley finished 14th. Schwartz writes that Shelley's salary is 13% below other UFA qualifying enforcers, but that the number of fights he has won declined in each of the past 4 seasons. This year, Shelley is undefeated (2-0-1) according to the readers of Schwartz took a fighters experience into account, their salary and win totals, and noted that only 15 active players dropped the gloves 20 times or more and played in half their team's games over the last two seasons.

Michael Ozanian also runs a Sports Money blog at Forbes covering the sports financial beat. Kurt Badenhausen is the author of the annual "most miserable city" index, which raised considerable controversy when Detroit and Stockton were ranked first and second overall in 2008. Forbes popular annual ranking of business schools (based on rankings, reputation and resources) caused a near revolt in some academic circles they were so despised. Yahoo's Greg Wyshynski notes Forbes dependance on ticket sales in revenue determinations, that 18 teams had an operating income of less than $2 million, and how a stronger Canadian currency has had a significant impact on revenue growth for Canadian NHL franchises. Jim Kelley of Sportsnet is skeptical of the Forbes valuations, but uses the data to point to the impact of the Carolina Hurricanes missing league-mandated revenue targets to qualify for revenue sharing. The Hurricanes have the lowest operating income in the NHL at -$11.5 million.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tight checking performance by San Jose results in a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh, Penguins held to a record low 11 shots on goal

Pittsbrugh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin San Jose Sharks NHL hockey photo
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby
Pittsbrugh Penguins San Jose Sharks Jody Shelley Eric Godard hockey fight

The Sharks earned a 2-1 win over Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. A photo gallery from the game is available here. Youtube video highlights are available here.

A new post published on Sharks blog:

The San Jose Sharks vs Pittsburgh Penguins contest on Tuesday night was expected by many to be a heavyweight affair full of offensive fireworks. 2005-06 Art Ross winning Joe Thornton (29 goals, 96 assists) vs 2006-07 Art Ross winning Sidney Crosby (36 goals, 84 assists). Calder Memorial Trophy winning Evgeni Malkin vs 2-time Allstar and Sharks captain Patrick Marleau. Defending Eastern Conference champions vs a perennial Pacific Division powerhouse. Like many boxing pay-per-views, the result was one-sided. The Sharks as a cohesive unit delivered a solid 60-minute team performance, the top San Jose line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi delivered a command performance on both sides of the ice, and a listless and frustrated Pittsburgh team left Northern California with a franchise record low 11 shots on goal.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau delivered a shot across the bow to the rest of the NHL. Both are in midseason form skating and creating scoring chances, but early this season both are playing with a mean streak not seen in recent campaigns. With Patrick Marleau it was evident in the preseason. At times he seemed impatient with opposing forwards, content to skate through them to get to the puck. Matched up against the top Dupuis-Crosby-Malkin line for the first two periods Tuesday night, Thornton had a nasty edge to his game on offense and defense, seldom letting Pittsburgh skate the puck out of the neutral zone. It set the tone for the game.

The Sharks opened the scoring on a Pittsburgh Penguins power play, the 5th Sharks shorthanded goal of the season. Evgeni Malkin fell at the Pittsburgh blueline as center Joe Pavelski challenged young Pittsburgh defenseman Alex Goligoski for possession. Pavelski reversed direction, and Milan Michalek picked it off his stick and drove directly to the front of the net ahead of 3 backchecking Penguins. Dany Sabourin made the initial save on Michalek, but as all 3 Penguins peeled off Joe Pavelski punched home the loose puck in the open net for the first goal of the game. "Milan tracked the puck from side to side, it shows his great speed" Pavelski said.

The Sharks began to clamp down on Pittsburgh in the second. After goaltender Evgeni Nabokov flashed the glove on a slapshot from Pascal Dupuis early in the period, the Penguins appeared stuck in neutral trying to move the puck up ice. Individual efforts and perimeter play kept Pittsburgh for the most part out of the danger areas in front of the net. Eric Godard, who lost a first period fight with Jody Shelley at center ice, could not goad Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray or left wing Ryane Clowe into taking penalties. The Sharks defense simplifyed their game, and San Jose's third and fourth lines worked the puck deep and battled for possession to minimize secondary scoring opportunities for Pittsburgh. "Crosby and Malkin score 60% of their points or goals, if you shut those two down you will a pretty good chance at success" Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said after the game.

But Tuesday night was the Marleau and Thornton show. The talent and effort gap between Thornton-Crosby and Marleau-Malkin appeared enormous on this night. It brings up the question of Western Conference teams running the gauntlet of Detroit, Dallas, Anaheim and San Jose every year before having to face the best the Eastern Conference has to offer. Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi were explosive changing direction and chasing down plays on defense. Last season that was a hallmark of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in their visit to HP Pavilion. Thornton planted his 235-pound frame between the stick and the body of an opposing forward in the neutral zone, sending the stick flying and leaving the puck free for him to break the play up ice.

A rare start by 6-foot-4, 200-pound backup goaltender Dany Sabourin kept Pittsburgh's head above water. Sabourin held his ground in net against the Sharks power play, and robbed Dan Boyle who had the puck teed up for him 15 feet out near the end of the second. The Sharks broke through again 4-on-4 in the third. Patrick Marleau drove down the middle with speed as 4 Penguins converged on him. Marleau kicked the puck out to Dan Boyle, who moved it to Ehrhoff on the left point. A quick pass by Ehrhoff slid the puck to Mike Grier on his backhand, with Patrick Marleau set up in front of Sabourin. Grier flicked a backhand into the far side of the net with 3 bodies creating traffic for Sabourin in front. Sabourin finished with 32 saves on 34 shots.

The Pittsburgh Penguins disrupted Evgeni Nabokov's bid for his first shutout game of the season 14:27 into the third period. Evgeni Malkin drove down the right wing and tried to feed Ruslan Fedotenko. Fedotenko dug the puck out of the corner and passed to Malkin behind the net. Quick pass to Croby at the side of the net, who regained his feet after being checked to the ice by Pavelski. Crosby spun and found Fedotenko in front before Marc-Edouard Vlasic could close in on him. An unchecked Fedotenko hammered a point blank shot off the post passed Nabokov to make the score 2-1 San Jose. Pittsburgh pressured to tie the game, but a late high sticking penalty on agitator Matt Cooke forced them to pull their goalie to make it 5-on-5. A casual dump-in attempt by Malkin as he made a line change missed Crosby on the right wing. Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and Dan Boyle combined to run out the clock. Evgeni Nabokov finished with 10 saves on 11 shots, earning his 6th win of the season.

[Update] San Jose assistant focuses on Pens never coached - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

A forecast of wintry conditions at his old stomping grounds was of little concern Tuesday to San Jose assistant coach Todd Richards. He was focused on the many Penguins' first-round picks he never had a chance to coach over the past two seasons with AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Richards, who guided the AHL Penguins to a conference and Calder Cup final over his two seasons as head coach, joined the staff of new San Jose coach Todd McLellan over the summer. "It was being out on your own; there's a lot that really went into it," Richards said of his tenure with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

[Update2] Offense falls flat again; Penguins manage 11 shots in loss - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

[Update3] Injuries put Crosby, Pens on defensive - Ross McKeon for Yahoo Sports.

“We’re missing some pretty skilled guys, and guys we look to on the power play,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “We’ve probably simplified things a little bit, which is never a bad thing. Everyone has to pay attention to detail. We make safe plays because we don’t want to give teams opportunities if we don’t have to.”

The Penguins aren’t looking for sympathy. They know they won’t find it from 28 teams that sat around and watched them play in the Stanley Cup Finals last spring. And you won’t hear Therrien whining, at least not yet. “We’ve got to protect our defense,” he said. “Our transition game isn’t quite what I wish. We know eventually we will get better. It’s not a concern right now. We’re still able to get points – big points in the standings – that’s why I’m still optimistic.”

[Update4] Interesting note from Mike and Doug Tuesday night, several members of the San Jose Earthquakes (coming off the finish of their first MLS season) attended the Pittsburgh game. Mike and Doug's latest DOH podcast is available here. Their latest ChompTalk weekend radio show with Chetan Chaudhary is available for download here. They also point to this amusing game recap from the Pensblog, which appears to have developed an irrational dislike for Jonathan Cheechoo. If you have a computer and an internet connection, you should be listening to NHL Live 9-11AM (PT) with Don LaGreca and E.J. Hradek here (under the LiveWire channel). E.J. had Sharks center Joe Thornton on the show as a guest yesterday, and said that he has not bought all of the hype over San Jose in past seasons but he believes this year might be their year. John McGourty of is on now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pittsburgh Penguins preparing for monster East vs West matchup tonight in San Jose

Pittsbrugh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin morning skate in San Jose

The Pittsburgh Penguins (5-2-2, 2nd Atlantic) are preparing for a rare visit to San Jose (7-2-0, 1st Pacific) tonight riding a 4-game point streak. The Penguins bring the fourth best defense (20GA) and fourth best penalty kill (85.4%) in the Eastern Conference to face a potent San Jose offense that has piled up 18 goals in their last 4 games. The Sharks have set an early pace for the most balanced scoring production in the team's 16-season history, and are a perfect 4-0 at HP Pavilion this season. The Penguins have been solid on the road with a 2-0-1 record at Ottawa, at Boston, and at New York (Rangers). The Sharks are 11-10-3-0 alltime vs Pittsburgh, 9-1-1-0 in the last 11 games.

During the Pittsburgh morning skate the Penguins worked on getting the puck out of the corner, deflecting shots on net, and faceoffs. The hardest working sports blog online, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Seth Rorabaugh's Empty Netters blog, previews the Sharks here. Rorabaugh notes that backup goaltender Dany Sabourin is expected to start tonight in San Jose. In the morning skate, Sabourin was working on body and glove position prior to a shot. It is an underrated aspect of the game. Martin Brodeur, Nikolai Khabibulin and Marty Turco are three examples of goalies I have seen firsthand constantly maximizing the surface area of their pads facing a shooter. Seth Rorabaugh also notes that this is the first time in NHL history that a team has faced Stanley Cup Finalists in consecutive games.

Acccording to the official game notes, Evgeni Malkin (2G-9A) and Sidney Crosby (3G-7A) are both on five game point streaks. Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi lead the Sharks in scoring with 5 goals each. Left wing Ryane Clowe (3G, 2A) and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (1G, 4A) lead the Sharks in power play scoring with 5 points each.

The last time this blog covered the Pittburgh Penguins in February 2004, the day started at 5:45AM on the top of Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay for the Mavericks Big Wave surfing competition. The final heats and awards ceremony finished late in the afternoon, but a quick trip up 92 and 280 allowed for an arrival at HP Pavilion just prior to the 7:30PM drop of the puck against Pittsburgh. The Sharks defeated goaltender Andy Chiodo and the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on goals by Brad Stuart, Patrick Marleau, Tom Preissing, and Alexander Korolyuk. The waves at Mavericks break a half mile out to sea, on that day they were in the 20-30 foot range. The waves were biggest at 6AM, 2 hours before the first heat. A set of 3-4 forty foot waves broke right over a hole in the reef resulting in a loud rumbling boom. When locals say it is "booming" at Mavericks, it is literally booming.

[Update] Penguins' Talbot is not splitting hairs; he wants to lead - Shelly Anderson for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It's apparently some type of gift, the ability to dramatically change your look with a haircut, a shave or forgoing one or the other for a few days. "It's so different every time," Penguins center Max Talbot said. "People talk about it, but it's not that big a deal."

It was important enough that, after going with a short-cropped hairstyle and clean-shaven look to start the season, Talbot decided to invite back an old friend when the points weren't coming. He grew a Fu Manchu mustache last week and immediately scored a goal Thursday in a 4-1 victory against Carolina.

[Update2] In a game day blog post, beat writer David Pollak notes that rookie Jamie McGinn will make his first start tonight. Marcel Goc is on the shelf after suffering a brutal blindside hit by 6-foot-5, 254 pound right wing Evgeny Artyukhin in Saturday's 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. On the shift after his first period goal, Goc split a pair of defenseman before being hammered by an onrushing Artyukhin. Pollak notes that Jeremy Roenick could take Goc's place between Ryane Clowe and Mike Grier, with McGinn taking centering duties on the fourth line between Shelley and Plihal.

The San Jose Sharks got top billing on the San Jose Mercury News sports page today, above a feature article and photo of last night's World Series rainout, above the 2008-09 Mercury News NBA season preview, ahead of anything Mike Singletary/Al Davis related that probably could fill a front page daily. Mark Purdy writes that a week of Sharks hockey against Pittsburgh and Detroit is a boon for Bay Area professional sports, a chance for Bay Area fans to see 3 of the top 5 NHL teams in one week. Mark Emmons leads with the somewhat embarassing fact that yes, people did recognize Sidney Crosby as he strolled around Santana Row in a profile on the Pittsburgh Penguins captain. Max Giese and I stumbled upon the Toronto Maple Leafs hotel arrival at Santana Row last year. Total number of fans waiting for autographs: 2.

San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan conference call transcript

A transcript of San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan's conference call with the media Monday afternoon:

[Q] How much of the Red Wings blueprint have you tried to implement with the Sharks?

[TM] A fair amount of it to be honest with you. It is hard to argue with the success that the organization has had. Mike Babcock has done wonderful things with that team, and a lot of the things he has done I believe in. To bring a lot of it with me here, it has happened and we are still trying to implement some of it, but I also have some other ideas we are trying to put in place as well.

[Q] Why has this Sharks team been successful so quickly, and how do you see Jeremy Roenick's role evolving as the season goes along?

[TM] The success part of it, we have come together pretty quickly in camp. For the most part the players have been very receptive to some new ideas. They have been open to trying things a little outside their comfort zone. We have also had some wins, so anything we have tried to put in place they buy into a little more because it is working. As Jeremy Roenick goes, Jeremy has been excellent. I only know the Jeremy that I have spent 2 months with, and he has been terrific. He has carried himself very well, he has put the team ahead of himself. We couldn't be happier with the way that part of it has gone. On the ice, Jeremy starts most nights on the fourth line and he has found a way to work himself up the lineup night in and night out. I don't see his role changing at all, maybe evolving more into a power play guy as the season goes on. But right now he is in a very important role on that third or fourth line.

[Q] What did the Minnesota Wild mean to your coaching career, being a part of this organization and the success you had coaching in Houston?

[TM] Everything really. They were the ones with Doug Riseborough and the Wild organization that took a chance on a young coach of the Western Hockey League. I obviously took the step to the Red Wings and their organization, but it was the mentoring that was second to none. They passed along a lot of not neccessarily system ideas, but coaching thoughts. It allowed me to grow a whole lot more confident in what I was doing to coach the players.

[Q] When you look at the core the Wild have now, you had a lot of these guys, does it surprise you that they have worked themselves into being mainstays for this team?

[TM] No. Mikko Koivu and Stephane Veilleux those type of players are very, the coaches didn't think they were committed all the time but they are. They were hungry to play in the National Hockey League. They were going to do whatever they had to do to get there. But the other thing the organization was really good at was developing them. They didn't necessarily hurry them, they gave them the experience they needed and they got to the National Hockey League.

[Q] Did Marcel Goc skate today, and what is his health status?

[TM] Marcel didn't skate today. He was looking a whole lot better this morning, but one thing we didn't get to do as a hockey club because it was Sunday was to get him evaluated. We didn't want to put him back on the ice. I don't know any more than you do right now, probably later on in the day we will have a good report on him.

[Q] Did McGinn being called up have anything to do with Marcel, or was it a seperate issue?

[TM] That was part of a reaction to Marcel's situation. We are playing one player short right now, we have that ability to call up with 22 on our roster. If Marcel goes down we need a forward to fill our lineup and Jamie McGinn will be that person.

[Q] Sidney Crosby, can you talk about his game and what is it like to coach against him?

[TM] It is tough to coach against him. He is a pleasure to watch, but I would rather do it on TV when he is playing somebody else. He is a dominant player. The one thing Sidney will do, he will have his team ready. He will do that verbally in the locker room, he will do that by example on the ice. I don't know if I have ever seen him have an off night. The intensity and the committment will be there, and he will pull everybody else along. He can hurt you so many different ways. I don't think of him as this straight offensive player, which he is, but he also wins faceoffs, he competes in the corners physically, he is a very good defensive player, when he is on the ice things are going to happen. We are going to have to be aware of that.

[Q] How do you go into facing the Detroit Red Wings for the first time Thursday? Have you talked with Mike (Babcock) at all about it?

[TM] We haven't talked about the game in particular, we talk quite often about how the families are doing. The game in particular, we have not addressed it one bit. We will approach it like any other game. Head coaches will always tell you that. We are going to prepare for the things they do well, and they are going to counter against us. Probably more will be made out of it by the media than will be made out of it by the two coaches, because it will be just another night and we have to do the best we can do for our team.

[Q] Did you look at the schedule ahead of time and realize it was not just another game because you won a Stanley Cup with these guys?

[TM] I did, but I didn't look at it as when is our first opportunity to play Detroit. I actually looked at when we are flying to Detroit because I have a number of friends and great people there I want to see. Then, when are they coming here. I would like to spend a few minutes with Mike, Ken Holland and Paul MacLean. When the puck is dropped I know as a coach I have to be on my toes, I can't bring my B game. The players are going to have to know that as well. Mike does a tremendous job, he gets the right people on the ice at the right time. Their players will be ready. That is really all there is to it.

[Q] Do you have some insight in how you are going to play them, knowing what they do?

[TM] It is going to be like playing each other, and I don't know if that came out right. There are a lot of things I brought over from Detroit. There are no secrets to anyone watching the game, we are trying to play that way. It will be a good test to see who can do it better. As far as the insight goes, this may be the smallest amount of information we have to give our players because we are trying to play that way a lot.

[Q] You played with the Saskatoon Blades and had a pretty good junior career, and only had 1 year in the AHL before you moved up to the Islanders where they had LaFontaine, Trottier, and Bassen at your position. One more year and you left. Five years later and you are coaching. I was thinking about Brian Burke winning a Calder Cup and then being told by Keith Allen that he would probably be better off going to law school. Did you have some sort of experience like that, where you thought that maybe this is as far as I can go, and maybe I should take a different route than hockey?

[TM] No, I have always been fortunate because I think I got into coaching at the right time. I am not sure everyone who played the game wanted to go on and become a coach when they were done. I wanted to do that. Now you see a lot of players wanting to become a coach, everybody wants to do it now. It is harder to get in. I have always wanted to coach. If I wasn't coaching I would probably be teaching. I like that part of it. After my injuries in my pro career, it allowed me to stay in the game. That was what I was looking for. Never once along the path did I say maybe I should go do this, or maybe I should go do that. It just worked out well for me. Again, I am fairly young so it has been a fast path, but it has been a rewarding one to this point.

[Q] What did winning a Stanley Cup do for you when you were going to take over this team, and take over this group of players?

[TM] The first thing it did was allow me access to the opportunity. I think one of the qualities Doug Wilson was looking for was someone who had won championships. The organization I came from in Detroit, there are a number of paralells between the two teams. We had trouble getting by the first round the first year, and the 2nd or 3rd round the following year. I think looking that experience, I bring that here. The other it did was allow me to draw on a lot of those experiences as a coach. To see how the GM reacted, to see how the organization reacted. When I am put in that situation now, I can look back and think how they would have reacted, how did they make decisions going forward.

[Q] Can you talk about puck possession, and how much more difficult are the Red Wings after the addition of Marian Hossa?

[TM] There is no doubt Detroit has puck possession more than anyone in the league. They also give it up a lot. What I always told people, even when I was there, having it is one thing, giving it up and going to get it is second part of puck possession. Detroit does that better than anybody. If they do give up the puck, they are in on it hard. It is hard to get it back, then they start their offense. We try to encorporate a little of that here rather than just dumping it in and not having a purpose. Dump it with a purpose, go get it, and set yourselves up. That is how we are approaching it.

Marian presents a whole new element to their hockey club. Tremendous size, great hands, takes the puck to the net. The evening out factor a little bit, with Franzen out now, they are maybe not one more piece ahead of what they had in the past. That is a blessing in disguise maybe for us. We know we have our hands full with them.

[Q] You mentioned you were going to try to bring over some of the things that were successful in Detroit to San Jose, what are you going to try to do different?

[TM] The difference might be in how I approach the players, how I react to situations. I have to be who I am. Mike is who Mike is. Paul is who Paul is. If I try, system-wise we can do a lot of the same things similar. The way I react to different situations, I have to be Todd McLellan. Mike does a terrific job in reacting the way he choose to get the best out of the players. I can't try to emulate that all the time because that is just not who I am. As an individual, I have to react how my instincts tell me to, and how I feel is right. That might be completely opposite of what Mike did. At the end what we are looking for is the same result. It is not always the X's and O's part, it is about getting through to the players and trying to react. I might react differently than Mike would in some situations.

[Q] After running the power play in Detroit, how do you now try to stop it. They have the #1 power play in the league.

[TM] They certainly do. The best thing is obviously to not take penalties, goaltending has to be very good because I know they are going to get the puck through to the net. 96 is going to be standing right there. Knowing what some of their ideas are and some of the principles behind their power play, maybe we can have a better understanding of what they are doing. Maybe eliminate some of the surprises that may help us. Other than that, winning faceoffs are going to be important especially when it starts in your end. We have seen that around the league. The players have to be comfortable with what might be coming.

[Q] How does being a head coach in the NHL compare with what your expectations were?

[TM] I have enjoyed the process. It has been a real good experience for me. I have been made very comfortable here by the organization right from the top on down. We have been given access to any of the tools we need. We have been able to put our imprint on the team, which has been nice. The players have been receptive. As far as the growing pains go, there are some. It is taking your time, you would always like to hurry things as a coach. That doesn't always happen. My time is occupied a little more, I don't have as much free time as an assistant coach. The burden of responsibility is larger. That comes into play every day.

Trying to make it down for the pre-game skate in a few minutes.

Colorado College Remains No. 1 on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

The latest college hockey poll from USA Hockey:

Colorado College Remains No. 1 on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado College retained the No. 1 ranking on this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll. Following weekend ties at No. 14 Clarkson University, the Tigers collected 505 points and 30-of-34 first-place votes to top the chart for a second straight week.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups:

Friday, October 31
No. 7 New Hampshire vs. No. 9 Northeastern
No. 1 Colorado College @ No. 4 Denver
No. 5 Minnesota vs. No. 11 Minnesota State

Saturday, November 1
No. 3 Boston University @ No. 15 Vermont
No. 7 New Hampshire @ No. 9 Northeastern
No. 5 Minnesota @ No. 11 Minnesota State

Sunday, November 2
No. 1 Colorado College vs. No. 4 Denver

Boston College jumped up two spots to No. 2 with 457 points and three first-place votes, following a win against then-No. 12 University of Vermont. Posting a victory against then-No. 5 University of Michigan, Boston University (419) moved up four spots to grab the No. 3 ranking. The University of Denver comes in at No. 4 with 414 points, while the University of Minnesota is No. 5 with 371 points and one first-place vote.

This weekend's action features seven top-15 match-ups, including a series between Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals, No. 1 Colorado College and No. 4 University of Denver.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll - #4

(First-place votes in parentheses, Rank, School, Last Week's Ranking, 2008-09 Record, Weeks in Top-15)

1 Colorado College, 505 (30), 1, 4-0-2, 5
2 Boston College, 457 (3), 4, 3-1-0, 5
3 Boston University, 419, 7, 4-1-0, 5
4 University of Denver, 414, 2, 4-1-0, 5
5 University of Minnesota, 371 (1), 6, 3-0-1, 5
6 Miami (Ohio) University, 321, 10, 3-1-2, 5
7 University of New Hampshire, 320, 3, 3-1-1, 5
8 University of Michigan, 269, 5, 4-2-0, 5
9 Northeastern University, 236, 11, 5-0-1, 2
10 Princeton University, 202, 9, 0-0-0, 4
11 Minnesota State University, 135, 13, 3-1-0, 3
12 Michigan State University, 128, 14, 3-2-1, 5
13 University of Notre Dame, 78, 8, 2-3-0, 5
14 Clarkson University, 70, NR, 1-1-2, 4
15 University of Vermont, 67, 12, 2-1-1, 2

Others receiving votes: U.S. Air Force Academy, 27; University of Nebraska Omaha, 11; Cornell University, 10; University of Alaska Anchorage, 9; St. Lawrence University, 8; St. Cloud State University, 5; Colgate University, 4; University of Massachusetts, 3; University of Massachusetts Lowell, 3; Harvard University, 2; University of North Dakota, 2; Northern Michigan University, 2; Union College, 2.

NOTES: A total of 28 teams received votes.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 14th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

[Update] Can't blame the mask any longer, Tyson Sexsmith hits shutouts milestone much earlier than co-holders of record - Vancouver Province.

[Update2] Nine Factors Things That Convinced USA Hockey to Host the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo - Inside College Hockey.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

San Jose Sharks at Tampa Bay Lightning belated gamelog

A belated gamelog of the non-televisised Sharks 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning will be posted very late tonight. A reader also emailed in this HF video clip of a Ryan Malone's brutal first period fight with Ryane Clowe.

Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008. San Jose Sharks 6-2-0 (2-2-0, Road) at Tampa Bay Lightning 1-2-3 (1-1-3, Home). Tampa Bay power play: 3-30 (10%, 27th), penalty kill: 34-39 (87.2%, 7th). San Jose Sharks power play: 8-42 (19%, 19th), penalty kill: 26-32 (81.3%, 15th). Penalties: Tampa Bay 6GP, 85PIMs 14.2/gm (11th NHL); San Jose 8GP, 108 PIMs 13.5/gm (9th NHL); In the last meeting between both teams at the St. Pete Times Forum October 29, 2006, the Sharks earned a 4-2 win. Tampa Bay is 13-9-2 lifetime against the San Jose Sharks, 7-5-1 at home. San Jose Sharks defensemen Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich will face their former team for the first time, and Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Carle will face the Sharks for the first time since his offseason trade.

New Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Barry Melrose (career coaching record 80-104-29-3) faces first year San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan (career coaching record 7-2-0). Newly signed 6-foot-6, 240 pound defenseman Marek Malik will start the game for Tampa Bay. (649GP, 33G, 130A, +136).

The Tampa Bay broadcast began with a mini-horror movie promo with the character from Saw 5, "The Sharks are the scariest team in the Western Conference". According to the Globe and Mail's Allan Maki, Tampa Bay co-owner/Hollywood producer Oren Koules gave the first 230 fans who bought lower bowl seats to a game against the Atlanta Thrashers passes to the recent Saw 5 premiere. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltenders Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig have also been wearing Saw 5 themed paint scheme goalie masks to help promote the movie. Smith is donning his mask tonight.

Dan Boyle on trying to shut down Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, "I have seen them for a number of years night and night out, they are two of the best players in the league. You have to keep your feet moving and do the best you can, because they are going to get their chances. You have to try to minimize them." Brian Boucher (1-0-0, 0.00GAA, 1.00SV%) is in goal for San Jose, his second start after a 21 save shutout against Los Angeles. Tampa Bay broadcast notes Boucher's first start last season was a shutout against St Louis. In goal for Tampa Bay is former Dallas Star Mike Smith (1-1-2, 1.92GAA, .943SV%).

Strong shift by the Marleau-Thornton-Setoguchi line to cycle deep in the Tampa Bay zone, and Dan Boyle keeping the puck in on the right point, results in three seperate scoring sequences for San Jose in the first 40 seconds of play. Two long side-to-side pass from Vlasic to Blake, and Blake to Michalek allow San Jose's second scoring line of Michalek-Pavelski-Cheechoo to drive deep into the zone as well. This time it is Marc-Edouard Vlasic keeping the puck in on the left point. Pavelski misfires on a shot and the Lightning are finally able to gain possession and move the puck up ice.

Malone-Stamkos-Recchi line for Tampa Bay breaks into the Sharks zone, Stamkos unloads a hard shot that misses the net wide by a few feet and banks hard off the glass. Malone wins a battle in the corner against Blake, and feeds Stamkos behind the net. Stamkos can't shake Pavelski, but he drives the net, save Boucher. Gary Roberts-Jussi Jokinen-Evgeny Artyukhin line sends a pass through the crease that deflects off defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and into the corner. Lightning broadcast notes that Joe Thornton is the top point producing forward since 02-03 on. Also that he has lead the league for three straight seasons in assists. Only 3 other players to do that: Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Stan Mikita.

