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Sunday, February 28, 2010
Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Can't Stand The Heat In 4-3 Loss To Abbotsford
The Worcester Sharks came back from three one goal deficits but couldn't overcome a fourth in a 4-3 loss to the Abbotsford Heat Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 5,671 fans.
Abbotsford would have the first goal of the game when defenseman Joe Loprieno misplayed the puck to Heat center Mikael Backlund, and Backlund fired a wrist shot over the right shoulder of WorSharks goaltender Frank Doyle for unassisted tally and a 1-0 lead at 15:01 of the first.
The WorSharks would get the equalizer on their first power play chance late in the first period when T.J. Trevelyan tipped a Mike Moore blast from the point past Abbotsford starting goaltender Matt Keetley at 18:52 of the period. Jamie McGinn had the second assist on the goal.
Another turnover from Loprieno, this time after being outmuscled by Backlund behind the WorSharks goal line, led to Abbotsford second goal. After depositing the rookie defender on the ice and avoiding Logan Couture's attempt to steal the puck Backlund found Cam Cunning in the slot for the 2-1 lead at 6:47 of the second period.
Worcester would again get back to even while skating with an extra attacker as referee Chris Brown was waiting to call a delayed minor on Heat center Ben Gordon for holding behind the Abbotsford net at 10:01. Trevelyan would fire a shot from the right wing halfboards that Keetley would make an easy pad save on, but the rebound went right to captain Ryan Vesce. Vesce kicked the puck on net and then was able to just get his stick on it before it past the goal line to knot the game at 2-2. Michael Wilson had the second assist on the play.
After the goal, much to the shock of everyone in the building, Abbotsford head coach Jim Playfair pulled Keetley in favor of Friday night's starter David Shantz. On his way past the bench Shantz could be seen voicing his displeasure toward the decision. In the end it looks like Playfair's strategy worked.
The Heat would convert another Worcester turnover into another one goal lead at 17:20 when Jason Demers lost control of the puck. A Backlund pass to David Van der Gulik gave Abbotsford a great scoring chance, and when Doyle's poke check missed Van der Gulik found Jason Jaffray for a 12 footer into a yawning open net.
For the third time in the game Worcester would find itself down a goal because of sloppy puck handling, and for the third time the WorSharks would answer. Just 30 seconds into period number three Worcester would convert for its second power play goal of the game. Derek Joslin would blast one from the point wide to the left of Shantz, and the rebounding puck bounced into the slot where Trevelyan banged it home. Mike Moore grabbed his second assist of the game on the tally.
Abbotsford would finally grab the lead for good at 9:22 when J.D. Watt blasted a slapshot through traffic and past a stickless Doyle after Doyle had made two great saves in a row to keep the score even. Worcester would pull Doyle with about 90 seconds remaining but couldn't get a decent scoring chance against the Heat's tenacious forechecking. Worcester finished the game two for three on the power play and were never shorthanded during the contest.
After being benched in the third period and overtime of Friday night's loss Nick Petrecki was a healthy scratch and was replaced in the line-up by Mike Wilson who was returning to action after surgery to repair a broken finger. Worcester's other healthy scratches were Will Colbert, Kevin Henderson, Matt Jones, Dennis McCauley, and Cory Quirk. Joe Callahan (neck) and Tyson Sexsmith (sports hernia) are now the only players on the injury list. Alex Stalock was the backup netminder.
It looked for a short while that Worcester might have to play the game down a defenseman when Mike Moore went down in the corner to the right of Frank Doyle about three minutes into the first period. Moore tried a couple of times to get to his feet before finally being able to get to the bench and on to the locker room with the help of trainer Matt White. Moore wasn't out for long, coming back to the bench area almost immediately and back on the ice at about the 13 minute mark.
There was another scary moment for WorSharks fans at 14:47 of the third period when Jamie McGinn was checked into Worcester's open penalty box door just as matching crosschecking minors to Brandon Mashinter and Abbotsford's Riley Armstrong came to an end. Referee Chris Brown blew the whistle immediately as McGinn crumpled to the ice after hitting the edge of the doorway, but McGinn regained his feet fairly quickly and looked no worse for wear.
The game saw two fights, with Mashinter taking on J.D. Watt and Moore doing battle with Radek Smolenak. After a stoppage in play Watt threw a slash at the legs of defenseman Danny Groulx, perhaps not realizing that Mashinter was standing behind him. Watt realized it after however as Mashinter threw several bombs that connected cleanly to the helmetless Watt to earn the easy win for the rookie winger. The fight was Mashinter's 12th on the season.
The Moore-Smolenak tilt began after Moore threw a huge check against Mikael Backlund at the penalty box doors. As play continued into the Heat zone Moore and Smolenak skated grappled with each other in the opposite direction, ending up at the halfboards to the left of Doyle. Moore used his free hand to take off his helmet, and Smolenak did the same. In the end Smolenak probably wished he'd kept his on as Moore landed several high quality shots and got the take down for the victory.
