Sunday, January 31, 2010

Demers and Marleau each double up in 5-2 win over Minnesota, teams combine for 6 straight power play goals

San Jose Sharks Minnesota Wild NHL hockey pic Patrick Marleau Mikko Koivu
San Jose Sharks Minnesota Wild Scott Nichol hockey check hit Kim Johnsson
San Jose Sharks defenseman Team Sweden olympian Douglas Murray

The San Jose Sharks rebounded from an OT loss to Chicago by powering to a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday night at HP Pavilion. Defenseman Jason Demers and NHL leading goal scorer Patrick Marleau each add a pair of power play goals, and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 36 of 38 shots against to bolster San Jose's position atop the league.

Longtime former Sharks captain Owen Nolan opened the scoring for Minnesota. As center Eric Belanger and former Hab Guillaume Latendresse broke into the offensive zone, Nolan beat Jay Leach to the front of the net and tipped a shot short side. It was the first in a string of 6 straight power play goals by both teams. The Sharks answered with seconds ticking down on the man advantage. Rookie defenseman Jason Demers took a feed from Ryane Clowe on the point and uncorked a rising slapshot that beat Josh Harding up high.

Reigning NHL hit leader Cal Clutterbuck, who would send Jed Ortmeyer cartwheeling over the boards and onto the bench later in the game, added a second power play goal. After leach blocked a shot by Brodziak behind the net, Brunette gathered the rebound and banked a pass of the end boards back to him. Brodziak snapped a hard pass to Clutterback at the top of the crease, and he punched it home for a 2-1 lead. A large contingent of Minnesota Wild season ticket holders who made the trip to San Jose for the game cheered loudly, and in response were boo'd heavily by the partisan San Jose crowd. With several of their own chants, flags and songs, they looked more like a soccer supporter's group.

Backup goaltender Josh Harding has been carrying the load with starging goalie Nicklas Backstrom out, but Harding injured his hip 2 days earlier in a 29 save shutout over the Avalanche (he did not leave the game as late callup Wade Dubielewicz arrived shortly before the drop of the puck). On the long skate to the opposite crease, Harding was heavily favoring his injured side. It was even more noticeable in the brief warmup before the second period. Holding off waves of San Jose Sharks scoring chances would be a difficult proposition healthy, injured and having to fend off 5 more power plays would prove insurmountable.

Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson was checked hard on the penalty kill, and pressured into a pass up center ice. Defenseman Jason Demers held the puck in, took 2 strides to his right to open a shooting lane, and wristed a hard shot by Harding for his second goal of the game. Game tied 2-2. As Harding pushed across the crease to his left, Demers shot across the grain and through traffic to beat him on the opposite side.

Nabokov held off a furious Wild assault in the second period, as Minnesota outshot San Jose 18-12. Captain Mikko Koivu nearly doubled the next highest shot total of the game with 9. Minnesota was caught on a shorthanded line change, Joe Pavelski accelerated uncontested down the left wing and snapped a shot just under the crossbar blocker side. He hopped over a sliding Brent Burns and dropped to one knee to give an Alexander Ovechkin fist pump, one that many Americans hope he can replicate as a member of Team USA in the Olympics.

The Sharks kept pressing, and the Wild kept affording them power plays in the third period. Patrick Marleau scored his first goal of the game at 13:14 on a shot that the radio broadcast thought went off the face of Dany Heatley on the doorstep. Instead it was an errant stick by defenseman Marek Zidlicky that went up high. Marleau's league leading 36th goal of the season was followed just over 2 minutes later by his 37th. Dany Heatley picked the puck of the boards on another power play, and drove down the right wing. Marleu made a b-line down the left side, and a pass through the slot was deflected into the air by the stick of defenseman Zdlicky. Marleau punched home the goal with a baseball swing out of mid-air as the sellout crowd of 17,562 celebrated. "I just hoped for the best. It was just at the right height and I happened to get a stick on it," Marleau told reporters after the game.

A photo gallery from the game is available here, video highlights are available here.

[Update] San Jose Sharks 5, Wild 2; Wild gives up franchise-record four power-play goals - Russo's Rants.

So obviously, like the loss here in October, it's a frustrating defeat because the score looks one-sided and it wasn't. The Wild skated right with San Jose, took 38 shots, had great chances. In fact, this was one of the most exciting hockey games I've covered this year. It was fast, up-and-down, great puck movement, lots of turnovers, which in my opinion, always makes for fun hockey because that leads to a lot of chances.

Just a fun game for the always passionate soldout Sharks faithful, but a painful loss for the Wild because everybody right above the Wild who played tonight won -- Calgary, LA , Phoenix, Nashville. So the Wild fell four points behind now eighth-place Calgary and heads to Dallas, where it hasn't won at in almost seven years.

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Drop Overtime Game To Lowell 4-3

The Worcester Sharks suffered what appeared to be two losses Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, a 4-3 overtime hockey game to the Lowell Devils, and Rookie of the Year candidate and leading scorer Logan Couture to what looked like a left shoulder injury.

Lowell would open the scoring at 2:38 of the first period when Alexander Vasyunov saw WorSharks defenseman Nick Petrecki giving far too much room to Stephen Gionta in front of the Worcester net, and Vasyunov wasted no time in getting the puck to the Devils captain. Worcester goaltender Alex Stalock had no chance, and it was 1-0 Lowell.

The Devils would make it 2-0 with a power play tally at 8:06 of the second period when defenseman Tyler Eckford fired a booming shot from the point beat Stalock cleanly.

Benn Ferriero would get Worcester within a goal at 10:32 of the second just after the WorSharks had killed off a minor to Danny Groulx. While shorthanded and just a handful of seconds left in the penalty, the WorSharks cleared the puck into the Devils zone. Ferriero was offside by five feet or more when the puck was dumped in, but neither linesman made the call and play continued. With Worcester forechecking for several seconds a clearing attempt by Lowell was picked off by Ferriero, who blasted a shot past the blocker of Lowell netminder Jeff Frazee to make it 2-1.

The WorSharks would get the equalizer with a power play tally of their own at 15:58 when Danny Groulx blasted a slap shot from the point that Frazee had come out so far to cut off the angle of that Couture was standing behind. The blast found an opening to light the lamp, with Steven Zalewski and Jamie McGinn getting the assists.

Worcester has gotten into the bad habit of giving up goals late in periods, and they did it again at 19:12 when Brad Mills flipped a lose puck over Stalock to give Lowell a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.

Ferriero's second of the game would knot the game at 3-3 at 7:00 of the third period. Steven Zalewski pounced on a loose puck deep in the Lowell zone when Devils defenseman Matthew Corrente fell down and fed Couture at the halfboards, and Couture found Ferriero alone in the slot for the game tying tally.

Worcester was rolling along looking for the potential leading goal when Couture was checked from behind into the boards by the visitors exit by defenseman Olivier Magnan. Couture appeared to injure his left shoulder, and as he left the ice through the visitors exit he was bent over and didn't straighten up as he was led down the tunnel. Referee Ghislain Hebert, in a move that this writer will unapologetically call "gutless", sent Magnan to the box for just a minor.

Couture did not return to the game, and the extent of his injury is unknown.

Lowell center Michael Swift would get the game winner at 1:55 of overtime when Petecki backed off Devils center Ben Walter so far that Walter had an open lane to pass the puck to Swift uncovered in the slot.

Worcester scratches were Ryan Vesce, Joe Callahan, Michael Wilson, Cory Quirk and Dennis McCauley. With Wilson being injured Worcester recalled defenseman Louis Liotti from the K-Wings. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender.

The start of the game was delayed about 15 minutes due to a broken pane of glass in the Lowell zone. The glass was broken when a shot during warm-ups missed the net, and it's the first broken pane since the boards and glass were replaced over the summer during phase one of the DCU Center's renovation project.

At the end of regulation Worcester's rookie netminder Alex Stalock made a very veteran move that won't appear in the boxscore. After Lowell broke into the WorSharks zone as time was winding down Stalock made a routine glove save, and as the 5,147 fans in attendance were counting down the last few ticks of the period Stalock chose to toss the puck into the empty far corner to keep the clock running instead of giving Lowell a late faceoff deep in the Worcester zone.

Bryan Marchment joined head coach Roy Sommer and assistant head coach David Cunniff behind the Worcester bench.

The three stars of the game were
1. Ferriero (2g)
2. Gionta (g,a)
3. Swift (gwg)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Steven Zalewski.

Lowell 1 2 0 1 - 4
Worcester 0 2 1 0 - 3

1st Period-1, Lowell, Gionta 10 (Vasyunov, Taormina), 2:38. Penalties-Corrente Low (instigating, fighting, misconduct - instigating), 11:47; Desjardins Wor (boarding, fighting), 11:47.

2nd Period-2, Lowell, Eckford 8 (Walter, Swift), 8:06 (pp). 3, Worcester, Ferriero 12 10:32. 4, Worcester, Groulx 5 (Zalewski, McGinn), 15:58 (pp). 5, Lowell, Mills 8 (Gionta), 19:12. Penalties-Petrecki Wor (tripping), 1:37; Ferriero Wor (goaltender interference), 7:48; Groulx Wor (delay of game), 8:19; Desjardins Wor (kneeing), 11:17; Davison Low (hooking), 14:25; Eckford Low (high-sticking), 16:56; Davison Low (roughing), 19:12; Ferriero Wor (roughing), 19:12.

3rd Period-6, Worcester, Ferriero 13 (Zalewski, Couture), 7:00. Penalties-Magnan Low (boarding), 13:42; Davison Low (roughing), 15:48; Petrecki Wor (roughing), 15:48.

OT Period-7, Lowell, Swift 12 (Walter, Murphy), 1:55. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal
Lowell 9-9-11-2-31
Worcester 10-9-15-0-34.

Power Play Opportunities
Lowell 1 of 4
Worcester 1 of 3.

Lowell, Frazee 12-10-0 (34 shots-31 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 26-11-1 (31 shots-27 saves).

A-5,147. Referee-Ghislain Hebert (49). Linesmen-Todd Whittemore (70), John Costello (24).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Survive Late Penalty Shot To Defeat Manitoba 5-3

The Worcester Sharks used goals from five different players and survived a third period onslaught and a late penalty shot to defeat the Manitoba Moose 5-3 on "Guarantee Win Night" Friday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The old saying is it's a cardinal sin to give up a goal in the first or last minute of a period, and unfortunately for Worcester they did both during period number one Friday night. The first goal came just 53 seconds into the first period when Guillaume Desbiens and Mario Bliznak broke in against rookie Joe Loprieno, with Loprieno's defensive partner Nick Petrecki no where to be found. The rookie played it decently, but Desbiens was still able to get a pass over to Bliznak who fired it past WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock for a 1-0 Moose lead.

The second "sin" goal happened with 25 seconds left in the period when Desbiens skated in against four Worcester players down the left side as the Moose were changing lines. Defenseman Michael Wilson played it just about perfectly, forcing Desbiens to stay wide. Desbiens' incredible laser from a bad angle found just a small opening over Stalock's left shoulder and snuck into the far corner to light the lamp.

Worcester would have a goal of their own between they two bookend Moose tallies at 13:21 of the period. Dan DaSilva fed Mike Moore at the point, and Moore's attempted pass to Dwight Helminen at the far post was deflected away by the Moose defense. Brandon Mashinter jumped on the loose puck in the right circle and whistled a backhander past Moose netminder Cory Schneider for the rookie's 14th of the season.

Despite giving up that late first period goal, the young WorSharks squad came out like lightning in the middle stanza, and drew the game even at 1:13 of the second period with some hard work from the fourth line when a wide open Frazer McLaren ripped a wrist shot from the slot past the blocker of Schneider after a nice centering feed from Mashinter.

The WorSharks would have a golden chance to take the lead with 43 seconds of five on three play during the middle of the period, but twice the Moose were able to get control and clear the puck. Worcester's head coach Roy Sommer was clearly upset about his team's inability to even keep the puck in the zone with a two man advantage, kicking the boards behind the bench area in anger. Jamie McGinn would put a smile back on Sommer's face just a handful of seconds later when Worcester was able to convert with just a single man advantage.

With Worcester's power play hardly firing on all cylinders, McGinn fixed the problem when he grabbed a loose puck at the Moose blueline and skated with the puck in the blue paint. He found Benn Ferriero at the right halfboards and played give-and-go with his line mate as he skated into the slot. McGinn's shot whizzed past past the blocker of Schneider for a 3-2 WorSharks lead at 10:42 of the second. Steven Zalewski had the second assist on the goal.

Worcester would get a much needed insurance goal at 15:26 of the third period when a lucky bounce landed right at the feet of John McCarthy. Worcester had just broken into the Manitoba zone on a three on two, and after their scoring chance went wide McCarthy was knocked to the ice just outside the far post. The puck went around to Wilson, whose blast from the left point was deflected away from the net by Moose defenseman Lawrence Nycholat. A great bounce for the WorSharks put the pick right at the feet of McCarthy, who had just regained his skates from being knocked down in the original break in. McCarthy buried the biscuit for the 4-2 lead. Andrew Desjardins notched an assist on the play for his feed to Wilson at the point.

The WorSharks would need that insurance marker as Manitoba would get a goal of their own at 16:52 when Brian Salcido fired a booming slapshot off a clean face-off win past the glove of Stalock to make it 4-3.

The Moose would have their best chance to get the equalizer at 17:22 when referee Ghislain Hebert ruled that Desbiens was hauled down from behind on a breakaway chance by Loprieno, a call that looked "iffy" at best and was argued by alternate captain Moore to no avail. Stalock wouldn't need to come up with a big save as Desbiens fired his chance right into the chest of the rookie netminder.

Worcester would ice the game with a very late empty net goal by Helminen, with assists to Cory Quirk and Danny Groulx, for the 5-3 final.

The Worcester shuttle made another stop in the Bay State yesterday, dropping off Logan Couture and picking up Derek Joslin. Jason Demers, who had been reassigned to Worcester, either did not return to Worcester or was turned around at some point in his journey back east. With Joslin being recalled to San Jose the WorSharks recalled defenseman Will Colbert from the K-Wings.

WorSharks scratches were Joe Callahan (neck; out long term), Logan Couture (healthy; didn't arrive until after game time), Dennis McCauley (healthy), Ryan Vesce (groin; officially "day to day") . Tyson Sexsmith was the backup netminder.

There was one fight in the contest, with Andrew Desjardins taking on the Moose's Taylor Ellington. Desjardins gets the knock out victory by landing several unanswered blows that knocked Ellington to the ice.

The WorSharks much maligned penalty kill, ranked 26 out of 29 American Hockey League teams at just 79.3%, killed all 11 Manitoba power plays in the two games this week.

Friday's contest was a "Guaranteed Win" night for Worcester, and had they lost fans would have received a free ticket to next Friday's home game against Lowell. With the win, the WorSharks have chosen to "let it ride" and guaranteed a win next Friday.

During both intermissions the WorSharks held a fundraising contest on the concourse behind press row to raise money for the Haitian relief efforts. WorSharks captain Ryan Vesce sat behind one table and veteran defenseman Joe Callahan sat behind another, each urging fans to donate into the player's bucket to see which player could raise the most funds. Vesce was just able to squeak out a small victory over Callahan as the players raised over $700 in total.

The three stars of the game were
1. Mashinter (g,a)
2. Desbiens (g,a)
3. McCarthy (gwg)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Alex Stalock.

Even Strength Lines


Penalty Kill Lines


Power Play Lines


Manitoba 2 0 1 - 3
Worcester 1 2 2 - 5

1st Period-1, Manitoba, Bliznak 6 (Desbiens, Keane), 0:53. 2, Worcester, Mashinter 14 (Moore, DaSilva), 13:21. 3, Manitoba, Desbiens 10 (Keane), 19:35. Penalties-served by Zalewski Wor (bench minor - too many men), 6:27; Grabner Mtb (hooking), 11:08; Moore Wor (interference), 14:33; Trevelyan Wor (high-sticking), 17:01.

2nd Period-4, Worcester, McLaren 2 (Mashinter), 1:13. 5, Worcester, McGinn 6 (Ferriero, Zalewski), 10:42 (pp). Penalties-Trevelyan Wor (tripping), 3:10; Salcido Mtb (slashing), 8:03; Desbiens Mtb (roughing), 9:10; Pettinger Mtb (goaltender interference), 9:10; Groulx Wor (roughing), 9:10; Ellington Mtb (fighting), 17:54; Murray Mtb (roughing), 17:54; Desjardins Wor (goaltender interference, fighting), 17:54; Moore Wor (delay of game), 18:06.

3rd Period-6, Worcester, McCarthy 8 (Wilson, Desjardins), 15:26. 7, Manitoba, Salcido 7 (Galvin, Bliznak), 16:52. 8, Worcester, Helminen 8 (Quirk, Groulx), 19:58 (en). Penalties-No Penalties

Missed Penalty Shot
Desbiens Mtb, 17:22 of 3rd Period (rule 57.3)

Shots on Goal
Manitoba 14-7-11-32
Worcester 13-10-10-33.

Power Play Opportunities
Manitoba 0 of 5
Worcester 1 of 3

Manitoba, Schneider 19-14-1 (32 shots-28 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 26-10-1 (32 shots-29 saves).

A-3,717. Referee-Ghislain Hebert (49). Linesmen-Tim Low (68), Todd Whittemore (70).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Troy Brouwer stops Sharks 3-goal comeback, scores in OT to give Blackhawks 4-3 win

Chicago right wing Troy Brouwer stopped a 3-goal Sharks comeback with an overtime goal, his second of the game, to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 OT win over the San Jose Sharks Thursday night at HP Pavilion. In the "Best of the West" battle for first place in the NHL, the Sharks surrendered 3 even-strength goals in less than 8 and a half minutes to put themselves squarely behind the 8-ball early in the first period.

The game consisted of a series of pivotal momentum swings that could have playoff implications. After Ben Eager took a charging penalty at 2:26, the Hawks repeatedly denied the Sharks power play entry into the offensive zone. Dominating the regular season series between the two teams (2-1), Chicago's quick transition game and puck possession caused matchup and coverage problems for San Jose. On this penalty kill, it helped them shut down the neutral zone and San Jose's first special teams opportunity. A minute and 14 seconds later, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien combined for a one-timer from the slot to open the scoring.

The momentum continued to build for the Blackhawks as the Sharks tried to press. Shortly after Jonathan Toews hit the post, Dany Heatley tried a dramatic deke around Troy Brouwer. Joe Thornton could not gather the loose puck, and a quick breakout pass by Toews to Brouwer opened him up for an uncontested shot on the left wing. Brouwer held on to the puck on his stick, then snapped a shot that beat Nabokov cleanly. Chicago scored 2 quick goals in 48 seconds, capitalizing on a pair of broken plays. A Thornton turnover and an ill-timed defensive change contributed to the first goal, another neutral zone turnover set the table for the second.

Todd McLellan called a timeout to stem the bleeding, but it did not help. On a lazy play behind the goal line, rookie defenseman Jason Demers did not match the urgency of right wing Marian Hossa bearing down on him. The result was another turnover, a quick shot on goal, and a faceoff in the Sharks d-zone. Patrick Sharp won a draw against the NHL's leading faceoff artist Manny Malhotra, and hit Andrew Ladd for a quick shot on goal. His legs moving, Shark was the first player to reach the rebound as Ladd beat Rob Blake for stick position in front of the net. Another one-timer resulted in a 3-goal lead for the Blackhawks.

Forced against a wall, it would get a little better before it got worse. Goaltender Thomas Greiss was sent back into the locker room to make game preperations, but head coach Todd McLellan left Evgeni Nabokov in net. A quick outlet pass by Douglas Murray sprung Patrick Marleau in the neutral zone. As the Blackhawks were caught in a line change, Marleau held on to the puck as Marc-Edouard Vlasic drove down the left wing and Joe Pavelski drove to the net. Marleau fed a Vlasic, who spun towards the crease and hammered a shot/pass off the stick of Pavelski to make the score 3-1.