Next shift for Marleau-Thornton they hit the neutral zone with a head of steam. Play started with a short pass from defenseman Douglas Murray, who returned to the lineup after missing a few games with an upper body injury, to Setoguchi up the right side. Thornton drives directly to the net with Marleau trailing and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on the left side. Ehrhoff shovels the puck behind the net to Thornton, and hits Setoguchi in front with a quick pass. Mike Smith freezes the puck down low as hulking Marek Malik clears Setoguchi out of the crease. It might just be me, but Thornton with the puck on the boards looks like Magic Johnson executing a no look pass. New head coach Todd McLellan wants more Dr J out of Thornton, more driving the net and finishing. Marleau could be a younger, quicker version of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Just points. You can put one body on him, two bodies on him, or you can hammer him or clutch and grab. He is still going to dominate position in front of the net, and he is still going to pile up points.

A turnover by Jeremy Roenick in the Sharks defensive zone leads to a quick Stamkos-Recchi give and go in traffic. Stamkos gets the pass in front of the net, but he can not get the shot off before Boucher seals up against the post. Malik holds the puck in deep on the left point, and Stamkos can not find Recchi in front of the net through traffic. Shelley battles to clear the puck on his backhand. Tampa broadcast notes that Matt Carle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were the first teammates named to the NHL's All Rookie team (2005-06) since Nicklas Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov (1991-92). Carle actually played better a year earlier in his brief 12 game stint with the Sharks in 2005-06. He was confident with the puck, and skilled at keeping the play hemmed in the offensive zone. As his career progressed, he became more aware of how mistakes made at the NHL level can work against you, and it effected the offensive side of his game. A new start in Tampa Bay could pay large dividends for the Lightning going forward, and Barry Melrose is the perfect head coach to get the most out of him.

Later in the period, Steven Stamkos throws a nice hit on Jeremy Roenick to free up the puck and allow the Tampa Bay Lightning enough time to clear the puck out of the zone. Clowe-Goc-Grier checking line for San Jose gets the puck deep in the Tampa Bay zone twice, and finishes with a scoring chance for Goc and a pile of bodies in front of the net. Replay shows Grier and Goc take several whacks before the whistle. Tampa broadcast notes a comment from Barry Melrose that the Sharks try to gain position on team's in front of the net, and then try to use that position to punch home rebounds or loose pucks. The Sharks are the largest team in the NHL with a 6-foot-2, 215 pound average, and Todd McLellan's blue collar offense seeks to maximize that advantage. Hard for opposing teams to stop when three lines with size are regularly setting up in front of the crease.

Marleau out with Plihal and Shelley for fourth line duty. A point shot by Douglas Murray is wide of the net, but Marleau gains possesion and tries to find Plihal high in the slot. Marleau is in the traditional back to the glass, Joe Thornton mode. Murray has trouble with the puck at the point, but keeps it in and Marleau drives down the left side deep. A shot from a sharp angle just misses a deflection attempt by Plihal, and Christian Ehrhoff follows with a hard shot from the right side. Puck kept in by a streaking Milan Michalek, as Michalek and Cheechoo join Marleau on a line change. Joe Thornton is often looked at as a player who makes his linemates better, or gives them career seasons a la Jonathan Cheechoo. It was Patrick Marleau who centered two rookies Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier, that basically set each winger on the power forward career track.

Meszaros quick d-to-d pass to Ranger behind the net, and Ranger connects with a long pass to Lecavalier to break out of the zone. Lecavalier finds Martin St. Louis on the right side, and St. Louis dishes to Vaclav Prospal on the left side. Prospal fires a hard wrist shot that sails wide and off the glass. Tampa d-man keeps the puck in at the point, and Lecavalier feeds Prospal behind the net who tries to stuff a quick wraparound by Boucher. Boucher smothers the shot, but can not control the rebound. Ranger to Lecavalier who sets up behind the net. Lecavalier's centering pass is picked off by Joe Pavelski and moved up ice. Best scoring sequence of the game up to this point for Tampa Bay. Hall-Stamkos-Recchi line drives the net on the next shift, but Boucher is there to make the save down low.

Tampa Bay broadcast notes an unsual training regimine for Devin Setoguchi that involves battmitton. Setoguchi says it improves his hand eye coordination and footwork. San Jose has a large Vietnamese community, and battmitton is probably the most popular sport for a large segment of the youth. Quick rush for Pavelski and Michalek down the right side. Michalek pulls up on Malik and generates about 3-4 feet of open space changing direction. He feathers a pass for Cheechoo on the point who unloads a low shot on Smith. Smith makes the save, but Pavelski is inside Jussi Jokinen with his stick on the ice. Pavelski gets one whack at the puck before Jokinen chops him to the ice. Michalek beats two players to the loose rebound to flick another shot on net. The dam is eventually going to burst for Tampa Bay if they do not clear players from in front of the net, and cut down on the second and third efforts on SJ scoring chances.

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Barry Melrose with Paul Kennedy at intermission, "We have too many turnovers in the neutral zone, we have to make them go 200 feet. We have to play in their end. We did at times, Prospal had a couple great scoring chances but its got to go deep. We have to do to them what they are doing to us. We want to get 15-18 minutes out of Marek (Malik), we have to find out what kind of conditioning he is in. He has played a lot in the NHL. He is a veteran NHL d, so this is a good game for him to get in to."

Former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk on 18 year old rookie Steven Stamkos, "He is a guy that has progressively gotten better as the game has gone on. You can see he is working hard behind the net and making some plays, but he has got to have the puck more. When he has the puck, he makes plays. He is doing things on the ice that are going to allow him to get more minutes. He is also playing in his own end, and playing defense. The better he plays defensively, the more opportunities he will get offensively." Andreychuk on Matt Carle, "This is a big night for him. This is an organization that has traded him. I have been through a few of those in my career. You try to think that it is just like any other game, but it is not. You want to prove to that organization that you deserved to stay there."

The Lightning broadcast also broke down Stamkos's best scoring chance in the first, the give-and-go with Recchi. Stamkos dished the puck and drove the net, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic chopped at his stick on the shot which resulted in the puck dribbling on net. Second period starts with more Saw 5 talk, and Tampa Bay sets up shop deep in the Sharks zone. Another not very discussed aspect of San Jose adding Boyle and Blake to the defense is their ability to negate an opposing team's dump and chase system. More often than not one of Boyle-Lukowich or Blake-Vlasic are going to reach a dump in first, and Boyle and Blake are always looking to push the puck up ice. In rookie tournaments and training camp, Vlasic set him self apart for his vision and first pass, but he has yet to develop that offensive killer instinct to take his game to the next level.

Devin Setoguchi drives down the right side, and cuts back to his left one handed as he tries to stickhandle around Paul Ranger. Puck to the front of the net, and Milan Michalek crashes and tries to get a stick on the play. First penalty of the game on Ranger for hooking. Jokinen clears the first Sharks attempt with the man advantage. Second rush up ice the Sharks actually have 5 men in a line as they pass the red line and enter the zone. Boyle and Vlasic drop off on the points, play around the boards to Boyle on the opposite side. Boyle fakes a pass to the right, then a pass to the left, fakes a shot, and then passes to Vlasic on the right. Vlasic holds the puck for a second, and then sets up Boyle for a 1-timer from the point wide right. Prospal wins a battle along the boards, moves the puck past Vlasic but Boyle cheats all the way over to the right point and dumps the puck deep before moving back over to the left side. Michalek-Boyle-Michalek, then Michalek snaps a hard shot with Pavelski again in front of the net. Shot hits Smith in his plastic throat protector, and he is shaken up on the play. Referee helps him to his feet.

The play does not result in a scoring chance, but later in the period the Setoguchi-Goc-Roenick line creates a turnover in the neutral zone. Dan Boyle drives the puck into the zone with Setoguchi on his right churning towards the net. Two players skate to Boyle, who pulls up to his right, then spins around up the left side before stopping. Another newly aqcuired defenseman, Former Canuck Lukas Krajicek waives a stick at him. Excellent display of skating by Boyle. Tampa broadcast notes Patrick Marleau's recent 800 game milestone, he was the second youngest player to reach that mark. The youngest was Lightning forward Chris Gratton, 5 years earlier. Patrick Marleau picks the puck off of Matt Carle, and passes to Devin Setoguchi who misses the net with a quick shot. Setoguchi gets his own rebound, and spins off of Andrej Meszaros twice to create an open lane to the net. Shot by Setoguchi looks like it deflects off of the far crossbar. Blake gets rebound on right side, and takes it behind the net. He throws it in front, Setoguchi keeps it in at the point. Marleau down low up high to Blake for a point shot. Evgeny Artyukhin clears for Tampa Bay. Very dangerous sequence for the Lightning.

Staggering stat from Tampa Broadcast, "Where did the defense go?". First 4 San Jose Sharks games, 4 goals allowed and a 4-0-0 record. Next 4 San Jose Sharks games, 18 goals allowed and a 2-2-0 record. "The best defense is a good puck possession offense". Tampa right wing Jason Ward and a linemate wins a battle with Joe Thornton and Vlasic for possesion behind the Sharks net. Thornton battle back for possession, then hits Setoguchi who clears the play. The play is more in the Sharks end early in the second period, but not in the danger areas in front of the net. More perimeter play. Grier with the puck against the side boards hits a streaking Dan Boyle at center ice with a pass in stride. Boyle accelerates into the Tampa zone, dishes to an open Marcel Goc on the left side. Goc slaps a shot inside the far post to give the San Jose Sharks a 1-0 lead at 7:57 (assists Boyle, Grier). Goc's first goal of the season. Goaltender Mike Smith came out far to cut down the angle, but he may have been positioned too far to the right allowing too much room far side.

Clowe-Goc-Grier still on the ice. Grier again on the side wall, cross ice pass to Clowe on the left side with Goc driving down the middle. Clowe's shot deflects into the left corner, and Goc chases it down trying to split two players defenseman Janne Niskala and Matt Carle. Goc gets out in front of both and he is leveled by a third Lightning player coming in blindside to his left. Artyukhin leveled Goc, and Goc is slow to his feet and slow getting back to the bench. According to David Pollak of the SJ Mercury News, Goc did not return to the ice. Jeremy Roenick took Goc's position between Ryane Clowe and Mike Grier.

Tampa Bay Lightning power play on a 2 minute tripping minor called on Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Barry Melrose is debuting a new power play configuration with Martin St. Louis on the point. Stamkos-Lecavalier-Prospal and Ranger also out on the first PP unit. Prospal, orginally labeled player X because I could not see his number and he did very little on the power play. It was Lecavalier digging the puck out from behind the net and finding Martin St. Louis in front for a slap shot off the post. Lots of short passing high in the zone by Tampa is eventually cut short with an interception by Milan Michalek. With 1:08 still on the man advantage, defenseman Paul Ranger takes a 2 minute slashing minor as he leaves the ice. It counts as a penalty kill in the books, assist to Paul Ranger.

A back checking Joe Thornton steamrolled over Mark Recchi to gain possession of the puck in his own zone. Thornton takes it behind his own net and banks a 100-foot pass to Dan Boyle who is cherry picking just outside the Tampa blueline on the right side. Two quick strides by Boyle, and he tries to snap a shot 5-hole but Mike Smith closes it down quickly to make the save. Sharks shortened power play opportunity on the Ranger penalty, but they can not do much with the man advantage. 5-on-5, Clowe-Pavelski-Michalek drive deep and Marek Malik is forced to trip up Clowe as two Lightning defenseman run into each other on the right side. Tampa broadcast interviewed Todd McLellan prior to the game. He said he has experienced both extremes, puck possession and offense in Detroit, and defense and good positioning in Minnesota. McLellan said the Sharks have the Detroit offense and puck possession part down, but they need to work on more of the defensive responsible Minnesota style of play.

Lots of movement early on the power play, Thornton on the right half boards just misses Marleau to the right side of the net. Tampa clears. Sharks second power play unit, Michalek-Pavelski-Clowe on the ice. Clowe and Michalek force a Martin St. Louis turnover, Clowe throws it up the right boards to Pavelski. Cross ice pass to Ehrhoff, who backs it back to the center to open a lane for a slapshot. Tampa outnumbers San Jose 2-to-1 in front of the net, but it is Clowe who has inside position on two Lightning players. Clowe tips the puck passed Mike Smith for the Sharks second goal of the game at 18:00 (PP, assists Ehrhoff, Pavelski).

Former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Brad Lukowich interviewed during the second intermission, "There was a lot of emotion coming back, we tried to push it away but the second the puck dropped it was exciting. The fans have been great, they were cheering for us and gave us a salute on the jumbotron. It has been a nice welcome, especially when you are up by 2. I am part of a complete team in San Jose. We have 4 lines, 6 d, and other guys chomping at the bit to get in the lineup. For us, its an amazing team to be a part of and we have to fight every night to stay in the lineup. The meeting (held by the defense that morning) talked about doing the little things, not overextending ourselves, our goaltending has been amazing and for us to leave them hanging with outnumbered rushes the last couple of games is uncharacteristic. For us we wanted to stay back a little more and keep the puck in front of us."

Tampa starts the third with 34 seconds left of a power play on Ehrhoff's late holding call. Puck deflects off lineman, picked up and shot on goal by Joe Pavelski shorthanded. Pavelski was the leading scorer for San Jose in the playoffs, but the defensive side of his game is very underrated. Smart hockey player in the Chris Drury/Joe Sakic mould, and only 24. That is a comparison that should not be made lightly, but as Wisconsin-native Sharkspage contributor Max Giese has noted in the past, he has won at every level of hockey he has participated. This season Pavelski has 3 goals and 3 assists in 9 games played. Tampa quickly moves the puck up ice with time winding down on the power play. Paul Rangers hammers a hard slap shot up high on Boucher with gigantic 6-foot-5, 254 pound right wing Evgeny Artyukhin in front. Artyukhin is so large he needs his own zip code.

Defenseman Paul Ranger takes another penalty, this time 2 minutes for holding the shoulder of Jonathan Cheechoo as he took the puck behind he net. Along with his slashing penalty to negate a second period TB power play and another hooking call, this is Ranger's third penalty of the game. Tampa's broadcast notes this is his second straight game with 3 penalties. With former Art Ross and Rocket Richard winners Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo, and the second leading playoff goal scorer over the last 3 years (Patrick Marleau tied with Iginla at 24 goals) up front on the top power play unit, not to mention Boyle and Blake on the blueline, mistakes can come back to hurt you quickly. The Sharks ring one shot off the post, and have another baseball swing attempt at a floating puck in front, but they can not connect on the power play opportunity.

Stat from Tampa broadcast: Top NHL point leaders since December 1st, 2005 (day after Thornton trade from Boston to SJ): 1 - Joe Thornton 309, Alexander Ovechkin 289, Sidney Crosby 277, Dany Heatley 261, Vincent Lecavalier 251. Faceoff win by Jussi Jokinen, Gary Roberts comes up with the puck on the right side and throws it at the net. Jokinen and Artyukhin are outnumbered 3-to-2 by Sharks in front of the net, but the shot deflects off Boucher wide. Pavelski beat Artyukhin to the rebound. Another breakout by the Tampa Bay Lightning lead by Matt Carle. Gary Roberts dumps it deep, Artyukhin hammers Vlasic against the end boards as he plays the puck behind the net. Tampa wins battle for possession down low, but Rob Blake steals the puck from Roberts and turns it up ice with three Lightning forwards behind the play. Sharks opt for a line change. Ranger starts yet another Tampa Rush, Stamkos is the player to dump the puck deep this time. Lukowich and Recchi battle for possession down low, this time a second Shark pokes the puck up to Ryane Clowe who skates it out of the zone.

Two miscues by San Jose, Mike Grier playing his man doesn't see Jeremy Roenick coming in on the play. Roenick down on the ice launches Grier over the top, both ok and head back to the bench. Later moving the puck out of his own zone, Joe Pavelski blows out and turns the puck over to Tampa. The Lightning are not skating with enough intensity, not playing with enough desperation. The Sharks are going to start hanging back, clogging the center of the ice, and might counter punch for a goal of the Lightning get too agressive.

Nice rush by Artyukhin. He takes the puck from behind his own net up the right side. Skates by, then outmuscles Joe Thornton while cutting back to his left to avoid an oncoming Patrick Marleau. Artyukhin accelerates while avoiding a stick check by Setoguchi, then cuts to his right to break into the Sharks zone. He keeps position on the puck from Rob Blake, and then fires a centering pass to Gary Roberts in front of the net. Roberts can not get a stick on the play. Sharks instantly turn it into a 3-on-2 rush in the opposite direction as Artyukhin is up against the end boards. Thornton shot wide. Impressive end-to-end rush by the big man Artyukhin.

Penalty, two minute minor on Jason Ward for holding the stick of Brad Lukowich. In a play at the side of the net, the blade of Lukowich's stick actually became caught up in the jersey of Ward. Missed call by the refs. Sharks set up in the Tampa Bay zone, and spread wide with good perimeter puck movement. Point blank shot by Pavelski save down low by Lightning goaltender Mike Smith. Sharks get the puck deep twice, both times resulting in deflections just wide of the net. Lots of traffic between Smith and the puck. Lightning kill the power play. Next shift sees the Marleau-Thornton-Setoguchi line up for San Jose. Setoguchi wins a battle along the right side, changes direction, and dumps the puck down low for Joe Thornton. Movement off the puck is key, and Setoguchi circles around Marleau and 3 other Tampa Bay players all with eyes on the puck. Thornton reverses the play back to Setoguchi behind the net, Setouchi cuts hard to the front of the net, protecting the puck with his body against Ryan Malone, and snaps a shot between the legs of Matt Carle inside the near post. Score 3-0 San Jose, Setoguchi's 5th goal of the season.

"Not getting the puck to the net, not playing with speed, totally outworked tonight by San Jose. It was an embarassing effort out of our team tonight. Very embarassing. We have been getting great goaltending, Smitty was awesome. Coming out of the first period 0-0, and not taking advantage of it, was very disappointing. It is something we need to work on to figure out what is going on with our team. Our goaltending has never been a problem for us, but we have scored 11 goals in 7 games. You don't have to be Albert Einstein to figure out that is not enough."

"Nothing looked good. If you are looking for bright spots, I thought Ryan Malone looked good, he played with a lot of passion. One guy doing that is not enough. Other guys have to play with passion and win battles. Right now we are just trying to figure it out for ourselves, we need to try to get back to the basics. Things we already taked about, the way we played against Minnesota, the way we played against the Islanders, the way we played against Atlanta. For 3 games it worked, but tonight our guys just wouldn't do it. Wouldn't go and get the puck, and wouldn't make the simple play. It cost us against a very good hockey club."

[Update] Tampa Bay Lightning: Lightning shut out by Sharks 3-0 - St Petersburg Times.

[Update2] 'An embarrassing effort' - Damian Cristodero.

That's all you need to say, really, about what went on during the Lightning's 3-0 loss to the Sharks Saturday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The stats are one thing: outshot 45-22, winning just 18 of 46 faceoffs, failing to challenge backup goalie Brian Boucher, who got his second shutout in his second start. But the most disturbing thing for the team was its lack of passion. The Sharks simply outworked Tampa Bay in every facet, along the boards, in open ice, in battles for the puck. That is why Tampa Bay's parade to the penalty box continued. When you are a step behind, you take penalties.

There were some who tried to play with emotion: Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi and even Steven Stamkos, but few others joined in. Not even the addition of 6-foot-6, 235-pound Marek Malik helped.

Max Giese: Sharks Prospect Tony Lucia Scouting Report

The San Jose Sharks drafted Tony Lucia, a Plymouth Minnesota native, with the 193rd overall selection at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He is in his junior season with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, where his father Don Lucia is the head-coach. The following is a recent scouting report on Tony after a game against the Wisconsin Badgers.

Tony Lucia (SJS), LW, Minnesota Gophers
Gritty two-way center that has upgraded his mobility, however the same can’t be said for his puck skills .. relaxed skater that has quickened his feet which has stimulated his swifter acceleration that is enabling him to win more foot-races and ability to separate from opponent defenders out of the trenches to the net .. despite being amongst the Gophers’ top-six forwards and seeing plentiful ice-time on the power-play, Lucia lacks high-end offensive skill and is guilty of having the play die on his stick too often .. effective for the most part because of his discipline to makes high percentage plays with the puck, however his play instantly suffers when he begins to play outside of his limits .. a strong penalty-killer that plays a thinking mans game away from the puck with astute defensive positional sense and stick-work .. this versatile junior forward is progressing, but is not a guarantee to receive an NHL contract at this time.

San Jose Earthquakes finish expansion MLS season with a 2-0 shutout over Toronto FC, snap 6-game winless streak

San Jose Earthquakes Toronto FC MLS soccer season finale

The San Jose Earthquakes temporary home at Santa Clara University is an intimate setting for MLS soccer. The fans are loud and right on the field, the stadium is 2 blocks from mass transit, and affordable prices entice a steady stream of college students and families to games. Saturday night during a 2-0 win over Toronto FC, the setting may have been a little too intimate.

Toronto FC may have the most celebrated fan base in the MLS, but it was the Earthquakes Casbah cheering section behind the West goal who showered Toronto FC goalie Greg Sutton with streamers at the start of the second half. Sutton and a lone security guard were trying to clear the streamers unsuccessfully between plays. With a half dozen rolls of streamers still strewn about the box, Ronnie O'Brien aimed a corner kick at a mass of bodies in front. Ryan Cochrane got a head on the ball, and directed it into the open left side of the goal to give the Quakes a 1-0 lead. The replay video shows another half dozen rolls of streamers come flying out of the stands, hanging over the top of the goal mouth. It would be up to Sutton to say whether or not he was distracted on the play, but it took 3 stadium officials several minutes to clear the huge pile of streamers after the goal, at one point all 3 had them stuck to their feet.

The play was lopsided in the first half of the game in the Earthquakes favor, with a long drive from Ramiro Corrales and a nice turn from Ned Grabavoy forcing the tall Canadian goalkeeper to deflect the ball wide on seperate scoring chances. Ryan Johnson narrowly missed connecting on a corner, heading a hard ball directed just over the top of the crossbar. It would be one of a many narrow misses for Johnson. In the 29th minute, Johnson pulled up just outside of the box and drilled a hard shot with his left foot that forced Greg Sutton to make a spectacular diving save.

On a rush down the right side in the 56th minute, Greg Sutton came out to challenge Ryan Johnson and cut down the angle. Johnson chipped the ball over Sutton and it sailed inches wide of the left post. A broken play in front resulted from a Ramiro Corrales flick of the ball to Alvarez in the 61st minute. Greg Sutton intercepted the ball, but could not hang on to possession. Alvarez knocked it loose with his left foot, spun, waited for the ball to drop down and then stabbed a shot that deflected off the crossbar. It was the most wild sequence of the game. Shea Salinas was upended in the box by Toronto defender Kevin Harmse after making a nice move to his right. Salinas was awarded a penalty shot in extra time (91st minute). Salinas focused, and then unleashed a rising shot in the upper right portion of the net. No chance for Sutton. The Earthquakes finish the 2008 MLS season with a solid 2-0 shutout win over Toronto FC.'s coverage of the 2-0 finale over Toronto FC is extensive. Audio interviews with Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop, and players Darren Huckerby, Ronnie O'Brien, Shea Salinas, Ryan Johnson, Ramiro Corrales, and Joe Cannon are available here. Video interviews are also available from Shea Salinas, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, Jason Hernandez, and Scott Sealy. Jeff Carlisle writes a blog post on if the firing of Tottenham Hotspur manager Juande Ramos and assistant manager Gustavo Poyet may signal the end for Sporting Director Damien Comolli. The Earthquakes announced a partnership with the English Premier League team October 9th. Friend of Sharkspage and prolific blogger Jay Hipps has a flurry of updates on his CLS blog here. A SJ-TOR match report is available from Tim Hanley here, and a photo gallery will be posted shortly.'s inaugural season could not have been more successful, the variety, depth, and quality of the content should be a model for other teams to follow.

The Earthquakes uploaded this anthem from old school Bay Area rapper E-40. This version of Gooo San Jose from the stands at Buck Shaw Stadium works a little better. Former St Francis High goal keeper Joe Cannon's season ending blog entry is a good one. Top 3 MLS cities for night life according to Joe: Chicago , Toronto, and Columbus. He also notes the Earthquakes are 0-2-1 since Santa Clara decided to lengthen the field by 3 yards at each end (take a note NHL). After a rough start, the Earthquakes went on a blistering 9-game unbeaten streak with Sharkspage attending home games and catching most of the road games. Hurricane Ike forced a rescheduling of San Jose's September 20th contest at Houston, and the Earthquakes preceded to drop out of playoff contention with a 0-4-1 slide to finish the season. Other commitments forced this blog to miss televised road games, and home games against Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA (both losses) during that period. Our return for the finale saw a 2-0 win over Toronto FC.

Photo taken with a Verizon LG VX8350 cellphone.

A box score of the game from

Toronto FC (9-13-8) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (8-13-9) October 25, 2008 -- Buck Shaw Stadium

Scoring Summary:
SJ -- Ryan Cochrane 2 (Ronnie O'Brien 6) 49
SJ -- Shea Salinas 2 (penalty kick) 91+

Toronto FC -- Greg Sutton, Hunter Freeman, Kevin Harmse, Tyrone Marshall, Jim Brennan, Johann Smith (Jarrod Smith 46), Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Rohan Ricketts, Chad Barrett, Danny Dichio (Carlos Ruiz 47) (Abdus Ibrahim 81). Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Julius James, Tyler Rosenlund, Marco Velez.

San Jose Earthquakes -- Joe Cannon, James Riley, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, Eric Denton, Ronnie O'Brien, Ramiro Corrales, Ned Grabavoy (Francisco Lima 46), Darren Huckerby (Shea Salinas 67), Ryan Johnson, Scott Sealy (Arturo Alvarez 54). Substitutes Not Used: Kelly Gray, Michael Gustavson, Jason Hernandez, Jovan Kirovski.

Total shots: 17 (Ronnie O'Brien 4) 4 (Chad Barrett 2) Shots on goal: 10 (Ronnie O'Brien 2, Shea Salinas 2) 2 (Chad Barrett 2) Fouls: 8 (Ryan Cochrane 2, James Riley 2) 7 (Rohan Ricketts 2, Johann Smith 2) Offsides: 3 (3 tied with 1) 3 (Chad Barrett 2) Corner kicks: 7 (Darren Huckerby 4) 4 (Amado Guevara 3) Saves: 2 (Joe Cannon 2) 8 (Greg Sutton 8)

Misconduct Summary:
SJ -- James Riley (caution; Reckless Tackle) 74
SJ -- Shea Salinas (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 80
TOR -- Tyrone Marshall (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 80
TOR -- Amado Guevara (caution; Dissent) 84

Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar; Frank Anderson
4th official: Yader Reyes
Time of game: 1:58
Attendance: 10,526
Weather: Clear-and-74 degrees

[Update] Closing win ends a slide and furthers the Quakes' optimism - Elliott Almond for the San Jose Mercury News.

Instead of having to quickly create an 18-man roster, the Quakes can spend the next several months fine-tuning. They also need to resolve the futures of midfielder Francisco Lima and forward Scott Sealy — both might play abroad next season, although the Quakes want to keep them. San Jose also could lose players to the Seattle Sounders in next month's expansion draft.

As a result, San Jose might need to add three or four new players to a foundation that includes Arturo Alvarez, Joe Cannon, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, Darren Huckerby and Ronnie O'Brien.

Almond also quotes San Jose Earthquakes and Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff, who mentions interest in purchasing an unnamed European soccer team.

[Update2] Earthquakes finish first year in style - SF Chronicle.

Darryl Hunt: Bridgeport Blanks WorSharks, 2-0

The Worcester Sharks outshot and outhit the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but couldn't solve rookie netminder Peter Mannino in a 2-0 loss at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 3,612.

Worcester totally controlled the opening stanza, but couldn't get one past Mannino and into the net. Lukas Kaspar did manage to beat Mannino just before the horn sounded to end the first period, but the puck caught the crossbar and bounced harmlessly into the netting. The ringing of the crossbar was audible just before the horn, so the goal would have counted had it gone in.

Unfortunately for Worcester, that was as close as they would come to getting on the scoreboard.

Bridgeport would get on the board at 9:44 of the second period when Tim Jackman took a Brent Skinner feed into the WorSharks zone and beat Worcester netminder Thomas Greiss with a wrist shot. Joslin was draped all over Jackman, but Jackman shielded him from the puck and was able to get off a strong shot.

The Sound Tigers would get an insurance marker at 10:18 of the third period when Tomas Marcinko threw a feeding pass to Sean Bentivoglio. Again, with Joslin giving chase and harassing the puck carrier the whole way, Bentivoglio held the puck until Greiss made his move, and then fed it around the sprawled netminder and into the open net.

From that point on it was all Peter Mannino, and the rookie was up to the task.