With Frank Doyle's start he became the third goaltender to both play for and against the WorSharks. Doyle's first AHL stint was with Worcester's Atlantic division rivals the Lowell Devils. Nolan Schaefer played 16 games for Worcester in 2006-07 before beating his former team on New Year's Eve 2008, with just a Ryan Vesce last minute goal ruining a shutout bid. AHL journeyman Gerald Coleman played three games for Worcester in 2008-09, and has a 2-2 record against the WorSharks in separate stints with the Portland Pirates and Devils.
Abbotsford finished the east coast swing with an impressive 8-0-1 record. They'll get a chance to continue their hot streak against the Atlantic division when they return home this week and face the Providence Bruins and WorSharks in two game sets.
The three stars of the game were
1. Backlund (g,2a,+4)
2. Trevelyan (2g,a)
3. Jaffray (g,a,+3)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Mike Moore.
Even strength lines
Power play lines
Darryl Hunt: WorSharks Cool in Shootout Loss to Abbotsford Heat, 5-4
The Worcester Sharks raced out to an early lead but suffered a near total collapse in the second period, only to rally in the third period to get the game into overtime before losing a 5-4 shootout decision to the Abbotsford Heat Friday night at the DCU Center in snowy Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 3,240 fans.
Worcester fans saw the return of two fan favorites in Friday night's contest, with Logan Couture returning after missing several games due to a shoulder injury and Riley Armstrong making his first appearance at the DCU Center in the enemy's colors after signing with the Calgary organization over the summer. Both would get on the board during the first period.
Couture would get the WorSharks on the board at 10:07 with a diving goal into an empty net. After Danny Groulx's shot was blocked in traffic the puck bounced to Benn Ferriero in the high slot, who fired a soft backhand shot on goal that went wide to the right of Abbotsford netminder David Shantz. Shantz went to play the carom off the backboards but missed the puck totally as it floated along the ice past him. Couture dove at the loose puck and knocked it into the yawning net for the 1-0 lead.
The Heat had a golden chance to get the game even about 90 seconds later when Olivier Latendresse forced a turnover at the WorSharks blueline and skated in alone on Alex Stalock. Latendresse tried to deke the rookie netminder but Stalock wouldn't make a move, so Latendresse fired a hard laser toward the far post that Stalock flashed the glove out for to keep Worcester's one goal lead intact. But that lead wouldn't last for long.
After a failed clearing attempt by Worcester, Heat defenseman Staffan Kronwall would find Armstrong all alone in the far faceoff circle and the former WorShark had no trouble one-timing the perfect tape to tape pass from his defenseman past the diving Stalock to knot the game 1-1 13:49.
Worcester would regain the lead at 15:08 with their first of two power play tallies on the night when Ferriero set up shop in the high slot and Groulx found him wide open for a blast that beat Shantz to the stick side. Couture had the second assist of the play.
The second period began just as the first had ended, with Worcester carrying the play and Abbotsford working hard but for the most part being held at bay. The WorSharks would extend their lead to 3-1 at 7:29 of the second period with a five on three power play goal when captain Ryan Vesce banked a wrist shot off Shantz to light the lamp. Groulx and Ferriero had the helpers on the goal.
And the the wheels fell off for the Worcester defense, who began to stand around in their own zone resulting in three Heat goals in just under five minutes. The first was at 11:28 as the teams skated four on four when winger Jason Jaffray skated around Derek Joslin, who was doing his best impression of a pylon on the play, and forced Stalock to cut off Jaffray at the far post. Jaffray's half shot-half pass toward the slot allowed an unmolested Mikael Backlund to bang the puck home to make it 3-2.
Abbotsford would knot the game 3-3 at 14:16 when David Van der Gulik flipped one into an open net as Stalock and both WorSharks defensemen were down and out in the crease. After a flurry that required defenseman Joe Loprieno to make a save behind Stalock the Heat were able to work the puck around to Van der Gulik for the tally.
The Heat would take a 4-3 lead at 16:23 with a power play tally as the Worcester defensemen again stood around and watched the play going on around them. Brett Sutter's backhander was the shot that eventually lit the lamp to put Worcester down a goal.
The Heat would continue to pressure Worcester throughout the third period, and it took a great individual effort by T.J. Trevelyan to draw Worcester even. In the midst of a long shift that saw the WorSharks hemmed into their own zone, Trevelyan picked up a loose puck just outside Stalock's crease and skated up ice avoiding every Heat attempt to slow him down. After skating up the left side Trevelyan cut into the Abbotsford zone and almost totally undressed defenseman Kronwall as he veered in on net. There was no way Trevelyan was not going to score after all that work, and after a nice deke of Shantz slid the puck into the yawning net at 8:10. Originally announced as unassisted, the scoring was corrected to add assist to Groulx and John McCarthy.