Vlasic earned his 10th assist of the season on the play, but an ice-time leader and the player with the second longest ironman streak in Teal would be out of the game with 10 shifts (7:25 TOI) in the first period. Already missing Dan Boyle, the Sharks defense had to scramble on pairings and matchups in Vlasic's absence. The momentum swung back in Chicago's favor on a second penalty kill, as they denied San Jose an entry into the offensive zone 3 straight times.

"The start was unacceptable, we are all going to talk about how hard we fought and how we worked our way back into a game, but start was unacceptable to me," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said after the game. "The mistakes we made in the first 5 minutes, that is not a characteristic of ours... you are not going to win many games against good teams in this league with that kind of start."

The Sharks would work their way back into contention, and early in the second period it was the fourth line of Jody Shelley, Brad Staubitz and recent AHL Worcester callup Logan Couture who provided a energizing shift. A Brent Seabrook shot hobbled defenseman Douglas Murray, but after a brief visit to the locker room he returned to the bench. A lot of the Sharks pressure in the second period was a simple return to basics. Devin Setoguchi fired a quick shot on net, and Pavelski battled for a rebound as goaltender Cristobal Huet bobbled it. On another sequence, Dany Heatley sidestepped a Seabrook check as the Chicago defenseman nearly landed on top of his own goaltender.

Pavelski would punch through for his second goal of the game on the power play 17:40 into the second period, assists by Jason Demers and Dany Heatley. With Pavelski and Demers manning the point on the PP, Pavelski unloaded a shot with 2 Blackhawks and 1 Shark providing traffic in front of Huet. The shot deflected off of Hossa, and bounced twice off the ice before beating Huet cleanly inside the post. Huet made very little effort to keep his eyes on the puck through traffic, set up in the wrong position on the shot, and made no effort to stop Pavelski's shot (a sign he could not see it).

The Sharks television broadcast described the second period Thursday night as San Jose's best against Chicago all season. That momentum continued, as Huet was forced to stop 4 quality scoring chances early in the period. A Rob Blake point shot was tipped by Huet by Manny Malhotra to tie the game at 3-3. The Sharks were in business, 15:04 was left to decide first place in the Western Conference and first place in the NHL. Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenville, briefly rumored for the opening in San Jose before Todd McLellan was named, called a timeout to give his players a breather.

After outshooting Chicago 19-10 in the second, the pendulum would swing to 18-11 in the Blackhawks favor in the third. The shot total skyrocketed during one extended sequence in the Sharks defensive zone at 13:10. For 55 seconds the Sharks failed to clear the puck 4 times, committed 2 turnovers, and Heatley was forced to give his stick to Murray in a scramble down low. On another extended scramble at the end of the third, Logan Couture made a desperate clear just outside of his own blueline. It was Chicago pressing hard to put the game away in regulation, allowing overtime would give the Sharks a point and leave them at the top of the standings. A turnover by Joe Thornton created another Chicago rush, and in a desperation move Thornton earned a delay of game penalty trying while prone trying to glove a rebound into his body. Evegni Nabokov stopped all 18 shots he faced in the period, Manny Malhotra and Rob Blake combined for the game tying goal, but all of the momentum left the Sharks balloon at the end of the period and the scrambled just to make it into overtime.

The Sharks successfully killed a 33 second Blackhawks power play in OT, and a driving Rob Blake tried to hit Joe Thornton on the doorstep for the game winner. The puck deflected wide, and 4-on-4 the Blackhawks were able to instantly transition up ice. Troy Brouwer entered the Sharks zone, dropped Jason Demers with a fake shot, and wristed home the game winner at 1:37. In possibly the Sharks largest regular season test of the second half, they came out flat and leaved themselves more questions than answers heading into the postseason.

Dany Heatley registered his 600th NHL point with an assist on Joe Pavelski's second goal of the game. Following in Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum's footsteps, SF Giants teammate Pablo Sandoval dropped the puck prior to the Blackhawks game. "It's my first game, I am excited to be a part of the game," he said during an in-game interview. "I just like the fights." The Sharks accepted fan donations to support the victims in Haiti before the game. In an interview with the NHL hour host Gary Bettman on Thursday, EVP/GM Doug Wilson said that the Worcester AHL affiliate also had a program in place to raise money for Haiti. "Our organization, our fans, our players are all committed to helping people that are in a terrible situation because of that tragedy," Wilson told Bettman. The NHL and NHLPA each made previous $100,000 donations.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

DOH Podcast #84

Mike Peattie and Doug Santana discuss Avatar, recent Sharks wins over Anaheim and Buffalo, a turning point win over Calgary, the salary cap and on ice ramifications of defensive waiver pickup Jay Leach, the Worcester shuttle journey of Jason Demers, an analysis of a listener Pavel Kubina trade proposal, and preview Thursday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks on the 84th episode of Dudes on Hockey.

This Sharks podcast is posted here with permission. Visit for more coverage of the team, or download the MP3 file directly here.

Shark Notes - 1/28

San Jose Sharks face off against Chicago Blackhawks tonight NHL hockey
San Jose Sharks pick up secondary scoring in January

- The San Jose Sharks (35-10-8, 1st Pacific, 1st NHL) face off against the Chicago Blackhawks (36-13-4, 1st Central, 2nd NHL) for a heavily anticipated battle between the two top teams in the Western Conference tonight at HP Pavilion. The Sharks answered an embarassing and out of character 7-2 loss to Chicago Nov. 25, one where they allowed a franchise worst 3 short-handed goals against, with a 3-2 win at the United Center on the back of a sparkling 45-save performance by Evgeni Nabokov.

The Sharks are rolling on a 5-game unbeaten streak, having registered 15 out of a possible 16 points in the last 8 games. A subtle lineup change against Edmonton, and possible a shaved head by Devin Setoguchi, mixed up the offensive attack for the Sharks and has produced results. Manny Malhotra joined center Joe Pavelski and right wing Devin Setoguchi on the second line. Instead of trying to shoehorn Setoguchi in to the Milan Michalek role from last season, where the second line carried the Sharks down the stretch, Malhotra and Setoguchi add speed to each wing to the playmaking U.S. Olympian Pavelski.

Dropping a blue collar 6-foot-2, 225-pound Ryane Clowe to the third line along with Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer has created a perfect "grind line" that does most of its work in dirty areas. After ending a 9-game goal scoring drought, Clowe said it was not a change in "chemistry" that resulted in the success, but a change in the environment and a change in linemates that helped him mix up his play. After going 6 games without a goal from anyone not on the top Marleau-Thornton-Heatley line, Pavelski, Clowe and Setoguchi all broke scoring droughts and helped the secondary scoring actually outpace primary scoring over the last 6 games.

The Sharks penalty kill has been well documented, Marleau-Pavelski, Nichol-Ortmeyer, and Thornton-Heatley have clicked to the point that the PK is measured by the number of shutouts instead of a percentage. They have held opposing power plays scoreless 9 times in the last 12 games. Goals against per game have also dropped from 2.06/gm to 1.3/gm in the last 2 months, and shots against slightly from 31.5/gm to 31/gm.

According to San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle is expected to miss his third game tonight with an upper body injury. Earlier this season on his blog Boyle mentioned that this season was "the toughest year for me yet physically." He began the season slowly with a non-reported broken thumb, and he suffered an awkward lower body injury trying to check Phoenix Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt in the final seconds of a 2-1 win on December 12th. Boyle is expected to be replaced in the lineup by Jason Demers.

To adjust to the Boyle injury, defenseman Rob Blake and Marc-Edourd Vlasic also joined new defensive partners. Blake scored his second goal in 4 games after a 16-game drought, and Vlasic scored for the first time in 36-games against Anaheim. The third pairing of Kent Huskins and Monteal waiver acquisition Jay Leach continues to improve. Leach has settled into a sound defensive role in San Jose with 10 starts in the last 12 games.

Also added to the lineup according to Pollak, AHL Worcester Sharks leading scorer Logan Couture. Couture's addition to the lineup at center may be a hint on the Sharks possible postseason configuration, as day-to-day salary cap considerations do not apply. His addition also speaks to the depth of Chicago up front and on defense. While San Jose has the size and the girth to beef up for opponents like Calgary and Anaheim, for up-tempo teams like Chicago and Los Angeles a different tact may be in order.

- Hawks, Sharks put clash in perspective - Scott Burnside for

The Sharks, of course, are cognizant of the fact that finishing the regular season ahead of the pack guarantees exactly nothing. They were the Presidents' Trophy winners last season, finishing five points ahead of Detroit in the West and one point ahead of the Eastern Conference's top team, Boston. The Sharks were then dispatched in six games by the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round. See ya. Thanks for coming out … again.

If anything, one would imagine the Sharks would be in a hurry to get back to the playoffs, to rush through the final 29 games of this regular season in an effort to begin the task of redeeming themselves after another disappointing playoff turn. But Pavelski said they're still aware of the importance of finishing first and earning home ice, even if it didn't matter much last spring.

"You have to play every night," he said. If you don't, you can find yourself falling down the standings pretty quickly.

- Len Ziehm of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Blackhawks are gearing up for first place in the NHL. "Up to this point, it's the biggest game on the trip. It sets up first place. I know they'll be ready to play us," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville told the Sun-Times. On the game preview at the offical Blackhawks website, Dave Bolland is listed as questionable and defenseman Brent Sopel is listed as probable. ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers notes that the Blackhawks know the stakes for the regular series finale in San Jose.

The inconvient backstory headed into tonight's SJ-CHI matchup is a series of personal photos several Blackhawks took after a recent road game. Blackhawk forwards Patrick Kane, John Madden and Kris Versteeg were pictured with their shirts off in the back of a limo with a pair of women looking on.

"For us, obviously, it's not the way we want to represent the team. It has been discussed internally with the team and it has been figured out inside this locker room," Kane told the Chicago Tribune. End of story. The players and the team take a few lumps via blogs, TMZ and ESPN, then it will be business as usual Thursday night against San Jose.

"I'm 21 years old, but it's probably time to grow up a little bit," Kane added. Part of being 21 years old is making mistakes, unfortunately for Kane he has to make them in front of a media fishbowl.

- writer John Grigg penned an article last week on the Top 10 unrestricted free agents for 2010. Numbers 2 and 3 on that list should be of interest to fans in San Jose, they were goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and left wing Patrick Marleau respectively. On Marleau, Grigg's noted that he had the C "stripped" only to respond with offensive numbers on pace for the best of his career. On Nabokov, Grigg's noted that Nabokov is at his usual place among the league leaders in wins and games played, with "gaudy" GAA and SV% numbers for the 9th round (219th overall) 1994 San Jose draft selection.

The discussion surrounding the future for both Marleau and Nabokov has been held to a minimum locally, and with the national and Canadian hockey press. Five straight incomplete postseason efforts weigh heavy on the franchise, and there appears to be an unspoken "wait and see" approach between the players and the team with regards to the future.

Marleau, despite leading the NHL with 35 goals, has developed into one of the top two-way players in the league. He has adopted his speed and power game to dramatic effect on the penalty kill, and his consistent back pressure 5-on-5 inspires linemates teammates to do the same on a regular basis. Bristling at the mention of being "stripped" of the captaincy in the offseason, the media and fans in San Jose characterized it as more of a change in leadership than a removal.

However you want to frame that offseason move or his current performance, the question of what the future holds remained for the most part unasked until a recent Sharks pre-game Shark Byte interview with color analyst Drew Remenda (full interview here). In the interview, Remenda put Marleau on the record regarding the early playoff exit to Anaheim, how he approached the change in captaincy, how he has adapted to playing on the "Team Canada" line with Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley, and what the future holds for him after 2009-10.

[DR] Lets go to the playoffs last year, playoffs don't go very well and you and Joe Thornton take the heat. Is that fair?

[PM] I think a certain part of it is. Obviously being one of the top players on the team, that is where the spotlight is, where it usually starts and ends. That's part of the territory.

[DR] Do hockey fans overrate the captaincy?

[PM] Probably not. People wear it for a reason, because they have certain attributes and bring things to the team. That part of it is right. Maybe there is a little more read into it by fans on the other side of things.

[DR] Were you bothered being replaced as captain?

[PM] We had lots of talks about it. I am here to win, so whatever the team feels it will take to win I am game for. It was one of those things that was talked about all summer. The bottom line is that I want to win.

[DR] People outside this game thought you would slide a little bit because the C was taken off, was that a motivating factor?

[PM] Yes. You really don't need it. I am still the same person, I am still going to do the same things in the lockerroom whether I have it or don't have it. I would gladly wear it again. It is not a burden of any sort.

[DR] What is the motivating factor behind Patrick Marleau this year?

[PM] You want to play your best, there is probably a little bit of that in there (show up the critics). To be honest with you, you hear a lot of things but frankly I think I am a pretty good player. You want everybody to be able to realize that, and you want to be able to show that to everybody.

[DR] Discuss playing with Joe Thornton?

[PM] Playing with him last year and this year, the more you play the more you find that little bit of timing, that little bit of seperation between a defender and he will find you. He has got that great vision, and he is always ready to release the puck. You don't get passes like that from too many other players in the league.

[DR] Have you had to change your game playing with him?

[PM] A little bit, from center to wing. A lot of the plays go through the centerman, so he has the puck a lot more. I find myself wanting to get him the puck and wanting to get open as opposed to when I play center and maybe hanging on to it a little more and try to find open guys.

[DR] Discuss the change in play under head coach Todd McLellan?

[PM] Each day Todd comes to the rink he has a focus on what he wants to accomplish, what he wants to get done as a team. The main focus is getting better every day. He has a way with players, he reads them well. He knows when a player needs to be kicked in the pants or patted on the back. He knows how to do that with this team, he has a good feel for the team. He makes the game fun for myself, he is always challenging you in a good way. It keeps guys engaged.

[DR] Do you look beyond this year, you are an unrestricted free agent, have you ever thought about any other team but the San Jose Sharks?

[PM] No, I haven't. Right now the focus is on this team, on winning. Right now I can't really focus on that until the end of the season. That's where that is at.

[DR] Nothing ever phases you, do people mistake that for a lack of passion?

[PM] I am sure they do. If people want to find something to pick on you about, they will find something. Personally, people who know me, teammates and friends, they know where my passion is and how badly I want to win.

Marleau does not mention it, but he suffered the first knee injury of his career at the end of the 2008-09 regular season. This blog labeled him at playing around 60% when he returned for the first round against Anaheim. Up tight against the salary cap, Marleau could join teammates Joe Thornton and captain Rob Blake to take less than market value and sign a contract similar to his last extension (2yr/$12.6 million). In his 12th season as the face of the franchise Marleau still has a ways to go to match a one-team icon like Steve Yzerman (22 seasons with Detroit), but at only 30 years old he is just entering the sweet spot of his career.

The situation regarding Evgeni Nabokov is a little more cloudy. Nabokov was given an opportunity in goal after an injury to then-starting goalie Steve Shields in 2000-01. He went on to register a 32-21-7 record in the regular season and earn a Calder Cup as the top rookie for his efforts. Nabokov fiercely battled Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala for several years to cement himself in the #1 role, a position it would be difficult for him to relinquish. On pace for his 3rd straight 40+ win season, Nabokov (and former goaltending guru Warren Strelow) helped develop a prestige and a cache about the starting goaltender position in San Jose that will remain long after his playing days are over.

The excellent Sharks blog Fear the Fin noted the Nabokov is currently on pace for 71 starts this season. Peaking heading into the 2010 Winter Olympics next month, both GM Doug Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan have said that figure should dip as backup Thomas Greiss carries a little more of the load down the stretch run. Fear the Fin also pointed out that the last goaltender to win a Stanley Cup with more than 70 starts was Martin Brodeur in 2003 (73), that the average number of regular season games for Stanley Cup winning goaltenders post-lockout is 44.75, and that Nabokov's save percentage has increased in the past when he has started less games (in 2004 and 2007).

Described repeatedly as a "workhorse" in goal, occasionally questions about rest/work ratio or stamina and conditioning, are raised in the playoffs because of the large regular season workload. It may have been a slightly noticeable issue at the tail end of his rookie season in 2000-01, even though he held a potent St. Louis offense to 2 goals or less in the opening WCQF playoff series 4 times. Since that season, the work Nabokov has put in with the Sharks strength and conditioning staff has had a noticeable impact on his performance on the ice. Along with improvements in playing the puck, in shutting down wraparounds, in communication with the defense, in the the proper balance of aggressive play and patience, Nabokov has continually worked on specific weaknesses to develop into a solid well-rounded netminder.

All of those individual traits will be taken into account by a thorough Sharks front office. As a goaltender ages, a lack of mobility in the hips, a lack of explosive speed and other subtle factors can slowly lead to a degridation in play. The single biggest mistake an NHL general manager can make is giving an enormous salary cap hobbling contract to a goaltender who can not deliver year over year for a majority of the term. The second largest mistake an NHL general manager can make is not having elite NHL-caliber goaltending prior to the drop of the puck on opening night.

San Jose Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson, and Evgeni Nabokov himself, may be in a similar "wait and see" position based on 2009-10 postseason results. Jonathan Willis at thescore's Hockey or Die blog examined the Top 10 highest paid goaltenders in the NHL. Willis notes that 4 of the 10 high dollar contracts are delivering less than expected (although Niklas Backstrom and Cristobal Huet's inclusion are debatable). Number 10 on that list at $5.375 million, Willis says of Evgeni Nabokov "On pace for the best season of his career".

The prevailing opinion in some hockey circles is that the Sharks might need to choose between a Marleau and a Nabokov, but if each re-signed for the status quo, and there was no drastic change in the salary cap, the Sharks would have roughly 10 million to sign 6 roster players (4 forwards and 2 defenseman). Manny Malhotra is a UFA forward who signed at a greatly reduced rate for 2009-10 and may be due a raise moving forward. The organizational depth in San Jose could fill out the roster with young developing talent under contract like Jamie McGinn, Benn Ferriero, Frazer McLaren and Logan Couture. Asking players to sign for less than market value is one thing, asking them to maintain the status quo is another. Signing both Marleau and Nabokov in the face of heavy demand around the league would be an enormous accomplishment for GM Doug Wilson, at this stage in his tenure it still remains a possibility.

- Nabokov's new Team Russia mask photo - Bay Area Sports Blog.

- Unusual shot at Nabokov by David Shoalts in a Globe and Mail discussing the Toronto Maple Leafs offseason goaltender possibilities: Clock’s ticking on Leafs' goaltender choices. In a near league wide list that included the likes of Thomas Vokoun, Pekka Rinne, Dan Ellis, Martin Biron, Chris Mason and Marty Turco, Shoalts also included pending UFA Evgeni Nabokov with the addendum:

"Other attractions on the unrestricted free agent side include Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks, who is said to have few friends in that dressing room. But it is hard to imagine him wanting to play for Wilson again."

This may just be a one-off comment that makes it into a weekly notes column, but it deserves a little more analysis. Former Sharks and current Toronto head coach Ron Wilson once said of Nabokov, "he knows more about goaltending than I do". He added that except for the occasional tweak, Nabokov was the one who told him when he was and was not ready to play. In Nabokov's case, that would mean he was ready for 82 games.

On that comment about friends in the dressing room, it is no secret goaltenders sometimes live in their own ecosystem. Former San Jose Sharks goaltender Ed Belfour (insert groan here) oftentimes had lengthy discussions between himself and his goal post. Regarding Nabokov, he has meshed well with the locker room in San Jose. In an interview with friend of the blog Mikhail Bykov and Puck Daddy's Dmitry Chesnokov, Evgeni Nabokov described Joe Thornton, "Joe is such a team player, that I think he is willing to spend more time with the guys than his own family. You know how they say that the team is your second home? I think for Joe it is the first home."