San Jose General Manager Doug Wilson was again at the game, along with Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke and WorSharks General Manager Wayne Thomas. As with Friday's game, there was also a large number of NHL scouts attending the contest.

With Brendan Buckley finally suiting up, he became the second former Worcester IceCats player to play for the WorSharks. Another former Icecat, Cody Rudkowsky, was a training camp invitee last season but didn't survive the first round of cuts.

Worcester's scratches were Dan DaSilva, Cory Larose, Michael Wilson, Matt Kinch, and Taylor Dakers. Brad Staubitz was sent down to Worcester earlier in the day and arrived at the DCU Center before game time, but was considered "not available" for the game.

Jackman's goal at 9:44 of the first is listed at even strength but a minor penalty to Frazer McLaren took place at 7:46, only 1:58 earlier. Seems to this writer that goal should be listed as a power play tally, and no minus given to Buckley, FMcLaren, Joslin, McGinn, or Zalewski.

Every so often a player does something dumb that fans see coming but are obviously powerless to stop. Jason Demers did such a thing last night. Just as a Worcester power play was ending Demers had possession of a cleared puck in the neutral zone, skating backwards while the WorSharks changed lines in front of him. He skated the puck directly into a discarded stick, and lost control of the puck. Tim Jackman scooped up the loose puck, but luckily Greiss made the save.

Matt Jones took a clearing attempt in the mouth in the first period, resulting in a fairly large pool of blood in the corner to the left of Mannino. Jones was a little groggy as he was led off the ice by the WorSharks trainer, but returned to action after missing just a handful of shifts.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Mannino (33 saves, shutout)
2. Jackman (gwg)
3. Bentivoglio (g)
An Honorable Mention should go to rookie Jamie McGinn, who continues to impress with his play on both ends of the ice.

Even strength lines


Power play lines


Penalty kill lines


Face offs (offense/neutral/defense = toatl) (unofficial)
Even strength
Zalewski 3-1/3-2/0-2 = 6-5
Vesce 2-0/1-2/2-1 = 5-3
Armstrong 4-1/2-0/0-2 = 6-3
Fox 0-0/0-0/1-0 = 1-0
Cavanagh 5-0/0-1/1-0 = 6-1
Fenton 1-0/0-0/1-0 = 2-0

Power play
Zalewski 5-0/0-0/0-0 = 5-0
Fox 0-0/1-0/0-0 = 1-0

Penalty kill
Zalewski 0-0/1-0/4-2 = 5-2
Fenton 0-0/1-0/1-0 = 2-0
Armstrong 0-0/0-0/0-2 = 0-2
Vesce 0-0/0-0/1-1 = 1-1
Kaspar 0-0/1-0/0-0 = 1-0

BRI 0 1 1 - 2
WOR 0 0 0 - 0

1st Period
Scoring - No Scoring
Penalties - P. Mannino Bri (slashing, served by R. Hennigar) 3:32, S. Zalewski Wor (hooking) 4:24, J. Demers Wor (interference) 15:26

2nd Period
Scoring - 1. Bridgeport, T. Jackman (3) (B. Skinner) 9:44
Penalties - R. Armstrong Wor (holding) 3:43, B. Comeau Bri (boarding) 5:35, F. McLaren Wor (hooking) 7:46, S. Bentivoglio Bri (high-sticking) 16:33, J. Demers Wor (tripping) 18:43

3rd Period
Scoring - 2. Bridgeport, S. Bentivoglio (2) (T. Marcinko, J. Fraser) 10:18 Penalties - D. Joslin Wor (tripping) 3:16, T. Smith Bri (slashing) 4:58, R. Armstrong Wor (boarding) 8:46, B. Comeau Bri (hooking) 10:05, J. McGinn Wor (slashing) 12:17

BRI Shots: 6 8 6 TOTAL: 20
WOR Shots: 15 6 12 TOTAL: 33

Power Play Conversion
Bridgeport Sound Tigers 0-8. Worcester Sharks 0-5.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Mannino 2-0-1 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 59:49 SV: 33 GA: 0 [W]

Worcester Sharks
Greiss 2-4-0 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 58:17 SV: 18 GA: 2 [L]

Attendance : 3612. Referee: Francois St. Laurent (38). Linesmen: Todd Whittemore (19), John Costello (24)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Goal Distribution, Sharks on pace for a franchise best seven 20 goal scorers

2007-08 San Jose Sharks goal distribution pie chart
2006-07 San Jose Sharks goal distribution pie chart
2005-06 San Jose Sharks goal distribution pie chart

The Sharks are often described as a potent, albeit top-heavy offensive team. In the past two seasons center Joe Thornton's 210 points have outpaced the second leading scorer for San Jose by 77 points. In the 16-season franchise history, not counting the strike shortened 1994-95 season, San Jose has averaged 3.53 20-goal scorers a season. The most balanced offense came during the 2001-02 season, with 6 Sharks (Nolan 23, Damphousse 20, Selanne 29, Marleau 21, S. Thornton 26, Sturm 21) reaching the 20 goal plateu, not including Mike Ricci who just missed the mark with 19.

Eight games into the season may be too early for projections, but at this point in time 7 Sharks are on pace to score 20 goals (Marleau 51.25, Cheechoo 41, Setoguchi 41, Pavelski 30.75, Clowe 20.5, Boyle 20.5, Ehrhoff 20.5). Regular offenders Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek, who have finished in the top 4 in scoring the last 3 seasons, are on the outside looking in. The Sharks are second in the NHL in goals this season, with 27 scored in 8 games for a 3.33/gpg average. The Colorado Avalanche lead the league with 28 goals scored in 7 games, a 4/gpg average.

San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan has paired Patrick Marleau with Joe Thornton and rising young power forward Devin Setoguchi on the top offensive line, and split Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo between last year's playoff scoring leader Joe Pavelski on the second scoring line. Two potent scoring lines with new additions Dan Boyle and Rob Blake and a resurgent Christian Ehrhoff on the blueline could skew the offensive numbers heavily moving forward. McLellan's workmanlike offensive system, creating traffic in front and shots from the blueline, will also be much harder for opposing teams to shut down in the playoffs.

Notes: Joe Thornton scored 29 goals 2005-06, 20 for the San Jose Sharks and 9 for the Boston Bruins. The Sharks currently have 8 power play goals in 8 games, 11th in the NHL at 19%. SJ captain Patrick Marleau is the franchise leader in goals scored with 243 goals in 803 games played. Marleau also leads the Sharks franchise in assists (305) and points (548), but needs two power play goals to surpass franchise leader Owen Nolan who has 75. Jonathan Cheechoo holds the Sharks single season goal scoring record with 56 in 2005-06, and leads the team with a 0.41 goals per game average (Cheechoo 0.41, Selanne 0.36, Nolan 0.36, Thornton 0.31, Marleau 0.30).


1991-92: (2) Falloon 25, Bruce 22.

1992-93: (3) Kisio 26, Gaudreau 23, Garpenlov 22.

1993-94: (4) Makarov 30, Ozolinsh 26, Elik 25, Falloon 22.

1994-95: Strike shortened 48 game season.

1995-96: (3) Nolan 29, Sheppard 27, Miller 22.

1996-97: (3) Nolan 31, Friesen 28, Granato 25.

1997-98: (1) Friesen 31.

1998-99: (3) Murray 25, Friesen 22, Marleau 21.

1999-2000: (4) Nolan 44, Friesen 26, Damphousse 21, Ricci 20.

2000-01: (3) Marleau 25, Nolan 24, Ricci 22.

2001-02: (6) Selanne 29, S. Thornton 26, Nolan 23, Sturm 21, Marleau 21, Damphousse 20.

2002-03: (5) Selanne 28, Marleau 28, Sturm 28, Damphousse 23, Nolan 22.

2003-04: (5) Marleau 28, Cheechoo 28, Ekman 22, Sturm 21, McCauley 20.

2004-05: Lockout canceled entire NHL season.

2005-06: (4) Cheechoo 56, Marleau 34, Ekman 21, Thornton 20.

2006-07: (4) Cheechoo 37, Marleau 32, Michalek 26, Thornton 22.

2007-08: (3) Thornton 29, Michalek 24, Cheechoo 23.

[Update] St Petersburg Time beat writer Damian Cristodero previews Dan Boyle's return to Tampa Bay in today's paper here: Boyle returns to face former team. In a subsequent blog post, Cristodero writes that Boyle is striving to turn the page on his abupt departure from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Had a fairly interesting, but guarded conversation with former Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle on Friday after the Sharks' morning skate in Sunrise. Boyle did not really want to talk about Saturday's game in Tampa since he had a game Friday night against the Panthers, but he did say this about his claim he was "disrespected" by the Lightning's new ownership before being traded July 4 to San Jose.

"Am I ever going to be happy with the way it went down? Absolutely not. No way; that was the wrong way. I think most people know that. But at some point, you have to turn the page, and I've done that."

What Boyle has done is settled in with San Jose. heading into Friday's game he was sixth among NHL defensemen with six points on two goals and four assists. As Sharks coach Todd McLellan said, he has fit in San Jose "like he belongs here."

[Update2] Boucher gets nod in Tampa as Boyle, Lukowich, Carle face former teams - David Pollak for Working the Corners.

[Update3] Dan Boyle shall have his revenge on Tampa Bay - Yahoo's Puck Daddy.

Tomas Vokoun and Florida Panthers withstand 50 shots against to earn a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks

Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun

The book on 6-foot-0, 200 pound Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been similar for a number of years. The 2-time NHL Allstar (Nashville 2004, Florida 2008) plays a traditional upright butterfly style, covers a lot of the net down low, and relies on a spectacular glove hand to bail him out of certain situations. Former NHL goaltender and current Atlanta Thrashers analyst Darren Eliot described him as a shotblocker, skilled at making the first save but whose suspect rebound control often leaves him vunerable to second and third scoring opportunities. Also mentioned was his attitude, Vokoun is known as a battler in net, a goaltender who will not give up on a play until the whistle is blown.

Head coach Todd McLellan said prior to the start of the game that the coaching staff is not happy with San Jose's defensive performance in recent games. The Sharks again stumbled early en route to a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday night. After an Joe Thornton power play goal 51 seconds into the game (which might have been tipped by Jonathan Cheechoo on the doorstep), the Sharks gave up three unanswered first period goals to Cory Stillman, Richard Zednick, and Nathan Horton. The first two goals came as a result of d-to-d passing at the top of the zone to open up shooting lanes, Stillman executed a slick drop pass to set the table for Horton's third goal. The Panthers afforded Tomas Vokoun a 2-goal lead heading into the final 40 minutes of the game, and the Sharks would test him by piling up 50 shots on goal.

The Sharks are the top faceoff team in the NHL (268-205, 56.7%), and a draw won by center Joe Pavelski directly lead to a second period goal by Ryane Clowe. Pavelski pulled the puck back to Rob Blake on the blueline, who passed it down low to Christian Ehrhoff just outside of the left faceoff circle. A quick Ehrhoff snap shot was directed around Tomas Vokoun by an unchecked Ryane Clowe in front of the net to make the score 3-2 Florida. The Sharks tied the game on an excellent individual effort by Patrick Marleau short handed. Marleau beat Jay Bouwmeester to a loose puck on the boards, and then chipped it past him into the neutral zone. Marleau streaked into the Panthers zone on a 2-on-1 with Mike Grier against center Stephen Weiss. A give-and-go with Grier resulted in Patrick Marleau's 5th goal of the season and a 3-3 game.

Last season the Sharks struggled to hold on to leads late in periods and late in games. This season, the Sharks are struggling to keep opponents off the board after they score goals. Again on Friday, Cory Stillman answered Patrick Marleau's tally with his second goal of the game 37 seconds later. The goal would hold up as the game winner. The Sharks were better in three areas: scoring in the first period, registering 2 power play goals on 5 opportunities, and keeping Flordia scoreless on 3 power plays. What hurt the Sharks again were defensive lapses, breakdowns in front of their own net, and loose play. Thomas Plihal skated over a puck along the boards instead of clearing it, leaving it to Stephen Weiss which resulted in the second goal by Zednick. The Florida Panthers were able to set up in front of Evgeni Nabokov too often, and the Panthers almost doubled the Sharks in blocked shots (19-10). There are off nights, and then there are nights that are a sign of a larger problem. The Sharks have work to do to tighen up defensively, and Todd McLellan and the San Jose coaching staff will have a stern test when Stanley Cup finalists Pittsburgh and Detroit travel to San Jose next week.

[Update] Sharks dropped by Florida 4-3 - San Jose Mercury News.

Darryl Hunt: Providence upends WorSharks, 3-1

The Worcester Sharks had their modest two game winning streak snapped in a Friday night 3-1 loss to the Providence Bruins at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.

For the first time in five games this season, it was the opponent that would score the opening goal. Reigning AHL Player of the Week Johnny Boychuk would fire a low blast from the point that would deflect off the skate of Patrick Traverse and right on the tape of Matt Marquardt's stick. Marquardt would push a backhand pass to Mikko Lehtonen standing all alone at the far post for the power play goal at 8:10 and the 1-0 lead.

Providence would take a 2-0 lead at 13:31 when Matt Lashoff stole the puck clean off the stick of an onrushing Micheal Wilson and threw a feeding pass to Marquardt. Wacey Rabbit would join Marquart on the breakaway on WorSharks goaltender Thomas Greiss. Greiss would make the initial save, but with Wilson still out of position and Traverse skating hard giving chase Rabbit was easily able to corral the rebound and flip a backhand over the sprawled Greiss.

Worcester would get on the board in the second period skating five on three. With Marquardt in the box serving Providence goaltender Tuukka Rask's minor for hooking, and Boychuk serving a delay of game minor for a clearing attempt that sailed over the head of Greiss and into the netting, the WorSharks would pepper Rask with several high quality scoring chances.

Derek Joslin would finally connect after a centering feed from captain Ryan Vesce. Joslin wound up as if to make a huge blast, but then just half strength slapped at it, firing it through traffic. The screened Rask never saw where it was going, and the WorSharks found themselves down just 2-1.

Providence would get the insurance marker shorthanded late in the third period when Martins Karsums stole the puck away from Wilson at the Bruins blueline and would create another two on zero against Greiss. Karsums held the puck well into the Worcester zone, and fed Rabbit for a one-timer and his second of the night and the 3-1 lead.

Worcester would pull Greiss while on a power play to create a six on four advantage, but several timely blocked shots by the Bruins would help preserve the 3-1 final.

There were several VIPs at the game, including AHL President Dave Andrews and San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson.

Worcester's scratches were Matt Jones, Dan DaSilva, Brendan Buckley, Matt Kinch, and Taylor Dakers.

The WorSharks have started using Ryan Vesce on the point on power plays. He was out there with Joslin when Worcester was using an extra attacker, giving them five forwards on the ice.

Lukas Kaspar played his first game of the season in Worcester after clearing waivers and being sent down earlier this week. He recorded no hits and, according to the score sheet, two shots on goal. This writer had him with only a single shot, and it was a harmless near-whiff that Rask barely moved to save.

There was a delay with 3:54 to go in the second period when a pane of plexi popped out after a huge hit in the Providence zone.

Jason Demers got his bell rung after being blasted against the boards during the first period. He struggled his way back to the bench from the half boards in the Providence zone after falling a couple of times. He returned to play at the beginning of the second period and seemed no worse for wear.

Linesman Todd Whittemore injured his right knee after a pile up just inside the Providence blue line early in the third period. He continued to officiate, and as the period went on the affects seemed to lessen.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Rask (33 saves)
2. Marquardt (2a)
3. Rabbit (2g)
My ballot read Marquardt, Rask, and Joslin, but that was turned in prior to Rabbit's second goal.

Even strength lines


Penalty kill


Power play


Face-offs (offense/neutral/defense = total) (unnoficial)
Even strength
Zalewski 2-0/2-2/1-0 = 5-2
Larose 3-1/3-2/1-0 = 7-3
Fox 0-1/1-1/0-1 = 1-3
Armstrong 1-0/3-2/1-1 = 5-3

Penalty kill
Zalewski 0-0/1-0/3-2 = 4-2
Armstrong 0-0/0-0/0-1 = 0-1
Morris 0-0/0-0/0-1 = 0-1
Kaspar 0-0/0-1/0-0 = 0-1

Power play
Larose 7-3/0-2/0-0 = 7-5
Armstrong 0-0/1-0/0-0 = 1-0
Zalewski 1-1/1-1/0-0 = 2-2
KMcLaren 1-0/0-0/0-0 = 1-0
Fox 2-0/0-0/0-0 = 2-0

PRO 2 0 1 - 3
WOR 0 1 0 - 1

1st Period
Scoring - 1. Providence, M. Lehtonen (2) (M. Marquardt, J. Boychuk) 8:10 PP, 2. Providence, W. Rabbit (2) (M. Marquardt, M. Lashoff) 13:31
Penalties - F. McLaren Wor (boarding) 6:35, M. Marquardt Pro (hooking) 14:47, R. Armstrong Wor (slashing) 17:09, P. Traverse Wor (hooking) 18:41

2nd Period
Scoring - 3. Worcester, D. Joslin (1) (R. Vesce, M. Morris) 8:12 PP
Penalties - T. Rask Pro (hooking, served by M. Marquardt) 6:21, J. Boychuk Pro (delay of game) 7:43, M. St. Pierre Pro (hooking) 12:08, C. Larose Wor (slashing) 17:54

3rd Period
Scoring - 4. Providence, W. Rabbit (3) (M. Karsums) 17:25 SH
Penalties - J. Boychuk Pro (kneeing) 0:47, M. St. Pierre Pro (hooking) 3:21, S. Zalewski Wor (hooking) 8:09, C. Larose Wor (slashing) 13:07, J. Penner Pro (holding) 15:27, Served by M. Lehtonen Pro (bench minor - too many men) 17:37

PRO Shots: 5 3 4 TOTAL: 12
WOR Shots: 7 13 14 TOTAL: 34

Power Play Conversion
Providence Bruins 1-6. Worcester Sharks 1-8.

Providence Bruins
Rask 4-1-0 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 59:53 SV: 33 GA: 1 [W]

Worcester Sharks
Greiss 2-3-0 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 58:16 SV: 9 GA: 3 [L]

Attendance : 3316. Referee: Terry Koharski (10) Linesmen: Todd Whittemore (19), Brian MacDonald (72)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks defeat Hartford, 5-4

The Worcester Sharks, on the strength of two goals by rookie left wing Jamie McGinn, defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack 5-4 Wednesday night in a battle of division rivals at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.

After going through the entire 2007-08 campaign without ever once having the lead against the Wolf Pack, the WorSharks wasted little time trying to put Hartford's eight game winning streak over Worcester to bed. Just over eight minutes into the first period McGinn banged in a loose puck at the far post after Steven Zalewski fired a bad angle shot on Hartford netminder Miika Wiikman to end the "lead-less" streak for Worcester.

After the ensuing face off the WorSharks dumped the puck back into the Hartford zone, and while their was a scrum in front of Wiikman, Tom Cavanagh fed a wide open Patrick Traverse at the blueline. Traverse held it just long enough for an opening to develop, and then blasted a shot over Wiikman and into the top corner for a 2-0 lead 8:24 into the contest.

Hartford would crawl to within one while skating with a two man advantage after Dane Byers tipped a Corey Potter shot over WorSharks goaltender Thomas Greiss and just under the crossbar.

During the second period Worcester would have a full two minute five on three advantage, but because of some bad passes and bouncing pucks could only generate one shot on goal.

Worcester did have a great chance to regain their two goal lead midway through the second period when a Mike Moore blast broke through Wiikman and stopped just inches from the goal line. In the scrum for the puck that followed a Hartford defenseman managed to just barely push the puck out of the crease to cancel the threat.

Worcester would finally regain that two goal lead 39 seconds into the third period when Kyle McLaren sent Mike Morris and McGinn on a two on one break. McGinn would connect for his second of the night when a laser of a wrist shot just under the blocker of Wiikman for the 3-1 lead.

And then it looked like 2007-08 again as the wheels fell off, with Hartford scoring on three of their next four shots on goal.

Hartford winger Dale Weise would pick up a loose puck on the half boards and skate across the slot unmolested, beating Greiss after a great backhand deke. Seventeen seconds later Artem Anisimov fed a wide open Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau at the far post to knot the game 3-3.

Hartford would take the lead at 8:57 of the third period after a loose puck that bounced through the crease, and one that Greiss thought he had covered up, ended up in the net. Greiss immediately jumped up and protested to referee Nygel Pelletier that he had covered the puck and Pelletier should have blown the whistle. The protest was as successful as one would think, and the score was 4-3 Hartford. Left winger Jordan Owens was credited with the goal.

Worcester would then find themselves again skating down two skaters, this time for 1:48, but some great defensive play and timely saves by Greiss would keep the game within one goal.

The WorSharks would get the break they needed when Hugh Jessiman highsticked Cavanagh while fore checking, giving Worcester the man advantage. As badly as the power play performed in Worcester's earlier five on three advantage, and having failed on their previous 20 attempts with the man advantage, the power play was on fire as the WorSharks crashed the net and peppered Wiikman with several great scoring opportunities. Cory Larose would finally find the back of the net after picking up a loose puck, knotting the game at 4-4.

After a scoreless overtime Worcester would connect twice in the shootout, with both Zalewski and Larose firing wrist shots to beat Wiikman. Greiss would stone all four Hartford shooters to end the Wolf Pack's winning streak over the WorSharks.

The win for Worcester was its first since a 4-1 victory on April 6, 2007.

At the 8:24 mark of the first period the WorSharks had two goals and no face-off wins.

The game would have two fights, with Justin Soryal and Frazer McLaren going at it nine minutes into the first period. McLaren landed a couple good shots, but even the hometown crowd gave the decision to Soryal. The second fight was between Brandon Sugden and Brett Westgarth, and not much happened in their struggle to land punches.

Referee Nygel Pelletier made several odd calls, including calling Kyle McLaren for tripping after he checked a Hartford player almost in to the Worcester bench, calling Mike Morris for hooking when he was in front of the Wolf Pack player that fell down, and calling Derek Joslin for holding after he had made a clearing pass while already shorthanded. Pelletier also called Hartford for too many men on the ice--a penalty usually called by linesmen--while Worcester and Hartford were both making line changes with Joslin holding the puck deep in the Worcester zone. Pelletier also put his whistle away in overtime for both teams as several players were hauled down in the extra stanza. He did call Greg Moore for slashing with 38 seconds to go in the overtime, but when compared to the stuff he let go it seemed like a weak call to even the most partisan of fans.

Kyle McLaren picked up where he left off Saturday and threw several huge hits in the game, but the hit of the night belonged to Mike Moore when he blasted former Worcester IceCat Brian Fahey into, and through, the Hartford penalty box door in the waning seconds of regulation. Both players were uninjured.

Worcester scratches were: Brendan Buckley, Taylor Dakers, Dan DaSilva, Lukas Kaspar, and Matt Kinch.

Kyle McLaren was wearing an "A" in place of Buckley, who missed his fourth game of the season.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Jamie McGinn (2g)
2. Dane Byers (1g,1a)
3. Cory Larose (gtg)
Honorable mention should go to Dale Weise for his nice goal and Kyle McLaren for his physical presence.

Even strength lines:


Penalty kill lines:


Power play lines:


Face-offs (offense/neutral/defense = total) (unofficial):
Even strength
Zalewski 2-2/4-1/2-0 = 8-3
Fox 0-2/6-2/2-1 = 8-5
Vesce 1-1/2-1/0-0 = 3-2
Larose 0-1/0-0/2-0 = 2-1
Cavanagh 1-0/3-2/1-0 = 5-2

Penalty kill
Zalewski 0-0/1-1/2-2 = 3-3
Larose 0-0/0-1/0-0 = 0-1
Cavanagh 0-0/0-0/0-1 = 0-1
Vesce 0-0/1-0/1-0 = 2-0

Power play
Cavanagh 3-1/0-0/0-0 = 3-1
Zalewski 3-2/1-0/0-0 = 4-2
Larose 1-3/0-0/0-0 = 1-3v Vesce 0-1/0-0/0-0 = 0-1

H: Moore: deke five-hole, save
W: McGinn: shoot low stick, wide
H: Dupont: deke low stick, savev W: Zalewski: 15' wrist shot low stick, GOAL
H: Weise: deke five-hole, save
W: Larose: 15' wrist shot low stick, GOAL
H: Anisimov: deke low stick, save
Worcester wins shootout, 2-0

HAR 1 0 3 0 0 - 4
WOR 2 0 2 0 1 - 5

1st Period
Scoring - 1. Worcester, J. McGinn (3) (S. Zalewski, M. Morris) 8:02, 2. Worcester, P. Traverse (1) (T. Cavanagh, P. Fenton) 8:24, 3. Hartford, D. Byers (2) (C. Potter, B. Sanguinetti) 15:16 PP
Penalties - J. McGinn Wor (tripping) 3:21, J. Soryal Hfd (fighting) 9:01, F. McLaren Wor (fighting) 9:01, M. Moore Wor (hooking) 11:01, K. McLaren Wor (tripping) 13:48, D. Joslin Wor (holding) 14:28, A. Anisimov Hfd (holding) 17:21

2nd Period
Scoring - No Scoring
Penalties - D. DiDiomete Hfd (roughing) 1:29, B. Sugden Hfd (tripping) 1:29, B. Sugden Hfd (fighting) 3:49, B. Westgarth Wor (fighting) 3:49, T. Cavanagh Wor (holding) 6:19, D. DiDiomete Hfd (boarding) 12:03, J. Soryal Hfd (roughing) 14:32, M. Morris Wor (hooking) 15:33

3rd Period
Scoring - 4. Worcester, J. McGinn (4) (M. Morris, K. McLaren) 0:39, 5. Hartford, D. Weise (1) (A. Anisimov, C. Murray) 2:30, 6. Hartford, P. Parenteau (1) (D. Byers, G. Moore) 2:47, 7. Hartford, J. Owens (1) (J. Soryal, B. Dupont) 8:57, 8. Worcester, C. Larose (3) (R. Vesce, D. Joslin) 16:03 PP
Penalties - Served by J. Soryal Hfd (bench minor - too many men) 6:39, M. Morris Wor (cross-checking) 11:29, M. Moore Wor (holding the stick) 11:41, H. Jessiman Hfd (high-sticking) 14:11

OT Period
Scoring - No Scoring
Penalties - G. Moore Hfd (slashing) 4:22

Round 1 - HFD - Greg Moore - No
Round 1 - WOR - Jamie McGinn - No
Round 2 - HFD - Brodie Dupont - No
Round 2 - WOR - Steven Zalewski - Yes
Round 3 - HFD - Dale Weise - No
Round 3 - WOR - Cory Larose - Yes
Round 4 - HFD - Artem Anisimov - No

HFD Shots: 8 7 9 1 0 TOTAL: 25
WOR Shots: 12 11 12 0 1 TOTAL: 36

Power Play Conversion
Hartford Wolf Pack 1-8. Worcester Sharks 1-7.

Hartford Wolf Pack
Wiikman 1-2-1 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 65:00 SV: 31 GA: 4 [SOL]

Worcester Sharks
Greiss 2-2-0 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 64:56 SV: 21 GA: 4 [W]

Attendance : 2126. Referee: Nygel Pelletier (41). Linesmen: Jack Millea (23), Scott Whittemore (96)

San Jose Sharks announce release date for new BlackArmor alternate third jersey November 21st

Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks black alternate jersey
San Jose Sharks new black alternate RBK jersey

A new post published on Sharks blog:

The Sharks announced the release date for their new RBK third jersey Wednesday. The new "BlackArmor" third jersey will be unveiled at San Jose headquarters Friday November 21st at 10:00AM and worn for the first time in a game Saturday November 22nd as the Washington Capitals and defending Rocket Richard, Art Ross and Hart Memorial Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin visit HP Pavilion.

The Sharks also reported that the jersey will be worn 14 times this season including games against Washington (Nov. 22), Chicago (Nov. 26), Toronto (Dec. 2), Columbus (Dec. 4), twice against Anaheim (Dec. 11 and April 5), Calgary (Jan. 15), Colorado (Jan. 27), twice against Phoenix (Jan. 29 and April 9), Carolina (Feb. 5), Los Angeles (Feb. 19), Minnesota (March 5), and Nashville (March 19).

The Sharks version of the new RBK Edge jersey system adopted by the NHL for the 2007-08 season was introduced last September encorporating the team's primary colors of Deep Pacific Teal, Burnt Orange and Black. In July of 2007 the Sharks also introduced a new primary crest, triangle/fin logos, and word marks created by original logo designer Terry Smith. The new crest and secondary markings were said to emphasize "speed, strength and determination". Smith told a story during the press conference of the team's initial use of the color teal, and how it later came to be indentified with hockey and the franchise.