Both netminders held off charges by their opponents and after an eight round shootout that saw Ferriero and Trevelyan score for Worcester, Radek Smolenak would beat Stalock to give the Heat the 5-4 victory. The two teams play again Saturday night at the DCU center.
Prior to the start of Friday's contest the San Jose Sharks signed goaltender Frank Doyle, who had been on Worcester's roster on a PTO, to a two way deal and assigned the netminder to Worcester. The healthy scratches for the WorSharks were Will Colbert, Kevin Henderson, Matt Jones, Dennis McCauley, and Cory Quirk. Micheal Wilson (finger) is the only player that's expected off the injury list soon. Joe Callahan (neck) and Tyson Sexsmith (sports hernia) are out long term.
In a move that may prompt head coach Roy Sommer to carry a roster with him behind the bench, Sommer incorrectly filled out the list of shooters for the first five rounds. His intent was to have Jamie McGinn shoot fourth but he inadvertently put Nick Petrecki's number next to McGinn's name, resulting in the rookie defensemen being forced to shoot. Petrecki's attempt missed the net by a country mile.
Speaking of Petrecki, he should have been well rested for his attempt as it appeared that at some point in the third period he had been benched as Worcester rotated five defensemen. He definitely did not play from about the 16:00 mark of the third period when it was noticed he hadn't been on the ice for a while, and he didn't skate at all during the overtime period.
There was a slight delay after Ryan Vesce's power play goal as wrong player was removed from the penalty box. J.D. Watt was the first Heat player in the box after he picked up an additional double minor to go along with his fighting major for his bout with Joe Loprieno behind the Worcester net, where he was joined by Cam Cunning 25 seconds later. When Vesce scored Cunning left the box, but as it was Watt's first minor that had the least time remaining that was the penalty removed from the board, and Cunning was forced to return to the box as Worcester's five on three continued.
With a little home town scoring involved the Loprieno/Watt battle was called a draw.
Friday started the first of six consecutive games against Canadian teams. Worcester plays the Heat again Saturday night, and then goes off to face Manitoba and Abbotsford in two game sets next week.
Mike Ricci was behind the bench with Sommer and assistant head coach David Cunniff Friday night. Ricci will also be addressing Worcester season ticket holders Saturday evening prior to the start of the game.
The three stars of the game were
1. Groulx (4a)
2. Smolenak (gwshootout goal,a)
3. Kronwall (3a)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Benn Ferriero.
Even strength lines
Power play lines
DOH Podcast #87 - with special guest in FromtheRink.com's Mike Chen
Mike Peattie and Doug Santana brought in a special guest in FromtheRink.com's Mike Chen to discuss the preliminary round of the 2010 Winter Olympic hockey schedule in Vancouver, the salary cap casualty in enforcer Jody Shelley, speculate on upcoming moves prior to the March 3rd NHL trade deadline, examine the role and the long term contract of bruising 2nd/3rd winger Ryane Clowe, discuss the current state of the Sharks defense, and take a look at a new contract recently signed by Worcester Sharks defenseman Mike Moore on the 87th episode of Dudes on Hockey.
This Sharks podcast is posted here with permission. Visit dudesonhockey.com for more coverage of the team, or download the podcast MP3 file directly here.
Darryl Hunt: Stalock, WorSharks Blank Springfield 6-0
The Worcester Sharks used two power play goals from Steven Zalewski and a 21 save shutout performance from rookie Alex Stalock to defeat the Springfield Falcons 6-0 Tuesday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts in front of 3,411 fans.
Sunday in Manchester the WorSharks scored on the first shot of the game, and on Tuesday they did one better by scoring twice before Springfield had their first shot on goal. T.J. Trevelyan would put Worcester on the board at 2:34 when he tipped Cory Quirk's shot from the halfboards past Falcons netminder Jean-Philippe Levasseur. Zalewski would make it 2-0 on the power play at 7:25 after some nice passing by Jamie McGinn and Benn Ferriero left Zalewski open in front of a wide open net.
Dwight Helminen's ninth on the season, from Dan DaSilva and Jason Demers, chased Levasseur from the game. Levasseur previous start was a 49-save 4-0 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday, but he managed only four saves on seven shots against the WorSharks in just 9:03 of action. Levasseur was replaced by Devan Dubnyk.
Worcester had three goals in the period while the clearly over matched Falcons had just three shots in the period, with the WorSharks enjoying a 15-3 advantage in the stanza.
After killing a double minor to Andrew Desjardins to start the second period, the WorSharks would again begin to dominate play. Zalewski would have his second power play goal at 10:18 when Ferriero dug a loose puck out of the corner and found the center all alone at the top of the right circle. Zalewski's blast went over Dubnyk's shoulder and just under the crossbar for the 4-0 lead.