That may have changed somewhat with Thornton's subsequent marriage to Swiss girlfriend Tabea Pfendsack, but it is still a peek inside the Sharks locker room from Nabokov himself. Add to that the heated ping pong battles between teammates, and it clearly becomes evident it is a non-issue.

- How do the NHL, AHL and ECHL Differ, a Goalie’s Perspective - Mike McKenna for

Therein lays the biggest difference: the speed of the game isn’t that different, but the intelligence and skill of the game is. While the puck may not physically move any faster, the rate at which plays are made and the creativity associated with them improves at every level.

The best way to describe this, from a goaltender’s perspective, would be to envision killing a penalty with the opposing team already in your zone. Imagine yourself, on your goal post ready to explode, puck in the corner and in possession of an attacking player. In the ECHL, there might be one or two viable options available for the opposing forward given their skill set/mental makeup. A top-end AHL player might have two or three options. But an NHL player – whose level of experience and ability to read the play (again think the game) surpasses those in the minors – might be able to create a third or even fourth option.

A great example of this type of player, whom I was lucky enough to grow up watching in my hometown of St. Louis, was Brett Hull. Everyone remembers Hull for his wicked shot, but very few realize just how good Brett was at getting open in the offensive zone. This is truly what set him apart from the rest of the snipers in the NHL: his mental game was every bit as good as his physical, if not better.

Very interesting read. An archive Sharkspage photo of Mike McKenna with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers is available here.

- Brian Burke quote of the month 2 weeks ago on HNIC, "Your goal in this league is to make the playoffs. If it's not, do something else. Go drive a truck."

- Puck the media posted a Versus press release on the newly redesigned website.

- San Jose based blogger Mike Chen will helm SBN's as James Mirtle stepped down to cover the Toronto Maple Leafs beat for the Globe and Mail. Joining Chen will be a pair of Carolina bloggers, and one each from the Rangers and Pittsburgh blogosphere.

- Awesome note from the KHL via Puck Daddy: will bring international hockey fans exclusive coverage in the United States of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) All-Star Game live from Minsk-Arena in Minsk, Belarus, this Saturday, Jan. 30th. Beginning at 8:20 a.m. ET, fans will be able to watch their favorite international teams and individual stars take the ice, as Team Yashin, comprised of Russian and Belarusian players, will face off against Team Jagr, comprised of international players, in KHL's second annual mid-season showcase event. ESPN's Steve Levy and former NHL player and coach Barry Melrose will call the game for

[Update] Marketing 101: Advertising a 2010 return of Forumla 1 to Canada, Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi drives a Red Bull F1 car through a pond hockey game, takes a turn down the snow laden streets of Montreal, and smokes the tires on the start/finish line. Sold. Tune in June 13th, and if it all possible try to catch the BBC broadcast.

Darryl Hunt: Stalock, WorSharks Defeat Manitoba 3-1

The Worcester Sharks used another outstanding effort by rookie goaltender Alex Stalock to defeat the Manitoba Moose 3-1 Wednesday night at the DCU Center in Worcester Massachusetts. The win was Stalock's American Hockey League leading 25th on the season.

The Moose, who entered the game on a four game losing streak where they had been outscored 29-9, came out on fire, and combined with some defensive lapses by Worcester lead to three breakaways on Stalock in the first period. Michael Grabner had the first chance, and Stalock made the save on Grabner's backhand attempt. Mario Bliznak's breakaway happened about four minutes later, but Stalock was not fooled by the deke and Bliznak was left with no angle as his shot went wide. Seconds later Matt Pettinger broke in alone and went five hole, but Stalock calmly closed the pads to snuff out the opportunity.

Worcester would finally show some signs of life, and would get on the board first just seconds after a play by Stalock put the home town fan's hearts in their throats. After a Manitoba dump in Stalock went out to play the puck and attempted to pass the puck off the end boards around his net. Unfortunately for Stalock, he was a lot closer to his net than he thought, and the rookie nearly fired the puck into his own net. Frazer McLaren grabbed the puck as it bounded off the side of the net and fed Keven Henderson, who broke down the middle of the ice into the Moose zone. Henderson was stood up in the slot by the Moose defense, but Brandon Mashinter was there to grab the loose puck and beat Manitoba netminder Cory Schneider with a blast at 17:05 of the first.

The WorSharks would make it 2-0 just 1:45 into the second period on a nice individual play by Benn Ferriero. Ferriero took a feed from Steven Zalewski into the Moose zone, and deftly sidestepped a check by defenseman Lawrence Nycholat. Ferriero's blast from the high slot beat Schneider to the stick side to light the lamp.

Manitoba would get within one at 12:34 of the third period after trapping the WorSharks in their own end for almost a minute. With the Worcester defenders running out of gas, Nikita Kashirsky was able to lose his man and end up in the slot wide open. Guillaume Desbiens' pass found the open forward, and Stalock had no chance on Kashirsky's blast.

The Moose would have a golden opportunity to tie the contest in the final two minutes when Mike Moore was called for a very borderline hooking minor when he lifted the stick of Sergei Shirokov multiple times during a breakaway. The Moose would increase their advantage to two men when they pulled Schneider with just over a minute to play, but Worcester would hold firm and ice the game when Zalewski's lazy backhand clear slowly went the length of the ice and crossed the gaol line with just 2.2 seconds remaining. Danny Groulx and Derek Joslin had the assists on the short handed empty net goal.

The Worcester shuttle made a couple of pick-ups prior to the game, with Logan Couture and Jason Demers heading to the left coast. Dennis McCauley was Worcester's only healthy scratch. Joe Callahan's season appears to be in jeopardy as he is scheduled to undergo neck surgery sometime early next week. There is no official time table for his possible return. Ryan Vesce's groin injury has gone from "day to day" to "week to week" as his missed games begin to pile up.

The two teams will have a rematch Friday night in Worcester, with the WorSharks holding a "guaranteed win" night. If Worcester does not with the contest fans will be allowed to turn in their tickets for one seat of equal value when the Sharks host the Lowell Devils on Friday, February 5. As if a team on a five game losing streak needed more motivation to play hard...

With Manitoba's visit, Wednesday night was the first time in the Sharks era in Worcester that "O, Canada" was needed. As it was late in the IceCats' term, DCU Center usher Dick Saseville sang the Canadian national anthem. Saseville's usual rendition is entirely in French, but with Manitoba being in the English speaking portion of Canada Saseville went with the duel language version.

The three stars of the game were
1. Stalock (29 saves)
2. Ferriero (gwg)
3. Mashinter (g)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Joe Loprieno.

Even Strength Lines


Penalty Kill Lines

Power Play Lines


Manitoba 0 0 1 - 1
Worcester 1 1 1 - 3

1st Period-1, Worcester, Mashinter 13 (McLaren, Henderson), 17:05. Penalties-Moore Wor (hooking), 8:01; Rankin Mtb (hooking), 9:48; Wilson Wor (hooking), 18:17.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Ferriero 11 (Zalewski), 1:45. Penalties-Petrecki Wor (interference), 2:42; Desjardins Wor (hooking), 14:21.

3rd Period-3, Manitoba, Kashirsky 2 (Pettinger, Desbiens), 12:34. 4, Worcester, Zalewski 17 (Groulx, Joslin), 19:57 (sh en). Penalties-Ramsey Mtb (delay of game), 1:48; Pettinger Mtb (hooking), 4:07; McCarthy Wor (hooking), 7:30; Moore Wor (hooking), 18:11.

Shots on Goal
Manitoba 6-15-9-30
Worcester 9-14-9-32.

Power Play Opportunities
Manitoba 0 of 6
Worcester 0 of 3.

Manitoba, Schneider 19-13-1 (31 shots-29 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 25-10-1 (30 shots-29 saves).

A-2,630. Referee-Shaun Davis (31). Linesmen-Scott Whittemore (96), Tim Low (68).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Darryl Hunt: McGinn, WorSharks Crunch Syracuse 5-4

The Worcester Sharks used multiple point nights from three rookies and a shorthanded game winner by Jamie McGinn to defeat the Syracuse Crunch 5-4 Saturday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, New York in front of 4,952 disappointed fans.

It was the Crunch that would get on the board first at 4:04 of the opening stanza when defenseman Grant Clitsome fired a wrist shot from the point that looked to bank off the far post and into the net past WorSharks netminder Alex Stalock.

Logan Couture would draw Worcester even at 1-1 with a power play tally at 9:46 with a half slap shot from the circle to the right of Crunch goaltender Dan LaCosta. Danny Groulx and Benn Ferriero had the assists on the goal. It was Worcester's lone power play goal of the game.

Andrew Desjardins would make it 2-1 at 14:37 when he pounced on a loose puck in a pile of players in front of LaCosta and flipped it into the net, with John McCarthy and Derek Joslin assisting on the tally. The goal was Desjardins 12th on the season. He had just eight in 74 games last season.

Couture would have his second of the game just 86 seconds into period number two when he deflected a Nick Petrecki shot from the point past LaCosta for the 3-1 lead. Couture, who was standing at the right post, fought off a check that should have been a minor for interference by Syracuse forward Mike Blunden to gain position for the tip in. Ferriero had his second assist of the game on the play.

Nick Petrecki would score his first professional goal at 6:51 of the second period to chase LaCosta from the game. Petrecki nicely went end to end, but badly misfired on his wrist shot from a bad angle. LaCosta was totally eaten up by the floating shot, and completely misplayed the puck as it floated past him and into the net. Joe Loprieno had his first professional point with his lone assist.

Syracuse would stop the bleeding at 11:50 of the second period when Bates Battaglia fed center Derek MacKenzie from behind the WorSharks net. Stalock had no chance on the MacKenzie blast as the Crunch cut the lead to 4-2.

Jamie McGinn would have the eventual game winner with a highlight reel shorthanded goal. McGinn deflected a pass from defenseman Nick Holden to his blueline partner Brendan Bell standing in the slot toward the neutral zone. After fighting off a check from Bell McGinn went three zones on LaCosta's replacement Kevin Lalande, beating him to the glove side with a nifty move at 13:30.

Bell would atone for his failed check of McGinn with a goal of his own at 3:37 of the third period. Bell's blast from up high deflected off a WorSharks player in front and past Stalock to make it 5-3. Syracuse would pull Lalande for an extra attacker, and that would pay off for the Crunch when Dan Fritsche scored with 35 seconds left in the contest. But that was as close as Syracuse would get as Worcester celebrated their eleventh road win of the season in 19 games.

While the WorSharks were on their All Star break the Worcester shuttle was in full swing delivering Benn Ferriero to San Jose and back again, and picking up Jason Demers and leaving him in The Golden State. Worcester also pared their own roster, sending Dean Strong to Kalamazoo(ECHL). Worcester's scratches were Joe Callahan, Kevin Henderson, Dennis McCauley, and Ryan Vesce. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up netminder.

The three stars of the game were
1. Couture (2g)
2. Petrecki (g,a)
3. Clitsome (g)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Jamie McGinn.

Worcester 2 3 0 - 5
Syracuse 1 1 2 - 4

1st Period-1, Syracuse, Clitsome 3 (Frischmon, Picard), 4:04. 2, Worcester, Couture 17 (Groulx, Ferriero), 9:46 (pp). 3, Worcester, Desjardins 12 (McCarthy, Joslin), 14:37. Penalties-Blunden Syr (hooking), 9:18; Loprieno Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:53; Harvey Syr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:53; Clitsome Syr (tripping), 15:46; Petrecki Wor (hooking), 18:23.

2nd Period-4, Worcester, Couture 18 (Petrecki, Ferriero), 1:26. 5, Worcester, Petrecki 1 (Loprieno), 6:51. 6, Syracuse, MacKenzie 9 (Battaglia, Fritsche), 11:50. 7, Worcester, McGinn 5 13:30 (sh). Penalties-Helminen Wor (high-sticking), 9:09; Mashinter Wor (roughing), 9:09; Liffiton Syr (roughing, roughing), 9:09; Petrecki Wor (roughing), 12:35.

3rd Period-8, Syracuse, Bell 8 (Reese, Battaglia), 3:37 (pp). 9, Syracuse, Fritsche 10 (MacKenzie, Bell), 19:25. Penalties-Desjardins Wor (slashing), 2:20.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 11-9-8-28
Syracuse 11-8-9-28.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 1 of 2
Syracuse 1 of 3.

Worcester, Stalock 24-10-1 (28 shots-24 saves)
Syracuse, LaCosta 6-14-1 (15 shots-11 saves); Lalande 10-11-2 (13 shots-12 saves).

A-4,952. Referee-Jamie Koharski (84). Linesmen-Fraser McIntyre (94), Jeff Walker (28).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Darryl Hunt: Groulx's Helpers Lift WorSharks over Bridgeport, 4-2

The Worcester Sharks used three assists by Danny Groulx and another stellar performance by rookie netminder Alex Stalock to enter the American Hockey League's All Star break on an up note after defeating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-2 in a Sunday afternoon matinee at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In a reverse to usually happens for the WorSharks, it was they that was being outworked and outplayed in the early part of the first period. After a quick--and very vocal--timeout by head coach Roy Sommer the WorSharks were able to wright the ship on Cory Quirk's goal at 7:16 of the opening period. Dwight Helminen had the original shot that was saved by Sound Tigers goaltender Scott Munroe, but Quirk was there to bat the rebound out of the air and into the upper corner of the net for a 1-0 lead. Groulx had the second assist on the play.

Worcester would make it 2-0 at 11:42 with a power play goal when Steven Zalewski sent Jamie McGinn streaking into the Bridgeport zone on a two on one with Logan Couture. McGinn unleashed a hard wrist shot from the faceoff dot to the left of Monroe that beat the netminder to the stick side and just snuck inside the far post. As with Worcester's first goal, Groulx had the second assist on the tally.

Sean Bentivoglio would cut Worcester's lead in half when he jumped on a loose puck in front of Stalock and banged the puck home. Sound Tigers winger Matt Martin had dumped the puck along the ice into the Worcester zone from just outside of the blueline that Stalock tried to corral with his stick along the ice, but the puck bounced away and Bentivoglio capitalized at 3:04 of the second.

Worcester would get their two goal lead back just 89 seconds later on a double deflection of Danny Groulx's blast from the blueline. Groulx fired the puck into traffic in front of Munroe, where McGinn and then Couture both tipped the blast just enough to beat Monroe to the glove side for the 3-1 lead at 4:33. The eventual game winner was Couture's AHL leading eighth on the season.

The WorSharks, who have the next to worse penalty killing in the AHL, had another defensive breakdown while being a man short that allowed Bridgeport to get to 3-2. The WorSharks were a man short due to a brainless roughing minor by Nick Petrecki, and at one point all four Worcester penalty killers were in the left half of the Worcester zone. Despite outnumbering the Sound Tigers on that half of the zone, Trevor Smith was able to control the puck and feed it to Mark Flood. Flood fired a blast from the blueline that was tipped in by Greg Mauldin, who was standing all alone in front of Stalock at 7:39.

Bridgeport would continue to storm the net trying to get the tying goal, but with Monroe pulled for an extra attacker and after a great save by Stalock the WorSharks iced the game with a three zone shot from Zalewski that found the center of the open net to start the All Star break off on the right foot.

Worcester went with the same line-up as Saturday night, with Joe Callahan, Joe Loprieno, Dennis McCauley, Dean Strong, and Ryan Vesce all being scratched. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up.

The game saw one fight when rookie Nick Petrecki jumped Sound Tigers forward Michael Haley behind the Worcester net in retaliation for Haley's hit on Petrecki earlier. Petrecki picked up the extra minor in what was essentially a wrestling match on the ice.

The Worcester Sharks have three players heading to Portland, Maine for Monday and Tuesday's All Star festivities. Logan Couture was elected a starter for Team Canada, and Danny Groulx was named to the team by a panel of coaches. Alex Stalock was recently named to the Planet-USA squad as an injury/recall replacement. In this writer's biased opinion, Stalock should have been named to the team when it was originally announced.

The three stars of the game were
1. Groulx (3a)
2. McGinn (g,2a)
3. Mauldin (g)

Jamie McGinn was named the number three star of the night by the AHL.

For a team leading sixth time this season, the Sharkspage player of the game was Alex Stalock.

Even strength lines


Power play lines


Penalty kill lines


Worcester 2 1 1 - 4
Bridgeport 0 1 1 - 2

1st Period-1, Worcester, Quirk 3 (Helminen, Groulx), 7:16. 2, Worcester, McGinn 4 (Zalewski, Groulx), 11:42 (pp). Penalties-Joensuu Bri (charging), 8:44; Haskins Bri (slashing), 10:41.

2nd Period-3, Bridgeport, Bentivoglio 14 (Martin, Haskins), 3:04. 4, Worcester, Couture 16 (McGinn, Groulx), 4:33. Penalties-Joslin Wor (holding), 12:39.

3rd Period-5, Bridgeport, Mauldin 15 (Flood, Smith), 7:39 (pp). 6, Worcester, Zalewski 16 (McGinn, Couture), 19:39 (en). Penalties-Petrecki Wor (roughing, fighting), 6:21; Haley Bri (fighting), 6:21.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 8-7-8-23
Bridgeport 9-9-14-32.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 1 of 2
Bridgeport 1 of 2.

Worcester, Stalock 23-10-1 (32 shots-30 saves)
Bridgeport, Munroe 11-10-1 (22 shots-19 saves).

A-4,716. Referee-Chris Brown (86). Linesmen-Kevin Redding (16), David Spannaus (8).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Darryl Hunt: Couture, WorSharks Slam Monarchs 5-2

The Worcester Sharks used Logan Couture's American Hockey League leading seventh game winning goal and a solid performance from goaltender Alex Stalock to defeat the Manchester Monarchs 5-2 Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 5,139 excited fans.

After a scoreless opening period that saw the WorSharks outshoot Manchester 16-8 and Worcester playing one of their most physical periods on the season, the Monarchs would get on the board with a power play goal at 4:34 of the second period. Monarchs center Marc-Andre Cliche fought for control of the puck along the boards to the right of Stalock, and fed Corey Elkins with a shot pass. Elkins went to the net and fired a shot that Stalock made the save on, but the puck flipped into the air and over the rookie netminder and into the net before he and defender Derek Joslin could gather the loose puck.

Worcester would tie the game with a power play goal of their own on their fourth chance with the extra man. The WorSharks first three power plays were full of great chances where Manchester goaltender Jeff Zatkoff was forced to make several great saves, but for most of their fourth attempt the puck was in their own zone. But Steven Zalewski turned their worst chance into their best at 10:29 of the second to knot the game 1-1. Danny Groulx and Jason Demers had the assists on the goal.

The WorSharks would make it 2-1 with another power play tally. Joslin took a bouncing feed from Brandon Mashinter at the blueline directly in front of the net, and fired a low laser that Dan DaSilva tipped past Zatkoff at 13:54.

Manchester thought the had tied the game at 16:38 when Cliche banged home a lose puck with a pile of players in front of the Worcester net, but referee Jean Hebert quickly and emphatically waived the power play goal off indicating former San Jose and Worcester Sharks forward Tom Cavanagh, now playing for the Monarchs, was in the crease and prevented Stalock from making a save.

Couture would make Manchester pay for that error when he converted with a shorthanded goal with just one second left on Joslin's interference minor. Zalewski had fired an easy shot on Zatkoff, but the netminder lost control of the rebound and fell to the ice hoping he was falling on the puck. He wasn't, and Couture jammed the puck under Zatkoff and just over the goal line to make it 3-1 at 18:11.

Worcester would make it 4-1 after Frazer McLaren gathered up a turnover in the neutral zone and fed Mashinter streaking into the Monarchs zone down the left side. Mashinter unleashed a laser that beat Zatkoff to the glove side and just inside the far post at 9:42 of the third.