The previous version of the Sharks alternate black jersey was very popular with the fan base, and the black alternate third jersey was popular elsewhere in the league as well. According to Steve MacFarlane, the Sharks are one of 5 teams expected to go black this season along with the Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators. As many as 8 teams are expected to introduce retro-themed jerseys according to MacFarlane.

"The new BlackArmor jerseys look really cool, and our BlackArmor portable hard drive is like having Nabby saving you from hackers taking shots at your valuable content and personal information." CEO of Seagate Technology Bill Watkins told James Mirtle notes the new price points for the third jersey: Youth - $115, Premier - $135, Authentic - $250.

IceThis and Uniwatch are two websites following the release of alternate NHL jerseys closely. IceThis has a pair of speculative Sharks third jersey possibilities here and here. Uniwatch's Paul Lukas believes the team has a lot of chutzpah for taking pre-orders on a jersey fans can not even see. Prior to the Sharks logo unveiling last year Sharkspage received a deluge of emails from fans requesting that team president Greg Jamison be asked about the black third jersey, and there has been a steady stream of online speculation regarding the new upcoming version. Taking pre-orders of a jersey site unseen could simply be a response to intensive demand.

[Update] Have fans gone too far? Leagues, teams crack down on disruptive behavior - Sports Business Journal.

NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur said the issue of fan behavior hasn’t ever risen to the board of governors level, but franchise execs say it’s a topic of conversation on regular conference calls about league best practices... Via Internet tools, the (Minnesota) Wild regularly surveys its season-ticket customers on issues of safety and comfort, Spencer said. Complaints about unruly fans are often handled off-site via phone calls to a season-ticket holder. That method, Spencer said, pays dividends. Often, the annoying customers aren’t the season-ticket owner, but a friend or employee of a firm.

[Update2] Team Marketing Report recently released the 2008-09 Fan Cost Index for all 30 NHL teams. The average NHL ticket price was $49.66, up 5.1% over last season. The average cost of a beer was $6.06, average cost of a hot dog was $3.64, average cost of parking $12.20, average cost of a program $2.69, and average cost of a hat was $15.75. The fan cost index, including the cost of four average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least-expensive, adult-size adustable caps, resulted in a total of $288.23. The Sharks finished 20th in the league with an average ticket price of $43.07, and were tied for the 11th most expensive beer price in the league at $6.25 (16 ounces).

[Update3] Worcester Sharks To Unveil Third Jersey On Saturday - SharksAHL.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sharks and Flyers combine for 12 goals in regulation, but Philadelphia remains winless in first six games after 7-6 home shootout loss to San Jose

With much of Philadelphia focused on Game 1 of the World Series, the fireworks were on display at the Wachovia Center as the Sharks downed the Flyers 7-6 after an OT shootout. Joe Pavelski and former Flyer Jeremy Roenick scored goals in the shootout, and Evgeni Nabokov stacked the pads against Mike Richards and used a superbly timed poke check forcing Daniel Briere to fire the puck early. The Sharks franchise is 10-15 alltime on shootouts, and center Jeremy Roenick leads the team with 4 game winning shootout goals.

The opening period of the game was about as far from a goaltender's duel as possible. Neither goaltender looked sharp, and neither team helped clear pucks and bodies in front of the crease to cut down on scoring chances. Video of every goal scored during the game is available from if you want a complete rundown. Mike Richards goal in the first period came on a long point shot with bodies in front, Jeff Carter's deflected off of Marc-Edouard Vlasic's stick, but Scottie Upshall's came on a rebound in front without being checked off the play. Joffery Lupul scored twice, patiently waiting out Nabokov while he stacked his pads, and snapping a shot in the third passed Nabokov off of a faceoff win. Briere's late game tying goal came as two Sharks marked players in front, with the odd man open for Philadelphia. Nabokov did not look sharp, but he battled through the game and tried to focus himself before the shootout.

Antero Niittymaki had a rough performance after his 40 save loss in San Jose. A Christian Ehrhoff point shot was tipped in by Joe Pavelski in front, and a pair of goals by Ryane Clowe (PP) and Patrick Marleau were converted with feet just outside the paint. Clowe's came on a short rebound. Mike Knuble tripped opening up a lane to the net for Marleau, and Joe Thornton nailed him with a crisp pass. Setoguchi's goal with 39 seconds remaining in the first captured Niittymaki's struggles perfectly. He appeared frozen after making the first save, either unaware of rebounds or counting on his defense to clear them. Setoguchi manhandled his way wide right around Joffery Lupul, and shoveled a puck on Niittymaki. The goaltender made the intial save by closing down his five hole, but the puck laid loose in front. Setoguchi tucked it into an empty net, and the Sharks saw goaltender Martin Biron for the rest of the game.

After a Patrick Marleau goal early in the third period, right wing Joffery Lupul answered 17 seconds later to keep the Flyers within striking distance at 6-5. Daniel Briere scored a power play goal with 65 seconds left to send the game in overtime. It was Devin Setoguchi who tied the game late Saturday in San Jose, and Dan Boyle scoring his first goal as a Shark to send the Flyers back to Philadelphia without a win. The momentum swung towards the home team in overtime, as they registered the only two shots on goal and were pressing hard to earn their first win in 6 games. Evgeni Nabokov finished with 23 saves on 29 shots and a rare OT shootout win. Antero Niittymaki was pulled after 20 minutes allowing 4 goals on 15 shots. His replacement Martin Biron stopped 2 of 20 shots, and 0 of 2 overtime shootout attempts. The Sharks finished 2-5 on the power play, the Flyers 2-3.

ESPN Fantasy Hockey contributor Sean Allen noted that Patrick Marleau had two of his four points on a line with Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi. His next two points came on a checking line with Marcel Goc and Mike Grier. According to the NHL game summary, Marleau registered 22:48 of ice time, second most of all forwards for San Jose behind Thornton's 23:01. Allen mentioned that he was concerned about Marleau being replaced by Clowe on the top line, but head coach Todd McLellan may have been trying an on-the-fly adjustment. offers a shift chart from the game that shows about half of Marleau's shifts came with the Thornton line, and half with the Marcel Goc line.

Note: Publishing on Blogger was unavailable for much of the day and is due for another outage at 5PM.

[Update] Panaccio: J.R. Gives His Take on the Flyers -

One of the problems the Flyers have right now that really hasn’t been talked about is their centermen, who are getting hammered up and down the lineup on faceoffs. As an example: Briere won just one of six draws against Marcel Goc in the previous meeting against San Jose. Jeff Carter won 1 of 5 against Patrick Marleau and just 1 of 6 against Joe Thornton.

You can't have puck possession if you can't win faceoffs. "We stress [faceoffs] it here big-time which is important," Roenick said. "If you have the puck, you control a lot of the play. So, if you don't win faceoff, you’re not gonna have the puck and you’re chasing it around. That’s huge."

"Still, whether you win or lose draws, it doesn't lose hockey games. You have to find ways to overcome. They can't let frustration set in. If frustration sets in, it can be even more difficult."

[Update2] David Pollak of the SJ Mercury News quotes head coach Todd McLellan after the game, "To get the two points, coaches always have to say we're happy, but deep down, we can't be very satisfied with our defensive effort — not only tonight but in the last three games." The Sharks as a team were not sharp. Brad Lukowich taking the puck behind the net and then throwing it to the point which resulted in a turnover, Patrick Marleau turning the puck over in his own zone late in the third period, Thornton passing the puck to the top of the slot with time ticking down instead of taking it down low to ensure the Sharks have the last scoring opportunity of the game. Those are just three examples of many to explain why this team is not locking down games.

The process of adapting to Todd McLellan's blue collar system will take time, and after allowing 14 goals in 3 games (with 2 wins) it appears that the Sharks still have a lot of work to do to simplify their game and adapt to that style of play. A 6-1 start to the season does not change the fact that 50% of the blueline has turned over since last season. Without Craig Rivet or Kyle McLaren it will fall on veterans Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Brad Lukowich to steady the play when other teams start rolling. Christian Ehrhoff and Douglas Murray were the two best defensive defenseman on the Sharks roster last season, and the return of a healty Murray (upper body) will be another steadying influence.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Death Knell for Elite XC, Second largest mixed martial arts promotion closes doors Tuesday

Elite XC mixed martial arts promotion closes

The news of Elite XC and Pro Elite's filing for bankruptcy yesterday did not come as a surprise to many. The flamboyant mixed martial arts promotion that began in late 2006 quickly acquired regional promotions King of the Cage ($5 million), Hawaiin Icon Sport ($350,000+), and Cage Rage( $3.75 million), and established working relationships with Korean Spirit MC, DREAM in Japan, Affliction, and San Jose based Strikeforce. Elite XC lavished money on its fighters, and the production value for its events and broadcasts was the most elaborate for any promotion outside of Japan.

According to Sherdog's Loretta Hunt, the three acquisitions plus a $1 million investment in Spirit MC resulted in losses of over $20 million for Pro Elite in less than 2 years. Hunt also notes a lavish $100,000+ office rented on the exclusive Wilshire Blvd. Pro Elite is the parent company of Elite XC, which used bankable stars like Robbie Lawler, Jake Shields, Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano to garner media attention and television deals with Showtime and CBS.

The highest highs for Elite XC and the lowest lows could both be encapsulated in the brief career of Kimbo Slice. Slice, real name Kevin Ferguson, headlined the main event of the first-ever live MMA event on a major American broadcast television channel. Elite XC's Primetime event ran the gamut from gore in the form of James Thompson's exploding cauliflow ear, controversy on a no contest Lawler-Smith title fight, star power as Gina Carano TKO'd Kaitlin Young, and brutality as Brett Rogers and Joey Villasenor scored devestating first round knockouts. Although it ran 45-50 minutes long, "Primetime" averaged 4.85 million viewers and maxed out at 6.51 million viewers opening the eyes of many in the television world to a new player in sports and entertainment.

Unfortunately the high wire which Elite XC walked financially, they reportedly amassed $55 million in debt in short order, they also walked with the relative merits of their most identifiable star, Kimbo Slice. Slice made his bones with amateur fights posted on youtube that gained enormous popularity. As a professional mixed martial artist, Slice trained with Dutch kickboxing and Pancrase legend Bas Rutten. The intensive ground and submission training apparently fell flat in Kimbo's October 4th bout against late replacement Seth Petruzelli at EliteXC: Heat in Sunrise Florida.

The fight was orginally scheduled to be against former UFC Champion Ken Shamrock, but he was scratched at the last minute with a cut above his eye. Slice tried to close the distance on Petruzelli, but was knocked out in 14 seconds due to a series of short punches. Major controversy and an official state investigation erupted when Petruzelli said he was paid ahead of time to keep the fight on his feet. Petruzelli later clarified his statement that he wanted to remain standing, and Elite XC said the possible confusion resulted from a proposed knockout bonus.

The morale of the Elite XC and Pro Elite story has to be one of self suffiency. Any promotion has to live within their means, and first and formost figure out how to establish enough revenue to sustain itself. Former CEO Gary Shaw was part carnival barker, part saleseman, part politican, but the bottom line is that many of his events were wildly entertaining. Cheerleaders, Bill Goldberg and internet sensations may have horrified MMA purists, but Elite XC cobbled together a serious alternative to the UFC. was a pioneer with online streaming and a sizeable online community, but it was not used nearly well enough to help prop up the organization financially moving forward. $100,000 a month for a lavish office in Los Angeles is ridiculous for an emerging MMA company when the entire online operation could run for a year on that amount (albeit in traditional Silicon Valley budget startup mode).

Now, several organizations will compete for the talent on Elite XC's roster. The regional promotions will have to extricate themselves from this mess, and the UFC and Dana White will proclaim all along that Elite XC and every other promotion never were legitimate alternatives. Fans who spent years on a heavy bag in a boxing gym, years on a wrestling, judo or Brazilian Ju-Jitsu mat, fans who spent years padded up taking strikes from karate or kickboxing instructors, or fans who sat down for the first time to watch Elite XC on CBS and think for themselves "thank god that is not me", those fans will have one less place to watch mixed martial arts.

A few video highlights of Elite XC on CBS are available on

[Update] The end arrives for EliteXC -

It is a spectacular collapse for EliteXC, viewed by most that follow the sport as the No. 2 promotion in the country behind the UFC. EliteXC brought mixed martial arts to network TV with a groundbreaking prime-time deal with CBS, and has been instrumental in raising the profile of MMA among mainstream sports fans.

However, the two-year-old promotion has been dogged by criticism almost from the day the company hung its shingle. MMA traditionalists took issue with everything from its leadership under boxing promoter Gary Shaw, to the pro-wrestling-influenced production of its shows, to how it promoted Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson into a star, despite his lack of MMA experience.

[Update2] A partial transcript of UFC President Dana White's latest video blog:

Obviously today is a great day for MMA. Pro Elite is dead. I'm sure some of you saw the interview I did about how bad some of these guys are for the sport. Today is a good day. Jeremy Lappen, the three time loser, first Battle Management, then the WFA, now Pro Elite. Jeremy, you have a law degree, go get a real f****** job. Your parents must be real proud. Your parents spent all this money on a law degree and you lose all this money trying to screw up the MMA business.

The comment speaks for itself. It is shocking for its unrepentant glee, and this is coming from the heart of Raider and 49er country that has axed two head coaches in as many weeks. The UFC organization has a stable of fighters with some of the best talent in the world, but the list of problems with Dana White and the UFC's alleged stewardship of the sport is long and growing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hockey Notes - October 21st

San Jose Sharks defenseman general manager Doug Wilson

- A week ago Tuesday, San Jose Sharks general manager was interviewed on KNBR's Razor and Mr T. show with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert. Wilson was asked about the system employed by new head coach Todd McLellan, he talked about the Sharks long pursuit of offensive-defenseman Dan Boyle and what he will bring to this team, whether the scoring would come from a more balanced distribution, said that the NHL is more of a read-and-react type of game than a system-enforced type of game, talked about moving the attack on the power play from the half wall to the point and in front of the net, and noted that the Sharks attempt to cut down on a chip-and-chase dump in strategy where you give away possesion to the other team.

[Q] How many different systems are in hockey?

[DW] Not as many as you think. There are a few on how you forecheck, but it really is a read and react game where there are a lot of 1-on-1's. You set up and get mismatches. When we're playing really well we are attacking the other team. The biggest thing we look for is possession time. If we have the puck for most of the game, they are either going to take penalties or they are going to be worn down by the end of the game, kind of like a boxer. You might not win the first two or three rounds, but if you concentrate and wear them down and make them defend, by the end of it you should come out on the right side.

[Q] When we talk about hockey and when other people talk about hockey, it comes down to the same core things: paying the price, getting the puck deep and digging it out, doing the things that are hard to do that you don't want to do, and doing them consistently. It seems like that, more than the system you play and the talent of course, is going to dictate what kind of team you have and what kind of success you have.

[DW] That really is about 90% of it. We have changed a couple of our tactical approaches, such as the power play. We don't set up on the half wall with Joe, we set up on the blue line and the middle of the ice with the threat of a shot. When you got guys like Boyle and Blake, it changes the whole dynamic of your power play. The other thing we do is we don't chip and chase, which means you are giving the puck back to the other team. We want our forwards to drive to the net, and make them have to make a decision on how to defend against us. That is a philosophical difference that makes guys like Joe and Patty, Milan and Cheech almost unstoppable if they continue to do it and are willing to do it.

Ralph and Tom are a great radio pair when it comes to dissecting hockey. Ralph is a newer hockey enthusiast looking to learn more about the sport, and Tom is an all around sports fan and former NBA player. As they learn more about the NHL, so do their listeners. The interview is available for download here.

- In a recent "Shark Byte" interview with television color commentator Drew Remenda, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson knocked down two myths about Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. A partial transcript of his comments:

Joe's problem was that he was trying to do too much. I think having Boyle and Blake on the backend will help Thornton become a little less predictable. That is his issue. Patty (Patrick Marleau) cares so much, last year early in the year it was paralysis by analysis. It runs deep with Patrick. He cares more than anybody. Those are the guys that sometimes you worry about because sometimes they internalize. Patty cares.

What he did the last half of last year after going through the tough times, I have great respect for him. More importantly the guys in the dressing room. He earned that respect back with them, just by saying I'll be there and I'll do what I need to do.

A schedule of upcoming Shark Byte episodes is available from Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area here.

- Hockey Buzz blogger Ryan Garner recently spoke with Doug Wilson and posted about the interview here. Garner asked Wilson about the team spending up to the salary cap, talked about defenseman Douglas Murray's recent four-year $10 million contract, and Joe Thornton's willingness to take less than market value to play for a strong Sharks squad. In a subsequent correction, Doug Wilson notes the ownership in San Jose has given him everything he has asked for and that the rise in the payroll came from natural player cycles. He notes that the Detroit Red Wings (16th) and Pittsburgh Penguins (22nd) made the Stanley Cup Finals based on talent last season, not payroll.

- Quote from the back of the 76 Doug Wilson hockey card above:

Just as the Sharks were preparing to being their first training camp, General Manager Jack Ferreira engineered a trade with Chicago on September 6th, 1991, to bring popular defenseman Doug Wilson to the Sharks in exchange for a minor league player and a draft pick. The 14-year Blackhawk became San Jose's first captain and severed in this role from 1991-93. Wilson also achieved another milestone in Sharks history by donning a Campbell Conference uniform at the Philadelphia Spectrum on January 18, 1992, becoming the first Sharks All-Star representative in franchise history.

Wilson brought instant credibility and respect to a fledgling Sharks franchise with his trademark class and dignity. Now serving as the team's Executive Vice President and General Manager, Wilson scored 48 points in 86 games with the Sharks before announcing his retirement before the 1993-94 season. The veteran of 16 NHL seasons, and 7 All-Star games scored 827 points in 1,024 career games.

Sports Illustrated Michael Farber Patrick Marleau

- Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber took a hard look at San Jose Sharks captain Patrick Marleau in the latest October 20th issue, "C" Minus - After costly gaffes in two straight postseasons is Patrick Marleau the right man to captain the Sharks? Farber notes two mistakes Patrick made in recent playoff series, a hop over a Modano point shot that led to a goal in game 1 of the WCSF last season, and a sequence where he was caught out of position one year earlier in the second round against Detroit. Farber quoted new head coach Todd McLellan, "I'm comfortable enough with Patty as captain, and I'm confident enough he'll make the right decisions based on the needs of the team".

Farber also includes a quote from Joe Thornton that Patrick Marleau might be the fastest skater in the league (missed the 2007 fastest skater Allstar skills title by a fraction of a second), notes that Marleau and Jarome Iginla are second to Henrik Zetterberg for most playoff goals scored since 2004 (24), and recounts Marleau's play in Game 3 against Calgary after devestating hits by Dion Phaneuf and Cory Sarich. Phaneuf's hit to the head on Marleau was recently used in the NHL's video presentation of illegal plays on icing, and Sarich's uncalled elbow to Marleau's head was the most controversial play of last year's postseason.

Farber rightfully believes that with a new head coach in Todd McLellan, the slate is wiped clean for every player on the San Jose Sharks roster. Key contributors, prospects, and role players alike have an opportunity to recast their role on the team based on performance. A lot of the criticism of Patrick Marleau needs to be taken into context. The problem is that he is being evaluated and judged not as an allstar or a captain, but that he is being looked to contribute as a once in a decade type of player along with Thornton and Nabokov. The team, the media and the fan base are looking for him to be a difference maker in every single playoff game. Farber did not mention Marleau's forecheck, his working over Holmstrom in front of the crease, or his blocked shots against Detroit, only the mistake and the failed opportunity to put the team away. The debate over Patrick Marleau essentially boils down to whether he will be remembered as a perennial Allstar or a Stanley Cup Champion, and that grade deserves a little more than a C-.

- Blogger and Globe and Mail staffer James Mirtle recently left his personal hockey blog after 4 years and 3,967 posts to become the manager of NHL blogs at SB Nation. SB Nation was created by Tyler Bleszinski, one of the founding Bay Area sports bloggers at Athletics Nation, and political blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. Visit James Mirtle's new blog at (links on the sidebar have been updated).

- NHL Senior VP And Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom posts a video demonstration of the rule changes for the upcoming 2008-09 NHL season on the NHL Network Online. Walkom discusses rule changes meant to inhibit dangerous actions when another player plays the body instead of the puck on an icing, the movement of faceoffs after penalties and pucks that leave the ice after hitting a crossbar, outlines league punishments for hits to the head, and details the league's efforts to remove clutching and grabbing.

The video notes that any contact between players pursuing the puck on an icing call must be for the purpose of playing a puck. A Mark Streit stick check on Tony Lydman a Dion Phaneuf playoff hit to the head of Patrick Marleau, and Torrey Mitchell's well publicized hit on Minnesota Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster resulting in a broken leg were used to display the NHL's new policy on illegal icing plays.

There has been a lot of confusion among fans and the media alike regarding the NHL's rule change regarding faceoff locations after a penalty. According to Stephen Walkom, when a player is penalized the resulting faceoff will occur in the offending team's zone. In past seasons the faceoff would have occured in the nearest faceoff dot. Four exceptions to the rule: when a penalty is called after the scoring of a goal, when a penalty is assessed at the start or end of a period, when the defending team's players enter the attacking zone beyond the edge of the outer faceoff circle, and when the defending team's players ice the puck.

- The NHL's new official injury disclosure policy:

Clubs no longer are required to disclose the specific nature of player injuries. Clubs are, however, required to disclose that a player is expected to miss a game due to injury, or will not return to a game following an injury. Clubs are prohibited from providing untruthful information about the nature of a player injury or otherwise misrepresenting a player’s condition.

- Pacific Notes: Ducks mighty unhappy with start -

- According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Sharks waived 2004 first round draft pick Lukas Kaspar yesterday. With Tomas Plihal and Milan Michalek close to returning to injuries, and rookie Brad Staubitz adding a physical element to the roster, the Sharks opted to waive the 6-foot-2, 202 pound right wing from the Czech Republic. If no team claims him by 9AM, he will return to the Sharks AHL affiliate in Worcester. In 6 games played, Kaspar registered 1 game winning goal, 6 shots on net, and 4 penalty minutes.

[Update] Lukas Kaspar cleared waivers along with Kyle Wellwood and Darren McCarty according to TSN, and St. Louis claimed David Koci off waivers from Tampa Bay. New York Rangers forward Patrick Rissmiller and Anaheim Ducks defenceman Ken Klee were placed on waivers today.

[Update2] Throw in rumor from the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch: The Chicago Blackhawks have had talks with the San Jose Sharks regarding defenseman Kyle McLaren. McLaren is currently playing for the Sharks AHL affiliate in Worcester.

[Update3] Begun, The Blog Wars Have - Deadspin.

But some teams have not adopted Edmonton's scorched earth policy toward bloggers. The San Jose Sharks, for one, are making a genuine effort to invite bloggers to the table, perhaps not surprising considering that the franchise is in Silicon Valley.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that newspapers are slowly going away," Sharks media director Scott Emmert said. "Blogs are one of the venues that fans are going to, and we realize that. We make an effort to follow what's written. There's the saying about there being no such thing as bad publicity, and while I wouldn't go quite that far, it is true that a pro franchise can make blogs work for them."

The Sharks actively work with sites such as Hockey Buzz and Sharkspage, because they recognize the upside of such a relationship. "But those sites have a large degree of professional accountabilty," Emmert said. "That's the thing that has to be in the equation. A lot of bloggers are out there writing things that are factually incorrect with no accountability, and we don't want to be working with them, obviously."

John Ryan, who blogs regularly for the San Jose Mercury News, sees accountability as a huge issue in the relationship between pro franchises and bloggers. "If I write something that is out of line, the team can call my employer and there's accountability there," he said. "But when an independent blogger writes something outrageous, often the only recourse a team has is to take away his press credential. So I see that. But you can be smart about it. The Sharks were pushing us to have a Sharks blog before we even had one."

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 NHL fan map for California, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona

NHL southwest fan map 2008
COMMONCENSUS.ORG 2008 NHL FAN MAP is an open source mapping project using user input to generate interactive maps on a local, regional and national level. The reliability of the data hinges on the amount of participation from the public, but there are a few interesting "sphere of influence" trends that can be examined as the project builds a userbase.

The Common Census projects measures the sports sphere of influence with data from 27213 NFL fans, 27058 MLB fans, 20612 NBA fans, and 18879 NHL fans. The Detroit Red Wings have the most entries on the 2008 NHL fan map with 1703, followed by Boston (1474), Dallas (1357) and Chicago (1190). The California NHL teams draw data from 622 Sharks fans, 307 Los Angeles Kings fans and 229 Anaheim Ducks fans. All three teams from the Golden State have blobs of support on the fan map in as many as 6 neighboring states.

A related note from the Merced Sun-Star's Steve Cameron:

Quick note here: One reason for this early season analysis is that, for whatever reasons, fans in Merced County seem to care pretty passionately about the Sharks. In two and half years as sports editor, I've received more calls and e-mails about the Sharks than all of Northern California's other pro sports teams... Combined.

When the Sharks were bumped from the playoffs last year, my mailbox was stuffed with questions, comments, critiques of some players and former coach Ron Wilson, etc. This is clearly Sharks country.

Merced is central Californian territory, just up the road from the Sharks former ECHL affiliate Fresno. On the fan map, the Sharks have blobs of support in central and northern California, Lake Tahoe, and in parts of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho and Utah. Allegiences are mixed between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings in southern California, and fans from a number of different teams are spread throughout much of the Southwest in small concentrations.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Santa Clara Street Bullies hand Broad Street Bullies a heartbreak 5-4 loss in overtime, Dan Boyle's first goal as a Shark an OT game winner

San Jose Sharks Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Antero Niitymaki
San Jose Sharks Philadelphia Flyers
San Jose Sharks Philadelphia Flyers

One day after losing to a desperate and winless Anaheim Ducks team at the Honda Center, the San Jose Sharks faced a struggling and desperate Philadelphia Flyers club looking to find their first win at HP Pavilion on Saturday night. The Flyers could not hold on to 3-1 and 4-3 leads late in the second and third periods, leaving the door open for new Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle to put his stamp on a 5-4 overtime win.

Down 1 goal, Boyle stickhandled around 3 players to enter the Philadelphia zone late in the third period before pulling up and hitting Jeremy Roenick with a pass on the left point. A quick shot by Roenick left a rebound for right wing Devin Setoguchi, who pulled the puck around a sprawled Antero Niitymaki to tie the game at 4-4. In overtime, Joe Thornton gained possession of a loose puck behind the net and hit a driving Dan Boyle with a hard pass to the far side of the net. Boyle hammered home the game winning goal at 1:25, his first goal as a Shark, to help San Jose explode out of the gates with a 5-1 record to start the season.

The Flyers, who are struggling to keep their head above water with a 0-3-1 start, can thank Finnish goaltender Antero Niitymaki for a point with a spectacular save on Jonathan Cheechoo in the final minutes of regulation. Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo ignited a 2-on-1 rush, with Marleau feathering a pass for an open Cheechoo on the right side. Cheechoo stick on the ice, puck labeled for the top corner, if you attend games in San Jose it is almost an automatic play. Niitmayki exploded with a strong t-push to his left, sticking his glove hand far out to pick the puck off the goal line and keep the game tied 4-4 heading into overtime. Niitmayki was strong for the entire game, but an earlier mistake made on a Joe Pavelski wrist shot from the blueline left an 8 foot rebound sitting in front of the net. Pavelski beat Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen to the puck and snapped it home to tie the game at 3-3 early in the third period. Niitmayki finished with 40 saves on 45 shots.

Daniel Briere scored twice for the Flyers, his second goal came on a late breakaway where he deked Nabokov hard to his backhand and then slid the puck through a small opening at an impossible angle. The physical play between the two teams picked up early in the first period. Sharks defenseman Rob Blake checked Scott Hartnell hard into the post as Hartnell was trying to get a stick on a rebound in front. Agitating wing Steve Downie confronted Blake behind the net with Hartnell, and Brad Staubitz jumped to Blake's defense. Two more Flyers jumped into the fray before the refs broke it up. Philadelphia took 5 minor penalties later in the first period, not including a fighting major on Riley Cote for an intense fight with Jody Shelley.

The Flyers took another 5 minor penalties in the second period, including a too many men on the ice call. On a 5-on-3 Sharks power play, Niitmayki made 2 excellent saves on Thornton and Dan Boyle. Shorthanded, Jeff Carter and Mike Knuble created a 2-on-1 breakaway and Carter buried the puck up high. The Sharks finished 1-7 on the power play, giving up one shorthanded goal. The Flyers finished 0-2 with the man advantage. Defenseman Braydon Coburn finished with 4 hits, 4 blocked shots, and a second period goal on a nice feed from Jeff Carter.