With just over three minutes in the period Springfield had their best chance to score when Charles Linglet uncorked a one timer off a cross ice pass, but Stalock made a nice pad save to defuse the threat.
Dennis McCauley would make it 4-0 at 9:11 of the third with a blast from the front of the net that snuck through Dubnyk's arm and body to light the lamp. Brandon Mashinter and Danny Groulx had the assist on the goal. Mashinter would have one of his own at 12:05, from DaSilva and Desjardins, when Dubnyk couldn't get the glove open in time to catch Mashinter's blast.
All that was left was to keep Springfield off the board to preserve Stalock's shutout, and in doing so helped the rookie to his American Hockey League leading 30th win.
Worcester's scratches were forwards Logan Couture, Matt Jones, Frazer McLaren, and Ryan Vesce, and defensemen Joe Callahan, Nick Petrecki, and Michael Wilson. Tyson Sexsmith was the backup goaltender.
The WorSharks have finished their season series against Springfield, going 7-0-1 in eight games for 15 of a possible 16 points. The only blemish on their record was a 4-3 overtime loss on January 13th when Taylor Chorney scored with just four second remaining in the extra period. It's unlikely the two teams will meet in the playoffs with Springfield being ten points--and three teams with multiple games in hand--away from the final potential playoff spot in the Atlantic division.
With the Winter Olympics in full swing Worcester finds itself represented very well with nine players on men's hockey rosters. Former WorSharks in Vancouver are goaltenders Thomas Greiss and Dimitri Pätzold (Germany), Joe Pavelski (USA), and
Douglas Murray (Sweden). Former players for the Worcester IceCats include Michal Handzus and Lubos Bartecko (Slovakia), Arvid Rekis (Latvia), Jochen Hecht (Germany), and Konstantin Zakharov (Belarus).
The three stars of the game were
1. Stalock (21 save shutout)
2. Zalewski (2g)
3. Ferriero (2a)
Alex Stalock was also named the AHL's third star of the night.
The Sharkspage player of the game was Dan DaSilva.
Even Strength Lines
Welcome to Canada hockey video, Team USA Men's and Women's Olympic hockey schedules
Toronto-based Bloge Salming and Down Goes Brown posted this interesting Welcome to Canada video as the puck dropped for the preliminary rounds of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Injecting a personality into Sidney "Matt Damon" Crosby is almost as impressive as the lyrics and cinematography. Shots were taken at Evgeni Nabokov and Douglas Murray, but it is nothing a gold medal can't sooth.
USAhockey.com posted home pages for the Men's and Women's teams, and a schedule which will be updated with results is listed below. For more online options for Olympic information visit lifehacker or PC World.
2010 Winter Olympic Team USA ice hockey schedules:
Team USA Men's Hockey Schedule:
TUE, FEB-16 USA 3, Switzerland 1
THU, FEB-18 Norway 12PM - USA
SUN, FEB-21 Canada 4:40PM - MSNBC
TUE, FEB-23 Qualification Games 12PM
WED, FEB-24 Quarterfinals 12PM
FRI, FEB-26 Semifinals 12PM
SAT, FEB-27 Bronze-Medal Game 7PM
SUN, FEB-28 Gold-Medal Game 12:15PM
Team USA Women's Hockey Schedule:
FEB-13 USA 12, China 1
FEB-16 USA 13, Russia 0
FEB-18 Finland 2:30PM - MSNBC
FEB-20,22 Playoffs - TBD
FEB-22 Semifinals - TBD
FEB-25 Bronze Medal Game 11AM - TBD
FEB-25 Gold Medal Game 2:30PM - TBD
50 foot waves slam 2010 Mavericks Big Wave surf contest, South African Chris Bertish wins title, rogue waves topple award platform and dozens of fans
SUNDAY'S SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE LEADS WITH FRONT PAGE MAVS COVERAGE SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL ON CHRIS BERTISH 2010 MAVERICKS BIG WAVE CONTEST WIN SJ MERCURY NEWS ALSO RUNS FRONT PAGE ARTICLE AND PHOTO ON MAVERICKS
The tide turned locally for Mavericks in 2008. After Half Moon Bay's Jeff Clark rediscovered the giant Northern California break and launched the first Mavericks Big Wave surfing contest in 1999, local media finally caught on with wall-to-wall coverage of San Clemente native Greg Long's big wave title 9 years later. HDNet and the Outdoor Life Network broadcast the 2004 contest to a national audience, 30,000+ spectators mobbed the cliffs in 2005, but it was not until 2008 that the local media started following each contest window, surf forecast, and event update with religious fervor.