The Monarchs would try and make of game of it with a power play goal at 18:28 when Viatcheslav Voynov gathered a loose puck in the slot and threw a backhand past Stalock, but John McCarthy's 115' empty net goal sealed the deal for Worcester.

Worcester's scratches were Joe Callahan, Joe Loprieno, Dennis McCauley, Dean Strong, and Ryan Vesce. Vesce hasn't played since December 19th (12 games) with a groin injury. Callahan has missed four games with his undisclosed injury. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up.

With the game still scoreless in the first period and Worcester throwing bone jarring hits literally every shift, Monarchs captain Drew Bagnall tried to pick up Manchester's physical play by throwing a huge hit on John McCarthy right in front of the Monarchs bench. Unfortunately for Bagnall, he took the brunt of the hit and struggled to get on the bench. It was hard to determine what he injured, but he was in obvious pain as he sat doubled over on the Manchester bench. He did not return to the game.

As noted above, former San Jose and Worcester Sharks forward Tom Cavanagh has signed a contract to play for the Manchester Monarchs. Saturday was his third game of the season, and he picked up an assist on Voynov's power play goal. Cavanagh, who is wearing number 41, has two goals and an assist in three games but is just (-3).

There was a moment of silence before the game for both the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and for Nick Manzello, the long time local sports columnist for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette who passed away Friday morning at age 82 after a long battle with cancer.

With Worcester's 1:00pm EST game Sunday at Bridgeport the WorSharks left Worcester right after the Monarchs game and will spend the night in southern Connecticut. It's just the second night Worcester has spent out of their own beds this season; the first being the season's opening night in Glens Falls, NY as the WorSharks went to the Empire State the day before the game.

Prior to the Worcester/Manchester game the WorSharks held the 2nd Annual High School Hockey Clash between the Auburn Rockets and Hudson Hawks. Sean O’Keefe scored the game's first goal for Hudson, but Trevor Standring scored on a nice laser from the slot to tie the game and Corey Lussier had the game winner for Auburn. The Rockets goalie Mike Jenkins was the player of the game with 24 saves. With the win, Auburn’s record improved to 7-2-2 and previously unbeaten Hudson dropped to 9-1-1.

The three stars of the game were
1. Zalewski (g,a)
2. Demers (2a)
3. Couture (sh-gwg)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Dan DaSilva.

Even strength lines


Power play lines


Penalty kill lines


Manchester 0 1 1 - 2
Worcester 0 3 2 - 5

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Westgarth Mch (roughing), 3:30; Walker Mch (delay of game), 7:23; Holloway Mch (boarding), 16:29.

2nd Period-1, Manchester, Elkins 12 (Cliche, Voynov), 4:34 (pp). 2, Worcester, Zalewski 15 (Groulx, Demers), 10:29 (pp). 3, Worcester, DaSilva 8 (Joslin, Mashinter), 13:54 (pp). 4, Worcester, Couture 15 (Zalewski, Demers), 18:11 (sh). Penalties-Henderson Wor (holding), 3:41; Kolomatis Mch (tripping), 8:50; Piskula Mch (high-sticking), 13:40; Joslin Wor (interference), 16:12.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, Mashinter 12 (McLaren), 9:42. 6, Manchester, Voynov 8 (Cavanagh), 18:28 (pp). 7, Worcester, McCarthy 7 (Groulx, Desjardins), 19:02 (en). Penalties-Westgarth Mch (goaltender interference), 4:00; Rheault Mch (roughing), 7:27; DaSilva Wor (roughing), 7:27; Demers Wor (tripping), 11:51; Demers Wor (hooking), 17:37; Westgarth Mch (high-sticking), 20:00.

Shots on Goal
Manchester 8-7-14-29
Worcester 16-15-11-42.

Power Play Opportunities
Manchester 2 of 4
Worcester 2 of 6.

Manchester, Zatkoff 8-4-0 (41 shots-37 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 22-10-1 (29 shots-27 saves).

A-5,139. Referee-Jean Hebert (87). Linesmen-Bob Paquette (18), Brian MacDonald (72).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Too Good, Tim Thomas and Boston Bruins outlast Evgeni Nabokov and San Jose Sharks to earn 2-1 OT shootout win in goaltender's duel

San Jose Sharks Team Russia goaltender Evgeni Nabokov overtime shootout poke check
Boston Bruins right wing Miroslav Satan NHL photo San Jose Sharks
Scott Nichol crashes the net San Jose Sharks NHL Boston Bruins

More notes and links from the Boston Bruins 2-1 OT shootout win will be posted soon. A photo gallery from the game is available here, video highlights are available here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

DOH Sharks podcast #82: Rebounding against Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the trade deadline approaches

Mike Peattie and Doug Santana discuss Conan O'Brien, take an in-depth look at the collapse against Detroit (third home loss by 3 goals or more), how the Sharks snapped an 8-game points allowed streak against Los Angeles and Phoenix with back-to-back wins, Evgeni Nabokov's work load, and examine trade possibilities and scenarios for the Sharks and GM Doug Wilson prior to the March 3rd NHL trade deadline on the latest DOH podcast.

This Sharks podcast is posted here with permission. Visit for more coverage of the team, or download the MP3 file directly here.

[Update] Interview with the Dudes on Hockey, Mike Peattie and Doug Santana - September on Sharkspage.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hockey Notes - 1/13

Western Conference NHL playoff picture

- The Sharks registered back-to-back wins against Pacific division rivals with a gritty 3-1 win at Phoenix on Tuesday night. Patrick Marleau scored his league leading 30th and 31st goals, and became the quickest San Jose Shark to reach the 30 goal plateau in the franchise's 18 season history.

The 2 points did not come smooth, or easy. The Sharks took a too many men on the ice penalty 50 seconds into the the first period, one of 7 penalties the Sharks would have to kill successfully on the night. Later in the first, Coyotes center Matthew Lombardi had a shot kicked over the goal line by defenseman Douglas Murray. The play was blown dead by an early whistle. The Sharks followed the bad whistle with a good bounce. On the power play, goaltender Jason LaBarbera tripped over the gremlins living behind his net while trying to play the puck. He got just enough stick on it to tee up a charging Marleau. To his credit, Marleau jumped on the free shorthanded goal instead of staring blankly at the most unusual bounce in a Sharks game since Jeremy Roenick's 500th goal.

San Jose also broke through on the other side of the special teams ledger. After registering only 4 goals in the last 28 opportunities with the man advantage (14.2%), the Sharks made it 2-0 as Marleau punched home the rebound on a twice-deflected point shot by Dan Boyle. Dany Heatley bumped the Sharks cushion to 3-0, with a second effort after his initial wraparound was blocked down low by goaltender Jason LaBarbera. One night earlier, Heatley scored a similar second effort goal with a baseball swing off a rebound against Los Angeles.

The Sharks were tempting fate later in the second. With Joe Thornton in the box on a boarding minor, Rob Blake tried to take Martin Hanzal's head off with an elbow that narrowly missed its mark. Blake is old school NHL mean. He earned a 2 minute minor, forcing the Sharks to kill off an ill advised 5-on-3. The PK unit of Marleau-Boyle-Murray followed Blake's lead, and killed off the penalty in an uncoventional fashion. After Scottie Upshall tried to punch home a point blank 1-timer, Murray and Boyle each collapsed in on him and gave him a shot. As Upshall backed off, Marleau confronted him and shoved him repeatedly before geting a punch to the face in retaliation. Upshall was given 2 minutes for roughing, penalty killed.

Dan Boyle and Phoenix captain Shane Doan took matching minors on a tripping/histicking incident late in the second, and the 9000+ fans in attendance at Arena got their money's worth with hearty boo's directed at referees Frederick L'Ecuyer and Kelly Sutherland. According to Mercury News beat reporter David Pollak, 9,248 fans attended the game Tuesday in Phoenix, the 11th time they have failed to reach 10,000 this season. San Jose blogger Mike Chen sees signs of life for fan attendance in Phoenix (especially for weekend games), and notes that February and March attendance will be critical for the struggling franchise's future.

The Sharks power play was unsuccessful in its lone opportunity against Phoenix in the third period, but short, crisp passing by Boyle, Blake, Marleau and Thornton made it appear as if they were playing with the puck on a string. The Coyotes answered with beautiful scoring display of their own. Petr Prucha drove down the left wing and dropped a pass to defenseman Sami Lepisto. Lepisto continued driving down the left wing and dropped a pass to left handed shot Radim Vrbata. As Prucha and Lepisto circled towards Evgeni Nabokov, a hard Vrbata wrist shot deflected off a stick for the lone Coyotes goal of the game.

The Sharks let up considerably in the final minutes. Playing in their third game in four nights, dumps were not made deep and forwards lost battles for loose pucks. Added to the 7 penalties against, the Sharks allowed a small window of opportunity that Phoenix did not take advantage of. Evgeni Nabokov finished with 32 saves on 33 shots for his 26th win of the season.

Head coach Todd McLellan used a John McCarthy, Torrey Mitchell, Brad Staubitz line in the first period that had some jump. The bench shortened in the third period, Jody Shelley and Brad Staubitz each only had 1 shift while Scott Nichol had 8. One night earlier in LA Shelley and Staubitz were not used in the third, Nichol had 7 shifts. Prior to the game on the KFOX pregame radio show, head coach Todd McLellan drew a line between his top forward lines and his grinders. "You can really tell the difference between an offensive player and a player who will muck and grind by stick and body position."

- Oddities hinder Coyotes in loss to Sharks - Arizona Republic.

"We're not in rhythm right now," coach Dave Tippett said. "There's some mistakes going against us. We've talked about that since the start of the year; our margin for error is very slim on most nights"...

"It's that time of year when things get tougher, and we're going through it," forward Scottie Upshall said. "We've got to realize what it is that makes us a good team - that's playing in the system and not turning pucks over. Tonight it was almost like a selfish effort by people just trying to do too many things by themselves, and we've got to work together as 20 guys out there to win games."

- A week ago Wednesday Pierre Lebrun interviewed San Jose GM Doug Wilson about the Sharks NHL leading 8 Olympic representatives headed to Vancouver (Marleau, Thornton, Heatley, Boyle, Nabokov, Pavelski, Murray, and Greiss): Wilson on Sharks in Games: 'We're proud of them'. Wilson told LeBrun that wear-and-tear and injury concerns were valid, but that "the positives far outweigh the negatives." He added that the games in Vancouver are in the Pacific time zone, and that the short flight will cut down on travel and adjustment time for his players. The Sharks also have a home heavy schedule post-Olympics, including a 4-day break sandwiched between 5 straight home games.

Doug Wilson expanded on many of those comments Monday night during intermission interviews on the radio and television broadcasts from Los Angeles. He added that the level of competition ("best on best") and a deep tournament run could have a significant impact on his players after they return.

Radio analyst Jamie Baker, in his interview with Wilson, did bring up the issue of an Olympic hangover both mentally and physically. In December, this blog noted the short slump Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle experienced after the 2009 NHL allstar game. Thornton and Marleau combined for 5 points in their next 12 games, and Dan Boyle suffered an undisclosed upper body injury at the ASG and missed 3 games.

It was a small speed bump, but problems kept piling up for San Jose culminating in a late season rash of injuries (9-10 roster players) and a first round playoff exit to Anaheim. After suffering through 5 straight ignominious Stanley Cup playoff exits, fans in San Jose do not want any excuse for a repeat performance.

- Saturday's Hockey Hotstove on HNIC delved into the Atlanta Thrasher's no-win situation with pending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, trade rumors surrounding Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf, the cause of the recent Minnesota Wild equipment fire, player escrow, and another look back at the dramatic Team USA win over Canada in the WJC's (actually more of a Mike Milbury taunt).

More from a Elliotte Friedman's Inside Hockey interview with Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, when asked whether he set expectations too high with pre-season talk of the playoffs, Burke took umbrage with the question. He went on to say that the playoffs should be the goal of every player on his team. "Your goal in this league is to make the playoffs. If it's not, do something else. Go drive a truck."

- More Sunday hockey notes wrapups: The venerable Larry Brooks speculates wrongly in the NY Post that Zach Parise is the only Team USA player who could suit up for Team Canada, as well as noting an alleged internal riff between Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla and head coach Brent Sutter. In a Monday column, Brooks speculates that the Rangers may dip UFA's Vinny Prospal and Christopher Higgins, and young RFA defenseman Dan Girardi into the trade waters. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes that Henrik Sedin or Joe Thornton are the top NHL centers and MVP favorites at this point in the season, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers is his favorite for rookie of the year, and Russian center Alexander Burmistrov impressed scouts the most at the WJC's (over heavily hyped Nikita Filatov). William Houston opines about How the NHL could conquer Europe at Truth and Rumors. Lyle "Spector" Richardson believes that the trade market should pick up earlier than usual with the 2 week Olympic break on the NHL schedule. Spector believes that Edmonton and Carolina are bonafide sellers, and that Toronto, St. Louis, Anaheim and Columbus could join them soon.

The Toronto Star's Damien Cox believes that the Maple Leafs trade deadline maneuverings begin with a firm assessment of goaltender Jonas Gustavsson's future. Two first round draft picks in 2010 and 2011, and a second round pick in 2010 was a steep price for the Maple Leafs to pay for RW Phil Kessel, currently mired in a 1-goal-in-13-game slump. Instead of hitting a home run, the Leafs need to hit more ground ball singles. Both head coach Ron Wilson, a former San Jose Sharks head coach, and GM Brian Burke, a former Anaheim Ducks GM, have a familiarity with the Sharks deep pool of talent on the blueline (last year Boyle-Blake-Vlasic-Ehrhoff each registered 30+ assists, the 4th time in NHL history four defenseman on the same team recorded that feat).

Vesa Toskala's injury situation notwithstanding, Montreal's experience with former Sharks defenseman Josh Gorges is a more cost effective route the Maple Leafs should consider. A young defenseman like Derek Joslin has size, speed and defensive responsibility now, and a legitimate upside in the puck moving and leadership arenas. With younger defenseman percolating in the system, the Leafs might be able to pull the trigger with mid-round draft picks if the Sharks go in another direction and add a veteran dman at the trade deadline.

- NARCh Winternationals Return to San Jose - California Rubber Magazine.

The North American Roller Hockey Championship (NARCh) series will wield a hefty presence in Northern California during the 2010 season with two regional tournaments - the NARCh West Coast Winternationals and NARCh Finals - both taking place Rollin’ Ice at the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose.

The three-rink venue will play host to the West Coast Winternationals Jan. 15-18, then will host regional qualifiers March 27-28 and May 8-9 in advance of the world’s largest and most competitive amateur inline hockey championship tournament: NARCh Finals, which will run from July 16-31.

The Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose hosted over 430 teams for the NARCH roller hockey finals in 2008.

- Here is an unusual Sharks website via an email from Joe,

- For the second time in as many years, Toronto blogger James Mirtle waves goodbye at You can still follow him on the Globe Sports hockey blog and via their NHL coverage as he is their Maple Leafs beat writer. Also tune in to Mirtle on the weekly Globe Sports hockey podcast. James was kind enough to answer a few questions for this blog almost 2 years ago to the day: Interview with the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle.

Monster likes life in Toronto - James Mirtle for

- The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg offers a hilarious still-by-still recap of former Shark Matt Bradley stepping in front of Alexander Ovechkin to fight up and coming goon Steve Downie, complete with internal monologue.

[Update] Another Look At Secondary Scoring - Fear the Fin.

[Update2] The Sharks assigned defenseman Jason Demers to Worcester.

[Update3] Sports Illustrated MMA writer Josh Gross reported via twitter that a Versus deal with DirectTV was close to being finalized prior to Sunday's WEC 46 in Sacramento. "A deal was close before WEC 46," Gross said. He expects a resolution to the protracted Versus-DirectTV impass in March, "disaster avoided if they nail something down before March -- WEC, UFC, NHL playoffs."

In a recent interview with, WEC vice president Peter Dropick talked about his promotion's success on the channel. "Versus has been a great, great partner. They keep growing in terms of their properties. They're up about 10 percent overall in their viewers from last year, and we're one of the cornerstone properties. We're actually, on a consistent basis, the highest rated live event on the network," Dropick said. Versus is the cable television home of the NHL, the Tour de France, the IndyCar racing series, and the WEC.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Hockey News video profile of the Phoenix Coyotes and head coach Dave Tippett

Video profile of the Phoenix Coyotes, Dave Tippett and Dave King The Hockey News

The Hockey News reporter Rory Boylen profiled the resurgent Phoenix Coyotes under new head coach Dave Tippett, how they have adapted to his defense-first style of play, what he demands of his players every game, and how the experience of veteran NHL/KHL coach (now an assistant for Phoenix) Dave King has added to the team in this THN TV video profile.

"I think the style of play is a little bit different than what was there before. You look at your team, you see what you have, your assets, and you try to figure out a plan to how this is going to get you wins. I looked at Bryzgalov as a very strong goaltender, if we can keep shots to the outside and limit opportunities on him, you are going to have a chance to win." - Phoenix Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett.

"The one thing I learned (in Russia), is that you can play quicker than you think you can play. In all situations, whether it is offense or defense, play quick, play fast. There is a tendency as a game wears on for guys to slow down a little bit, if you play short shift hockey, 30-35 seconds, there is absolutely no exuse why you can not play a quick game." - Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Dave King.

According to an update on, San Jose center Manny Malhotra will miss his 6th game with a lower body injury, Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski will sit the first of two games due to a suspension for elbowing. Right wing Scottie Upshall was activated off the IR today. Upshall missed 3 games after suffering an upper body injury against Detroit on January 2nd.

The Phoenix Coyotes host the San Jose Sharks tonight at 6PM.

[Update] Coyotes facing Sharks for 5th time - Arizona Republic.

[Update2] The Phoenix preview: Nabokov will be in net, Demers will be watching from the press box - David Pollak's Working the Corners blog.

Darryl Hunt: Worcester Sharks Half-Season Report Card

With the Worcester Sharks nearing the halfway mark in the season, this is a good time to take a look at the WorSharks players and how well they’re doing after playing 39 of 80 regular season games of the 2009-10 season. Each player’s grade is based on what was expected of them, how they’ve performed against those expectations, and a general feel of how they’ve played compared to other players on the team.

Players are listed by number, forwards first, then defensemen, and ending with the goaltenders. All statistics are as of 1/11. “X” denotes the player is currently not with Worcester. Players must have played a minimum of 21 games for Worcester or have spent significant time in the NHL in addition to their Worcester games to be graded.