The Flyers had more than enough opportunities to lock down a difficult road win, but at times the physical play they initiated worked against them. A third period collision between Patrick Marleau and Mike Knuble was followed by a punishing Devin Setoguchi hit against Scott Hartnell near the penalty box. The play moved down to the corner in the Sharks defensive zone, and Hartnell came flying in with a stick up high to the head of Setoguchi. There were bodies between the referees and the play, but the non-call late in the third period was still a demonstrable lack of composure for a pre-season favorite looking to right itself at the start of the season. Midway through the first period, Setoguchi also de-skated Scottie Upshall with a hard check in his own zone. The Sharks outhit the Flyers 43-29 after 61+ minutes of play.

The Sharks power play issues continue, but it is early in the season with plenty of time for adjustments. San Jose could look to have more than 1 body in front of the crease, have players set up closer to the paint, or have Thornton drive in front instead of trying to create a play from behind the net. Christian Ehrhoff and Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for the Sharks.

A photo gallery from the game is available here. Youtube video highlights from the game are available here. American hockey great Joe Mullen was in the press box for the Flyers, as well as a number of NHL scouts including those from Phoenix, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Boston, Toronto and Pittsburgh.

[Update] Boyle's OT goal gives Sharks win - San Jose Mercury News.

[Update2] Winless Flyers lose to Sharks - Philadelphia Inquirer.

Several lineup changes couldn't help the Flyers find their way in San Jose last night.

The Flyers, despite two goals from Danny Briere, blew a 3-1 lead and dropped a 5-4 decision to the San Jose Sharks before a sellout crowd of 17,496 at the HP Pavilion. San Jose's Dan Boyle scored the game-winner 85 seconds into overtime.

[Update3] The Flyers "Octoberfest" Line Changes - Tim Panaccio at

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Beat Providence in OT, 3-2

The Worcester Sharks, playing their home opener for the 2008-2009 season, defeated the Providence Bruins in overtime 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 6,814 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts Saturday night.

The WorSharks wasted no time jumping on their Route 146 rivals when Jamie McGinn took a Steven Zalewski pass and fired a laser of a wrist shot high to the stick side of Providence netminder Tuukka Rask and into the top corner for the quick 1-0 lead on the game's first shot just 22 seconds into the contest.

Kyle McLaren got the second assist on the goal, but his monster hit just inside the P-Bruins zone to knock Bruins forward Martins Karsums off the puck really set up the play.

Going into last night's contest the WorSharks had lead a grand total of 3:40 over their first two games, and after scoring first in both road games surrendered those leads both times in under 26 seconds.

Things would be different against Providence, where Worcester continued to press their advantage and would carry that 1-0 lead not only into the first intermission, but also into the second. It was the first time this season Worcester has had the lead after two periods.

Worcester would make it 2-0 when Riley Armstrong took a P.J. Fenton feed at center ice and absolutely undressed Bruins defender Derick Martin to skate in two on one with Fenton. Armstrong fired a wrister to the glove side of Rask to light the lamp.

It looked like WorSharks goaltender Thomas Greiss, coming off the worst two game stretch of his career, would make those two goals stand up. Providence would have other ideas though, and would finally get on the scoreboard at 13:54 of the third while Worcester captain Ryan Vesce was in the penalty box after committing a bad cross checking penalty.

After hitting the crossbar on his first blast, the puck would circle back to Bruins defender Johnny Boychuk. He didn't miss with the second attempt, drawing the Baby-Bs within one.

Worcester had an excellent chance to extend that lead back to two when Tom Cavanagh blocked a shot just inside his own blue line and skated away on a three zone breakaway. Cavangh deked Rask and tried to go five-hole, but Rask slammed the pads shut to keep Providence withing one.

With the Bruins pressing with the extra attacker, veteran defenseman Patrick Traverse iced the puck. With Worcester not being able to change lines, it appeared that WorSharks head coach Roy Sommer called time out, but that time out wasn't granted by referee David Banfield. Providence would capitalize just seconds later when Martin St. Pierre knocked in a loose puck laying in the crease behind Greiss to knot the game 2-2.

The WorSharks continued to press in the overtime period, and after a huge blast from the blueline by Kyle McLaren that went wide and hit the end boards, the puck ended up on his stick again after a feed from Cavanagh. McLaren wouldn't miss the net a second time as his booming blast would just nick Vesce as it went through the crowd in front of Rask and into the net.

Thinking the goal was McLaren's, the entire Worcester team mobbed him at the half boards to celebrate the game winning goal.

Worcester's scratches were Cory Larose and Dan DaSilva (both have the infamous "upper body injury"), Taylor Dakers, and Brendan Buckley, who has yet to suit of for the WorSharks. Because the team only has 10 healthy forwards, defensemen Michael Wilson and Brett Westgarth played on the forward lines.

The Assumption College Chapel Choir sang the National Anthem to start the game. It was a rousing, well-timed rendition, and one that other groups invited to sing the Anthem at future games should try and emulate.

No Worcester-Providence contest would be complete without some fisticuffs, and this one was no exception. Bruins winger Byron Bitz took on WorSharks rookie enforcer Frazer McLaren just seconds after Armstrong's goal. McLaren won the encounter handily, landing many unanswered shots.

Providence was called twice for delay of game after unintentionally flipping the puck into the stands while attempting to clear the puck out of the zone. Color me as a fan that doesn't like that rule. It should be treated as an icing, and the offending team shouldn't be able to change lines.

The WorSharks have out shot their opponents in all three contests this season for a combined 115-80.

Worcester went 0-6 on the power play, and killed four of five Bruins power plays. Worcester has gone scoreless in its last 17 power plays. They have been successful on 15 of 19 penalty kills. Last night was the first game Worcester didn't surrender a shorthanded goal.

Worcester killed their first three penalties without a single play stoppage--all three minors went the full two minutes without a whistle. Providence could muster just three shots in those six minutes, with none being a legitimate scoring chance.

The three starts of the game were:
1. K. McLaren (2 assists, several bone-crunching hits)
2. St. Pierre (game tying goal)
3. Armstrong (goal)
An honorable mention should go to Johnny Boychuk (1g,1a) and Tuukka Rask (31 saves).

Even strength lines:


Power play:


Penalty Kill:


Face-offs (offense/neutral/defense = total) (unofficial)
Even strength
Zalewski 0-0/2-2/0-3 = 2-5
Fox 2-2/2-3/2-0 = 6-5
Vesce 4-1/3-3/1-0 = 8-4
Fenton 0-1/1-2/0-1 = 1-4
Cavanagh 0-1/0-0/0-0 = 0-1
Armstrong 1-0/1-0/0-0 = 2-0

Power Play
Zalewski 3-1/1-0/0-0 = 4-1
Fenton 0-1/0-0/1-0 = 1-1
Vesce 4-0/0-0/0-0 = 4-0
Cavanagh 0-1/0-0/0-0 = 0-1

Penalty Kill
Zalewski 0-0/0-0/1-4 = 1-4
Fenton 0-0/0-0/1-0 = 1-0
Cavanagh 0-0/0-0/0-1 = 0-1

PRO 0 0 2 0 - 2
WOR 1 0 1 1 - 3

1st Period
Scoring - 1. Worcester, J. McGinn (2) (S. Zalewski, K. McLaren) 0:22
Penalties - A. McQuaid Pro (tripping) 11:04, R. Vesce Wor (holding) 15:07, A. McQuaid Pro (delay of game) 18:25

2nd Period
Scoring - No Scoring
Penalties - D. Joslin Wor (hooking) 2:32, M. Moore Wor (hooking) 4:37, M. St. Pierre Pro (roughing) 11:26, R. Armstrong Wor (slashing) 14:08, Served by M. Marquardt Pro (bench minor - too many men) 16:11

3rd Period
Scoring - 2. Worcester, R. Armstrong (1) (P. Fenton, M. Wilson) 2:25, 3. Providence, J. Boychuk (2) (M. Karsums, M. Lashoff) 13:54 PP, 4. Providence, M. St. Pierre (3) (J. Boychuk, M. Lehtonen) 19:33
Penalties - B. Bitz Pro (fighting) 2:27, F. McLaren Wor (fighting) 2:27, J. Boychuk Pro (delay of game) 6:30, A. McQuaid Pro (tripping) 7:10, R. Vesce Wor (cross-checking) 13:11

OT Period
Scoring - 5. Worcester, R. Vesce (1) (K. McLaren, T. Cavanagh) 4:40
Penalties - No Penalties

PRO Shots: 4 5 9 2 TOTAL: 20
WOR Shots: 18 8 6 2 TOTAL: 34

Power Play Conversion
Providence Bruins 1-5. Worcester Sharks 0-6.

Providence Bruins
Rask 2-1-0 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 64:10 SV: 31 GA: 3 [L]
Worcester Sharks
Greiss 1-2-0 Start: 1st 0:00 Min: 64:22 SV: 18 GA: 2 [W]

Attendance : 6814. Referee: David Banfield (44). Linesmen: Bob Paquette (18), John Costello (24)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Anaheim finally puts one in the win column with 4-0 shutout against San Jose

The Anaheim Ducks bent but did not break en route to a 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks at the Honda Center on Friday night. Jean-Sebastien Giguere turned in a sparkling 38-save shutout performance, including several key sequences where the Sharks peppered him with multiple shots from in close. Anaheim received all the goal support they needed with tallies by Francois Beauchemin, Travis Moen, Chris Pronger (PP) and Samuel Pahlsson. After 4 straight losses to open the season, the Ducks earned a win against a tough Pacific Division rival but still need to work on discipline and focus. Giving a Sharks power play squad with Rob Blake and Dan Boyle on the blueline, and Marleau-Thornton-Cheechoo up front 5 first period power play opportunities, and 6 of the game's first 8 power plays is not a recipe for success.

The Sharks were one of the least penalized teams in the NHL heading into Friday's game against Anaheim. An article in the Mercury News on Tuesday quoted Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, who said the Sharks need to stay out of the penalty box but still need to remain aggressive. With physical challenges last season from Anaheim, Dallas, Calgary, Minnesota and Vancouver to name a few, the Sharks are going to have to establish their physical identity in the Todd McLellan era early. On some nights that may require wearing down a team's defense by finishing checks or clearing bodies in front of the crease, against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night that meant three first period fights by Brad Staubitz, Jody Shelley and Joe Thornton.

Brad Staubitz was called up by the Sharks on Friday, and early in the first period Ducks defenseman Nathan McIver took issue with holding at the blueline and dropped the gloves with the player who lead the AHL Worcester Sharks last season with 19 fighting majors (2nd in PIMs with 195). Later in the period, Brad May and George Parros combined to hammer defenseman Dan Boyle to the ice while he tried to play the puck in the corner. Immediately, Jody Shelley dropped the gloves with fellow heavyweight Parros to make him answer for the play. Thornton wrestled for position with defenseman Steve Montador late in the first, then removed his helmet and delivered a couple of short rights. A slash from McIver on Thornton started the hostilities, but Thornton was given an extra 2 minutes for cross checking on the retaliation.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped all 38 shots he faced to earn his first win of the season, Evgeni Nabokov made 16 saves on 20 shots. The Sharks were held scoreless on 7 power play opportunites, while Anaheim was able to convert 1 of 8. The Sharks outshot Anaheim 38-20, outhit Anaheim 24-23, and dominated the faceoff circle 34-23. Douglas Murray missed the game with an upper body injury that occured against Columbus, and Milan Michalek missed the game with a late reported upper body injury. Alexei Semenov and Brad Staubitz were in the Sharks lineup. Lukas Kaspar joined Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo on the second line, with Staubitz joining a wrecking crew fourth line along with Jody Shelley and Jeremy Roenick.

[Update] Ducks ride Giguere to first victory - Dan Wood for the OC Register.

“Our goaltender was our best player,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “You have to take your hat off to your goalie. That’s what you require when you’re in the situation we were in. “We found a way to win the hockey game, and that’s the most important thing because we were desperate for a win.”

Whereas a fifth consecutive regulation loss would have left the Ducks 10 points behind San Jose (4-1) just more than a week into the season, they can instead look forward with the realistic goal of actually getting back into the NHL’s Pacific Division race – thanks to Giguere.

[Update2] Ducks gets first win, 4-0, over Sharks - LA Times.

[Update3] Sharks' McLellan is fresh face - USA Today.

"What Detroit does every day is carry themselves like champions," McLellan said. "They make championship decisions. They practice like champions and they train after practice like champions. I want our players to understand that it has to be a daily process. You can't pick and choose when you want to train like a champion. You have to do it now, later and after that." That was the message McLellan has passed along to the Sharks, and the team has responded with a 4-0 start.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Charting the San Jose Sharks, 5 seasons after 5 games

Sharks stats after 5 games
Sharks goal scoring stats after 5 games

At different times over the last five seasons the Sharks have been the pre-season favorite, the dark horse candidate, the consensus media favorite, the back-to-back Barry Melrose favorite, the simulated hockey video game favorite, the new media favorite or the sexy pick to win a Stanley Cup. Here is a look back at the early starts and the subsequent finishes for the San Jose Sharks over the last 5 years:

At the start of 2003-04, Mike Ricci was named the 6th captain in Sharks franchise history as part of a 10 game rotation and rookie left wing Milan Michalek was injured 2 games into the season. A three team trade for Curtis Brown saw Jeff Jillson leave for Boston and then Buffalo. In November, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was traded for a 2nd round draft pick. The Sharks earned their second Pacific Division championship with a 43-21-12-6 regular season record. Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo tied for the team lead in scoring with 28 goals apiece, and Nils Ekman finished with a franchise best +30 rating. San Jose lost to Calgary 4-2 in their only franchise Conference Final appearance.

At the start of 2005-06 NHL season, the name of the game for the league was recovery after a season long lockout, and reconciliation with a fan base that has supported the NHL through 88 seasons (now 91). The local media in the Bay Area went after a battered and bruised NHL sensing blood in the water, but the Sharks were a consensus Stanley Cup favorite from the national hockey media based on a strong defense and solid goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala. The largest trade in San Jose history hit the wire November 30th as the Sharks traded Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau to Boston for the large playmaking Joe Thornton. The immediate result was a bevy of offensive franchise records dropping by the wayside (most goals scored - 266, most power play goals scored - 91, most shots on goal - 2483) although Team Teal finished 24th in shootout scoring (24% - 7G, 29S) and a league worst 30th in shootout save percentage (52% - 14GA, 29SA). Jonathan Cheechoo earned Rocket Richard honors for a league high 56 goals scored, and Joe Thornton earned the Art Ross Trophy for the league scoring title (125 points) and the Hart trophy as league MVP. After leading Edmonton 2-0, the Sharks lost a triple overtime game to the Oilers in Edmonton which snowballed into 4 straight losses and an exit in the Western Confernce Quarterfinals.

At the start of the 2006-07 NHL season, the Sharks and head coach Ron Wilson utilized Evgeni Nabokov in a 1-game on and 1-game off rotation that eventually resulted in the best regular season in franchise history. Evgeni Nabokov (25-16-4, .914SV%, 2.29GAA, 7SO) and Vesa Toskala (26-10-1, .908SV%, 2.35GAA, 4SO) backstopped San Jose to within 3 points of Pacific Division winning and eventual Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim. Prior to the trade deadline, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson added veteran experience in the form of right wing Bill Guerin and defenseman Craig Rivet. Up 2 games to 1 in the series, and 2 goals to 0 in the fourth game of the WCSF against the Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks gave up a late goal in the second period with 9.7 seconds left to Tomas Holmstrom, and a game tying goal to Robert Lang with 33.1 seconds left in regulation. Mathieu Schnieder scored the game winning goal in OT, and the Detroit Red Wings eventually downed the Sharks 4-2.

At the start of the 2007-08 NHL season, the Sharks added veteran big game experience from center Jeremy Roenick (third leading U.S. born scorer all-time) while locking up the future re-signing Patrick Marleau (2 years), Milan Michalek (6 years), and Joe Thornton (3 years) to multi-year contracts. Defenseman Scott Hannan signed with the Colorao Avalanche in the offseason, and goaltender Vesa Toskala was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the first day of the 2007 NHL Draft along with Mark Bell for three draft picks (2007 first, 2007 second, 2009 fourth). After dropping the home opening Power Outage game on a last second goal by Boston defenseman Aaron Ward (12 seconds left), the Sharks registered a 49-23-10 regular season record for the best winning percentage in franchise history (.659). Joe Thornton lead the team with 29 goals and 96 points. The Sharks won the first playoff game 7 in HP Pavilion history 5-3 against the Calgary Flames on April 22nd, 2008. The Dallas Stars sprinted to a 3-0 lead in the WCSF series, and eventually knocked off the heavily favored San Jose team with a power play goal in quadruple overtime.

At the start of the 2008-09 NHL season, the Sharks are looking to reach the next level with rookie head coach Todd McLellan and a revamped blueline that includes Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Brad Lukowich. Boyle and Lukowich were acquired from Tampa Bay for defenseman Matt Carle and Ty Wishart, and a 2009 first round draft selection, and a 2010 fourth round pick. Defenseman Craig Rivet was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for two second round picks in 2009 and 2010, and veteran defenseman Kyle McLaren was waived in a salary cap move that sent him to the AHL Worcester Sharks. Christian Ehrhoff (2010-11) and Douglas Murray (2012-13) join Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2012-13) and Dan Boyle (2013-14) as Sharks blueliners that are signed long-term. Three goals in three games by three different Czech Shark players (Plihal, Kaspar, Michalek) helped the Sharks to a four game winning streak to start the season before tonight's 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sharks explode for 4 unanswered goals in 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose starts the season a franchise best 4-0

Columbus Blue Jackets captain NHL 2k9 cover athlete Rick Nash
Patrick Marleau Derick Brassard NHL faceoff photo
San Jose Sharks NHL goaltender Evgeni Nabokov

The San Jose Sharks exploded for 4 unanswered goals, 2 of them by captain Patrick Marleau, en route to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. Youth movements in Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix have received most of the media attention, but the Blue Jackets are banking on a trio of first round draft picks to help them reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Columbus head coach Ken Hitchcock will need significant contributions this season from center Derick Brassard (2006 1st round, 6th overall), right wing Jakub Voracek (2007 1st round, 7th overall), and left wing Alexandre Picard (2004 1st round, 8th overall) to make that happen.

A period by period breakdown of the game:

The Bluejackets hold a franchise 8-17-0-3 record against the San Jose Sharks, 1-11-0-2 lifetime at HP Pavilion in San Jose. According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets haven't won in San Jose since January 8th, 2004. A period of 1,740 days. Evgeni Nabokov stole last season's 2-1 win over Columbus with a spectacular 31 save performance, including several highlight reel saves on Rick Nash and Jason Chimera. The Sharks are 3-0 at this point in the season, 2-16 on the power play (12.5%, 19th) and 1-11 on the penalty kill (90.9%, 9th). The Columbus Blue Jackets are 1-1 at this point in the season, 1-7 on the power play (14.3%, 18th) and 3-14 on the penalty kill (78.6%, 15th).

Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash blocked a neutral zone pass by Dan Boyle and accelerated on net for a shorthanded breakaway. Boyle gets his stick up high on Nash, but he is able to fight the stick check and get a shot on goal so there will be no penalty shot. Very next play, Christian Ehrhoff's pass out of his own is picked off again by Nash. This time in the Sharks defensive zone. Nash snaps a shot on goal, and then reaches around Douglas Murray to flick a rebound opportunity off the goal post.

Left wing Kristian Huselius strikes first for Columbus. Huselius pokes the puke around Brad Lukowich, and then streaks down the left wing and into the Sharks zone. Nabokov shuts down the first shot attempt, but the Blue Jackets retain possession. Fedor Tyutin takes the puck at the blueline, and then hits Huselius with a pass at the left point. Lukowich about 15 feet off of Huselius, as R.J. Umberger and Douglas Murray battle for position in front of Nabokov. Huselius pauses with the puck on his stick until bodies are between him and Nabokov, and then snaps a low shot through traffic for the first goal of the game at 9:01 (PP, assist by Tyutin).

Noticeable early was the spacing by Columbus, and how they outnumbered the Sharks down low. The Blue Jackets are a patient, counter punching team, but the difference is that Columbus can counter punch with 1 goal whereas San Jose can counterpunch with 3. Althought the shot and hit totals are going to remain fairly even after 20 minutes, Columbus is creating more traffic in front of the net and smothering the Sharks along the boards in their own defensive zone. Ryane Clowe tried to finish a short setup on the doorstep in front of Pascal Leclaire, and then followed the play to check defenseman Kris Russell off the puck and hard against the end boards. Devin Setoguchi joins Pavelski and Cheechoo for the final seconds of the first period. The Sharks are held scoreless in the first period for the fourth straight game.

Tuesday night is captain Patrick Marleau's 799th game in his 11th season as a San Jose Shark. Lukas Kaspar, the young San Jose left wing who scored his first goal in a 1-0 win over Los Angeles on Sunday, took a puck to the face and had to leave briefly for repairs. Defenseman Rob Blake takes a high sticking penalty early in the second period. On the ensuing Columbus power play, 3 Blue Jackets outnumber a pair of Sharks defenseman down low, but Nabokov holds on to the puck and freezes the play.

Fedor Tyutin can not play the puck off the boards on the power play, and Joe Pavelski picks the puck off him and hits Cheechoo in the slot with a hard pass. Bang bang play results in a shorthanded goal, and an exburent goal celebration at 4:54 (assist Pavelski). 24 seconds later, still on the power play Derick Brassard fires the puck into the crease but it is blocked out to the point by Christian Ehrhoff. Defenseman Christian Backman launches a shot through traffic that beats Nabokov to give Columbus another 1 goal lead at 5:18.

Another scoring chance for the Sharks in front of the Columbus net. A Joe Thornton feed to Jonathan Cheechoo is shot just wide and the goal light briefly went on. San Jose ties the game on a power play goal from Milan Michalek at 8:12 (assists by Ryane Clowe and Christian Ehrhoff). Ehrhoff hit a charging Michalek in stride with a hard pass in the neutral zone. Michalek's shot/pass in front banked off of the leg of #12 Jiri Novotny to beat Leclaire. Sharks maintain pressure with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in the slot. Thornton quick release on net, Devin Setoguchi is there to take a whack at the rebound. Leclaire makes the initial save, but Marleau is there to deposits the loose puck in the open net at 9:29 for his first goal of the season (assists Devin Setoguchi, Joe Thornton). Patrick Marleau had to maneuver around a Columbus defenseman on the ice to score his first goal of the season.

The Sharks finish the second period strong, with Setoguchi ringing a shot off the crossbar to a loud roar from the crowd at HP Pavilion. Thornton feathers another short pass to Marleau in front. Marleau rips a shot that deflects off of Leclaire's glove and back over the net. Leclair spins and looks for the puck behind him. Former Blue Jacket Jody Shelley runs defenseman Mike Commodore hard into the end boards to set the stage for a volatile final 20 minutes.

Jakub Voracek hits left wing Jason Chimera with a slick pass in the neutral zone. Chimera looks Nash-esque, as he finds a lane through 3 Sharks to accelerate in on Evgeni Nabokov. Dan Boyle takes a whack at Chimera from behind as Nabokov does not bite on the deke. Nabokov shuts down the lower portion of the net while sealed against the post. Chimera gets the rebound behind the net, and backhands a pass in front the results in two more shots on goal. Penalty on Dan Boyle at 4:59 for interference. Blue Jackets already have two power play goals in this game.

The proverbial nail in the coffin came at 5:19. Miscommunication between Leclaire and Kris Russel behind the Columbus net. They delay playing the puck, and Mike Grier skates in almost uncontested, spins with his back to the glass and finds Marleau driving the front of the net. Marleau gets an intial stick on the puck as two Blue Jackets close in on him, but neither take him out of the play. Marleau pokes a second opportunity past Leclaire for his second goal of the game, shorthanded at 5:19 (assist Mike Grier).

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is on the board with his first goal of the season at 8:17 (assist by Joe Thornton). The score is 5-2 San Jose. Jonathan Cheechoo forces defenseman Jan Hejda to play the puck back behind his own net with a hard check against the end boards. Joe Thornton beats Andrew Murray to the loose puck behind Leclaire, and backhands a soft pass to Vlasic who is teed up in the slot. Very quick, hard shot up high from Vlasic.

Play winding down in the third period, Jeremy Roenick takes umbrage to one of the Blue Jackets and a large 5-on-5 scuffle takes place behind the Sharks net. Refs in early to stop any fight, but it takes awhile for them to restrain the helmetless Roenick, who continues to bark at the opposition for several minutes. Columbus outshot San Jose 33-25 and were more effective on the power play 2-6 vs 1-2, but they were not able to contain the Sharks top 6 up front. Two shorthanded goals by Marleau and a 32 save peformance by Evgeni Nabokov were the difference in the game.

"I thought we put our toe in the water early, we didn't jump into the lake and get playing right away. We got more involved physically and it seemed to turn the tide our way a little bit. Obviously the penalty kill created a lot of momentum for us tonight, and that was probably the difference."

"We were all over the map a little bit, they had the two power play goals. I can't even say they were breakdowns. The puck was on our tape again, and we have had a lot of trouble clearing the puck out of our zone. Especially early in the year, from the exhibition season on. It is an area of concern, and we have to continue to work on it." "(Patrick Marleau) played like a captain should. He took the team on his back. He lead the team, and I am very proud of him. He played in all situations. He played well defensively, he took faceoffs, he scored a short handed goal. He does what a captain should do."

"The results were there (tonight). The process was a little bit tainted I would say. I didn't like the fact that there top line had 19 shots on goal. A number of them were on the power play, but they still created a lot. We have to shore up that area a little bit. And there are probably too many turnovers if we watch the game again."

"If I was that good (at motivation), I would be saying it before the game. I don't think it has a lot to do with us as a coaching staff. I think the players have enough pride and courage from within to get their game going a little bit. I thought Clowe and Shelley turned the tide with their physical forecheck, that got the rest of the guys going. Were coaches, we are always cautiously optimistic. We are probably the ones that do not get a little too high for sure. We probably get a little too low at times. We know tomorrow when we come to the rink there is a lot to work on."

GJ Berg: 10/14 Post Game news/links

Sharks News

Game highlights

Post game quotes

Shark post game notes

Merc recap

Merc post game notes

Gilroy Dispatch recap

National/wire news

AP recap (w/link to stats)

Sports Network recap

UPI recap

Marleau named Yahoo/PD's #2 star of the night

NHL names Marleau #2 star of the night

Columbus News

CBJs 29th team to have home opener

Columbus Dispatch recap

Shelley notes

CD post game blog thoughts

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Redesigned website another leap forward in content and information design redesign website
NHL Gamecenter

Information architecture is a process of organizing complex information while balancing aesthetic and functional needs to create a compelling online website. The NHL's redesign of balanced a need to organize a staggering amount of statistical data, wire news and photo reports, multimedia audio/video content, advertising, community and navigation elements, but the NHL had to make it appealing and easy to use at the same time.

Sports Designer notes's improved typography, tighter color palette, and an overall darker theme, and compares the new and old designs here. The large header photo takes a cue from past successful designs, and takes it a step furthur. The NHL has long touted the technological proficency of its fanbase, but the bottom line many years in the making is that fans will go where the information is. The NHL's Senior VP of Programming and New Media, Andre Mika, recently told XM Radio that this website was designed with the fan in mind. "Serve stuff the fans want to watch", Mika told XM's EJ Hradek and Don LaGreca.

Mika went on to describe part of the NHL's mission statement when it comes to the league website. "Digital is our front door, worldwide. We are the #1 sports site in Canada." Mika also described 100's of thousands of hits in the middle of the night after a first round Alexander Oveckin playoff game last year against the Philadelphia Flyers. The viewers came from Russia. Mika claimed that the NHL has more displaced fans than any of the other major leagues, with as many as 40% of NHL fans living outside of a team's home market.

NHL Director of Corporate Communications Michael DiLorenzo told that the league's national television contracts allow for more flexibility online. The league has used that flexibility to move heavily towards personalization and multimedia content, two elements of a sticky website that consistently lead to more page views and longer time on site. A partnership with Yahoo Fantasy Hockey adds another layer of depth for fans, but last year's debut of NHL Network Online is the real cornerstone of the NHL's online push.

The NHL Network Online created 8 channels of online video and audio content (with room for more). If fans are annoyed by 5 seconds of hockey coverage on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, or by the local opinion columnist telling them to watch another sport, then The Hockey Show's Carrie Milbank or Steven Lee on Monday's and Thursday's, or XM Radio clips and locker room press conferences become a lot more appealing. In addition to creating more content, the league also developed a ready-made platform it can use for its season subscription service, the NHL Gamecenter. The new website and NHL Gamecenter individually are impressive, but taken together they put the league one step furthur into the lives of the next generation of hockey fans.