The Bay Area now has big wave surfing fever, but that affliction was at the mercy of proper conditions. For the second time in 3 years, the contest was called off in 2009. The window opened two months earlier on November 1st this season, but problems emerged as founder Jeff Clark sued Mavericks Surf Ventures in January. Despite litigation, the show must go on and for the first time it was the 24 competing surfers who would give the green light.
The green light and subsequent 48-hour notice came Thursday. South African Chris Bertish became the 7th Mavericks Big Wave surfing champion after several harrowing drops in the final heat. Predictions of wave faces from 30-40 feet were outdone by frothing 50 foot monsters. Even after a successful 2 or 3 story freefall, Bertish was swallowed on one occasion by a mountain of whitewater and took a brutal closeout to the head on another. Contest announcers on the live Mavericks Ustream broadcast mentioned that even attempted waves should be considered in the judging due to such heavy conditions.
Bertish won $50,000 for first place, edging Shane Desmond, 2005 winner Anthony Tashnick, Dave Wassel, Carlos Burle, and Kenny Collins. Bertish told the Santa Cruz Sentinel he was almost knocked out of the contest in the first round after being held down by repeated waves. "It's hard to explain how much water was moving around out there," he said. "It was scary, very scary. By the time I got picked up (by a jet ski) I was like a lifeless corpse. I thought I was done for. But in life, sometimes you only get one chance to live your dream. So I just put it in my head that I had to get back up."
The heavy surf conditions also took a toll on spectators at high tide. Several major national and international news programs aired footage of two large waves toppling an the awards platform and knocking over dozens of fans watching on the beach (with waves 30-50 feet, you can not see surfers over the waves from the beach). Taking photos and videos from the cliffs is problematic as the break occures a half mile out to sea. Contest organizers offered an online stream and several viewing locations, including one at AT&T park, but reports of a crowd as large as 20,000 were made the day after the event.
Mavericks Surf Ventures CEO Keir Beadling said reports of the spectator injuries were overblown.
"We're all having to deal with Mother Nature, everybody has to exercise common sense," he told the SF Chronicle. Mavericks organizers can improve a network of viewing stations among nearby Half Moon Bay businesses, and make sure they are adequately publicized. Mavericks could also work with the community and the Pillar Point Air Force Station to increase safe access to the cliff, and increase the viewing area. Fans now have to pack into a small section of the cliff not fenced off by the base.
Mavericks, once called "the Super Bowl of big-wave surfing" by Sports Illustrated, is now a cultural touch point in Northern California. SF Chronicle writer and noted author Bruce Jenkins said that Saturday rivaled epic Hawaiian big wave contests that were all held at Waimea Bay. "(Saturday) erased 50 years of surfing history in one day. We have some decent waves in Hawaii, but you guys have such a good wave here," fourth placed surfer Dave Wassel told Jenkins.
For more information on the 2010 Mavericks Big Wave surf contest visit maverickssurf.com, or visit a replay of the webcast here. An enormous 89 photo gallery is also available from the SF Chronicle. No Sharks allowed.
[Update] A list of previous winners:
Mavericks Big Wave Surfing contest winners:
1999 - Darryl "Flea" Virostko (Santa Cruz)
2000 - Darryl "Flea" Virostko (Santa Cruz)
2004 - Darryl "Flea" Virostko (Santa Cruz)
2005 - Anthony Tashnick (Santa Cruz)
2006 - Grant "Twiggy" Baker (South Africa)
2008 - Greg Long (San Clemente)
2010 - Chris Bertish (South Africa)
[Update3] This photo by the Chronicle's Adam Lau is insane, and may actually show one of the rumored 60 foot waves. A 4-minute long highlight reel from an ABC helicopter is available here. Highlights from the webcast are available via CBS. According to event organizers, visitors contributed $24 million to the local Half Moon Bay economy on Saturday.
The Worcester Sharks used Dan DaSilva's first professional hat trick to defeat the Manchester Monarchs 5-2 at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire Sunday afternoon and jump back into first place in the American Hockey League's Atlantic division, sending home most of the 5,012 fans home disappointed to celebrate Valentine's Day on a down note.
The WorSharks would jump on the Monarchs very early in the contest when DaSilva scored on the first shot of the game. After a Mike Moore dump in Dwight Helminen grabbed the puck from the corner and fought off a Manchester defender, finding DaSilva streaking deep into the zone. DaSilva's blast beat Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier just 23 seconds into the contest for the 1-0 lead.
Worcester would make it 2-0 after Bernier couldn't control a rebound of a Nick Petrecki blueline blast. Both Brandon Mashinter and Frazer McLaren tried to jump on the loose puck, and it was McLaren that was finally able to knock it past Bernier at 12:31 of the first.