X-7 John McCarthy LW
36 games: 6 goals, 12 assists, 18 points; +14, 19 PIM
As a pro rookie McCarthy, a 2006 seventh round pick out of Boston University, has stepped right into Worcester’s highly successful third line like a seasoned veteran. His energy and abilities have meshed well with his line mates, which has made his transition from the college game to the pros almost seamless. McCarthy also plays on the penalty kill, and his +14 leads Worcester.
Season highlight: Game winning goal against Manchester on 12/29
Grade: A

9 Logan Couture C
27 games: 14 goals, 25 assists, 39 points; +13, 8 PIM
What can be said about Couture that hasn’t already been said? As a rookie Couture is one of the best players in the AHL, and it will only be a matter of time before he is an NHL regular. Couture leads the WorSharks in scoring, and leads all AHL rookies in scoring despite playing 13 games less than most of the players chasing him in that category. Couture was elected as a starter for the AHL Canadian All Star team.
Season highlight: Scored first NHL goal at Detroit on 11/5
Grade: A

10 Dwight Helminen C
38 games: 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points; (-12), 8 PIM
Helminen, a fourth line forward and occasional second line fill in, always seems to be right at that “break through” moment but for some reason he just can’t seem to get over the hump. He is currently no more than AHL depth, and his plus/minus is a team worst (-12).
Season highlight: Game winning overtime goal against Portland on 11/10.
Grade: C

11 Cory Quirk C
32 games: 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points; (-3) 10 PIM
A free agent out of UMass-Amherst, Quirk’s small stature is causing him some issues at the pro level. He has the speed to compete in the AHL, but his strength is a problem as he is constantly out-muscled along the boards. A good puck handler, Quick is best utilized with other quick forwards where their speed can potentially overwhelm slower defensemen.
Season highlight: Goal, assist against Bridgeport on 1/3
Grade: C

14 Frazer McLaren LW
17 games: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points; (-1), 58 PIM
McLaren has split time between San Jose and Worcester, and it seems somewhere in his cross country travels he has reverted back to his early rookie season form where he looks to have no idea what his role should be. McLaren can only benefit from the return of roster stability in San Jose so he can continue his development into a future NHL forward.
Season highlight: Scored first NHL goal at Vancouver on 11/29
Grade: C

15 Steven Zalewski C/LW
38 games: 14 goals, 22 assists, 36 points; +1, 7 PIM
Zalewski’s switch from center to left wing has been a potentially career altering experiment as he has nearly matched his season point totals from last season in just half as many games. His transition to blue chip prospect has been visible on the ice since the switch, and should his progress continue he may well find himself in San Jose next season with his two first line teammates.
Season highlight: Two goals against Manchester on 12/29
Grade: A

17 Ryan Vesce C
14 games: 6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points; (-2), 10 PIM
The WorSharks captain has split time between San Jose and Worcester this season, but because he will require passing through waivers if he’s recalled to the NHL under anything other than emergency conditions his games with the big club are probably limited for the rest of the season. Vesce’s dangerous combination of speed and hockey sense make him a threat to score every time he’s on the ice, and like last season, Worcester will be relying on him heavily as they enter the second half of the season.
Season highlight: Scored first NHL goal, a game winner, at the Islanders on 10/17
Grade: B

21 Benn Ferriero C/RW
21 games; 10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points; +6, 6 PIM
After a slow start likely caused by multiple cross country trips on the Worcester Shuttle, Ferriero has lit up the AHL on a more than a point a game pace. Ferriero’s chemistry with his line mates, along with his ability to find the open ice to take advantage of his sniper-like shot, have made him one of Worcester’s top scorers despite playing in just half as many games as his teammates. Ferriero, who plays on the top even strength and power play lines, is also one of the team’s top four penalty killers and leads the team with two shorthanded goals.
Season highlight: Two goals, two assists against Springfield on 12/26
Grade: A

22 Andrew Desjardins C
39 games; 10 goals, 10 assists, 20 points; +7, 33 PIM
Desjardins centers Worcester’s high energy third line, the line that starts nearly every period and sent on the ice after almost every goal against. He is one of the team’s hardest hitters and grittiest players, and makes the most of his abilities by outworking his opponents in every way he possibly can. Desjardins is also one of the best forecheckers on the team, and many of his points come off of turnovers that he and his line mates create.
Season highlight: Two goals, assist against Albany on 10/18
Grade: B

23 Dan DaSilva RW
34 games; 7 goals, 14 assists, 21 points; +8, 30 PIM
DaSilva is a career AHL forward that has seemingly found a permanent home on the WorSharks third line. DaSilva has the skills and speed to play whatever type of game is needed, and his high energy style of play makes him a perfect fit with his third line teammates. Not known as a fighter, DaSilva has dropped the gloves twice in recent weeks trying to fire up his team when they were not playing up to their full potential.
Season highlight: Goal, assist against Portland on 12/6
Grade: B

24 T.J. Trevelyan F
22 games; 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points; (-5), 6 PIM
Trevelyan missed over six weeks with a broken jaw, and is just now getting back to full speed. Adding to the issue of rust Trevelyan, who anchors the second line, has had to deal with players rotating in and out of his line as they take rides on the Worcester shuttle. He is another player that will benefit from stability on San Jose’s roster, and once he gets some chemistry with more permanent line mates should have no problem approaching his AHL average of 23 goals per season.
Season highlight: Game winner, two assists against Bridgeport on 1/3
Grade: C

28 Dennis McCauley F
29 games; 3 goals, 1 assists, 4 points; E, 61 PIM
McCauley is a fourth line physical presence who, unlike many of his enforcer brethren, possesses enough hockey skills to play meaningful minutes if forced into such a role by circumstance. No one will confuse McCauley for Wayne Gretzky, but he certainly plays a vital role in the WorSharks potential success this season.
Season highlight: Game winning goal against Portland on 12/31
Grade: B

47 Kevin Henderson F
31 games; 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points; (-6), 16 PIM
Henderson is the only forward to play for the WorSharks this season that has not registered a goal. Playing on the fourth line, Henderson has enough ability to not hurt Worcester when he’s playing, but he generally brings very little to the table in the minutes he does get. One has to wonder if perhaps some time in the ECHL will bring forth the goal numbers he put up in Kitchener (OHL) and the University of New Brunswick (AUS).
Season highlight: Shorthanded assist against Providence on 11/27
Grade: D

53 Brandon Mashinter LW
39 games; 10 goals, 8 assists, 18 points; (-4), 78 PIM
Mashinter’s ability to play on all four of the WorSharks even strength lines and his willingness to drop the gloves when needed is quickly making him a fan favorite in Worcester. Mashinter has the size to play a purely physical game if needed, and while he doesn’t have the speed of the quicker forwards he has more than enough to keep up with the play and to create skating room for the smaller players. He had some consistency issues earlier in the season, but lately he’s figured out his role and has excelled in it.
Season highlight: Gordie Howe hat tricks on 10/9 vs Bridgeport and 11/11 vs Lowell
Grade: B

4 Danny Groulx
9 games; 4 goals, 21 assists, 25 points; +5, 40 PIM
Groulx is the prototypical offense-first defenseman, and is currently tied for ninth in the AHL in defenseman scoring just three points out of the top spot. Groulx, who at one point this season was at (-7), has picked up his defensive play of late to become more of a two way player. Groulx isn’t the player you necessarily want on the ice protecting a lead, but he is the guy you want on the ice when trailing late. Groulx has been named to the AHL Canadian All Star team.
Season highlight: goal, assist against Bridgeport on 11/28
Grade: C

8 Mike Moore
24 games; 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points; +6, 23 PIM
Moore is a pure shut down defenseman that has turned himself from solely being a hitting machine into a well rounded defender. Moore does have good puck handling skills and isn’t afraid to lead the rush out of the zone should the opening present itself, and has the speed to rush up ice and still get back in time to maintain his defensive responsibilities. Were it not for his high salary cap hit Moore would have likely been one of the players on the Worcester Shuttle earlier this season.
Season highlight: 3 assists and +5 against Springfield 12/26
Grade: B

19 Michael Wilson
34 games; 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points; +6, 32 PIM
In an incredible transformation, Wilson has gone from being a low level ECHL regular to becoming one of Worcester’s most solid two way defenseman. The addition of some muscle mass has helped him on the defensive end without sacrificing any of his speed and offensive skills. Wilson is a virtual shoe-in for any “most improved” award around.
Season highlight: goal, assist, +3 vs Providence on 1/10
Grade: B

25 Derek Joslin
21 games; 1 goal, 11 assists, 12 points; +2, 6 PIM
Joslin is in the AHL what he is in the NHL, an offense-first defenseman. On defense Joslin can play either physical or passive depending on whatever the situation calls for, but lately he has had issues in his own end. Like last season, Joslin has had a tremendous amount of shots blocked by opposing forwards in front of him. He will need to learn a faster release to have any success in getting hit booming slap shot through to the net.
Season highlights: Three assists against Lowell on 10/10
Grade: C

26 Joe Callahan
35 games; 4 goals, 11 assist, 15 points; +5, 19 PIM
Callahan is the veteran of the defensive corps, and because of the youth that surrounds him he earlier appeared to be trying to do too much too often which causes many defensive lapses. Now that he’s paired with Moore on the first pairing Callahan’s play has improved on both ends of the ice.
Season highlight: Assist (on Logan Couture’s first NHL goal), +1 at Detroit 11/5
Grade: C

27 Nick Petrecki
39 games; 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points; (-5), 56 PIM
Petrecki had lots of problem transitioning from the college game to the pro game of the AHL. In college, Petrecki was a very physical player that out-muscled many of his opponents; in the AHL Petrecki was no longer the strongest player on the ice, and because of that he needed to relearn how to play defense because he can no longer rely on the things that got him by at Boston College. Lately Petrecki’s play has improved, but he’s got a long road ahead to be ready for the NHL.
Season highlight: Assist, +3 against Bridgeport on 11/28
Grade: D

31 Tyson Sexsmith
9 games; 3-4-1, 4.10, .855
Sexsmith had looked very rusty in every game he’s played so far this season, and it’s no wonder considering how little he gets to play. Sexsmith really needs to get into more games, and that may just mean a long term trip to the ECHL so he can get some ice time.
Season highlight: 32 save win over Lowell on 10/10
Grade: Incomplete

32 Alex Stalock
31 games; 21-9-1, 2.44, .908
Simply put, Stalock is the best Sharks goaltender to play in Worcester and is second only to Dwayne Roloson in Worcester’s 15 year AHL history. He plays the puck very well, is positionally very good, and can be heard loudly directing the defense while the puck is in his zone. He has poise that veteran netminders would envy, and his smooth style of play allows for his offensive minded defensemen to take extra chances. Stalock currently holds the WorSharks record for quickest first shutout, whitewashing Lowell in just his fifth pro game. Barring the unforeseen, the NHL is definitely in his future.
Season highlight: 40 save win against Lowell on 1/2
Grade: A

Sharks hold on for 2-1 win over Los Angeles Kings, GM Doug Wilson gives midseason meeting update to KFOX/CSNCA

San Jose Sharks defenseman Rob Blake makes a glove save vs Los Angeles Kings Michael Zampelli
Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown checked to ice Michael Zampelli

The Sharks, who have plateaued slightly after an 8-game win streak finished off 2009, held on for a 2-1 win over division rival Los Angeles Monday night at the Staples Center. Stellar goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov helped kill off a late 5-on-3 Kings power play after a pair of third period penalties on Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray. Dan Boyle and Dany Heatley scored for San Jose, and Evgeni Nabokov finished with 33 saves on 34 shots for his 25th win of the season.

"We were a little more detailed. It still wasn’t easy. They are a very good hockey club. They came at us very hard in the third period.," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan told reporters when asked about the difference in play over the 6-2 loss to Los Angeles a week ago at HP Pavilion, a loss where the Sharks gave up 3 power play goals. "They got a lot of momentum off the power play, but I thought we were better along the boards. We won more battles. Our penalty kill, although we were under siege for a while, we were more detailed there. Just a better overall game." The Sharks killed off all 5 Kings power plays Monday night, including a critical 34 second 5-on-3 in the third period. "Bottom line is that Nabby was making saves and we were getting down blocking shots," Sharks center Scott Nichol told the San Jose Mercury News.

In 18 games since December 1st, San Jose has held opponents off the board on the power play 10 times (45-45), and allowed only one goal 6 times (25-31). Second and third efforts to clear pucks, blocked shots, and key faceoff wins are solidifying the defensive zone in front of Evgeni Nabokov during that stretch, but critical mental errors and mental lapses have creeped into the Sharks play over the last 4 games to sabotage those defensive efforts. It happened again Monday night when Dan Boyle took a hard line to upend Ryan Smyth on the right wing, and Douglas Murray took a delay of game penalty 1:26 later for firing the puck over the glass.

The Sharks used a three man low, one man high penalty kill against the Los Angeles three man high umbrella power play unit. Blake was particularly effective clearing Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown out of the crease, an area Marc-Edouard Vlasic needs to improve on. Nabokov was sharp on the shots that found their way through traffic. After Marleau cleared the puck to allow a line change, Murray drew another penalty on the second PK unit trying to bank it off the glass and missing high.

McLellan called a timeout for the most pivotal sequence of the game, but Thornton lost the subsequent d-zone faceoff to Jarret Stoll. Quick puck movement up top set up Stoll for a shot from the left dot, but Nabokov made the quick pad save to deflect it into the corner. Nabokov slammed shut the 5-hole on a point shot from Drew Doughty, and sprawled on his back to stop Kopitar from the side of the crease to end the 2-man Kings advantage. Kings backup goaltender Erik Ersberg was forced to make a pair of saves to finish out the regular power play as defenseman Randy Jones made a costly turnover to Joe Thornton inside his own blueline. Thornton barreled in on Ersberg and tried a backhand-to-forehand deke that was stuffed up high, before Dan Boyle took a whack at the open rebound.

The Sharks (29-10-7, 46GP, 1st Pacific) win moved them within 1 point of the Chicago Blackhawks (31-11-4, 46GP, 1st Central) for 1st place in the NHL, but it may have been a more important statement against a team they have struggled against. The Kings were 3-0-1 against San Jose this season, earning 7 out of a possible 8 points in memorable fashion (blown 4 goal lead, 6 shootout rounds, Brown GW OT goal, 3PP goals). When asked about the "rivalry" with the Kings, head coach Todd McLellan downplayed the issue. He noted that it was not a must-win game against a division rival, it was an effort worth 2 points in January. There might be hints of last year's regular season/playoff rivalry with Anaheim. A 1-2 game swing in the standings could position the Sharks for their second Battle of California playoff series in as many years, this time with Los Angeles.

The Sharks fourth line of Scott Nichol, Jody Shelley and Brad Staubitz created traffic in front of Erik Ersberg on Dan Boyle's opening goal in the first period. Boyle snapped a high shot from 62 feet out that deflected off traffic and into the net. Three Kings reached for the puck on the play, the puck may have deflected off of a hand. Brad Staubitz banged on Ersberg's pads trying to stuff the puck home not knowing it was already in the back of the net. After being robbed on the power play by a point blank Ersberg glove save, Dany Heatley followed up with a baseball swing goal 4:40 in the second period for his 26th goal of the season (PP).

Sharks broadcaster Randy Hahn noted that secondary scoring has been a concern for San Jose. According to Randy, the Sharks had only 11 goals in their previous 5 games. Outside of the defense and Marleau-Thornton-Heatley, Jamie McGinn had the lone goal from the Sharks bottom 3 lines. Technically, that trend continued against LA but Shelley-Nichol-Staubitz contributed to the first goal, and Clowe-Pavelski-Setoguchi combined for 6 shots on goal and 1 shot that hit a post.

Game Notes:

Defenseman Rob Blake earned another save on Dustin Brown in the first period. In recent games he has slide tackled a puck out of the crease, earned one save with his shin pads, and gloved another Monday night against Los Angeles. San Jose has scored 2 or fewer goals in 4 of the last 5 games, and allowed 2 or fewer goals in 11 of 13 games. The Sharks lead the California Olympic contingent with 8 Olympic representatives (the most in the NHL), Anaheim will have 7 and Los Angeles will have 5. In the 2006 Turin Olympics, Los Angeles and Anaheim each sent 5 players, SJ sent 4. Sharks left wing John McCarthy played in his second NHL game against Los Angeles. He finished with 2 shots on goal, and lead both teams with 3 blocked shots. A co-captain for Boston University last season, McCarthy helped BU to a fifth NCAA D-1 National Championship. The Kings new-look forward lines shook out to Frolov-Kopitar-Parse, Smyth-Stoll-Simmonds, Richardson-Handzus-Brown, and Ivanans-Moller-Segal according to Rich Hammond. Backup goaltender Erik Ersberg earned his first start in 5 games. He replaced starter Jonathan Quick after 45 minutes Saturday against St. Louis, stopping all 9 shots he faced. Alex Frolov played in his 500th NHL game.

Photos above from friend of the blog Michael Zampelli at and

[Update] Sharks defeat Kings 2-1 - Rich Hammond for

[Update2] San Jose Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson was a first intermission guest on the KFOX 98.5FM radio broadcast of the game, and a second intermission guest on the CSNCA television broadcast. Wilson returned from a mid-season meeting with allof the organization's professional and amateur scouts in Worcester.

A few rough notes below:

On KFOX, Wilson described the midseason meetings as an opportunity to gather all the professional and amateur scouts in the organization together in Worcester to evaluate junior and college players for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, and to evaluate all NHL/AHL players for the remainder of the season. Holding the meetings in Worcester also gave the scouts and opportunity to evaluate the AHL affiliate Sharks, who have won 8 of their last 9 games.

"John McCarthy has been one of the best players in Worcester from the beginning of the year. He won a national championship last year, he has brought details every day that Worcester has relied on, that never changed even during the losing streak."

Wilson noted that conversations on building the 2009-10 Sharks began 6 months in advance. "You have to get better every day, bringing up 10-11 players from Worcester broadened the pool of players to draw from." He added, "you want to make sure you are healthy, and you want to give your guys a chance to win roster spots." Radio analyst Jamie Baker noted that player development is different than it was even 5-6 years ago. "The majority of the credit goes to the coaching staff. The work they do in the summer not only to define what they need to do and learn, but also to create an environment where they know if you do this, this and this, you are going to get a chance (in the NHL). We are I think #1 or #2 in the league in players that are home grown."

Baker also asked Wilson about player movement leading up to the NHL trade deadline, and specifically mentioned the plight of the Atlanta Thrashers and star forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Wilson vaguely responded to Atlanta and Don Waddell's situation, and added, "If you look at what other teams are going to do, you might not know until the last second. Yes we are conscious of it, we are more concerned with the day to day operation of this hockey team."

(On whether the Sharks, as a skill or finesse team, have seen the culture of the club change over the offseason and the first half of 2009-10) "Sure it has. Look at the players we have brought in, 11 or 12 new players. The majority have a blue collar element to them. You also learn from things that happen in your career. It's not what happens in your life, it is what you do with what happens".

"Thornton and Marleau, 16 veterans came in early (in the offseason). That is what you do. Adding guys like Nichol, Ortmeyer and Malhotra, you know what you are going to get every night. This is a very competitive team. When they don't play up to their standards, they might even get a win, they are still not happy."

On the recent release of the Central Scouting Bureau player rankings, "It will be another good draft this year. Central Scouting sends an awful lot of people out there, they do an awful lot of work. You look at that, you put some value on that, but our guys do a lot of work."

"Tim Burke goes the extra mile. I am biased when I say this, but I think he is the best in the business, probably the most important guy in this organization. With what he does and the staff he built, we made some decisions in the past that other people didn't agree with or didn't see coming. It is based on more merit than perception. Sometimes a lot of things that are promoted out there aren't entirely based on substance."

Radio analyst Jamie Baker also pressed Doug Wilson on sending 8 players to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and whether the mental and physical fatigue may effect the Sharks down the line. Wilson noted the Olympics are in the Pacific time zone, and that the West Coast flight considerably cuts back on travel time. Wilson also pointed to the schedule post-Olympics, the Sharks have 5 home games in 13 days including a 4-day break between games 3 and 4. "Todd (McLellan) sat down this summer and worked on our schedule. Rest always has to be worked out with a west coast team, and we brought in fresh bodies. You monitor the time and the type of practices you have. You better make sure this team came in with the best fitness level it has ever had, which they did. The anticipation of these things, you try to stay ahead of the curve."

Baker pressed him on the mental side, the positives that could be gained from the tournament and the fatigue that could follow. "Our guys are young, big and strong, and in their prime. The mental pressure of it is a great asset for them. I played in the Canada Cup before, whenever it is best on best, you want to know you belong there. You earned your way on that type of team. It is essentially a 2 week tournament, the rewards far outweigh the fatigue factor for our guys."