[Update] This blog started 10 years ago (Oct 5th, 1998) with a simple goal to make it easier to read about the Sharks, the NHL, and hockey. The local college paper did not carry NHL box scores, so I transcribed them and posted them online along with a couple of RSS feeds, dark and blurry 1MP digital photos, and hand coded blog posts. It worked out pretty well. Happy belated birthday blog. Thanks to Max and GJ Berg for posting this weekend while I was visiting a sick family member in Sacramento.

[Update2] If 900 point swings and financial headlines that would make a hurricane swoon are not enough excitement for you, you will be interested to learn that you can also lose money on the sports futures market. San Francisco-based allows you to create your own "sportsfolio" by trading and investing in athletes. "Synthetic ownership interests” are pretty light on NHL players right now, with what appears to be only two choices; Sidney Crosby ($7.50, +0.13%) or Alexander Ovechkin ($17.01, +18.37%). Even without enough liquidity in the synthetic online sportsfolio market, you still have to invest in Ovechkin. The reigning Rocket Richard, Art Ross and Hart Trophy holder is a good investment at any price. Link via Tech Crunch.

[Update3] Sharks, Comcast lift local blackout so all 82 games available on Center Ice - David Pollak at Working the Corners.

SAN JOSE – The San Jose Sharks and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area announced today that they have reached an agreement to have the local blackout lifted for nine 2008-09 San Jose Sharks games that are not scheduled to be televised on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

The move will allow those local hockey fans who subscribe to the Center Ice hockey package to view all of the Sharks 82 regular season games on television.

Comcast SportsNet will televise 70 San Jose Sharks games, 40 of which will be broadcast in High Definition (HD)... An additional three games will be televised nationally on VERSUS.

The Sharks take a decidedly anti-Raiders position on local blackouts. Link via Paul Kukla.

[Update4] AHL announces online streaming partnership with NeuLion -

Boston College Remains No. 1 for Third Week on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

The latest college hockey poll from USA Hockey:

Boston College Remains No. 1 for Third Week on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Boston College retained the No. 1 spot on the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll for the third-straight week following a 5-4 home victory over then-No. 14 University of Wisconsin. The Eagles collected 507 points and 32-of-34 first-place votes to top the chart.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups

Friday, October 17
No. 9 Minnesota @ No. 10 St. Cloud State
No. 13 North Dakota @ No. 15 Minnesota State

Saturday, October 18
No. 9 Minnesota vs. No. 10 St. Cloud State
No. 13 North Dakota @ No. 15 Minnesota State

Sunday, October 19
No. 5 Boston University @ No. 6 New Hampshire

The University of Michigan, which finished with 465 points and one first-place vote, remained No. 2 on the poll, while Colorado College stayed at No. 3 with 439 points and one first-place vote. The University of Denver (389) moved up two spots to grab the No. 4 ranking following a 5-2 win over then-No. 4 ranked University of Notre Dame in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Face-Off Classic. Boston University (387) jumped four spots to No. 5 after wins against then-No. 5 North Dakota and No. 11 Michigan State. This week's action features five top-15 match-ups, including two conference series in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and one in Hockey East.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll - #2

(first-place votes in parentheses, Rank, School, Last Week's Ranking 2008-09 Record, Weeks in Top-15)

1 Boston College, 507 (32) 1, 1-0-0, 3
2 University of Michigan, 465 (1) 2, 2-0-0, 3
3 Colorado College, 439 (1) 3, 2-0-0, 3
4 University of Denver, 389 6, 1-0-0, 3
5 Boston University, 387 9, 2-0-0, 3
6 University of New Hampshire, 350 7, 1-0-0, 3
7 Miami (Ohio) University, 272 8, 1-0-1, 3
8 University of Notre Dame, 251 4, 0-1-0, 3
9 University of Minnesota, 216 10, 0-0-0, 3
10 St. Cloud State University, 174 15, 2-0-0, 3
11 Michigan State University, 163 11, 1-1-0, 3
12 Princeton University, 130 12, 0-0-0, 2
13 University of North Dakota, 112 5, 0-2-0, 3
14 Clarkson University, 83 13, 0-0-0, 3
15 Minnesota State University, 59 NR, 2-0-0, 1

Others receiving votes: Northeastern University, 18; Cornell University, 17; Northern Michigan University, 14; University of Vermont, 10; Harvard University, 8; University of Wisconsin, 8; U.S. Air Force Academy, 5; University of Minnesota Duluth, 3.

NOTES: A total of 23 teams received votes.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 14th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

[Update] Travel Cost Considerations Could Affect NCAA Tournament - Inside College Hockey.

Max Giese: AHL Prospect Reports

Many promising prospects have began their seasons in the AHL this year and McKeens Hockey U.S. Mid-Western Scout Max Giese was able to see several of them this past week. The following are scouting reports on several of these young and talented prospects from

Bobby Ryan (ANA), RW, Iowa Chops
Drafted second overall at the 2005 Entry Draft, Ryan was supposed to make the jump to the NHL full-time this season, but because of cap restraints in Anaheim and his gradual development, Ryan finds himself back in the AHL once again .. a natural scorer that can dangle with some special moves to the net .. his bread and butter is his ability to manufacture offense on the power-play and from below the hash marks .. marries his spacious frame with velvety hands and an elongated reach to supply himself with ample puck-protection .. displays exceptional patience and vision when delivering his skillful passes .. a lazy defensive player that takes wide turns or stops moving his feet all together when away from the puck .. needs to upgrade his conditioning and balance, as he’s an inefficient physical presence considering his size.

Cam Barker (CHI), D, Rockford
The 3rd overall selection of the 2004 Entry Draft, Barker has 81 NHL games under his belt, but once again finds himself starting the season in the AHL .. Barker is physically ready for the NHL with a supreme skill-package in a big frame .. receiving ample time on the power-play where his collective puck-movement shines and his fast and accurate shot is a weapon .. more physically assertive than last-year and is proactively standing his own blue-line .. his poised and relax nature is a double edged sword, as it serves him well when making the first-pass but also comes back to haunt him with his passive play in the defensive zone .. still prone to committing brain-cramps at in opportune times both with and without the puck .. has a lazy nature to his game and is not dominating at this level as expected, disappointingly just blending in.

Kris Chucko (CGY), RW, Quad City Flames
The Calgary Flames first-round selection of the 2004 Entry Draft (24th overall), Chucko is benefiting from receiving top-six minutes and time on the power-play this season .. an underwhelming skater out of the gate with slippery initial strides that have opponents just going right around him in transition .. decent speed in full-flight, but it takes him a good full-zone of ice to hit that gear .. successfully employees his big-frame in front of the opponents net on the power-play .. will pay the price to score the garbage goals and can finish if given space with his bone rattling slap-shot that is very accurate .. too often appears puzzled and timid when looking to make a play with the puck .. plenty physical, although he lacks overpowering strength .. utilized on the penalty-kill and is an honest back-checker that projects only as a grinder in the NHL.

Troy Brouwer (CHI), RW, Rockford
One of the last cuts from the Blackhawks’ training-camp, Brouwer has the NHL frame of mind to try to get better with each shift .. owns a special shot even by NHL standards, as it explodes off his stick with fatal accuracy .. powerful and skilled carrying the puck with sick hands and a sturdy frame .. feet appear to be quicker this year and this has stimulated an improvement in his acceleration with the puck .. has been the IceHogs most dangerous offensive threat early in the season and is manning the point on the power-play .. competing with more tenacity during puck-battles and continues to add polish to his defensive game with noticeable upgrades in his defensive positioning.

Matt Pelech (CGY), D, Quad City Flames
The Flames’ first-round selection of the 2005 Entry Draft (26th overall), Pelech is a big and tough stay-at-home defenseman .. owns decent reverse movement and backwards mobility for a larger defenseman, although upgrading his quickness would prove beneficial to his escape-ability with the puck and capacity to sustain defensive positioning deep in his own end .. becoming more assertive without the puck and is activating himself more offensively .. making quicker decisions with the puck while executing the first-pass .. not blessed with a high level of skill and still fights the puck at times .. also prone to locking up mentally or just throwing the puck away when pressured .. looks like a third-pairing defenseman in the NHL.

Antti Niemi (CHI), G, Rockford
This Vantaam, Finland native outlasted incumbent starter Corey Crawford at the Blackhawks training-camp and impressed during the pre-season .. an unorthodox butterfly goaltender with exceptional athleticism .. does a fantastic job taking away the lower portion of the net with his air-tight butterfly and wide V .. most goaltenders struggle to make saves when opponents get them moving, not Niemi as he does a tremendous job tracking the puck while moving side-to-side before unleashing his cat like reflexes to take away a sure goal from opponent shooters .. appears overly relaxed at times and a step behind the play before suddenly summoning a furiously quick burst to rob the opponent .. flexible, has fast lateral movement, and is quick in and out of his butterfly .. uses his hands well to aide in his superb rebound control .. capable of stealing games on his own and could rapidly ascend the Hawks depth chart.

Ben Bishop (STL), G, Peoria
Blessed with a massive frame that could block out the sun, Bishop gives shooters no daylight to look at when he challenges .. possesses unreal net-coverage even from his butterfly and is doing an effective job at closing holes low and in tight that most larger goaltenders struggle with .. an offensive weapon from the goaltender position that is very adept at playing the puck, Bishop takes advantages of opponent line-changes by sending cross-ice passes on a rope to his teammates .. mentally strong with a composed and confident demeanor .. athletic with the ability to recovery quickly from the butterfly back to his stance .. will need to upgrade his lateral quickness from the butterfly, however he is doing a better job remaining in control of his movements and is no longer taking himself out of position .. dialed in and competitive with the ability to make big saves at the big moments of a game .. like a short-stop in baseball, Bishop uses his fast glove hand to vacuum in pucks from all-around his body .. more efficient in his technique than he was in college, however he must upgrade his rebound control.

GJ Berg: 10/14 vs Columbus Pregame news/links

XM 206

Sharks news

Sharks doing special "Hockey Fights Cancer" events at Tank

Introducing the coaching staff (article, list)

Merc preview

National/wire news

AP preview

Blue Jackets news

Peca suspended indefinitely

More fallout from the Peca situation (sounds like hearing won't be until after Sharks game on Tuesday, so I'd say with some certainty he won't be in the lineup). And other notes from Sunday (a day off).

CBJ's goalie coach Clint Malarchuk dealing with nightmares and demons; franchise might need to look for help elsewhere

Jackets have a hot line of Chimera-Brassard-Voracek

Off day notes 10/13: Introduction to rookie Dorsett; updates on Peca, Novotny

10/13 morning skate update, possible lineup notes

10/13 weekly report Torres, Mason, Malhotra out (injured)

CBJ-centric blog entry on what's happening in the organization

Columbus Dispatch game preview

CD: Sharks probable roster

CD: Columbus probable roster

CD: Stat of the day: 1740

CD: GM visiting goal tending coach; should be in SJ for game start

CD: Practices don't decide shootout spots and other pre-game notes

CD: Umberger feature

[Update 2:15pm)

Rusanowsky and Murray preview tonight's game. Marleau previews tonight's game for CSNBA

[Update 3pm]

Merc blog: Plihal out; Goc in.

Monday, October 13, 2008

GJ Berg: 10/12 @ Kings post game news/notes

Interesting milestones from the game:
100th game between franchises
Kaspar nets first NHL goal
Sharks tied franchise record for best start of season

Sharks news

Pollak blog - Boucher starting

Pollak/Merc News recap

National/wire news

AP recap (with links to game stats)

Sports Network recap

UPI recap

Puck Daddy's 3 stars of the night -- gives #3 to the entire Sharks defense (and a dishonorable mention to the LA fans for booing Blake)

NHL names Boucher #2 star of the night for his shut out

Kings news

LADN blogs in game

LA Daily News recap

Conflict of interests
Lots of fans were supporting the MLB (and saw a fight) rather than attend the Kings season opener.

LA Times recap

Sunday, October 12, 2008

GJ Berg: 10/12 @ Kings 6pm; pregame news/notes, etc.

See also yesterday's post game news that may have some spill over to preview today's game.

Sharks news

Trip to LA won't be easy for Blake (Merc)

Wire/national links

AP preview

Sports Network preview

Kings news

O'Sullivan talks about getting back into the lineup

LA Times preview

Kings game notes

GJ Berg: 10/11 post game recaps/news/notes

Sharks news

Game highlights

Post game interviews (video)

Sharks post game notes

SJ Mercury News recap Gilroy Dispatch recap

Wire/national news

AP recap (w/links to game stats)

Sports Network recap

UPI recap

McKeon/Yahoo recap

Kings news

LA Daily News post game notes (And other in-game blog entries here)

LADN recap

LA Times recap


Jamie Baker post game blog

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Drop Opener 6-4

The Worcester Sharks, plagued by turnovers all night, lost their season opener 6-4 to the Lowell Devils Saturday night at the Paul E. Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts in front of an announced crowd of 3,892.

The WorSharks carried the play early in the first period, but thanks for some great play by Lowell goaltender Scott Clemmensen the Devils kept the game scoreless. In the span of 5 seconds Clemmensen made highlight saves against WorSharks newcomers Ryan Vesce and Cory Larose.

Worcester did finally break through skating with a two man advantage after Derek Joslin fired a blast wide to the left of Clemmensen. The puck bounced directly to Vesce, who threw a backhand pass right on the tape of Larose's stick. Clemmensen never had a chance, and the WorSharks had their first tally of the season.

The lead didn't last long however, as just twenty seconds later Lowell Devils rookie Matt Halischuk would connect on his first of four lamp lighters on the evening. After a miscommunication in the Worcester zone that lead to one of many untimely turnovers in the game, former Worcester IceCat Jon DiSalvatore fed a wide Halischuk, who beat WorSharks netminder Thomas Greiss to knot the game at 1-1.

Lowell would take a 2-1 lead on their first power play of the evening when Nicklas Bergfors would deflect a DiSalvatore shot past Greiss.

Worcester would tie the game 2-2 with just 53 seconds left in the period after Clemmensen stoned Vesce for the second time in the period. Larose would pick up his second goal of the night when he picked up the loose rebound and flipped it over a sprawled Clemmensen.

Halischuk would score the next two for Lowell, both on the power play. The first came after some nice tic-tac-toe passing from the Devils, with Halischuk deflecting the puck into an open net as he stood on the goal line to the right and behind of Greiss. The second would come after WorSharks defender Matt Kinch lost control of a puck in his skates. Halischuk fund himself alone in the slot, and beat Greiss to make it 4-2.

But Worcester wouldn't roll over, and thanks to some hard play and crashing the net would tie the game before the period ended.

Frazer McLaren would score his first professional goal when he deflected a Jason Demers blast from the right point into the top corner. Center Matt Fornataro had the second helper on the goal.

Mike Morris would tie it 4-4 after Steven Zelewski picked up a lose puck from behind the Lowell net and threw a blind pass into the slot. Clemmensen had no chance, and the WorSharks were back in the game.

The third period was full of more of what plagued Worcester in the first 40 minutes; turnovers and poor defensive play. In trying to start a breakout, Larose flipped a blind pass into the slot. Unfortunately for Worcester the only player there was Devils defender Olivier Magnan, who hit eventual goal scorer Patrick Davis with a tape to tape pass.

Halischuk would make it 6-4 with his fourth on the night after a Patrick Traverse turnover deep in the Worcester zone. The WorSharks would pull Greiss with 70 seconds to go, but could only manage one harmless shot skating with the extra attacker.

There were three fights in the contest, all in the third period. Unfortunately for Worcester, each of the fights was "no contest" as rookie Mike Moore had his jersey pulled over his head by Rod Pelley, Jason Demers held on trying to duck being hit nearly endlessly by Tyler Eckford, and Tom Cavanagh was bloodied by Olivier Magnan after Cavanagh threw a monster hit on a Devils player right in front of the home bench.

Brad Staubitz recorded the first hit of the season for Worcester just 3 seconds into the game when he blasted Lowell defenseman Mark Fraser right off the opening face-off.

According to the PA announcer, the second assist on Halischuk's third goal was Larose. The fact Larose plays for Worcester and wasn't on the ice at the time caused many of the Worcester fans in attendance to begin calling it "The Legend of Cory Larose--he's so good he can score for the other team while sitting on the bench". The assist belonged to Bergfors, and it was corrected shortly thereafter.

Worcester scratches were Matt Jones, T.J. Fox, Brett Westgarth, Brendan Buckley, and Taylor Dakers. Kyle McLaren has not reported yet, but is expected to do so early next week.

The roster handout had Kyle Jones listed as a defenseman. They did at least get his number right.

If there is a record for the number of times an on-ice official interfered with play, referee Jamie Koharski broke it last night. He was hit with pucks four times after I started keeping track, and that was after he'd been hit several times already. Three players also skated into him.

The six goals surrendered by Greiss ties the most he has given up in his AHL career. Greiss also gave up six goals in a 7-6 overtime win at Binghamton in April of 2007, and in a 6-3 loss at Portland in December of 2007.

The loss was the first on opening night for the WorSharks. In 2006-07 Worcester beat Portland in OT, and in 2007-08 they beat Springfield. Worcester has never had a season opener at home.

The three stars of the game were:
1. Halischuk (4g, 1a)
2. DiSalvatore (4a)
3. Bergfors (1g, 2a)
An Honorable Mention needs to go to both Larose and Clemmensen.

Even Strength Lines:


Penalty Kill:


Power Play:
The WorSharks made individual changes during their power plays that really scrambled their lines.

WOR 2 2 0 - 4
LOW 2 2 2 - 6

1st Period
Scoring - 1. Worcester, C. Larose (1) (R. Vesce, D. Joslin) 13:52 PP, 2. Lowell, M. Halischuk (1) (J. DiSalvatore, M. Spiller) 14:12 SH, 3. Lowell, N. Bergfors (1) (J. DiSalvatore, M. Halischuk) 17:35 PP, 4. Worcester, C. Larose (2) (R. Vesce, M. Kinch) 19:07
Penalties - B. Mills Low (hooking) 12:35, P. Rheaume Low (hooking) 13:10, A. Rome Wor (hooking) 16:48

2nd Period
Scoring - 5. Lowell, M. Halischuk (2) (J. DiSalvatore, N. Bergfors) 2:27 PP, 6. Lowell, M. Halischuk (3) (N. Bergfors, J. Leach) 4:11 PP, 7. Worcester, F. McLaren (1) (J. Demers, M. Fornataro) 7:03, 8. Worcester, M. Morris (1) (S. Zalewski, J. McGinn) 16:24 PP
Penalties - M. Wilson Wor (holding) 1:37, B. Staubitz Wor (holding) 2:52, M. Fornataro Wor (tripping) 7:22, R. Murphy Low (hooking) 10:12, C. Larose Wor (charging) 11:18, J. Demers Wor (interference) 11:45, P. Leblond Low (roughing) 15:52, B. Mills Low (holding) 19:49

3rd Period
Scoring - 9. Lowell, P. Davis (1) (O. Magnan) 7:35, 10. Lowell, M. Halischuk (4) (J. DiSalvatore, P. Rheaume) 8:12
Penalties - M. Moore Wor (fighting) 8:28, R. Pelley Low (roughing, fighting) 8:28, J. Demers Wor (interference) 8:39, J. Demers Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting) 11:50, T. Eckford Low (fighting) 11:50, T. Cavanagh Wor (fighting) 19:33, O. Magnan Low (fighting) 19:33

WOR Shots: 20 12 11 TOTAL: 43
LOW Shots: 12 15 7 TOTAL: 34

Power Play Conversion
Worcester Sharks 2-6. Lowell Devils 3-8.

Attendance : 3892. Referee: Jamie Koharski (84) Linesmen: Brian MacDonald (13), Scott Whittemore (96)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

GJ Berg: Pregame reading/notes for 10/11/08 7:00pm game against LA Kings

CSNBA HD (with pregame starting 6:30) XM 206, KFOX/Sharks Radio Network

Remember 7:00pm start -- 30 minutes earlier than "normal".

Sharks news stories

Shark stats (pdf)

Merc game preview

Pollak: McLellan has Sharks playing faster and, perhaps, meaner

Rob Blake: Kings on the right track, but it's a slow train

Wire news stories

AP preview

Kings news stories

O'Sullivan talks on his first day of "camp"

Two-part interview with new captain Dustin Brown (pt 1, pt 2)

Lombardi's take on Brown

Notes from Kings' Friday practice; O'Sullivan won't be in lineup Saturday, might be on Sunday. LaBarera could play both games.

LA Times feature on Kopitar

LA Times pregame notes

LA Times preview: Kings to face Todd McLellan’s renewed Sharks

"New era": Kings more relaxed, etc.

Three Kings players expected to make NHL debut

Kngs coach Murray comments on the Sharks performance Thursday

Kings coach Murray on LA's goalies

O'Sullivan on schedule to have season debut on Sunday

[Update 9:50am]

Sports Network preview

Kopitar may come out like gangbusters tonight. Apparently late Friday night he agreed to contract extension.

LA Daily News season preview

LADN feature on Dustin Brown

[Update 12:30pm]

Kopitar extension deal: seven years, $47.6m

LA Kings article on Kopitar extension.

[Update 1:15pm]

Setoguchi previews game (video)

Press Enterprise on Kopitar extension.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jonathan Cheechoo scores twice in Sharks 4-1 home opening win over the Anaheim Ducks

San Jose Sharks 2008-09 season opening ceremony
San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks 2008-09 NHL hockey

The Todd McLellan era in San Jose began with more of a crash than a bang against the Southern California rival Anaheim Ducks for Thursday night's home opener. San Jose Sharks captain Patrick Marleau pressured Anaheim Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer early in the first period, forcing him to play the puck along the boards. Joe Thornton came in with a hard check up high sending Niedermayer sprawling to the ice and setting the tone for Thursday night's physical 4-1 win over the Ducks.

McLellan noted in a pregame interview with radio play-by-play host Dan Rusanowsky that he was able to put down the foundation of a new system in training camp. Implementing that system during the regular season, creating more traffic in front of the net and more shots on goal from the blueline, would be a process that might not always take place smoothly. McLellan noted that there was no doubt in his mind that Patrick Marleau could lead the San Jose Sharks to a Stanley Cup Championship, and compared Marleau's quiet lead-by-example style to that of one Nicklas Lidstrom. Thursday night was the regular season debut of the new Sharks top offensive line. Joe Thornton centered two prototypical NHL power forwards, Patrick Marleau (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) on the left side and second year winger Devin Setoguchi (6-foot, 200 pounds) on the right. Setoguchi displayed another gear in the preseason, and has a hard shot with a deceptively quick release.

Early in the second period Jonathan Cheechoo put McLellan's words into practice with the first of two goals coming with his feet planted in front of the crease. Milan Michalek held the puck in at the left point, and found and open Dan Boyle streaking down the right side. Boyle snapped a quick shot on net, and Cheechoo picked off the rebound and tucked it around Giguere to open the scoring at 2:32.

The Sharks power play looked threatening early. With good lateral movement on the points from defenseman Dan Boyle and Rob Blake, and from Ehrhoff-Vlasic, there were open lanes to get the puck on net and large bodies posted up in front of former Conn Smythe winner J.S. Giguere. Rob Blake repeatedly hammered shots on goal from the right point with a 2-man advantage. After being knocked to the ice trying to deflect a Blake shot, Cheechoo got to his feet and slid to an open area 15 feet out with his stick on the ice. Thornton fed Cheechoo a short pass as Teemu Selanne left the penalty box, and Cheechoo banged home his second goal of the game. On a subsequent power play, Scott Niedermayer hammered Jonathan Cheechoo to the ice as Thornton sent a pass through the crease. Setoguchi created two scoring chances later in the period.

The Sharks scored another unanswered goal on the power play early in the third period. Christian Ehrhoff launched a point shot from the blueline with 2 Sharks and 2 Ducks creating traffic in front. The puck beat Giguere cleanly, giving the Sharks a 3-goal lead with 17 minutes remaining. One noticeable thing about two of the new Sharks defensive pairs was the communication between defenseman. Early in the first, Rob Blake was yelling at Marc- Edouard Vlasic that he had more time to move the puck up ice on the right side. In the third period, as the play broke down in the Sharks defensive zone, Dan Boyle called for Lukowich to pick up a player in front of the net as he checked the stick of another forward. Unfortunately later in the shift, Rob Niedermayer was able to spin off his man and deflect a Steve Montador point shot passed Evgeni Nabokov for Anaheim's only goal of the game at 14:35. The cohesion on the Sharks blueline should improve game after game. One media member predicted the Sharks might score at a half a goal clip more than 2007-08 (2.63 GPG, 19th) with Dan Boyle and Rob Blake on the blueline.

Devin Setoguchi created two solid scoring chances in the second half of the game but was not rewarded. Marleau hit Setoguchi with a breakout pass at his own blueline in the second period. Setoguchi split the defense with acceleration but could not lift a backhand over the leg pad of an extended Giguere. Early in the third, Setoguchi took another long breakout pass and sprinted down the right wing. He pulled up, and hit a streaking Marleau in the slot who was checked by Scott Niedermayer stride for stride. Devin Setoguchi capped off the scoring for San Jose at 15:57. Patrick Marleau stripped Teemu Selanne of the puck in the Ducks offensive zone, and then broke in on Giguere with Setoguchi on a 2-on-1. Pronger went down to try to prevent a pass, but Marleau lifted the puck over his stick. Selanne stick checked Setoguchi off the puck, but the Sharks right wing spun and backhanded a spot into an open right side of the net.

Evgeni Nbokov made 28 saves on 29 shots to earn his first win of the 2008-09 season. J.S. Giguere stopped 37 of 41 shots against. The Sharks finished 2-7 on the power play, scoring one power play goal shortly after a 21 second 5-on-3 expired. The Anaheim Ducks finished 0-2 on the power play. The Sharks outshot Anaheim 41-29, dominated the faceoff circle 35-25, and outhit them 23-14.

Attendance at HP Pavilion for the home opener was another 17,496 strong sellout. According to ESPN's 2007-08 regular season figures, HP Pavilion averaged 17,411 fans (99.5%) with a total of 713,863 for the 11th best attendace average in the league. The top 10 teams in the NHL were at or above 100% of maximum listed capacity. With 1 game played in the 2008-09 season, the San Jose Sharks rank 4th overall in average league attendance (17,496), behind only Detroit (20,066), Vancouver (18,630), and Colorado (18,007).

[Update] The Chicago Blackhawks vs the New York Rangers are on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area right now. Last year Comcast SNBA (then FSNBA) along with several regional Fox Sports networks aired 30+ games as part of their NHL Extra broadcast schedule. No word yet on if a similar schedule of games will be available this season, but I have an email out to Comcast. Another sign of Chicago's hockey resurgence is the fact that powerhouse television station WGN will air 20 Blackhawk games this season, the regular Blackhawks home in the 60's and 70's. The NHL on WGN starts Saturday October 11th against the Washington Capitals (4PM). WGN is available on basic cable in much of the Bay Area. Also via email, the NHL will air all of the opening weekend contests on its new NHL Gamecenter for free this weekend. Multiple camera options, live radio, replay, and a 4-games-in-1 screen are available for each livestream. Also of note, will include content from hockey blogs as part of a Blogger Insider section. More details soon. Upcoming games on Versus: Vancouver at Washington Monday at 4PM, Philadelphia at Pittsburgh Tuesday at 4:30PM. The new Sports Soup comedy/sports highlight show debuts on Versus October 14th.

A few notes from the Sharks home opener against Anaheim Ducks last night: Sports Illustrated photographer Robert Beck was set up at HP Pavilion with multiple cameras, the Sharks head failed to drop for the first time since last season's home opening Power Outage game against the Boston Bruins apparently due to a motor problem, the Sharks released 32 year old tryout forward and 1994 San Jose first round draft pick Jeff Friesen Thursday, former Los Angeles Kings captain Rob Blake wore his customary #4 with Kyle McLaren assigned to Worcester of the AHL (Blake wore #5 in preseason), Todd McLellan named Joe Thornton and Mike Grier as assistant captains, the players and headcoach Todd McLellan lined up at their blueline and were introduced to the crowd after an impressive video presentation that used the entire ice surface as a display, the Sharks also held a street rally with music, prizes, face and sign painting prior to the game.

[Update2] Duhatschek: Big start = success - Globe and Mail.