DaSilva would make it 3-0 with his second of the game at 17:46 of the middle period when he took a pass from Andrew Desjardins and shot it into a wide open net after Bernier went down to stop Desjardins' fake shot. Helminen's original shot rang off the iron, but luckily for the WorSharks it went right on Desjardins' stick where he was able to throw a nice fake on Bernier.
Manchester would close the gap to 3-2 with two early third period goals. Alec Martinez had an unassisted tally at 3:37 when he knocked down a WorSharks clearing attempt and blasted a laser off the far post and past Worcester goaltender Alex Stalock at 3:47, and a shorthanded goal by Jon Rheault at 5:56 into a wide open net cut the leads to one.
T.J. Trevelyan would get Worcester's two goal lead back on a nice individual effort after retrieving Matt Jones' dump into the right wing corner. Skating out of the corner unmolested Trevelyan went to the net and simply outwaited Bernier, shooting the puck around the downed goaltender to light the lamp at 13:35. John McCarthy had the second assist on the goal.
DaSilva would get his hat trick goal into an empty net at 18:24 off of Helminen's third assist and Desjardins' second assist on the contest.
With the NHL on its Olympic break, the Worcester shuttle dropped off Jamie McGinn and Dwight Helminen and both arrived in time to play in Sunday afternoon's contest. Worcester's scratches were Joe Callahan (neck), Will Colbert (healthy), Logan Couture (shoulder), Kevin Henderson (healthy), Dennis McCauley (healthy), Ryan Vesce (groin), Michael Wilson (finger). Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender.
Sunday's contest finished the season series between Worcester and Manchester with the WorSharks going 5-2-0-1 against the Monarchs this season, gaining 11 out of a possible 16 points.
The three stars of the game were
1. DaSilva (hat trick)
2. Martinez (g,a)
3. Helminen (3a)
Dan DaSilva was also named the AHL's second star of the night.
The Sharkspage player of the game was Alex Stalock.
Even Strength Lines
- Instead of heading into the 2-week Olympic break on a high note, the Sharks turned in an uninspired performance en route to a 3-1 loss to Buffalo Saturday at HSBC Arena. Probable Team USA starting goaltender Ryan Miller stopped 27 of 28 shots against, and helped the Sabres end a 6-game losing streak. "Even though it's been a tough stretch, feeling good about the way we played tonight against a good team can go a long way," Miller told John Vogel of the Buffalo News. "Attitude is a big thing, and rest is a big thing in this league. A lot of guys are finally getting it, and it definitely helps going into our break."
It was probable Team Russia starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov keeping the Sharks in the first period. Nabokov shut down a trailing Steve Montador on a 3-on-2 odd man rush, then stacked his pads to keep Montador's body out of the crease as the defenseman's momentum propelled him forward. Minutes later a soft point shot by Thomas Vanek was kicked onto the stick of Derek Roy, who unloaded a quick wrist shot narrowly deflected wide by Nabokov.
San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan split up the Big 3 "Team Canada" line against Toronto, and he continued that configuration against the Sabres. Devin Setoguchi joined Thornton and Heatley on the top line, and Patrick Marleau joined Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe on the second. All 6 forwards were held off the scoreboard. Marleau-Thornton-Heatley were reunited for several shifts in the third period in an attempt to provide a spark. According to the AP, it was only the 4th time that the Sharks big three were held scoreless in 2010.
The second period started strong for San Jose. Leading the NHL by a wide margin with a 55.6 faceoff percentage (2008-1602), the Sharks won all 5 early draws and pressured Buffalo early. The Sabres compounded measures by taking 3 of their 5 penalties in the second, but they held the NHL's 3rd best power play scoreless with the man advantage. With a one-dimensional attack usually setting up from the half boards, and a lack of bodies in front of the net, San Jose has now been held scoreless with the man advantage in 4 straight games (0-11), and 5 of the last 7.
"That's the difference in the game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the AP. "If you put one of those in, you're in good shape. You build it in the game that they're going to score in the game, but to do that two times in a row really took a lot of life out of us."
The Sabres used the second period to pull out in front. After Ryan Miller made another quality stop in his own zone, Clarke MacArthur and defenseman Henrik Tallinder quick transitioned the puck into the Sharks zone 4-on-3. As Blake forced Tallinder wide, Heatley and Murray sandwiched former Shark Mike Grier at the side of the net. Tallinder slid a pass behind the mass of bodies to a wide open Paul Gaustad. Gaustad, alone at the top of the crease with MacArthur, buried the slick pass to open the scoring at 5:25.
The Sabres capitalized on another defensive breakdown as a Sharks power play expired. Murray and Jay Leach both convereged on a rushing Jochen Hecht, and a Murray poke check knocked the puck off Leach and back onto the stick of Hecht. Hecht slid the puck over to Thomas Vanek, open on his right wing, and Vanek pulled up and directed it around a committed Nabokov.