On the Comcast Sportsnet California interview with Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda, Doug Wilson discussed the midseason meetings and evaluations, and discussed Logan Couture and Benn Ferreiro earning co-rookie of the month honors in the AHL (Getzlaf-Perry were the only teammates to earn the AHL honors in the same month previously, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Carle won NHL co-rookie defenseman of the year honors in 2006-07), Wilson called Couture "one of the best players in the AHL", he discussed defenseman Nick Petrecki, the trade deadline ("we are active in the process, the elevated NHL parity makes it difficult but if you can add something that makes sense, we'll do it"), the change in the culture of the San Jose Sharks with regards to the grit factor and the compete level ("they put the work in, many different nights (the Sharks) can win in many different ways, we are not as reliant on the power play and goaltending as last year"), and the growth of the core players.

Note a link to Sharks TV and a link to Sharks Radio have been added to the San Jose section on the right, the NHL Network Online was moved under NHL.

[Update3] Kings Gameday: Terry Murray Shuffles it Up - Battle of California.

[Update3] Sharks munch on hapless Kings' offense - Life in Hockeywood.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Overcome Four Goal Deficit to Shock Portland In Overtime, 6-5

The Worcester Sharks got goals from six different players to overcome a four goal second period deficit to defeat the Portland Pirates 6-5 in overtime Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 3,132 fans.

The WorSharks began digging the deep hole they would eventually climb out of very early, just 42 seconds into the game on the second shot against Worcester goaltender Tyson Sexsmith. Mike Kostka would skate right in unmolested and beat a partially screened Sexsmith for the 1-0 Pirates lead.

Worcester had a golden chance to draw even with about eight minutes to go in the opening period, but Dean Strong’s blast from about 20’ found the inside of the near post and bounded across the open net harmlessly ending up in the corner to the right of Pirates netminder J.P. Lamoureux.

The first period would end at that 1-0 score, and it was in the second period where the wheels fell off for Worcester. The Pirates would make it 2-0 when Joe DiPenta converted a Derek Joslin turnover into a shorthanded tally at 3:42, and Felix Schutz would make it 3-0 when he blasted an easy one timer into an open net as he stood at the far post behind Sexsmith at 6:02.

Steven Zalewski would stop the bleeding for Worcester when he converted from in the slot after a nice behind the net feed from Logan Couture. Couture found Zalewski all alone in front after Benn Ferriero pushed the puck deep into the Portland zone from the half boards. Zalewski beat Lamoureux over the left shoulder for his 14th of the season at 7:02.

But Portland would continue their second period onslaught when Mark Mancari fired a rebound into an open net for a power play tally at 10:26, and Paul Byron would make it 5-1 when he tipped a centering feed over Sexsmith and just under the crossbar at 12:48.

Brandon Mashinter began the improbable comeback when he took an Andrew Desjardins feed out of traffic and broke in alone on Lamoureux. Mashinter would throw a backhander over Lamoureux’s shoulder to make it 5-2 at 16:28. Nick Petrecki had the second assist on the play.

Twenty-nine seconds after the Mashinter tally Worcester would get a major power play when Byron was called for checking Mike Moore from behind, and it would take just seven seconds for the WorSharks to get to 5-3. After a clean face-off win Zalewski hit Joslin with a pass at the blueline, and Joslin’s blast was tipped in by Couture at 17:04. Despite numerous chances Worcester was unable to get another during the remainder of the power play that continued into the start of the third period.

The WorSharks would get within one at 5-4 when Couture found Ferriero all alone in the slot. Ferriero fired a laser past Lamoureux at 3:20 of the third. Zalewski had the second assist on the play. Worcester would continue to pressure the entire period, and when Portland was able to get into the Worcester zone WorSharks players were doing everything they could to keep the pirates from getting anything close to a good shot on goal.

Worcester would get the game tying goal with 43 seconds to go on a nice play by Danny Groulx while skating with an extra attacker. After Worcester had stormed the net twice and forced turnovers each time they lost possession, Groulx ended up with the puck at the top of the face-off circle to the right of Lamoureux, and held the puck as a Portland forward slid past him along the ice attempting to block his shot. With the shouts of “shoot” echoing throughout the DCU Center, Groulx did just that, toward the glove side and through a screen. The building erupted as the red light lit completing the miracle comeback.

But Worcester wasn’t content with just the point for getting the game into overtime and at 3:29 of the extra period Dwight Helminen, the WorSharks sixth different goal scorer on the night, flipped in a rebound of a Ferriero shot to send the Pirates home surprise losers.

With the WorSharks playing their third game in 44 hours and several members of San Jose's hockey operations in town for organizational meetings, Worcester went with a line-up that had a "junior varsity" feel to it. Worcester's scratches were Joe Callahan, Joe Loprieno, Frazer McLaren, Cory Quirk, and Ryan Vesce. With Tyson Sexsmith seeing his first AHL action since December 5th, Alex Stalock was the back-up netminder.

Worcester center Andrew Desjardins and Pirates center Cody McCormick must have done a double-take when they lined up for the ceremonial puck drop as Darth Vader walked down the red carpet to drop the puck. Yes, you read that correctly.

In related news, Mike Ricci was behind the bench with Roy Sommer and David Cunniff.

In a statistical oddity, not only did Worcester have different goal scorers for each of their tallies, the Portland Pirates also had different goal scorers for each of their goals.

The three stars of the game were
1. Helminen (OT gwg)
2. Mancari (g,a)
3. Couture (g,2a)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Benn Ferriero.

Even Strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines


Portland 1 4 0 0 - 5
Worcester 0 3 2 1 - 6

1st Period-1, Portland, Kostka 2 (Mancari, Schutz), 0:42. Penalties-Kostka Por (roughing), 18:05; McCauley Wor (roughing, roughing), 18:05.

2nd Period-2, Portland, DiPenta 1 3:42 (sh). 3, Portland, Schutz 7 (Whitmore, Weber), 6:02. 4, Worcester, Zalewski 14 (Ferriero, Couture), 7:02. 5, Portland, Mancari 17 (Persson, Ennis), 10:26 (pp). 6, Portland, Byron 7 (Generous, Ennis), 12:48. 7, Worcester, Mashinter 10 (Desjardins, Petrecki), 16:28. 8, Worcester, Couture 14 (Zalewski, Joslin), 17:04 (pp). Penalties-Wanvig Por (holding), 2:27; Trevelyan Wor (tripping), 9:30; Byron Por (major - checking from behind, game misconduct - checking from behind), 16:57.

3rd Period-9, Worcester, Ferriero 10 (Couture, Zalewski), 3:20. 10, Worcester, Groulx 4 (Ferriero, McGinn), 19:17. Penalties-McCormick Por (fighting), 7:55; McGinn Wor (fighting), 7:55.

OT Period-11, Worcester, Helminen 7 (Joslin, Ferriero), 3:29. Penalties-No Penalties
v Shots on Goal
Portland 15-14-2-0-31
Worcester 16-9-12-6-43.

Power Play Opportunities
Portland 1 of 2
Worcester 1 of 3.

Portland, Lamoureux 6-6-0 (43 shots-37 saves)
Worcester, Sexsmith 3-4-1 (31 shots-26 saves).

A-3,132. Referee-Jeff Smith (49). Linesmen-Bob Bernard (4), Scott Whittemore (96).

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Stun Providence With Late Comeback, 4-3

The Worcester Sharks fired a franchise record 55 shots on goal but needed two late third period goals to defeat the Providence Bruins 4-3 Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of a season high crowd of 6,334.

Michael Wilson, returning to the lineup after missing three games as a healthy scratch, would give Worcester a 1-0 lead at 11:32 of the first as the WorSharks stormed the net trying to bang home a loose puck. With all five Providence players in the slot trying to get control of a loose puck and Worcester second line forwards trying to pry it loose, Wilson skated in from the point and grabbed the loose puck out of the pile of players and skated just to the left of the slot to get a clear shot. P-Bruins netminder Dany Sabourin had no idea where the puck was until it was in the net behind him. Jamie McGinn and T.J. Trevelyan had the assists on the play.

Providence center Levi Nelson would knot the game 1-1 at 15:21 on a nice deflection. Jordan Knackstedt broke into the Worcester zone with Nelson and fired a centering pass through the legs of WorSharks defenseman Danny Groulx. Nelson, with Frazer McLaren draped over his back, was able to get a stick on the pass and deflect it high over the right shoulder of Worcester goaltender Alex Stalock and just under the crossbar. Worcester would outshoot the Baby-Bs 21-9 after 20 minutes.

Despite the ice being tilted toward the Providence end most of the night, it was the P-Bruins that would grab an early second period goal when Nelson scored his second of the game at 1:09. Knackstedt picked the pocket of the Worcester defense trying to transition up the ice, and found Nelson in the left face off circle. Nelson beat a partially screened Stalock to make it 2-1.

Zach Hamill would build Providence's lead to 3-1 at 11:55 when he scored from the slot after a nice feed from Knackstedt. The assist was Knackstedt's third on the night.

Worcester would get themselves back within one with a power play tally at 16:02. The WorSharks home power play, which is ranked in the bottom five in the AHL, was hardly clicking on all cylinders when Derek Joslin fired a 40' laser on net from the high slot that beat Sabourin clean. Dan DaSilva and Brandon Mashinter recorded the assists on the goal. The WorSharks outshot the Baby-Bs 15-8 in the second period for an overall 36-17 advantage.

After killing an early Andrew Desjardins kneeing minor, Worcester again tilted the ice toward Sabourin and he was more than up to the challenge, often making consecutive great saves to keep the WorSharks at bay.

The WorSharks had a golden opportunity to tie the game when Groulx pounced on a rebound with a wide open net in front of him, but he couldn't control the rebound after being highsticked in the face by a Providence defender scrambling for the loose puck. Worcester continued to press as Groulx skated to the bench to be replaced, and their constant pressure finally paid off when Steven Zalewski collected a rebound of a Joslin shot and beat Sabourin at 17:19. Logan Couture had the second assist on the goal.

As loud as the hometown crowd was on the Zalewski tally, it would get even louder just 49 seconds later when Worcester's third line would give them the lead. Wilson flipped the puck into the Providence zone so the WorSharks could get a line chance, but instead of peeling off DaSilva and Desjardins drove into the P-bruins zone with DaSilva heading to attack Sabourin behind the net as the netminder went to stop the dump in. DaSilva stole the puck away from Sabourin and found Desjardins all alone in front of the wide open net as the DCU Center exploded in cheers.

Providence would pull Sabourin for an extra attacker, but all the scoring chances would actually be for Worcester, and were it not for some great saves by the P-Bruin defense--and a solid shot off the far post--the WorSharks would have iced the game before the final horn. But as it played out, the game was iced as Providence was reduced to a 150' blast as the clock expired by the tenacious Worcester forecheck. Worcester would again outshoot the P-Bruins for the period 19-5, for a game total of 55-22.

Worcester's scratches were Joe Loprieno, Dennis McCauley, Dean Strong, Mitch Versteeg, and Ryan Vesce. Tyson Sexsmith was the backup goaltender.

With the WorSharks setting a franchise record with 55 shots it's hard to believe there were players that didn't have any, but both defenseman Mike Moore and center Dwight Helminen both went without one. Danny Groulx tied the team record of ten set December 11th by Dan DaSilva in a 6-3 loss at Manchester.

The game saw one fight, Brandon Mashinter taking on Lane MacDermid in a first period contest that was pretty much a yawner. The fight was Mashinter's team leading tenth on the season.

As it sems to happen in many of the WorSharks big games, Bryan Marchment was behind the bench with Roy Sommer and David Cunniff.

Prior to the WorSharks/P-Bruins tilt the DCU Center hosted the "High School Hockey Showdown", the first of three high school games being played prior to the AHL contest. The game featured the Shrewsbury Colonials, the reigning Division 3 Massachusetts state champions, and the Marlboro Panthers. The Colonials defeated the Panthers 6-5, with Clark Dumart leading Shrewsbury with a hat trick. Cody Evangelous also had a hat trick in the losing effort. Last season, WorSharks head coach Roy Sommer's son Castan played for Shrewsbury during their state title run.

The three stars of the game were
1. Desjardins (gwg)
2. Joslin (g,a)
3. Nelson (2g,a)

For the second game in a row the Sharkspage player of the game was Dan DaSilva.

Even Strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines


Providence 1 2 0 - 3
Worcester 1 1 2 - 4

1st Period-1, Worcester, Wilson 4 (McGinn, Trevelyan), 11:32. 2, Providence, Nelson 2 (Knackstedt, Arniel), 15:21. Penalties-MacDermid Pro (fighting), 12:14; Mashinter Wor (fighting), 12:14; Wozniewski Pro (roughing), 18:30.

2nd Period-3, Providence, Nelson 3 (Knackstedt), 1:05. 4, Providence, Hamill 6 (Nelson, Knackstedt), 11:55. 5, Worcester, Joslin 1 (DaSilva, Mashinter), 16:02 (pp). Penalties-Nelson Pro (tripping), 9:18; Wozniewski Pro (elbowing), 14:25.

3rd Period-6, Worcester, Zalewski 13 (Couture, Joslin), 17:19. 7, Worcester, Desjardins 10 (Wilson, DaSilva), 18:08. Penalties-Desjardins Wor (kneeing), 0:46.

Shots on Goal
Providence 9-8-5-22
Worcester 21-15-19-55.

Power Play Opportunities
Providence 0 of 1
Worcester 1 of 3.

Providence, Sabourin 16-13-0 (55 shots-51 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 21-9-1 (22 shots-19 saves).

A-6,334. Referee-Jeff Smith (49). Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Brian MacDonald (72).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Outplayed In 5-2 Loss To Hartford

The Worcester Sharks had their six game winning streak snapped after a 5-2 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The WorSharks would start the game off on the right note when T.J. Trevelyan deflected a rebound of a Derek Joslin shot out of the air and back to the ice for an easy tap in past Wolf Pack netminder Matt Zaba for a power play tally and a 1-0 at 6:54 of the first. Dan DaSilva had the second assist on the play.

Hartford would answer just just 26 seconds later Wolf Pack defenseman Illka Heikkinen backhanded a rebound of Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau's breakaway that WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock made the original save on.

Hartford would grab the lead for good at 5:24 of the second period while skating with a two man advantage. With the Wolf Pack passing the puck along the outside, Parenteau found Corey Locke standing all alone at the far post for a one-timer.

The Wolf Pack made it 3-1 at 12:19 of the middle stanza when defenseman Nigel Williams found Weise all alone behind the Worcester defense. Weise was so far ahead of the onrushing WorSharks defenseman that he was able to get back to his feet after slipping and still get a high quality shot on net. Stalock made the save, but fell into the net and dropped the puck as the scrambling defense crashed the net.

Locke would net his second of the game at 3:10 of the third with a power play tally after he put a rebound of a Bobby Sanguinetti shot back on net.

Despite being totally outplayed for most of the contest the WorSharks, playing in front of almost the entirety of hockey operations for San Jose as they hold their organizational meetings in Worcester, didn't stop playing hard and were able to get back to within striking distance at 4-2 at 12:46 of the third when Joe Callahan fired a blast on net through traffic that slipped through Zaba's five hole. Brandon Mashinter and Jamie McGinn assisted on the goal. But Hartford would snuff out any chance of a miracle comeback at 15:32 when Weise beat Stalock on a breakaway for the 5-2 final.

The Worcester shuttle made another stop in the Bay State this week, dropping off Jamie McGinn and picking up John McCarthy for his first NHL recall in his rookie season. The WorSharks scratches were Dennis McCauley, Dean Strong, Mitch Versteeg, Ryan Vesce, and Michael Wilson. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up netminder.

It was hard to tell who had the worse night, the WorSharks or the men in stripes. Referee Nygel Pelletier and linesmen Brian MacDonald and Chris Libett were, to be blunt, pathetically bad. On several occasions after Pelletier called a penalty players had no idea who the minor was on, and on many instances the player sent to the box appeared to not even be the player Pelletier was calling the minor on. Pelletier got Hartford's Andres Ambuhl elbowing minor correct, and while Worcester's Andrew Desjardins was guilty of roughing he was hardly alone in the eight man pile up. The other nine minors Pelletier called were all headscratchers, and we won't even discuss all the clear offenses he missed. Other officiating miscues include the linesmen missing many clear offsides and hand passes, both teams repeatedly getting away with too many men on the ice, and Pelletier signalling a goal was scored when the puck wasn't anywhere near the net. Just to make the record clear none of that had really anything to do with Worcester losing, but it is frustrating for officiating that would be considered bad for a mite game to take place in a pro game of this level.

There was one fight in the contest, with Dan DaSilva taking on David Urquhart at 13:04 of the second period after a scrum broke out to the left of Zaba. DaSilva, who was in his second fight in as many games, took home the decision.

The three stars of the game were
1. Corey Locke (2g)
2. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (2a)
3. Dale Weise (2g)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Dan DaSilva.

Even Strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines


Hartford 1 2 2 - 5
Worcester 1 0 1 - 2

1st Period-1, Worcester, Trevelyan 7 (Joslin, DaSilva), 6:54 (pp). 2, Hartford, Heikkinen 7 (Parenteau, Byers), 7:25. Penalties-Couture Hfd (interference), 6:14; Couture Wor (slashing), 8:11; Henderson Wor (hooking), 14:08.

2nd Period-3, Hartford, Locke 16 (Parenteau, Heikkinen), 5:24 (pp). 4, Hartford, Weise 12 (Williams), 12:19. Penalties-Henderson Wor (hooking), 3:50; Petrecki Wor (interference), 5:14; Parenteau Hfd (roughing), 9:11; Urquhart Hfd (fighting), 13:04; DaSilva Wor (fighting), 13:04; Potter Hfd (slashing), 19:25.

3rd Period-5, Hartford, Locke 17 (Byers, Sanguinetti), 3:10 (pp). 6, Worcester, Callahan 4 (Mashinter, McGinn), 12:46 (pp). 7, Hartford, Weise 13 15:32. Penalties-Desjardins Wor (roughing), 2:05; Petrecki Wor (hooking), 7:51; Ambuhl Hfd (elbowing), 11:01; Moore Wor (hooking), 17:43.

Shots on Goal
Hartford 13-16-7-36
Worcester 9-11-11-31.

Power Play Opportunities
Hartford 2 of 7
Worcester 2 of 4.

Hartford, Zaba 2-2-1 (31 shots-29 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 20-9-1 (36 shots-31 saves).

A-2,829. Referee-Nygel Pelletier (41). Linesmen-Brian MacDonald (72), Chris Libett (19).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dany Heatley blocks shot in overtime, ices St Louis Blues with breakaway game winning goal in OT

San Jose Sharks right wing Dany Heatley blocked shot breakaway OT game winning goal
San Jose Sharks St Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman glove save
St Louis Blues left wing Brad Winchester NHL shot

Patrick Marleau (PP) and Dany Heatley scored to spark a San Jose Sharks come-from-behind 2-1 win against the struggling St Louis Blues. More notes will be posted soon.

A photo gallery from the game is available here, video highlights are available here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jason Demers interviewed by

Defenseman Jason Demers discusses the San Jose Sharks recent working arrangement with the Stockton Thunder, his thoughts on practicing with the ECHL team, how he will help teach players what he has learned up until this point in his rookie season, how the drive to Stockton is much better for his preperation than the 5-hour flight to Worcester, and what he has learned from teammates like Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Douglas Murray in a video interview with Stockton Thunder PR Director and play-by-play broadcaster Mike Benton.

Thanks to A. for the link.

Jason Demers sighting in Stockton, rumblings of a potential Sharks arrangement with lone ECHL franchise in Northern California -- UPDATED

San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers praticing this week with ECHL Stockton Thunder
ECHL Stockton Thunder arena hockey building

There has been a Jason Demers sighting with the ECHL's Stockton Thunder. According to Stockton Record beat reporter Scott Linesburgh, the 2008 7th round San Jose Sharks draft pick started practicing with the ECHL club Monday and Tuesday after being reassigned by the Worcester Sharks over the weekend. "This is a great group of guys, and I already feel like I've been here all season," Demers told Linesburgh.