As for McLellan, their rookie head coach, who is fresh off a Stanley Cup championship with the Red Wings, his position is the Sharks will deal with playoff expectations once they get to April – and not until then. "Todd's really stressed that the Stanley Cup's not going to be won today and that it's not going to be won tomorrow,” said Thornton. "He's trying to work on little things every day, taking baby steps, so that we can be ready for Game 83, 84 and beyond. It's just a little tweaking – he wants us to drive the net more and worry about our positioning and get us turning the right away, that kind of thing. There's a little more structure to our game. It's such a long year and such a roller coaster ride that right now, he just wants us to get better game by game. So we're not thinking about June. We're thinking about Thursday and then we'll think about Saturday after that."

[Update3] McLellan wants Sharks to fly like Wings - Ross McKeon for

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Ready To Start All-Star Season

The Worcester Sharks begin their third season much differently than they began their first two campaigns. After missing the playoffs last season, the WorSharks will see lots of changes at forward and defense when the team takes the ice Saturday in Lowell against the division rival Devils.

Gone are last season's captain Graham Mink and leading scorer Mike Iggulden, along with blue liners Dan Spang, Tom Walsh and Brennan Evans. In their place, the WorSharks have several highly touted rookies in Steven Zalewski, Matt Jones, Frazier McLaren, and Jamie McGinn. Added to the youth will be veteran defensemen Brendan Buckley and Matt Kinch, and forward Cory Larose.

"It's tough to lose fan favorites and team leaders," Worcester Sharks Senior Vice President in charge of Hockey and Business Administration Michael Mudd told Sharkspage, "but there will be new favorites in the new guys, and new team leaders."

Despite all the changes there are still plenty of players returning from last season. Patrick Traverse returns for his third season with the Sharks to anchor the defense, and forwards Tom Cavanagh and Riley Armstrong hope to continue their success of previous seasons, along with defenseman turned power forward Brad Staubitz and Mike Morris.

Mudd was full of high praise for Morris, who is finally 100% healthy. “Worcester fans won’t recognize him from his play last season. He’s finally able to play at the level he’s used to, and he should put up some great numbers here.”

Morris was one of the last cuts from San Jose’s camp, so obviously they were as impressed with Morris’ play as Mudd was.

With Brian Boucher being signed by San Jose to back up workhorse Evgeni Nabokov, and Dimitri Patzold not being re-signed, the goaltending situation in Worcester is much clearer than last season. Thomas Greiss is heading into the season as the WorSharks number one goaltender, and is expected to see the lion's share of games. Taylor Dakers will back up Greiss, and Kyle Jones will be assigned to the Sharks ECHL affiliate in Phoenix.

Jones will begin the season on Worcester's roster as Dakers recovers from a minor “lower body” injury suffered during training camp.

One thing that won't be changing is Worcester's division heavy schedule. With most of their games within "bus range", the WorSharks will again spend very few nights in hotel rooms.

Staying so close to home has its positives and negatives remarked Mudd. "The positives are players get more practice time, and there is a lot less wear and tear from traveling. The big negative is there isn't a lot of 'team building' you can do on a bus.

"The positives do outweigh the negatives by a lot", he added.

The WorSharks do have one long distance trip to make when they visit Houston and San Antonio in Late November.

"If I had my way we'd make that trip the first weekend," noted Mudd. "That's a great trip to really get the guys together. When you have married guys and single guys, along with quiet guys and players that are more outgoing, you need opportunities to get the guys together."

To help create the atmosphere a team needs to have to be successful, the WorSharks plan team events a couple times a month for the players. Last season the team did a variety of things, including a hunting trip with Head Coach Roy Sommer.

“We might not do that one again,” laughed Mudd.

Despite the head coaching change in San Jose, the coaching staff in Worcester remains unchanged with Sommer returning for his tenth season as the head coach of San Jose’s AHL affiliate. David Cunniff returns for his sixth season as Sommer’s assistant.

With the AHL All Star Classic being held in Worcester, and the DCU Center booked for several annual events, the WorSharks play just three home games in a 21 game stretch from mid January until the third week in February.

“We’ll show up where they tell us to and these guys will play hard,” Sommer said during a recent gathering with the team and season ticket holders.

If there are problems winning on the road, it won’t be due to a lack of experience. Despite having ten rookies on the opening night roster, the WorSharks also find themselves at the veteran maximum.

According to the AHL roster rules, of the 18 skaters that teams may dress for a regular-season game, at least 13 must be qualified as "development players." Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games--including AHL, NHL, IHL and European elite leagues--and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games.

The WorSharks veterans are forwards Cory Larose, Riley Armstrong (who qualifies as a player with fewer than 320 pro games), and defensemen Brendan Buckley, Matt Kinch, Patrick Traverse, and the recently added Kyle McLaren.

Forward Ryan Vesce, who just misses the veteran designation having played in 259 pro games at the start of the season, will be the captain of the team. Brendan Buckley and Derek Joslin will act as the alternate captains.

The Worcester Sharks opening night roster:
2 Patrick Traverse – D
4 Kyle McLaren – D
5 Jason Demers – D
6 Brad Staubitz – RW
7 Brendan Buckley – D
8 Mike Moore – D
9 Tom Cavanagh – C
10 Ashton Rome – RW
11 P.J. Fenton – LW
12 Matt Jones – RW
13 T.J. Fox – C
14 Frazer McLaren – LW
15 Steven Zalewski – C
17 Ryan Vesce – RW
18 Cory Larose – C
19 Mike Morris – RW
20 Riley Armstrong – RW
21 Matt Fornataro – C
24 Brett Westgarth – D
25 Derek Joslin – D
26 Michael Wilson – D
27 Matt Kinch – D
29 Thomas Greiss – G
35 Kyle Jones – G
39 Taylor Dakers – G
44 Jamie McGinn – LW

The Worcester Sharks 2008-09 schedule
Oct 11 at Lowell 7:00 pm
Oct 17 at Albany 7:30 pm
Oct 18 Providence 7:05 pm
Oct 22 Hartford 7:05 pm
Oct 24 Providence 7:05 pm
Oct 25 Bridgeport 7:05 pm
Oct 31 at Hartford 7:00 pm
Nov 1 Manchester 7:05 pm
Nov 5 Portland 7:05 pm
Nov 7 at Hartford 7:00 pm
Nov 8 at Binghamton 7:05 pm
Nov 11 Springfield 1:05 pm
Nov 14 at Providence 7:05 pm
Nov 15 Springfield 7:05 pm
Nov 16 at Springfield 4:00 pm
Nov 19 Norfolk 7:05 pm
Nov 22 at Houston 8:35 pm
Nov 23 at San Antonio 6:00 pm
Nov 26 at Portland 7:00 pm
Nov 28 at Providence 7:05 pm
Nov 29 Bridgeport 7:05 pm
Nov 30 Lowell 4:05 pm
Dec 3 W-B/Scranton 7:05 pm
Dec 5 at Manchester 7:30 pm
Dec 7 Portland 4:05 pm
Dec 12 at Hartford 7:00 pm
Dec 13 at Lowell 7:00 pm
Dec 14 Hartford 4:05 pm
Dec 19 Portland 7:05 pm
Dec 20 Manchester 7:05 pm
Dec 21 at Portland 4:00 pm
Dec 26 Providence 6:05 pm
Dec 28 at Portland 4:00 pm
Dec 31 Houston 7:35 pm
Jan 2 Norfolk 7:05 pm
Jan 3 Lowell 7:05 pm
Jan 4 Hershey 4:05 pm
Jan 9 Albany 7:05 pm
Jan 10 Lowell 7:05 pm
Jan 14 at Philadelphia 7:05 pm
Jan 16 at Norfolk 7:15 pm
Jan 17 at Norfolk 7:15 pm
Jan 18 at Hershey 5:00 pm
Jan 23 at Springfield 7:30 pm
Jan 24 at Lowell 7:00 pm
Jan 30 Springfield 7:05 pm
Jan 31 San Antonio 7:05 pm
Feb 1 at Providence 2:05 pm
Feb 4 at Portland 7:00 pm
Feb 6 at Manchester 7:30 pm
Feb 8 at Providence 4:05 pm
Feb 13 at Portland 7:00 pm
Feb 14 at Bridgeport 7:00 pm
Feb 15 at W-B/Scranton 5:05 pm
Feb 20 at Springfield 7:30 pm
Feb 21 Providence 7:05 pm
Feb 22 at Lowell 4:00 pm
Feb 25 Lowell 7:05 pm
Feb 27 Portland 8:05 pm
Feb 28 Springfield 7:05 pm
Mar 4 at Hartford 7:00 pm
Mar 6 Philadelphia 7:05 pm
Mar 7 Albany 7:05 pm
Mar 8 Manchester 4:05 pm
Mar 11 Binghamton 7:05 pm
Mar 13 Hartford 7:05 pm
Mar 14 at Manchester 7:00 pm
Mar 15 Hartford 4:05 pm
Mar 20 at Bridgeport 7:00 pm
Mar 21 at Lowell 7:00 pm
Mar 22 at Springfield 4:00 pm
Mar 27 Springfield 7:05 pm
Mar 28 Lowell 7:05 pm
Mar 29 at Providence 4:05 pm
Apr 1 at Springfield 7:00 pm
Apr 3 at Albany 7:30 pm
Apr 4 at Manchester 7:00 pm
Apr 8 Portland 7:05 pm
Apr 10 Manchester 7:05 pm
Apr 11 Providence 7:05 pm

All times Eastern

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NHL season preview magazine review

Sporting News 2008-09 NHL preview

It is that time of year to review the 2008-09 NHL season preview publications. All of the annuals are very solid this year, but the Sporting News/Street and Smith's 2008-09 NHL Preview stands out with a focus on statistical analysis and feature length articles previewing the season.

Sporting News plays it very conservative with NHL predictions, calling for a Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup win over the Montreal Canadiens in their 100th anniversary season. The Pacific Division, labeled last season's toughest, will improve even more. The Sporting News notes that a team from the Pacific has reached the Conference Finals in each of the last 5 seasons. The Ducks will benefit from having a non-retired Scott Niedermayer from the start of the season, and the new media darling Dallas Stars will continue to improve with Sean Avery running interference.

Regarding the Sharks, the Sporting News notes that 4 new additions all having something in common. New head coach Todd McLellan, and defenseman Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich, and Rob Blake all have won Stanley Cups. A quote by Doug Wilson notes that the Sharks have averaged 104 points over the last 5 years, but that the Sharks are looking to make a push deeper in the playoffs. Todd McLellan was quoted saying that there are "real parallels" between the Sharks and Wings, and the Sporting News believes McLellan may try to replicate the Wings puck possession style with Dan Boyle at the helm.

The breakout candidate for 2008-09, there was one selected for each team, was Joe Pavelski based on his career high 19 goals in 2008-09 and 9 points in 13 playoff games (3 game winning goals). Out of the all of the San Jose Sharks franchise leaders, the Sporting News cunningly notes the Sharks top 3 alltime scoring leaders: Patrick Marleau - 539, Owen Nolan - 451, and Jeff Friesen - 350. Marleau is coming off a playoff performance against Calgary which may define his career, Owen Nolan is looking to break the 20-goal plateu after signing a 2-year $5.5 million contract with the Minnesota Wild, and Jeff Friesen is on the bubble looking to make a comeback with the San Jose Sharks in a depth role.

Ranking the Sharks, Sporting News gives the offense a 4, the defense 5, goaltending 5, special teams 5, coaching/management a 3, with a final ranking 92/100 (trending steady). Sporting News calls the Pacific: San Jose, Anaheim, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles.

Official 2009 NHL Yearbook

The official NHL 2009 Yearbook remains above the fold on season predictions and numerical grading, but focuses on in-depth features and an exhaustive look at each individual team.

Two things that stand out from the NHL Yearbook, a quote by San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov mentioned that Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Ovechkin were able to excel and thrive because they are a product of a modern Russian society that is more open to outside influences. Another offseason quote by rookie San Jose head coach Todd McLellan called the Sharks Patrick Marleau's team. McLellan did not question Marleau's captainship, but he did want to sit down this offseason and talk about leadership and the responsibilities that go with it.

THN The Hockey News Sporting News 2008-09 NHL yearbook

The Hockey News 2008-08 NHL yearbook also plays it conservative with its NHL predictions, calling for a familiar Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup win over the Montreal Canadiens. A look a little furthur down in their Western Conference playoff bracked is a little more surprising. After Detroit and San Jose finish 1-2 in the Conference, the unheralded Minnesota Wild are predicted to take home third place. Dallas, Anaheim, Edmonton, Chicago and Calgary are the remaining playoff teams. That leaves Nashville (9th) and Phoenix (10th) on the outside looking in. Phoenix is thin on defense, and Bryzgalov can have bouts of inconsistent play, but the high-end talent that the Coyotes have developed can have an immediate impact. Chicago will get all the media attention, Los Angeles and Dean Lombardi may be the team of the future, but the Phoenix Coyotes have a real chance to shock people this season. Much more on this team in a future post.

The Hockey News notes that playoff failures precipitated a chance from general manager Dean Lombardi, one to bring in new head coach Todd McLellan and 3 new defenseman. Doug Wilson told The Hockey News that the Sharks were bogged down last season, and that you can not hope for a change you have to make it happen. The Sharks strengths were listed as goaltender (Nabokov) and a strong top 6 forward core. Weaknesses were listed as balanced scoring from the entire lineup, and consistent special teams. THN notes that the Sharks had the NHL's top penalty kill 85.8% in the regular season, but dropped to 75.0% in the playoffs. 1 goal games the Sharks were 26-7-10, 2 goal games 11-10, 3 goal games 12-6. Offense 2.63 GPG (19th), defense 2.28 GAA (3rd).

The numbers referenced by THN point to accurate trends with regard to the Sharks season in 2007-08, a strong defensive team with a solid record in close games, spectacular goaltending, top heavy scoring. THN predicts the Sharks will finish 2nd in the Western Conference. THN predicts the Sharks need more balanced scoring up front, and they need Marleau, Cheechoo and Michalek to show that last year's scoring drop-off was a fluke.

THN's Future Watch lists Couture, McGinn, Kaspar, Greiss and Petrecki in order as players to watch for the San Jose Sharks future. You can reverse that ranking and have more accurate look. Petrecki is the Sharks premiere blue chip defensive prospect along with former Princeton defenseman Mike Moore. Thomas Greiss has shown tremendous athletic skill on the ice, but he will benefit with another year or two locking down the mental game with the AHL Worcester Sharks. Many publications have him pegged as a future backup to Evgeni Nabokov but Greiss has #1 goaltender potential down the line. Kaspar and Couture have high end offensive instincts and skill, but Jamie McGinn was the name many hockey people in San Jose were talking about during training camp.

Last year's preseason NHL annual review is available here.

ESPN Magazine Alexander Ovechkin 2008-09 NHL preview

[Update] Upstart ESPN Magazine was the most entertaining read of the season preview annuals. Fully on the Ovechkin/Capitals bandwagon, ESPNmag offers an election campaign theme for Ovechkin 09. Throw in any pun you can imagine and it is there, head of state, secretary of defense, grande old party, commander in chief, mutually assured destruction... wait. You might cringe a little bit with the reference to McCain and his 5-year experience in a POW camp, Obama and his 2004 convention speech, and Ovechkin's game against Pittsburgh where he took a skate to the leg causing a 6 inch gash, only to play 2 games later. The photography itself is priceless.

"Today I am president, so there is no speed limit!" - Alexander Ovechkin

Regarding the predictions, ESPN drinks the Dallas Stars cool aid ranking the Pacific Dallas (A+), San Jose (A), Anaheim (A-). ESPN ranks the Sharks offense 4 out of 5, defense 4, special teams 4, goaltending 4, coaching 3, and punctuates the rankings with an ominous stat "No Sharks defenseman scored more than 5 goals last year". Nick Petrecki is noted as the key prospect in the organization to look out for, no argument here. The question is will he come out this season after his second year (won a NCAA Championship last season), after his third season like former Sharks defenseman and Hobey Baker winner Matt Carle (who won 2 championships), or after a full 4 years. With Boyle, Vlasic, Ehrhoff and Murray locked up long term, the Sharks have plenty of time to let him develop into what one NCAA forward called "the most difficult defenseman to play against" in college.

E.J. Hradek and ESPN Magazine Staff's season predictions and full season preview is available here. ESPN goes off the board selecting Detroit over Pittsburgh, with Capitals over the Stars as their alternate universe choice.

I would vote for Ovechkin, but only with Olaf Kolzig as VP. Sorry Ted Leonsis. A video from ESPN of Ovechkin's cover shoot is available here. An article on the photo shoot is available from ESPN's Eric Adelson here.

[Update2] James Mirtle sent a link to the McKeens Hockey 2008-09 NHL preview issue, which can be purchased here. Max Giese notes that the McKeens preview "is for the hard-core fan and fantasy hockey enthusiast. We have scouting profiles on a dozen players per team. There is a prospects ranking of the top 130 prospects and top 30 goalies. Many prospect profiles are available too." Both Mirtle and Giese contributed to the issue.

Max also notes that McKeen's predicts the Stars will win the Pacific Division, and that San Jose will finish second with 101 points: Dallas, San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles. Joe Thornton will lead the team with 90 points, Marleau and Michalek tied for second with 61 each. Clowe was selected as the breakout player on the Sharks roster for 2008-09. Logan Couture (71), Nick Petrecki (93), and Steven Zalewski (117) crack the top 130 in McKeen's 2008-09 prospect rankings (former Shark Ty Wishart, now with Tampa Bay is 94th). Thomas Greiss (14) and Timo Pielmeier (29) crack the top 30 in goaltending prospect rankings. McKeen's also predict Steven Stamkos will win the Calder trophy as the top rookie, with Danish Phoenix Coyotes prospect Mikkel Boedker finishing third.

The Wave Magazine 2008-09 NHL season preview Joe Pavelski

[Update3] The only NHL season preview magazine you need this season, and it is free, is The Wave Magazine's 2008-09 San Jose Sharks preview. The veteran reporters from the Wave Mag previously covered how La Villa's Chris Combo Sandwich directly resulted in Joe Thornton's MVP season. San Jose center Joe Pavelski is the cover player for the 2008-09 issue.

This year Anne Ward Ernst interviews three new Sharks, head coach Todd McLellan, and defenseman Dan Boyle and Rob Blake. The WaveMag also previews players to watch, interviews SJ Sharkie, posts a family pack game schedule, and previews merchandise and restaurant options for the upcoming season.

The Wave: The power play in Detroit had a different look than the Sharks' power play. Detroit was known for sharp, quick passing. Will we see some of that here?

Todd McLellan: We hope to see it here; that's what the plan is. It's about the players understanding what we want to accomplish and then feeling comfortable enough to do it. That's going to take some time. I'm not naïve enough to think that the power play was a disaster here there were some good things that happened on the Sharks' power play. There are just some changes we want to make in how we execute.

The Wave: What will you do differently to get the team past the second round in the playoffs?

Todd McLellan: I've been asked that question so many times, and the answer that I'm now giving is [that] the will has to go up because the skill is there. But we're talking about something that's so far away. I'm more concerned about what's going to happen in the next hour, and what's going to happen tomorrow. It's a long process, and if we take care of that as the year goes on, we'll have a better idea of where we're going when [the time comes for] the playoffs. I'm more about living in the present than thinking about the future.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

San Jose Sharks waive veteran defenseman Kyle McLaren according to TSN

San Jose Sharks waive defenseman Kyle McLaren

TSN reports today that the San Jose Sharks waived veteran defenseman Kyle McLaren. McLaren joins a list of players on the waiver wire today that includes Boyd Devereaux (TOR), Staffan Kronwall (TOR), Matt Pettinger (VAN), Jason Krog (VAN), Peter Schaefer (BOS), and Aaron Downey (DET). Left wing Joakim Lindstrom (CHI) was claimed off waivers by the Anaheim Ducks. On Sunday, the Montreal Canadiens placed goaltender Marc Denis and defenseman Alex Henry on waivers.

According to, the San Jose Sharks were over the NHL's salary cap ceiling of $56.7 million. The deadline for teams to maneuver under the cap is 12PM (PT) on Wednesday, one day before the Sharks open the 2008-09 season at home against the Anaheim Ducks.

Kyle McLaren was a first round selection (9th overall) of the Boston Bruins in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. McLaren was traded to the San Jose Sharks along with a 4th round selection January 23rd, 2003 for defenseman Jeff Jillson and backup goaltender Jeff Hackett. McLaren was limited to only 61 games played with hip and groin injuries last season, and is in the final year of a 3-year $7.5 million contract.

"Mac" registered 83 points and innumerable hip checks in 5 seasons played with the San Jose Sharks, but he also stands out for an on-ice demonstration he performed with television color analyst Drew Remenda. McLaren demonstrated how to paste an opponent into the boards. McLaren's hip check on Petr Cajanek during the 2004 playoffs may quite possibly be the hardest hit recorded on a film clip not involving Scott Stevens. Petr Prucha and Trevor Letowski were two other notable hip check receipents.

Thanks to James Mirtle for the link.

[Update] The Sharks issued a statement from Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson:

“Kyle has been a big part of our team over the last several years but we are blessed with 8 NHL defensemen on our roster and these are tough decisions that have to be made"

The Sharks also note that McLaren could be picked up off the waiver wire, he could clear waivers and a trade could still be negotiated, or he could be assigned to the AHL. Also reported was that two rookies who impressed during training camp, defenseman Mike Moore and center Mick Morris, were assigned to Worcester of the AHL.

[Update2] Sharks put D McLaren on waivers - AP.

"Kyle has been a tremendous professional through this," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "We're trying to do what's right for him, so we'll see what the next few days brings."

The Mercury News profiled Doug Wilson today on the front page of the sports section. Mark Emmons described Wilson as "old-school hockey", confident, unflappable and selfless. Wilson took direct action with needs for leadership and a revitalized blueline this offseason, but having a situation develop where a veteran contributor to the lineup needs to be waived deviates from the norm in San Jose. The Sharks are almost assuredly working the phones heavily trying to find a situation where he can step in.

According to Dave Pollak at Working the Corners, Riley Armstrong and Brad Staubitz were placed on waivers along with McLaren. If no other team claims them by the deadline tomorrow, they will be reassigned to Worcester.

[Update3] Interesting early McLaren story from Chuqi:

I will note my first memory of McLaren, back when he was a Bruin. Wore his hair long, was a brash young kid. Came to San Jose for a (I think) pre-season game, and ran afoul of Andrei "the dancing bear" Nazarov, back when Nazty was in his "God, you can't do that!" phase.

He and McLaren tussled and dropped the gloves, and then to the amazement of all (most especially McLaren), Nazarov grabbed him by the hair, pulled his head back with it, and then whaled away with the other. McLaren later cut his hair, the Sharks sat Nazzy down for one of those "this isn't russia, here we don't do that" talks, and the fans just buzzed with "did he do what we think he did?" noise.

Video of the incident here.

Boston College Retains No. 1 Position on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

The latest college hockey poll from USA Hockey:

Boston College Retains No. 1 Position on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Defending national champion Boston College remains No. 1 on this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll. The Eagles collected 500 points and 26-of-34 first-place votes to top the chart.

This Week's Top-15 Match-ups:

Friday, October 10
No. 1 Boston College vs. No. 14 Wisconsin
No. 5 North Dakota @ No. 9 Boston University

Saturday, October 11
No. 4 Notre Dame @ No. 6 Denver
No. 7 New Hampshire vs. No. 14 Wisconsin
No. 9 Boston University vs. No. 11 Michigan State

The University of Michigan, which finished with 452 points and four first-place votes, finished No. 2 in the poll. Colorado College moved up two spots from the preseason poll to grab the No. 3 ranking with 430 points and four first-place votes, while the University of Notre Dame (378) and the University of North Dakota (361) round out the top five.

This week's action features five non-conference, top-15 match-ups, including the University of Notre Dame visiting the University of Denver in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Face-Off Classic.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll - #1

(First-place votes in parenthesis, Rank, Last Poll's Ranking, 2008-09 Record, Weeks in Top-15)

1 - Boston College, 500 (26), 1, 0-0-0, 2
2 - University of Michigan, 452 (4), 2, 0-0-0, 2
3 - Colorado College, 430 (4), 5, 0-0-0, 2
4 - University of Notre Dame, 378, 3, 0-0-0, 2
5 - University of North Dakota, 361, 4, 0-0-0, 2
6 - University of Denver, 328, 6, 0-0-0, 2
7 - University of New Hampshire, 275, 7, 0-0-0, 2
8 - Miami (Ohio) University, 259, 8, 0-0-0, 2
9 - Boston University, 222, 10, 0-0-0, 2
10 - University of Minnesota, 192, 9, 0-0-0, 2
11 - Michigan State University, 162, 12, 0-0-0, 2
12 - Princeton University, 111, NR, 0-0-0, 1
13 - Clarkson University, 109, 11, 0-0-0, 2
14 - University of Wisconsin, 82, 13, 0-0-0, 2
15 - St. Cloud State University, 66, 15, 0-0-0, 2

Others receiving votes: Northern Michigan University, 38; Minnesota State University Mankato, 28; Northeastern University, 18; University of Vermont, 18; Ferris State University, 16; U.S. Air Force Academy, 15; Harvard University, 12; Cornell University, 4; Niagara University, 4.

NOTES: A total of 24 teams received votes.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 14th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

[Update] UBC and NCAA schools 'get to know each other' - James Mirtle for the Globe and Mail. More from James on the possibility of the (Canadian) University of British Columbia hockey team joining the NCAA here.

[Update2] 2008-09 Hockey East Season Preview - U.S. College Hockey Online.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Max Giese: USHL Prospects

The San Jose Sharks haven't hesitated to draft players out of the USHL over the past several seasons. This is the league that has produced current Sharks' center Joe Pavelski and former Sharks defenseman Matt Carle. Along with my work for Sharkspage, I scout the Mid-Western United States for McKeen's Hockey and covering the USHL is part of my territory. Below is scouting reports on the top draft eligible players by position the league has to offer this season. To check out full-reports on all of the prospects out of the USHL please check out

Mike Lee (2009), G, Fargo Force
The top draft eligible goaltender out of the USHL this year .. big and technically trained butterfly goaltender .. owns a polished technique with an impressive foundation to build on .. has striking athleticism and competitiveness, as he never gives up on a puck .. refined puck handler that can launch cross-ice feeds to teammates .. gives a wide five-hole in his stance, but takes it away instantly .. maximizes his net coverage from the butterfly with a wide V and by keeping his shoulders upright .. mechanically sound with exceptional pad control .. really leans into each save .. moves fluently laterally from the butterfly and has fast legs .. tracks the puck well into his blocker, however his glove side is a weakness .. holds his glove properly when stationary, but it tends to pop up high a bit when moving .. goes down on every shot, although for the most part he is patient and did an commendable job making shooters commit first .. trusts his defenders and takes the shooter on odd-man rushes .. has the dexterity to recover quickly, but he is guilty of staying down too long and going down on shots he doesn’t need to .. loses his angle at times and can be exposed short-side.

John Moore (2009), D, Chicago Steel
A savvy and skilled puck-moving defenseman with exceptional two-way upside .. an encompassing skater that is effortlessly strong in all-directions thanks to his masterful feet .. a skilled passer with soft hands and a fast shot .. a power-play quarterback that identifies developing seems innately and can sneak into the backdoor undetected .. seemingly never commits an error with the puck and yet generates plenty of offensive opportunities thanks to his exceptional vision and prodigious puck skills .. his best defensive asset maybe his awesome mobility, as Moore is blessed with a rare quality of recovery speed .. an astute positional defender that maintains tight gaps and can short circuit the opponents offensive attacks, as he anticipates the game so well that he can jump on an errant pass in an instant .. plays odd-man rushes to textbook perfection and while he is undersized, he plays with a chip on his shoulder and displays an edge while taking the body .. still needs to get stronger, although his upper body strength is already deceptive .. possibly the best draft eligible defenseman out of the USHL this year.

Seth Helgeson (2009), D, Sioux City Musketeers
Big and mobile two-way defenseman .. a flourishing skater for a larger defenseman that can carry the puck with a head of steam and stay with his man step-for-step defensively .. uses a short stick and is a hunched over puck carrier with a hard shot that is an asset to the power-play .. sees the ice well and is an accurate passer, whether he is distributing from his own-end or on the point .. needs to become more urgent with the puck on his blade and push himself further to become the prominent offensive catalyst that his skill-set should dictate .. a textbook shot blocker that hits one knee and takes away the puck carriers options .. maintains a healthy gap and angles his man off well before stapling him to the wall .. has the size to stand his ground and is becoming more physical this year .. clears his crease assertively and has a burgeoning nasty side .. defends speed well and utilizes his reach well .. one of the top draft eligible defenseman out of the USHL this year.