San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak termed the effort an "Ugly" loss, but Pollak also noted it came at the end of a long 4-2 road trip, and that several players were battling the flu. "That's going around, but I don't want that to be an excuse. Our second efforts weren't there," a flu-striken Dan Boyle told the Merc. Evidence of the Sabres determination and the Sharks sloppy play came on the third goal scored in the second period. Left wing Tim Connolly set up Thomas Vanek for a wide open 1-time opportunity less than 10 feet out from the far post. A diving Jamie McGinn, recently called up from Worcester after the trade of Jody Shelley, cut down on the shooting angle but it took the young forward out of the play. Connolly picked up the rebound being the net, and sent it through the crease as 5 players battled for position. Montador and Ludman reveresed direction around the zone, down to Connolly on the left wing. On a possible set play. Connolly fired a shot/pass off the end boards which deflected around to Nabokov's left. Jason Pominville chopped a shot off bodies and by Nabokov before he could get over. 3-0 Sabres. Huskins added an unassisted end-to-end goal in the third period, but it was an exercise in too little, too late.
One game after Evgeni Nabokov set an NHL record 10-game inseason road winning streak, it was shattered by a harder working team that made fewer mistakes. The Team Russia netminder continued to impress one game after a sparkling 50-save performance against franchise archnemisis Detroit. "Nabokov's been real good, they have said he has been absolutely fabulous, you worry after that first period that you might not be able to get a few by him," Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said after the game. "He challenges a lot, we knew we were going to have to get some pucks off his backside and get some people driving there to get some traffic. He is quick, he has got great reflexes, he gets to places you don't think he will get to".
"We all feel a lot better (after ending the 6-game losing streak)... we have done some good things in games but found ways to lose them," Ruff said when asked about the Sabres recent play. "Part of that is the schedule, part of that is the number of games you play, we have just hit some bad spots in games where we haven't been able to pull through. I thought tonight was as close to a 60 minute effort as we have had."
Buffalo Sabres center Jochen Hecht told the Buffalo News that a thorough pregame scouting report on the Sharks power play was as a big part of the 5-5 penalty kill performance against San Jose. In the past the Sharks at times have had a one-dimensional approach with Joe Thornton setting up off the half boards. San Jose head coach Todd McLellan has stressed shots from the point and a "net front" presence in front of opposing goaltenders. The Sabres regained first place in the Northeast Division with the win. Buffalo is 13-1 at home against the Sharks, 15-6-5 overall in 27 franchise meetings.
With the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Jody Shelley being replaced in the lineup by 6-foot-0, 180-pound winger Jamie McGinn, the Sharks overall team size average dropped to 6-foot-1 and 209-pounds. McGinn was called up after the trade of Shelley to the Rangers, he registered 8:01 of ice time in his first NHL appearance in 6 games. Patrick Marleau lead the game with 7 total shots (and 1 that missed the net), but it was usual linemate Dany Heatley with the more effective play in front of the net. Consistently gaining body and stick position around the crease, Heatley was held scoreless for his third straight game. In 18 previous contests since January 1st, Heatley has 9 goals and 12 assists. An NHL leading 8 San Jose Sharks will travel to the 2010 Winter Olympic games in Vancouver Sunday.
Post-game comments from San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan:
"It was a 3-1 loss, I don't think we had a lot of energy. What little energy we had kind of went out the window with the power play, it sucked the life and the energy right out of us. Unfortunately you can't win like that. It was a tough night, we had some tough health circumstances we were battling as well. It is time to get healthy and move on."
"It is always hard to answer that question (where your team is at), after a loss because your emotions are a little bit down. I don't want to be hard on the guys, but we have work to do as a team. We know we need to improve in a number of areas. We would like to solidify our team and become more consistent with people we have got coming and going. I think we will have a chance to do that in the second half. And to just start working on things, there is a lot of hockey left. A lot of things can happen between now and then. We do have to polish a few things up."
"(The 4-2 road trip) started real well in St. Louis. The goal in the first minute from our big guys, and I thought we were a little ragged and we found a way to win. Then competed real hard in Detroit. We were outshot, I don't know if we were outshot as hard as the scoreboard indicated, apparently we were. We competed real hard there. To end it tonight was a little disappointing because I thought we would respond with a little more energy and a little more enthusiasm. I guess that is the negative. The positive is we found a way to win some games on the road."
"I think there are two groups. The group that is leaving, going to Vancouver. We are going to be wishing them well, cheering for them individually. We will have our own country teams we will probably root for. The second group it is real important they get some rest. That is what this is about. They are going to have to rest physically and mentally, and when they come back they are going to have to bring their work boots because we are going to go through a mini training camp. I am sure that will be going on around the league. They have to take care of themselves as well during the break."