The Stockton Record also confirmed there have been discussion between the two Northern Californian hockey clubs about an official secondary affiliation, but nothing has been finalized at this point in time. Eight of the 20 ECHL franchise have dual NHL affiliations, and the Sharks current arrangements with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL and Kalamazoo K-Wings of the ECHL are 2,640 mile and 1,940 mile one way flights respectively. The Sharks two Californian NHL neighbors each have ECHL arrangements closer to home. The Kings have the Ontario Reign (home of the 2010 ECHL Allstar Game) 40 miles away, and the Anaheim Ducks have Bakersfield a mere 126 miles away. The Sharks previously had an affiliation with the Fresno Falcons, it ended a few years before the team ceased operations in the middle of last season and head coach Matt Thomas was hired by Stockton.

The cost savings and convenience of a nearby ECHL affiliate over an 82-game regular season could be significant, in the Sharks case it could be dramatic. San Jose has been actively working the "Worcester Shuttle" to the point that even the most detailed transaction wire (Yahoo October, November, December, January) is only partially correct. Since the start of the season on October 1st, of the 87 listed transactions left wing Jamie McGinn has been round tripped 9 times, center Logan Couture has been round tripped 7 times, and Frazer McLaren, Benn Ferriero and Ryan Vesce have each been rounded tripped 4 times. Joe Callahan, Steven Zalewski, Jason Demers and Torrey Mitchell (injury rehab) have also been assigned and recalled.

Tight against the $56.8 million salary cap, San Jose's almost daily roster maneuverings could be an effort to create cap space in case of injury. It could also be an effort to create enough cap room for general manager Doug Wilson to have one more option to tweak his team at the trade deadline (March 3, 2010). San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak reported that it is not uncommon for NHL teams to work out one off arrangments with minor league teams, noting that the Vancouver Canucks reassigned defenseman Brad Lukowich to the Texas Stars instead of to their AHL affiliate in Manitoba. Lukowich was recently recalled by the Canucks and could finish out the remainder of the NHL season along with former San Jose Sharks teammate Christian Ehrhoff.

Two recent comments by San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan have shed some light on the situation with Demers in Stockton. When asked of the move, McLellan said that he wanted Demers to continue to work on the same things he has been working on while in San Jose and Worcester. He expected Demers' development to continue regardless of where he is playing or practicing. McLellan also noted that defenseman Jay Leach, claimed off waivers December 1st from Montreal, would have an opportunity to prove himself in San Jose. "We need to see where he is at," McLellan said. In 2 straight starts against Edmonton and Los Angeles, Leach averaged 15:35 of ice time and registered 2 hits, 4 blocked shots and 1 fight against Edmonton defenseman Steve Staios.

It is unclear whether Demers will play a game in the ECHL, but the Thunder have a home-at-home coming up Friday in Bakersfield, and Sunday in Stockton. The Sharks host the Detroit Red Wing Saturday at HP Pavilion (7:30PM). The second half of January, Stockton plays 11 straight home games at Stockton Arena. If he does suit up, the Quebec native will play in front of the reigning 4-time ECHL attendance champions. The Thunder drew 223,854 fans in 2008-09, a significant percentage of whom regularly wear San Jose Sharks gear to games.

After a year as the ECHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, the Thunder have had a strong primary affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers for 3 and a half seasons. The Oilers initially did not have a primary AHL affiliate, so the prospect and scouting pipeline with Stockton was active. Sharkspage ran into Edmonton scouts or coaches 3 times in probably under 2 dozen visits. Edmonton's highly touted 2004 1st round draft pick Devan Dubnyk registered a 24-11-7 record, .921SV% and 2.56GAA in goal for Stockton in 2006-07, 2005 1st rounder Ryan O'Marra registered 11 goals and 20 points in 24 games played for Stockton 2007-08, and Ryan Huddy, son of former 5-time Edmonton Oilers champion Charlie Huddy, racked up 35 goals, 73 points and an ECHL Allstar nomination to lead the team in 2008-09.

Stockton starting goaltender Bryan Pitton was recalled to the Edmonton Oilers to backup Jeff Deslauriers Saturday night in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. Pitton was reassigned to the Stockton Thunder on Tuesday.

[Update] In last week's DOH podcast, Mike and Doug discussed recent San Jose games against Chicago and Washington and their first visit to see the ECHL in Stockton. In their podcast posted today, they discuss Team USA's dramatic WJC win over Canada and the Demers assignment to Stockton. Best stat from the podcast: NHL players hit 657 posts and crossbars in the first 576 games (601 posts, 56 crossbars).

[Update2] The Sharks and the ECHL Stockton Thunder have come to a "supplemental" affiliation according to a press release:

Thunder, San Jose Sharks Announce Partnership

Two California hockey hot spots sign working agreement, Thunder adds to NHL affiliation with Edmonton

STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Thunder, a two-time recipient of the ECHL 'Award of Excellence' and the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League have entered into a working agreement for the duration of 2009-10 season, Thunder head coach Matt Thomas announced today in conjunction with the Sharks.

This agreement will serve as a supplement to the Thunder's continued working affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL and the Springfield Falcons of the AHL. "Were excited to enter a partnership with the San Jose Sharks and extend our association through the National Hockey League to a team right in our own backyard," said Thomas. "The Sharks are a well-rounded, respected organization on and off the ice that is a model for success in the California market. We're looking forward to a beneficial relationship."

"The Sharks are excited to be associated with the Stockton Thunder and are pleased to once again have Head Coach Matt Thomas working with our players," said Sharks Vice President and Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas. "The Thunder is a well run, top-notch organization and geographically, the relationship makes a lot of sense. After working with both Fresno and Phoenix over the past decade, we are happy to re-establish a West Coast presence within the ECHL."

The Sharks, a member of the NHL's Western Conference and Pacific Division, have been a member of the National Hockey League since the 1991-92 season. The Sharks are reigning back-to-back Pacific Division champions and have won four division titles (2001-02, 2003-04, 2007-08 and 2008-09) in franchise history. Last season, San Jose captured their first President's Trophy with the NHL's best regular season record (53-18-11, 117 points).

Like the Northern California-neighboring Thunder, the Sharks have enjoyed box office success each season on their own home ice and in the last three seasons plus (including 2009-10, entering Jan. 6), the Sharks have drawn a total of 2,513,852 fans in the last 144 regular season games to HP Pavilion at San Jose.

For the fourth consecutive season, Stockton is currently serving as the primary AA minor-league affiliate for Oilers prospects. Since the Thunder and Oilers began their partnership in 2006-07, the Thunder has advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs three consecutive years and seven former Thunder players - right wing Troy Bodie, goaltender Devan Dubnyk, right wing Colin McDonald, center Ryan O'Marra, center Tim Sestito, left wing Liam Reddox and defenseman Bryan Young - have gone on to play in the NHL.

The Thunder makes San Jose their third team as an NHL partner, joining present and past affiliates in the Edmonton Oilers (2006-present) and the Phoenix Coyotes (2005-06). The Thunder was voted 'Best Local Sports Team' by readers of the San Joaquin Magazine, has led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew 223,854 fans to Stockton Arena in 2008-09. Season tickets for 2009-10 are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit

[Update3] Unrelated note: My brother Chris, a longtime San Jose Sharks season ticket holder in the early years, sent a note that Microsoft Silverlight is hosting a free Alicia Keys concert online tomorrow (6PM PT).

[Update4] Plank takes a look at the Sharks 4th line and weighs the play of Jody Shelley, Brad Staubitz and Frazer McLaren at Fear the Fin. A common complaint popping up more and more in local circles is that the Sharks are bowing to salary considerations and not icing the best team on the ice possible at all times. "This has been my issue, and we have been on it a couple of weeks, because (the Sharks) have been on a win streak it has gone kind of dormant. I'm irritated, because I think the Sharks should be trying to field the best team on the ice instead of get the award for the most creative salary cap management," - Doug Santana on the latest DOH podcast. Head coach Todd McLellan, and Sharks players Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau weigh in on Shelley's 500th NHL start and his value to the team on The situation is going to play itself out on the ice, but the Sharks may have to make several difficult roster decisions come the trade deadline and the postseason. This blog's opinion: Malhotra-Nichol-Ortmeyer should be a third line etched in stone.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kings snap 8-game Sharks winning streak, crush San Jose 6-2 at HP Pavilion

Los Angeles Kings snap 8 game Sharks win streak

The Los Angeles Kings dominated San Jose en route to a 6-2 win at HP Pavilion on Monday night. The Kings held off a strong San Jose offensive push at the start of the first and second periods, then punctured the 2nd ranked penalty kill in the NHL with 3 straight power play goals. Chasing starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov after 40 minutes, right wing Scott Parse scored on backup Thomas Greiss 13 seconds into the third period for LA's 6th unanswered goal of the game. Douglas Murray (PP) and Patrick Marleau scored in the final minutes to put the Sharks on the board.

"It's a prime example of needing two aspects to your game, you better be there physically and you better be there mentally," San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said after the game. "Physically we were fine, but the mental mistakes were unacceptable. I don't know where everybody's heads were. We were tought a pretty good lesson anyhow."

Each team traded solid goaltending early. Shorthanded, recent Team USA nominee Jonathan Quick made 2 quick saves on Devin Setoguchi before defenseman Rob Scuderi unsucessfully tried to bat and kick the rebound away from forward Torrey Mitchell. Scuderi may be the favorite to replace Paul Martin on Team USA if Martin's fractured left arm does not heal in time for the Olympics.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov turned in an equally impressive sequence with the Kings buzzing on the other side of the rink. Nabokov shut down an opportunity by Wayne Simmonds in close, and used a strong push side-to-side to stone Brad Richardson on the other side of the crease. Defenseman Rob Blake made a desperation slide tackle to clear the open rebound before Scott Parse or Simmonds could punch it in the empty net. Asked about the save on the bench, Blake noted the Sharks were out of position on the play. Three Sharks were bunched up at the side of the net as Blake lost his stick, and Simmonds was left unmarked in front.

Then the mistakes began to pile up for San Jose. Michal Handzus picked up a shot/pass from Rob Scuderi behind the net, then beat Nabokov to the far post for a wraparound goal to open the scoring for Los Angeles. With Joe Thornton in the box on a retaliation penalty, defenseman Dan Boyle broke his stick on the subsequent penalty kill. Patrick Marleau tried to toss his stick back to Boyle, but Boyle fumbled the short shovel pass. Michal Handzus fed an unchecked Oscar Moller in front for a simple, bang-bang 1-timer. Along with the power play goal, the Kings were awarded another man advantage as Marleau took a throwing the stick minor on the play.

The constant penalty kill tired out the Sharks special teams. Tic-tac-toe passing by recently returned center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Drew Doughty, led to a cross-ice pass and a wide open net for Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar. Kopitar buried the puck for a 3-0 lead and his 17th goal of the season.

There was a question of how the Sharks would respond, and they came out strong in the second outshooting the Kings 17-5. The script would remain the same. The Kings withstood an early Sharks onslaught, and then capitalized on their opportunities. Drew Doughty held in a Scott Nichol clearing attempt, then set up Anze Kopitar on the left wing. Ryan Smyth deflected the Kopitar shot around Nabokov. Drew Doughty, also a Team USA nominee for the 2010 Winter Olympics, registered his 4th assist on the play. The wheels came off for San Jose as Wayne Simmonds scored 14 seconds later. Three Sharks backed off a Kings dump in, and Brad Richardson took the gift opportunity to grab the puck and throw it to an equally unchecked Wayne Simmonds in front. 5-0 Los Angeles.

The Sharks have handled their neighbor to the south in 4 seasons since the lockout, building up a 21-9 record with an almost unconscious psychological advantage. The Kings knew they were more often than not going to lose, the fans knew it, and there was a defeatism that subtly permeated the perpetually rebuilding franchise. The stark turnaround this season has seen a quicker Los Angeles defense consistently cause problems for a tight checking San Jose team. The Sharks allowed 2 or fewer goals in 9 straight games before this 6-2 loss, 10 if you include a 3-2 shootout loss to Dallas. The Kings were also the team that preceeded that streak with a 5-4 win December 9th on the back of 2 power play goals and an OT game winner by another Team USA nominee, Dustin Brown. The Kings also scored 3 power play goals Monday night against a team that has relinquished only 2 in 38 previous opportunities (94.7%)

The Kings now hold a 3-1 season series advantage over the Sharks, outscoring them 18-12 in the span with an uncharacteristic 6 power play goals. "This is real big in here. Especially the power play. The San Jose Sharks penalty killing is outstanding. To be able to get three power play goals, I give our guys a lot of credit," Los Angeles Kings head coach Terry Murray said after the most recent peformance. The Sharks will have 2 opportunities (January 11th and January 19th) to rebound against the Kings in the next 8 games, both at the Staples Center.

Game Notes:

Joe Thornton recorded his 900th NHL point with an assist on Patrick Marleau's goal in the third period. According to, Thornton is tied with Andy Bathgate for 67th in the all-time NHL assist record. According to San Francisco blogger Gabriel Desjardins' Best of the Decade feature, Joe Thornton led the 00's two of the three major offensive categories, assists and points. Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla lead the decade in goals, shots and total ice time for forwards.

Monday night against Los Angeles, Patrick Marleau tied New York Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik for the NHL goal scoring lead at 27. Gaborik has 20 power play points (12G, 8A) to Marleau's 11 (6G, 5A), but the former Sharks captain has the edge in +/- (+17), short-handed goals (2), game winning goals (5) and quality of competition (0.033). Marleau along with linemates Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley will anchor a scoring line for Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics. Marian Gaborik will join Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara on Team Slovakia.

Left wing Jody Shelley, in his second game back after missing 23 with a hand injury, registered his 500th career start in the NHL. Right wing Brad Staubitz, also in his second game back after missing 19 with a hand injury, checked Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske into the boards in the first period. Drewiske left with a shoulder injury and did not return. According to's Rich Hammond, head coach Terry Murray said the injury may be serious and Drewiske could be out long term. San Jose Sharks center Manny Malhotra missed his second straight game after suffering a "lower body injury" Wednesday in a 3-2 shootout win over Phoenix.

Defenseman Douglas "Crankshaft" Murray was named Sharks Player of the Month for December. Murray becomes the 11th individual Sharks defenseman to win Player of the Month honors dating back to the 1998-98 season (the entire team was given the award in March 2008). Murray registered 3 assists in December, but according to a press release he amassed 130 hits (7th in NHL, 4th among defenseman). Murray had 1 career NHL goal in 4 prior seasons, but this season he has 3. His power play goal Monday night was his second goal in 2 straight games. "I just tried to get it on net," Murray said after scoring in the first period against Edmonton on Saturday, "I am happy I doubled my goal total."

Dan Boyle struggled with finding any positives after the 6-2 loss to Los Angeles, but he did have something to say about his defensive partner Douglas Murray. "Everybody knows... his physical play, but offensively he needs to get a little more credit than he is getting," Boyle said. "The two of us were in there moving around a lit trying to create." Murray, recently named as a starter on the Swedish Olympic team, registered a season high 4 shots on goal Monday against Los Angeles.

"They way the game unfolded, they were protecting their lead and not jumping in as much. We were shooting everything we could. I don't think the 50 shots is indicitive of how we played by any means." - Postgame comments from defenseman Rob Blake.

The teams San Jose has struggled with have been quick teams, teams that are particularly quick on defense. Look at Chicago, look at Calgary, look at the LA Kings and even Phoenix. Phoenix has given the Sharks fits this year. They have a good solid defensive core with Jovanovski, Z. Michalek, Yandle. Yandle is an up and coming defenseman who is also very fast. They close on San Jose forwards quicker than other teams do. They don't give them that time... when San Jose does get scoring chances, they do not get those secondary scoring chances." - Postgame comments from KFOX/CSNCA analyst Jamie Baker.

"I don't think tonight was a question of not coming out the right way. I think we came out the right way, we were ready to play, I thought we had a good half a period possibly a little bit more. Then we had a couple of breakdowns and we come in this dressing room down 3-0... Second period was a completely different story. We do have to take chances, but a lot of those chances weren't even 50/50, they were 30/70. Those were not the right gambles to take. Coming into the third, we were in their end the whole third but they just played a simple road game with a lead." - Postgame comments from defenseman Dan Boyle.

"We were fine, we were playing hard, we had a little energy then mentally we weren't there. We missed assignments, when you are not there mentally you can't expect special teams to be there at all. We were very ineffective in both areas... we put ourself in a very poor situation to begin with with a very poor penalty. We didn't need to take in 200 feet from our net... The objective was to play a little more responsible coming in to our own end. They weren't in our end a lot, but when they were they were dangerous. Their chanes weren't without substance. They were good scoring chances, 2-on-1's and 3-on-1's. I thought our committment level on the back side of the puck, on the d side, was not where it needed to be. We were all about offense tonight and we got exactly what we deserved." - Postgame comments from San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.

[Update] San Jose Sharks lose big to Los Angeles Kings - SJ Mercury News.

[Update2] Kings are hardly intimidated, They are short-handed against the Sharks when it comes to Olympians but dominate play. - Helene Elliott for the LA Times.

Their world-class skills were undeniable and their newly minted Olympians were marvelous to watch. Was it the San Jose Sharks and their eight -- count 'em, eight -- Vancouver-bound superstars putting on a show Monday at a packed HP Pavilion?

No. It was the Kings building up to a 6-2 rout that ended the Sharks' winning streak at eight games.

[Update3] Kings defeat Sharks 6-2 - Rich Hammond for

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Darryl Hunt: Trevelyan, WorSharks Silence Sound Tigers, 4-3

The Worcester Sharks extended their current winning streak to six games after a 4-3 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center in snowy Worcester, Massachusetts.

Because New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro was playing for Bridgeport on a rehab assignment, the WorSharks knew they would need to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them, and Worcester did just that on their first power play chance.

The first half of that power play was fairly uneventful, and after a turnover in the neutral zone Bridgeport played keep away on their half of the sheet. But an attempted clear hit Steven Zalewski, and the WorSharks jumped right to the attack. Zalewski fed the puck to Logan Couture, who in turn found Benn Ferriero uncovered. Ferriero waited until Couture could set up a screen in front of DiPietro and fired a laser to the low stick side that found twine for the 1-0 lead at 10:37.

Fifty-seven seconds later Worcester would make it 2-0 off another Sound Tigers turnover. Joe Callahan would corral a clearing attempt and feed the puck to T.J. Trevelyan, who unleashed a blast from the point that deflected off Cory Quirk and past DiPietro.

Bridgeport would get within one at 2-1 at 16:46 of the second period after WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock made two quick saves on close in shots. Stalock ended up off balance after the second save and couldn’t get the stick down quick enough to stop Michael Haley from just pushing the puck through his legs and into the net.

Worcester would get their two goal lead back 50 seconds later at 17:36 after Trevelyan picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in on DiPietro from the left side. Trevelyan fired a laser that DiPietro made the initial save on, but the puck broke through and was heading toward the net when Dwight Helminen banged it home with defenseman Victor Bartley draped over his back.

The WorSharks would make it 4-1 on a seemingly harmless play. After another Bridgeport turnover, the forechecking Worcester forwards dumped the puck into the zone to the left of DiPietro. The WorSharks were playing a little keep away in the corner when Trevelyan picked up a loose puck and wheeled the net, flipping a very easy backhand on net from just outside the crease. The puck bounced off the defenseman and DiPietro and rolled into the net at 1:16 of the third to give the WorSharks a little breathing room.

And they’d need all that room after Bridgeport grabbed a power play marker by left winger Greg Mauldin at 5:40 of the third to make it 4-2, and when Robin Figren’s first professional goal at 9:23 brought the Sound Tigers within one at 4-3.