Alex Chiasson (2009), RW/C, Des Moines Buccaneers
Possibly the next Teddy Purcell .. a lanky offensive forward with a deft touch around the net .. still has some coordination issues with his skating and hasn’t fully grown into his body yet .. his foot speed is fine, however he needs to get lower in his stride and add strength to his thin legs .. has a nice glide once in full-flight and handles the puck well at top-speeds .. his hand-eye coordination is stupendous and his ability to adjust to pucks and corral them in with his engulfing reach is astounding .. a rangy puckhandler with a gangly reach and skilled hands, Chiasson displays a scorers touch around the net with a tricky release .. a natural in the offensive zone that uses defenders as screens and innately activates himself to manufacture give and go’s .. his defensive posturing needs work, but he did see some time on the penalty kill .. there is a natural thirst for body contact inside, as he will hit and use his spacious frame to shield the puck .. still rail thin and needs to add strength .. oozes upside as his main issues are his overall coordination into his body and lack of strength, both of which can be solved with time.

Josh Birkholz (2009), RW, Fargo Force
One of the top draft eligible forwards out of the USHL this year .. a robust goal scorer with commanding speed down the wing .. drops your jaw with his strength coming down the wing, as he possesses the speed and power to beat a defender wide before assertively attacking the net for a prime scoring opportunity .. wide-tracked skater with a powerful stride and the fast top-gear to burn opponent defenders to the outside .. has a great shot with splendid one-on-one ability .. not a cerebral play-making type, he rather accelerate through the neutral zone and jam the puck down the opponents throat himself .. still, he moves the puck adequately when his options have run out .. plays on the penalty kill and is a willing shot blocker .. a ferocious hitter that also possesses some special power moves to the net.

Louis Leblanc (2009), C, Omaha Lancers
The top draft eligible prospect out of the USHL this year .. hunched over skater with a wide-stance that stimulates his deceptive acceleratory burst and phenomenal balance .. has a knack for finding the appropriate amount of speed to suite the situation when skating the puck, which allows him to catch defenders off guard and beat them wide or to the net .. has velvety hands and can stickhandle in a phone booth, as he does a phenomenal job at controlling the puck in congested areas .. seemingly uncontainable below the hash-marks, as he expertly pulls the puck out of scrums along the wall and then gives defenders nightmares with his boundless attacks to the net .. his stealth like approach and innate sense of timing in the offensive zone leaves defenders puzzled on how to defend him .. can finish and create equally well, as he owns a deft touch around the net with a compact release and consistently delivers catchable passes on his linemates tape .. has great hockey sense and a strong stick which allows him to strip opponent puck-carriers off the puck with striking ease and regularity .. a multi-faceted player that grows on you the more you view him, as his game is loaded with subtleties that continue to ooze out of him shift after shift.

Hockey Night in Europe: NHL Debuts 2008-09 season with pair of OTT-PIT and NYR-TB games in Sweden and Czech Republic

New York Rangers Tampa Bay Lightning front page DNS Czech Republic
Ottawa Senators Pittsburg Penguins NHL debut Stockholm Sweden

- The NHL opened the 2008-09 regular season with a nod to two countries that have been integral to the league's growth over the last quarter century, Sweden and the Czech Republic. The Ottawa Senators (43-31-8, second Northeast) faced off against Stanley Cup finalist and the Atlantic Division champion Pittsburgh Penguins (47-27-8) for two games at the Globe Arena in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. The venerable original six New York Rangers (42-27-13, third Atlantic) met a completely overhauled Tampa Bay Lightning team (31-42-9, fifth Southeast) for a pair of games at the 17,000-seat O2 Arena in the Czech Republic capital of Prague.

Second year center Tyler Kennedy opened the scoring early in the first Ottawa-Pittsburgh game in Sweden on Saturday, and with 25 seconds left in overtime Kennedy scored to give the Penguins a 4-3 OT win despite being shutout on 7 power play attempts. A photo gallery from the Penguins is available here. Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain and Swedish national team veteran Mats Sundin was a surprise guest to drop the cerimonal first puck to a loud roar from the crowd. In the second Ottawa-Pittsburgh game on Sunday, the Senators rallied around Gothenburg-native Daniel Alfredsson and a 30-save peformance from goaltender 1A Alex Auld for a 3-1 win. The Ottawa captain Alfredsson assisted on two power play goals by linemate Dany Heatley in the second and third periods, and a breakaway goal by Antoine Vermette with 4:10 remaining put the game out of reach for Pittsburgh. Promising young defenseman Alex Goligoski, who the Penguins will need to contribute with a serious injury to Sergei Gonchar, scored on the power play with 2 seconds left to prevent a shutout. A photo gallery from the second game is available on the Ottawa Senators website here.

The New York Rangers piled up 2 wins in Prague behind a strong peformance by workhorse goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (104 wins over last 3 seasons in New York) and newly acquired left wing Markus Naslund. Lundqvist stopped 38 of 40 shots over two games, with New York scoring twice on 11 power play attempts. On Saturday, Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky scored a power play goal with less than 6 minutes left in the game to open the 2008-09 NHL season with a 2-1 win. A photo gallery from the Rangers is available here. New Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Barry Melrose could not rally his troops Sunday in Prague, as backup goaltender Olaf Kolzig followed Mike Smith into the L column with a 2-1 loss after a two goal Rangers second period. The offseason roster overhaul in Tampa has seen Dan Boyle (San Jose), Brad Lukowich (San Jose), Filip Kuba (Ottawa) and others leave, replaced by Andrei Meszaros (Ottawa), Matt Carle (San Jose), Olaf Kolzig (Washington), Radim Vrbata (Phoenix), Mark Recchi (Atlanta), Vaclav Prospal (Philadelphia), Ryan Malone (Pittsburgh) and Gary Roberts (Pittsburgh). The Lightning announced another trade today, acquiring defenseman Lukas Krajicek and left wing Juraj Simek from Vancouver for defenseman Shane O'Brien and right wing Michel Ouellet.

- NHL Network Online host Carrie Milbank reports from Prague on today's episode of The Hockey Show. The show features Milbank touring the 1100 year old Czech capital, recaps of the NHL Premiere games in Stockholm and Prague, reports on a dinner with Czech Prime Minister Topolanek, a reception dinner for Tampa Bay Lightning fans, and samples the sights and sounds around the city. Carrie Milbank also interviews a Czech bartender about a special "NHL shot". A chilled beverage made of plum spirits and served in a shot glass made of ice. No word on if they served this drink at the Absolut Ice Bar in Stockholm.

- Stu Hackel of the New York Times Slapshots blog recaps the media coverage for Game 1 of the Rangers-Lightning, with a song by the Prague Ska Conspiracy as accompaniment. Frantisek Bouc reported on the first and second days of the NHL's Premiere debut for the Times, and posted a preview from Prague here.

- Tampa Bay Times beat writer Damian Cristodero posted a live question and answer session with fans while he was in Prague on Friday here. Several of the questions were prescient about today's trade for Lukas Krajicek and Juraj Simek. Steve Zipay of Newsday blogs about Chris Drury appointment to captain along with Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund as alternates, and quotes head coach Tom Renney on what each player will bring to the team. Dubi at the Blueshirt Bulletin also recaps media coverage of the games in Prague here.

- The puck drops here, NHL's New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning to face off in opening games at Prague's O2 Arena - Frantisek Bouc for the Prague Post.

Twenty-seven hours. This was all it took in late April to sell out more than 10,000 tickets reserved for Czech fans for the NHL Premiere games between the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning to be played Saturday, Oct. 4, and Sunday, Oct. 5, at Prague’s O2 Arena. Tickets disappeared quite fast despite the fact the game’s organizers had not announced the date of the sale in advance.“We would have been able to sell at least double the amount of the tickets [had the sales date been announced],” said Vladimír Šafařík, chief event organizer.

- It has slipped under the radar, but Google has updated its language tools offering to include rough English translations from Czech, Danish, Finnish, Russian and Swedish languages. A few permanent European hockey media links and translations have been added to the lower right sidebar. The Czech DNES newspaper was the only paper I could find in the Czech Republic to feature the NHL Premiere games on the front page, although not all papers are available online (visit newseum or press display for a list).

From DNES: Czech native and Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Vaclav Prospal answered reader questions here, posts a partial transcript from the NHLPA's Paul Kelly, interviews Rangers Czech defenseman Michael Rozsival on the loss of Jaromir Jagr to the KHL, interviews Tampa Bay Lightning video host Megan Bradley, and notes the early sucess of the Premiere games in Prague and a comparison of the Czech Extraliga to the NHL.

- Canucks Trade: Five Questions About Shane O'Brien & Michel Ouellet - Orland Kurtenblog.

Q: So what went wrong?

KB: Whatever problems head coach Barry Melrose had with O’Brien, they apparently came to a head during opening weekend in Prague. Here’s how it went down, according to Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times: On Saturday, O’Brien was fingered as the prime culprit for allowing Markus Naslund’s game-winning goal. On Sunday, O’Brien was a surprise scratch, with Melrose saying “We would like him [O’Brien] to be more physical, not run around as much and, hopefully, watching a game will be good for him." On Monday, O’Brien was traded to Vancouver and claimed he saw the move coming. So you either believe that 1) in 72 hours, O’Brien went from being a young cornerstone of the defence to an expendable part or 2) he was part of the old regime that the new regime didn’t like.

- Google's new Swedish translation made it much easier to follow Ottawa vs Pittsburgh from Stockholm via, and the two large Swedish papers Expressen and Aftonbladet.

Jante Abrahamsson of Hockeysverige posted video interviews on youtube with injured Ottawa center Mike Fisher and Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal. Fisher said he was disappointed he could not play in Stockholm, that Ottawa played with a lot of intensity both nights but looked a little sloppy in the second game, that he believes the Senators will be a better all around team with an in-your-face style this season, and that new head coach Craig Hartsburg will mould the team into one that is difficult to play against which will help late in the season. Jordan Staal mentioned that he needs to work more on his physical game and use his size better, that the Penguins were effective working Ottawa's defenseman down low, that he has chemistry with Malkin and a move from center on the third line to wing on Malkin's line could create a lot of opportunities. Great interviews.

- Expressen's Gustav Tagtstrom noted the warm response from fans at the Globe Arena for Mats Sundin's appearance at the cerimonal puck drop. That looked conspicuously like a farewell tribute. "It was a moment I will never forget" Sundin later told reporters. He says his decision on whether or not to retire will take place in the next two months. Mattias Ek penned somewhat of a bitter column, writing that Swedish fans finally received payback for the loss of so much Swedish talent to the NHL. Ek also admires the two referee system and the finality of an NHL shootout after 5 minutes of overtime.

In a second column, Mattias Ek writes that Ottawa captain can dish out the punishment as well as receive it. After two physical checks by Brooks Orpik and pesky Matt Cooke, Alfredsson was said to leave Globe Arena with a smile. His team registered 3 out of 4 points with the Stanley Cup finalist Pittsburgh Penguins, and he was leaving with 2 assists. "I like to play a little physical and sometimes engage in the clinch. So it's a little give and take" Alfredsson told A dissenting opinion comes from Magnus Nystrom, who writes that Alfredsson will never win a Stanley Cup with the Ottawa Senators.

Versus, who aired the day #2 of the NHL's Premiere Series, got a little love from Sweden in the form of Gunnar Nordstrom's blog. Nordstrom noted that during the first intermission, both Brian Engblom and Keith Jones downplayed Sundin's possible return to the NHL. Not to Vancouver because of travel, according to Engblom. And possible a late return to Montreal, but not Toronto, according to Jones.

- Aftonbladet TV has several slick flash video clips of the Ottawa/Pittsburgh visit to Stockholm. The commentary is in Swedish, but you can scroll through and find several NHL and SEL highlights. A Game 2 photo gallery from Aftonbladent is available here. A Game 1 photo gallery is available here.

[Update] Seth Rorabaugh (aka Empty Netters) at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette liveblogged the first and second games between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators in Stockholm.

[Update2] NHL demonstrates global appeal on season opener - Ian Winwood for the UK Guardian. Thanks to Paul of Kukla's Korner for the link.

[Update3] NHL gets sour review from Czech papers - Vancouver Sun. More from Blesk here.

Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area hosts Shark Week from October 6th through October 12th

Classic San Jose Sharks game vs Montreal Canadiens

A press release from the San Jose Sharks details a week of Sharks-related programing on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area. Shark Week kicks off tonight at 7PM with a classic Shark-Montreal game from 2008, heretofore known as the Brian Campbell "spin-o-rama" game. Tuesday night's classic Sharks game features a 2008 San Jose vs Anaheim contest, and Wednesday features Game 7 of the 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinal Stanley Cup Playoff series between San Jose and Calgary.

Thursday will air a new "Day in the Life" segment featuring Christian Ehrhoff and Marcel Goc, the new Comcast Bay Area half hour pre and post game shows, and San Jose's home opening game against the Anaheim Ducks. Friday Comcast will air another Sharks classic game, this time a thrilling come-from-behind Game #5 of the 2008 Western Conference Semifinal series with Dallas. Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th will finish off Shark Week with a home-at-home regular season series with the Southern California rival Los Angeles Kings.


Season Debut of Shark Byte and A Day In The Life, A New Series Featuring Sharks Players Marcel Goc and Christian Ehrhoff Debuts October 9 at 6:30 PM, Sharks-Ducks Opening Night October 9 at 7:00 PM, Comprehensive Game Coverage includes Sharks Pregame Live and Sharks Postgame Live

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the home of “Authentic Bay Area Sports,” celebrates the start of the 2008-09 National Hockey League season with Sharks Week, a week-long comprehensive coverage period of the San Jose Sharks. The week, which runs from Monday, October 6 through Sunday, October 12, starts with Sharks Classic Games, includes the season debut of Shark Byte and introduces of A Day in the Life. This all leads up to opening night when the Sharks host division-rival Anaheim.

Sharks Classic Games

As the defending Pacific Division champion Sharks get ready to make a run for the Stanley Cup, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area gears up for another exciting season of hockey by presenting Sharks Classic Games, a series of memorable contests from the 2007-08 season. The action begins on Monday, October 6 at 7:00 PM with an encore presentation of the Sharks-Canadians match from March 3, 2008. During the season, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area will present ten Sharks Classic Games. Each episode of Sharks Classic Games will be available on Comcast Cable’s ON-DEMAND.

Shark Byte

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area kicks off its eighth season of Shark Byte on Tuesday, October 7 at 6:30 PM. Hosted by Emmy Award winner Drew Remenda, Shark Byte gets on the ice and inside the locker room with exclusive Sharks insider footage and interviews with players and front office personnel you can’t find anywhere else.

The first episode of Shark Byte features new Sharks coach, Todd McLellan, showcasing the Stanley Cup he won last year in Detroit. The show, which was taped in McLellan’s hometown of Saskatoon, will also include new players, Rob Blake, Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich, with their perspective on playing for the Sharks and the state of training camp. Shark Byte will continue to air throughout the season, with episodes available on Comcast Cable’s ON-DEMAND.

A Day in the Life

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area debuts its newest series, A Day in the Life, a half-hour program featuring prominent Bay Area athletes, coaches, front office personnel and other relevant local sports personalities. The series highlights their personal lives away from the field, rink, court and office.

The series premiere of A Day in the Life follows Sharks Center Marcel Goc and Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to their favorite restaurant, Teske’s Germania in San Jose; on a tour of Goc’s home; and on a trip to their first MLS game with the San Jose Earthquakes.

A Day in the Life, featuring Marcel Goc and Christian Ehrhoff, airs Thursday, October 9 at 6:30 PM.

Opening Night

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area begins its coverage of Sharks hockey on opening night, Thursday, October 9, with Sharks Pregame Live at 7:00 PM, Sharks-Ducks at 7:30 PM, and Sharks Postgame Live following the contest.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the exclusive television home of Sharks hockey in Northern California, will present 70 Sharks games this season, including 40 HDTV telecasts. This season also marks the beginning of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Sharks Pregame Live and Sharks Postgame Live, which will air prior to and following selected Sharks broadcasts.

The complete schedule for Shark Week is as follows:

Monday, October 6:
Sharks Classic Game #1 – 7:00 PM. March 3, 2008: Sharks 6, Canadiens 4. On the strength of two Joe Thornton goals and highlight-reel tallies by Jonathan Cheechoo and Brian Campbell, the Sharks beat the Number One team in the East and their rookie goaltender sensation Carey Price.

Tuesday, October 7: Sharks Byte – 6:30 PM. Sharks Classic Game #2 – 7:00 PM. March 21, 2008: Sharks 2, Ducks 1: Jeremy Roenick’s 12th game-deciding goal of the season gave the Sharks a win over their arch rivals and an insurmountable lead in the Pacific Division race. The Sharks set a franchise record by holding the Ducks without a shot on goal in the third period.

Wednesday, October 8: Sharks Classic Game #3 – 7:00 PM. April 22, 2008: Sharks 5, Flames 3: In the first Game Seven ever played on San Jose ice, the Sharks eliminated the Flames. Jeremy Roenick delivered one of the greatest performances ever by a Shark: two goals and two assists when it mattered most.

Thursday October 9: A Day in the Life featuring Sharks Marcel Goc and Christian Ehrhoff (HDTV) – 6:30 PM. Sharks Pregame Live (HDTV) – 7:00 PM. Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks (HDTV) – 7:30 PM. Sharks Postgame Live (HDTV) – 10:00 PM.

Friday October 10: Sharks Classic Game #4 – 7:00 PM. May 2, 2008: Sharks 3, Stars 2, OT: Down two goals and two games in the series, with playoff elimination 14 minutes away, the Sharks started their historic postseason comeback. Goals by Milan Michalek and Brian Campbell tied the game and Joe Pavelski’s tally 65 seconds into overtime helped the Sharks evade elimination for the second straight time.

Saturday October 11: Sharks Pregame Live (HDTV) – 6:30 PM
Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks (HDTV) – 7:00 PM
Sharks Postgame Live (HDTV) – 9:30 PM

Sunday October 12: San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings – 6:00 PM.

[Update] The NHL Network debuted a new series in August called "Days That Changed the Game". The first episode in the series featured the Wayne Gretzky trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles that many say changed the face of hockey in California. The NHL Network will air 10 more original episodes of the series featuring interviews and archival footage.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Player movements announced 10/4

San Jose Sharks announced the assignment of C Logan Couture to the OHL Ottawa 67s, and D Derek Joslin to AHL Worcester Sharks.

That leaves 29 players in the NHL camp. Sharks need to get down to 23 by 10/8 deadline; excluding Torrey Mitchell who'll start the season on the Long Term Injured Reserve list.

Sharks also have to get 23-man roster under the salary cap by that deadline. (Yes, Mitchell's salary will apply to the cap hit, but the team can go "over" the cap by his salary for a replacement player.)

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Bite Hartford in OT, 3-2

The Worcester Sharks picked up their first preseason victory last night by defeating the Hartford Wolf Pack 3-2 in overtime at the Loring Arena in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The WorSharks got on the board with a power play goal early in the second period when Matt Jones poked a rebound of a P.J. Fenton blast through the five hole of Hartford netminder Martin Houle. Defenseman Brendan Buckley had the second helper on the tally.

Michel Leveille would tie the game for the Wolf Pack, and he flipped a Brodie Dupont feed past WorSharks goaltender Kyle Jones at 11:17. Dupont, who had fought WorSharks left winger James McEwan (ATO, WHL-Kelowna) in the first period, completed the Gordie Howe hat trick with an unassisted goal at 17:58 to give Hartford the 2-1 lead going into the locker rooms.

Worcester came out strong in the third period, and got the equalizer at 4:17 when Andrew Desjardins (PTO, CHL-Laredo) threw a cross slot pass right on the tape of Fenton's stick, who one-timed it past a sprawling Houle.

The game would go into overtime, and Patrick Traverse took a Michael Wilson (TO, WHL-Swift Current) feed inside his own zone and went coast to coast, blasting a low slapshot past Houle from just inside the Hartford blueline for the 3-2 victory.

Jones finished the game with 22 saves, while Houle stopped 34 in a losing effort. Worcester went 1 for 6 on the power play, Hartford went 0 for 4.

During the third period it was noticed that T.J. Fox was no longer on the Worcester bench. There was no details available for his absence.

Loring Arena is a very old facility, and the benches are on opposite sides of the ice. The WorSharks were technically sitting on the vistor's bench, with the penalty boxes being on the opposite side of the ice next to the Hartford bench. The location of the penalty boxes didn't really create an advantage for either team.

There were four fights in the game, with McEwan losing battles with Dupont and Will Bodine. Dan DaSilva (PTO, AHL-Lake Eire) took on AHL tough guy Dane Byers in a hug-fest after Byers threw a big open ice hit, and Frazier McLaren pounded Hartford defenseman Jared Nightingale.

The three stars of the game, according to, were:
1. Traverse (GWG)
2. Fenton (1g, 1a)
3. Dupont (1g, 1a)
No real arguments there, but an honorable mention should go to both Kyle Jones and Martin Houle, who both had outstanding games in their respective nets.

These are the lines the WorSharks used to start the game. There was some mixing going on as the game progressed.
Even strength


Penalty Kill


Power play


Friday, October 3, 2008

Max Giese: Rookies make strong push for final roster spots in Vancouver

The San Jose Sharks lost Thursday, 3-2 in Vancouver at the hands of former Shark Steve Bernier and his new linemates the Sedin twins. While the loss stings and the Sharks continue to struggle on the power-play during the pre-season, there were a few bright spots. Mainly the rookies that were in the line-up trying to win one of the final roster spots available.

Lukas Kaspar, the Sharks first round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, was the last man cut from training-camp a year ago and is once again a bubble boy heading into the last week of camp. The left-winger saw limited ice time on the fourth line against Vancouver, but that was all that he needed to leave a favorable impression. Kaspar's defensive positioning was exceptional, as he created three turn-overs and blocked a shot. It was Kaspar's work on the forecheck that put the Canucks' defenders under duress and it was his defensive posturing that created the turn-over that lead to Riley Armstrongs first period goal. Kaspar is also a talented offensive player with a strong passing game and a big time shot. He appears ready to contribute in the NHL full-time this year, but he needs to keep his intensity high and shed the label of being an enigma to earn Tod McLellan's trust.

Speaking of Riley Armstrong, his pugnacious play jumped out as he was able to provide the line-up with grit and a never back down type of attitude. He isn't the biggest or most talented player, but Armstrong showcased his quickness and ability to knock larger opponents off of their feet with his ferocious forecheck. Armstrong scored the Sharks first goal by fighting off multiple Canucks while drawing a penalty before firing the shot five-hole. He noticeably got under a few Canucks skin and even looked good when he was put on a line with Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau late in the game.

On defense rookies Derek Joslin and Mike Moore were in the line-up. Moore showcased his toughness, by dropping the gloves in the first period and was seemingly all over the ice trying to make something happen. That assertiveness is his strength that allows him to score goals, make big hits, and spark his team with a scrap. But, it also has its downside which was what we saw against Vancouver. Moore was guilty of running around and chasing the play too much, a trait that will likely have him in Worcester to begin the season.

Moore's counterpart Derek Joslin on the other hand looked to have ice water running through his veins and was very impressive. His play is reminiscent to that of Marc-Edouard Vlasic's during his rookie year, as Joslin can settle his team down with his efficient play and remarkable poise. Joslin also appears to have physically blossomed and is a fairly athletic defenseman with a big shot from the point. His first-pass was on the mark every time and besides Dan Boyle, no Shark defenseman was more solid than Derek Joslin, who looks NHL ready and may very well start the season as the Sharks 6th defenseman.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Player movements announced 10/1

The San Jose Sharks announced assignment of six more players to the AHL Worcester Sharks camp.

This leaves the remaining rookies and tryout hopeful of making the opening night roster.

31 left in NHL camp (need to get down to 23; plus expect Torrey Mitchell to start the season on the injured reserve list as the 24th guy in San Jose).

Max Giese: October 1st Prospect Rankings


1. Nick Petrecki, D, Boston College (NCAA)
2. Thomas Greiss, G, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
3. Derek Joslin, D, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
Poised, heady, and his physical abilities continue to progress.
4. Mike Moore, D, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
Assertively changes the complexion of the game in a positive way.
5. Jamie McGinn, LW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
Impressive tenacity and strength in front of the net and along the wall.
6. Lukas Kaspar, LW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
7. Steven Zalewski, C, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
8. Logan Couture, C, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
Dissapointing camp and development so far; maybe injury prone as well.
9. Mike Morris, RW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
Healthy and now showcasing his great hockey sense and detailed game.
10. Timo Pielmeier, G, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Had a strong rookie tournament and showing in camp.
11. Tyson Sexsmith, G, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
12. Nick Bonino, LW, Boston University (NCAA)
13. Jason Demers, D, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
A real firecracker that can move the puck and take the body.
14. Justin Daniels, C, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
His poise and play-making was awesome at the Fall-Classic.
15. Samuel Groulx, D, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Maturity and hockey sense earned high grades at camp.
16. Matt Jones, RW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
17. Harri Sateri, G, Tappara Tampere (FIN)
18. Alex Stalock, G, Minnesota Duluth (NCAA)
19. Frazer McLaren, LW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
20. Brad Staubitz, RW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
Pure energy and physicality; is making a run at a spot on the fourth line.
21. Riley Armstrong, RW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
22. Tommy Wingels, C, Miami Ohio (NCAA)
23. Taylor Dakers, G, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
24. Tony Lucia, C, Minnesota Gophers (NCAA)
25. Justin Braun, D, University Massachusetts (NCAA)
26. Julien Demers, D, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
27. Drew Daniels, RW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
28. T.J. Fox, C, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
29. Ashton Rome, RW, Worcester Sharks (AHL)
30. Patrick Zackrisson, LW, Linkoping HC (SEL)
31. Will Colbert, D, St. Francis Xavier (CIS)
32. Carter Lee, RW, Lake Superior State (NCAA)
33. John McCarthy, LW, Boston University (NCAA)
34. Christian Jensen, D, RPI (NCAA)

Daniels Twins at the USHL Fall-Classic
Sioux City was the host city for this years USHL Fall-Classic and both Justin and Drew Daniels performed well at the event. Justin was drafted in the third round at the 2008 draft and is clearly the more skilled of the two. He's a real play-making threat, although he does need to become more physical. Drew on the other hand doesn't have the high-end offensive exploits that his brother does, but he is the better finisher of the two and plays more physical. I was in attendance for the event and here are the scouting reports on the twins.

Justin Daniels (SJS), C, Sioux City
A cerebral play-making centerman .. swift in full-flight with long strides, Justin also possesses the acceleration and agility to slither away from opponent checkers .. his first-step is fine, although quickening his feet will prove beneficial .. Justin has great hockey sense, creativity in tight confinements, and is never pigeonholed while carrying the puck .. can control the pace of the play when the puck is on his stick thanks to his tremendous poise and patience .. disguises his intentions and see lanes that most can’t .. can deliver tape-to-tape passes through congested areas and utilizes secondary options innately .. skillful with nice moves, but his shot needs work .. anticipates the play well and properly employees his elongated reach as an asset in his own zone .. lacks physicality, however he does come deep into his own zone to aide in defensive coverage .. protects the puck well and does an excellent job escaping traffic while retaining possession, although he is more slippery than overpowering .. needs improve on his consistency and become more physical, as he puzzlingly only finishes his checks when his brother is on the ice with him .. played on both special teams and should be the key offensive catalyst for the Sioux City Musketeers this season.

Drew Daniels (SJS), RW, Sioux City
A physical winger .. an upright skater that still needs to get lower in his stride, as he’s not as quick or fluent of a skater as his brother .. not as skilled as his brother either, but he is the better finisher of the two and remains a solid presence with the puck .. owns a nice repertoire of slick stick fakes and assertively uses his big frame to attack the net .. a decent set-up man on the power-play with above-average on-ice vision and puck smarts .. comes deep into his own zone to aide in defensive coverage and authoritatively utilizes his big frame to punish opponents by throwing jolting body checks .. goes hard to the net and is difficult to budge once there .. Drew has strong puck-protection capabilities which allow him to cycle the puck well and he should prove capable of carrying defenders on his back to the net once he fills out .. more combative and physical than his brother, but doesn’t share the high end playmaking skills.

Interview with John McCarthy Terrierhockey recently posted an interview with John McCarthy on their blog. Here is the link to check it out.
"Q—You joined Nick Bonino at San Jose Sharks development camp this past summer. What did that experience do for you? A—I thought it was a great experience just to see the guys that played in the NHL and what they do on a day-to-day basis to get themselves in the position that they are in. It was definitely a learning experience that I felt helped me become a better player."