But a late holding the stick minor to Dustin Kohn would prevent DiPietro from being pulled for an extra attacker until there was under 10 seconds left in the contest, and Callahan easily skated out the remainder of the contest for the 4-3 final.

With Frazer McLaren playing Sunday, Kevin Henderson was added to the health scratch list. The other healthy scratches were Joe Loprieno, Dean Strong, and Michael Wilson. Ryan Vesce is still the only player on the WorSharks injury list.

The Worcester Sharks Booster Club announced their "Player of the Month" Awards for October and November. Alex Stalock was the winner for October, and Steven Zalewski was November's winner.

There was one fight in the contest, and it occurred just as the puck dropped to start the second period. Bridgeport forward James Sixsmith, all 5'9" 180 pounds of him, decided that was the best time to get into his first fight in the AHL, and he decided that Dan DaSilva was the guy to go after. DaSilva, who is not exactly a candidate for the UFC, was more than up to the challenge and made Sixsmith pay for his troubles.

The three stars of the game were
1. Trevelyan (1g,2a, +3)
2. Helminen (g,a,+3)
3. Quirk (g,a,+3)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Benn Ferriero

Even Strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines


Bridgeport 0 1 2 - 3
Worcester 2 1 1 - 4

1st Period-1, Worcester, Ferriero 9 (Zalewski, Couture), 10:37 (pp). 2, Worcester, Quirk 2 (Trevelyan, Callahan), 11:34. Penalties-Figren Bri (tripping), 9:40; Mashinter Wor (hooking), 12:28.

2nd Period-3, Bridgeport, Haley 2 (Wotton, Gleed), 16:46. 4, Worcester, Helminen 6 (Trevelyan), 17:36. Penalties-Sixsmith Bri (fighting), 0:01; DaSilva Wor (fighting), 0:01; Quirk Wor (hooking), 2:33; DiBenedetto Bri (high-sticking), 7:13; Wotton Bri (hooking), 9:19; Versteeg Wor (tripping), 13:54; Martin Bri (roughing), 18:40; McLaren Wor (kneeing, roughing), 18:40.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, Trevelyan 6 (Quirk, Helminen), 1:19. 6, Bridgeport, Mauldin 12 (Smith, Joensuu), 5:40 (pp). 7, Bridgeport, Figren 1 (Gleed, Bentivoglio), 9:23. Penalties-Ferriero Wor (tripping), 4:30; Kohn Bri (holding the stick), 18:42.

Shots on Goal
Bridgeport 10-9-11-30
Worcester 12-16-11-39.

Power Play Opportunities
Bridgeport 1 of 5
Worcester 1 of 4.

Bridgeport, DiPietro 1-2-0 (39 shots-35 saves)
Worcester, Stalock 20-8-1 (30 shots-27 saves).

A-2,328. Referee-Mark Lemelin (84). Linesmen-Todd Whittemore (70), Ed Boyle (81).

Darryl Hunt: Stalock, WorSharks Vanquish Devils, 5-2

The Worcester Sharks used a career high 40 save performance from rookie netminder Alex Stalock and goals from five different players to defeat the Lowell Devils 5-2 Saturday night at the Paul E. Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The WorSharks would jump on Lowell early, with Devils netminder Jeff Frazee making opening saves on shots by Dan DaSilva and John McCarthy. The rebound for McCarthy's shot ended up behind the net, where Andrew Desjardins swooped in and jammed the puck on net, bouncing it off Frazee to light the lamp just 34 seconds into the contest.

Lowell would knot the game 1-1 at 12:17 of the first when Tim Sestito threw a pass across the slot to Alexander Vasyunov, who flipped a backhander past Stalock.

Worcester would take the lead for good in the second period when Logan Couture threw what looked like an easy wrist shot on Frazee from the left side just inside the Lowell blueline. But Frazee, who apparently never saw the shot taken, couldn't react with the glove in time and the puck snuck inside the far post for the 2-1 lead at 4:05. Danny Groulx and Benn Ferriero had the assists on the play.

The WorSharks would make it 3-1 when Dwight Helminen converted off an odd man rush. Helminen trailed Corey Quirk and T.J. Trevelyan into the Lowell zone and went to the net uncovered, where he was able to one-time a feed from Quirk at 5:22.

Brandon Mashinter 9th goal on the season would increase the WorSharks lead to 4-1 3:03 into the third period when he beat a screened Frazee through the five-hole from the top of the right circle. Groulx and Kevin Henderson would have the assists on the play, but the goal was really set up by a great screen of Frazee by Dennis McCauley.

Worcester would add a power play marker at 6:23 of the third when Couture fed Ferriero for a nice backhander, and despite Frazee making 39 saves on 44 shots Lowell head coach John MacLean had seen enough and pulled Frazee in favor of Mike McKenna. McKenna would be slightly less busy, saving all three attempts on him.

Lowell winger Patrick Davis would grab a stat killer with 37 seconds remaining when he jammed home a rebound for the 5-2 final.

Worcester's healthy scratches were Joe Loprieno, Dean Strong, and Michael Wilson. Mitch Versteeg made his AHL debut in Wilson's place. Ryan Vesce missed his fifth game with a groin injury, and with the luxury of Worcester's great play of late don't look for the WorSharks to rush their captain back.

With a huge snowstorm hitting the northeast all weekend and concerns in San Jose about airports in the area closing, the Worcester shuttle took a quick detour through Stockton, California when Jason Demers was assigned to the ECHL team there. Thunder fans shouldn't get too excited as Demers stay there will be very brief and won't include him playing in a game.

There were two fights in the contest, with Lowell's Myles Stoesz dropping them with Brandon Mashinter at center ice soon after Dwight Helminen's goal and Dennis McCauley and Louis Robitaille introducing themselves to each other behind the Lowell net. Mashinter won his contest pretty easily, and the McCauley/Robitaille went long enough to consider it a draw.

With the WorSharks playing Bridgeport Sunday afternoon there's a good chance they'll have to face Rick DiPietro, who is on a rehab assignment from the Islanders to the Sound Tigers. DiPietro played New Years Day against Providence and stopped 25 of 28 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Baby-Bs.

All of the 2010 Olympic rosters have been announced and three former WorSharks have been named to squads; Thomas Greiss and Dimitri Pätzold with Team Germany, and Joe Pavelski with Team USA. Two former Worcester IceCats are playing for Team Slovakia, Lubos Bartecko and Michal Handzus.

An update on Manchester's Shawn Bates, injured against Worcester on Tuesday...according to team sources he'll be out 4 to 6 weeks with the infamous "lower body injury". To replace Bates in the Manchester line-up the Monarchs have signed former San Jose and Worcester forward Tom Cavanagh to a contract. Manchester is the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings.

The three stars of the game were
1. Couture (g,a)
2. Ferriero (g,a)
3. Stalock (win, 40 saves)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Danny Groulx.

Even strength lines


Worcester 1 2 2 - 5
Lowell 1 0 1 - 2

1st Period-1, Worcester, Desjardins 9 (McCarthy, DaSilva), 0:34. 2, Lowell, Vasyunov 10 (Sestito, Magnan), 12:17. Penalties-Stoesz Low (slashing), 2:51.

2nd Period-3, Worcester, Couture 13 (Groulx, Ferriero), 4:05. 4, Worcester, Helminen 5 (Quirk, Trevelyan), 5:22. Penalties-DaSilva Wor (holding), 0:16; Mashinter Wor (fighting), 5:30; Stoesz Low (fighting), 5:30; McCauley Wor (fighting), 5:49; Robitaille Low (holding, fighting), 5:49; served by Snetsinger Low (bench minor - too many men), 11:28.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, Mashinter 9 (Groulx, Henderson), 3:03. 6, Worcester, Ferriero 8 (Couture), 6:23 (pp). 7, Lowell, Davis 8 (Gionta, Castonguay), 19:23. Penalties-Perkovich Low (interference), 4:59; Cohen Low (hooking), 7:32.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 15-17-15-47
Lowell 10-13-19-42.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 1 of 5
Lowell 0 of 1.

Worcester, Stalock 19-8-1 (42 shots-40 saves)
Lowell, Frazee 8-7-0 (44 shots-39 saves); McKenna 11-8-0 (3 shots-3 saves).

A-2,138. Referee-Chris Brown (86). Linesmen-Scott Whittemore (96), Brian MacDonald (72).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Joe Pavelski named to USA Olympic hockey team, 8 San Jose Sharks players will participate in the 2010 Winter Olympics

San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski named to USA Olympic hockey team
San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski named to USA Olympic hockey team
Winter Classic Joe Pavelski USA Olympic hockey team

At the conclusion of yesterday's NHL Winter Classic, San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski was officially named to Team USA's 2010 Men's Winter Olympic ice hockey squad. "We had some difficult decisions to make, but that's a credit to USA Hockey and depth of the player pool in our country," Team USA general manager Brian Burke told

One of the difficult decisions may have come down to veteran Montreal Canadiens center Scott Gomez vs 25-year old San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski. A multiple Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils, Anchorage Alaska native Gomez represented Team USA at the 2004 World Championships (bronze) and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. Plover, Wisconsin native Joe Pavelski is an emerging talent for American hockey. He is one of the players GM Brian Burke had his eyes on when he mentioned that Team USA needed to "turn the page".

ESPN analysts Scott Burnside, E.J. Hradek and Pierre Lebrun broke down the USA Olympic selections after the names were announced on New Years Day. After a discussion of Chris Drury's inclusion and his possible captaincy, Pierre Lebrun noted, "I was more intrigued for the battle for the #2 (centerman) job between Joe Pavelski and Scott Gomez, we know from our discussions that was the big debate for Team USA." On a younger, more inexperienced team, "I am glad they took Pavelski, that was the gutsier choice," Lebrun said. "They took a chance, Pavelski is a smart player, he is good defensively, he kills penalties, he does it all."

Joe Pavelski has demonstrated an unheralded ability to win at each step of his hockey career. He went end-to-end for the game winning goal to earn a Wisconsin State Hockey Championship with SPASH (Stevens Point Area Senior High), won a USHL championship as captain of the Waterloo Blackhawks, and lead the Wisconsin Badgers in scoring and blocked shots en route to a NCAA Division I National Championship in 2006.

He quickly made an impression on the NHL stage. Pavelski burst out of the gates with a goal in his Sharks debut against Los Angeles on November 26, 2006, and kept churning with 8 points in his first 10 games (7G, 1A). A leg injury cut short his rookie season, but he rebounded to play a full 82 games the next year while becoming the Sharks biggest playoff scoring threat against Calgary and Dallas. Pavelski piled up 7 points in a knock down drag out 7-game 2008 WCQF series against the Flames in 2008, and he buried the dramatic overtime goal against the Stars in Game 5 to give the Sharks life and send the 2008 WCSF series back to Dallas.

"It was exciting... You never really know until you get the call," Pavelski told the San Jose Mercury News upon learning of his Olympic selection. Pavelski joins 7 other San Jose Sharks players, and 2 other Sharks organization employees on the trip to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The "Team Canada" forward line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley will join defenseman Dan Boyle on Team Canada, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov could start for Team Russia, backup goaltender Thomas Griess joins a bevy of former Sharks and could start for Team Germany, and defenseman Douglas "Crankshaft" Murray will patrol the blueline for Team Sweden. Mike Aldrich and Ray Tufts will also join Team USA as equipment manager and athletic trainer respectively.

Hockey News columnist Ryan Kennedy writes that Team USA lacks experience, but not skill and excitement. Veteran competitors like Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Scott Gomez and Bill Guerin will be missed according to Kennedy, but he adds, "the history of the passing American generation of Olympians is checkered at best, so maybe a relatively clean break from those who came before was what Burke had in mind." The American team has only 1 medal (2002 - silver) since the "Miracle on Ice" effort to win gold in 1980.

Brian Rafalski, Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner are the only players on the 23-man roster with previous Olympic experience. Pavelski joins a unit that exudes its own style of workmanlike effort and skill. A hard working West Coast quartet includes Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown (Top-3 in hits for 4th straight season), former Burke protege Bobby Ryan, 2-way Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler and a team leader on the #1 team in the NHL, Joe Pavelski. Paul Stastny, Zach Parise and Patrick Kane are expected to provide a scoring element up front, while 6-foot-4, 220-pound Ryan Malone and 6-foot-3, 225-pound David Backes are expected to keep opponents honest.

Scoring might be a concern for the young Team USA, but compete factor should be at a premium for the length of the tournament. New York Rangers center Chris Drury may have been added to lead in that effort, but new leadership figures will emerge quickly in the condensed environment. One strong candidate to fill that role is Joe Pavelski. Often on the top penalty kill unit with Patrick Marleau last season, Pavelski also became dangerous on the second power play unit and remains as the Sharks most deadly OT shootout sniper. An intelligent forward, he used hockey sense and anticipation to put himself in the dirty areas in front of the net. He plays 20 pounds above his 5-foot-11, 194-pounds frame, and two NHL head coaches (Ron Wilson, Todd McLellan) repeatedly increased his role in pressure situations based on his performance.

The player this blog compared Joe Pavelski to upon his entry to the NHL in 2006: Chris Drury.

The debate and predictions over Olympic national teams will begin in earnest at the end of the month, but there is no debate about the American Olympic announcement ceremony held after the Winter Classic. It was expertly managed, tying together the honor of representing one's country with the dedication and passion on display in youth hockey. Young hockey players with customised jersey's turned to reveal each Olympic player (video available here).

When youth Phil Kessel turned to reveal his selection, the partisan Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers fans in attendance boo'd the mention of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The reaction drew a large grin from Team USA GM Brian Burke, who will push the team along with former San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas, who stopped 24 of 25 shots against to help his team to a 2-1 outdoor win at Fenway Park, took the ice to a standing ovation for his announcement. Pounding fists with each of the youth hockey players, he took his spot on the team at the end of the line in a truely authentic and endearing moment.

USA Hockey posted photos from the NHL Winter Classic team announcement here, and took an in-depth look at the USA Olympic hockey jersey here.

Team USA Olympic schedule:

Team USA 2010 Olympic Winter Games Schedule
Feb. 16-28 • Vancouver, B.C.

TUE, Feb. 16 Switzerland 12PM
THU, Feb. 18 Norway 12PM
SUN, Feb. 21 Canada 4:40PM
WED, Feb. 24 Quarterfinals TBD
FRI, Feb. 26 Semifinals TBD
SUN, Feb. 27 Bronze-Medal Game 7PM
MON, Feb. 28 Gold-Medal Game 12:15PM

Team USA 2010 Olympic roster:

G - Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres)
G - Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings)
G - Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins)
D - Erik Johnson (St Louis Blues)
D - Jack Johnson (Los Angeles Kings)
D - Mike Komisarek (Toronto Maple Leafs)
D - Paul Martin (New Jersey Devils)
D - Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins)
D - Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings)
D - Ryan Suter (Nashville Predators)
RW - David Backes (St Louis Blues)
RW - Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings)
RW - Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers)
C - Chris Drury (New York Rangers)
RW - Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
C - Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks)
RW - Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs)
RW - Jamie Langenbrunner (New Jersey Devils)
LW - Ryan Malone (Tampe Bay Lightning)
LW - Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils)
C - Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks)
F - Bobby Ryan (Anaheim Ducks)
C - Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche)

[Update] Former Black Hawk Pavelski named to U.S. Olympic team - Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

[Update2] An Olympic ring: Plover native celebrates 2010 with call from U.S. men's hockey team - Wisconsin Rapid Tribune.

"It takes your breath away when something like this happens," said Pavelski, a center for the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League, in a telephone interview on Friday. "Lots of times, you dream about something like this playing in the back yard. It's pretty cool."

[Update3] Pavelski, Suter, Rafalski and Kessel named to U.S. Olympic hockey team - Wisconsin State Journal.

[Update4] Americans left talent on the table in picking their Olympic squad - Kevin Allen for USA Today.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Darryl Hunt: McCauley, WorSharks Ring In New Year With 3-1 Win Over Portland

The Worcester Sharks ended 2009 on an up note, defeating the Portland Pirates 3-1 Thursday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine in a New Year's Eve contest between the Atlantic division rivals.

The WorSharks opened the scoring at 11:43 of the first when Dan DaSilva beat Pirates netminder Jhonas Enroth with a blast off a nice feed by Andrew Desjardins. John McCarthy grabbed the second assist on the play.

Portland, playing just their second game in 12 days, looked flat throughout the contest. And were it not for Enroth making a couple of great saves and Benn Ferriero's shorthanded breakaway attempt hitting the post Worcester might have been able to put the game away in the opening 20 minutes.

Worcester would get the eventual game winner at 6:58 of the second period when Derek Joslin sent Dennis McCauley into the Pirates zone all alone with a great tape to tape pass from his own blueline and through the Pirates defense to McCauley streaking into the zone. McCauley notched his second goal in as many games when he roofed a wrist shot over Enroth to make it 2-0. Steven Zalewski stretched his point streak to six games with the second assist on the marker.

The Pirates would get on the board with a power play tally at 10:18 to close within a goal when rookie defenseman turned left-winger Dennis Persson banked a rebound chance off a WorSharks defender and past Worcester goaltender Alex Stalock.

Logan Couture would give the WorSharks their two goal lead back at 15:35 of the third when he backhanded a Zalewski pass past Enroth. The Pirates would pull Enroth with just over a minute to go in the contest for an extra attacker, but Portland couldn't mount any sort of sustained attack and Worcester held on for the 3-1 final.

Worcester went with the same line-up as Tuesday with the scratches being Joe Loprieno (healthy), Dean Strong (healthy), Ryan Vesce (day to day, groin), and Mitch Versteeg (healthy). Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender.

On Wednesday the American Hockey League announced its Planet-USA All Star team for the 2010 All Star Classic in Portland, Maine on January 19, 2010, and unlike the Canadian squad, no WorSharks were selected for the Planet-USA team. Steven Zalewski and Alex Stalock both had an outside chance of making the team, but were left off the roster. It's still possible either could be selected should replacements be needed.

Alex Stalock is easily the best goaltender when it comes to handling the puck that has ever played in Worcester's pro hockey history, but his two attempts at shooting the puck at the empty net in Portland Thursday night were, to be polite, less than stellar. Neither attempt made it much beyond the center red line. One can be pretty sure the rookie phenom will have lots of time in his career to work on that.

The three stars of the game
1. McCauley (gwg)
2. Stalock (win, 17 saves)
3. Enroth (26 saves)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Steven Zalewski.

Even strength lines


Penalty kill lines


Power play lines


Worcester 1 1 1 - 3
Portland 0 1 0 - 1

1st Period-1, Worcester, DaSilva 7 (Desjardins, McCarthy), 11:43. Penalties-Schiestel Por (hooking), 3:17; Ferriero Wor (roughing), 9:09; McCormick Por (roughing), 9:09; McCauley Wor (interference), 12:40.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, McCauley 3 (Joslin, Zalewski), 6:58. 3, Portland, Persson 1 (Brennan, Ennis), 10:18 (pp). Penalties-served by McCauley Wor (bench minor - too many men), 9:03; Wilson Wor (holding), 13:12; Kostka Por (tripping), 17:51.

3rd Period-4, Worcester, Couture 12 (Zalewski, Ferriero), 15:35. Penalties-Enroth Por (delay of game), 3:52.

Shots on Goal
Worcester 9-11-9-29
Portland 6-8-4-18.

Power Play Opportunities
Worcester 0 of 3
Portland 1 of 3.

Worcester, Stalock 18-8-1 (18 shots-17 saves)
Portland, Enroth 10-11-1 (29 shots-26 saves).

A-5,000. Referee-Shaun Davis (31). Linesmen-Joe Andrews (32), Landon Bathe (80).