"(On the lack of energy at the start of the game) We are not rivals. We play each other it seems a couple times every three years. The last game before the break I didn't think it was a real emotional, physical, battling type game. We actually talked about it before the game, the group of coaches, if we could get the lead and maybe ride it. Unfortunately we didn't do that. They did it. It just wasn't a real intense game. When we had a chance to be productive with the man advantage, we didn't."
"(On Buffalo scoring after a penalty kill) It happened more than once. That is the difference in the game. If you at least put one of those in, you build that into the game that they are going to score. Two times in a row really took a lot of life out of us. In the third, when we get that chance late to draw within one and it doesn't happen, you could feel on the bench that it is probably not going to go our way."
- Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski and ESPN's Pierre LeBrun have blog posts up from Team Canada Olympic GM Steve Yzerman's press conference.
LeBrun adds that Chicago may not be comfortable with a Niemi-Huet goaltending tandem, but that nothing they see on the open market is much of an upgrade. One goal scored on Huet by San Jose recently should raise large warning signs for the expensive backup. On a penalty kill with bodies jockeying for position in front of him, Huet did not try to gain a better view of the puck carrier nor was he able to make any reaction on a shot that beat him inside the far post. Huet stood in the center of the crease, flat footed and motionless. It was the polar opposite on the other side of the ice as Evgeni Nabokov poke checked, slashed and peered around opposition forwards set up in front. 6-foot-1, 200-pound Chicago Blackhawk goaltender Antti Niemi has several years of experience as a #1 in the Finnish SM-Liiga, but is Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman comfortable going into the playoffs with a goalie who has put up a 16-4-1 (.916SV%, 2.08GAA) record in his first extended stint in the NHL?
On a pair of Florida Panthers defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and Jordan Leopold, Lebrun notes that they are "are as good as gone" before the March 3rd NHL trade deadline.
- The New York Post's Larry Brooks believes that a solid Olympic performance could spur Jaromir Jagr's return to the NHL in 2010-11. "Jagr’s departure left a gaping hole in the Rangers’ room and within the organization. Charisma (mixed in with a dollop of insecurity) was a constant companion," Brooks said of #66. Larry Brooks also took direct aim at anger issues after a vocal incident between Rangers head coach John Tortorella and young defenseman Michael Del Zotto. Brooks has had several multiple run-ins with Tortorella as a head coach in New York and previously when he was in Tampa Bay. On the upcoming trade deadline he believes Nathan Horton could be traded from Florida, and that Capitals could inquire about Marty Turco.
There is a strong belief in NHL circles Washington GM George McPhee has toyed with the idea of getting a netminder before the deadline, but isn’t sure if what’s available on the trade market is any better than goaltenders Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov.
The Capitals are focused on getting to the Stanley Cup final and the goalie is the only question mark. Sources say McPhee has sniffed around the NHL to see what’s available and the options are limited with the few teams in the mood to sell players.
- TSN's Scott Cullen takes a team-by-team look at the stretch run for the Western Conference. Cullen speculates the Sharks may still be interested in adding a veteran 2-way forward before the March 3rd NHL trade deadline. Also noted were San Jose players with no-trade clauses: Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Niclas Wallin, Evgeni Nabokov.
TSN's Bob McKenzie also joined AOL for their latest podcast on the Olympics and the upcoming NHL trade deadline. McKenzie believes Jaroslav Halak may have played well enough to force a Carey Price trade out of town, but that Halak's body of work is not deep enough to pull the trigger until the offseason. "Then the decision will be self-explanatory... that is when the move gets made". The TSN insider also notes that the Canadiens may have inquired about Marty Turco.
No national ice hockey teams know each other better—or want to crush each other more—than the United States and Canada. “There was a time when the Canadian team would absolutely steamroll the American team,” says U.S. men’s coach Ron Wilson. Thanks to youth, speed and goalie Ryan Miller (of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres), the U.S. is now a rival to reckon with, though Wilson concedes that Canada, Russia and, to a lesser extent, defending champ Sweden are the favorites. “You go to Vegas the week before this tournament, there isn’t going to be a penny bet on us,” Wilson says. “We don’t mind going in under the radar.”
Canada is betting its “lucky loonie,” the hockey team’s good-luck charm, that Sidney Crosby can deliver the gold. After the Pittsburgh Penguins star was left off the 2006 roster, Team Canada finished an embarrassing seventh in Torino. Whoever takes the gold, NBC play-by-play man Mike Emrick thinks fans will be the real winners. “It may be the greatest collection of hockey talent at one time in one place,” he says. “In terms of raw talent, we may not see a collection like this for a long time.”
A Team USA sidebar will links and a schedule be added to the left side of this blog shortly.
BRODIE BRAZIL: Where does a Stanley Cup fit into a gold medal? How do the two relate to each other? I know they're totally different honors, but...
JOE THORNTON: I think for me it's Stanley Cup, and then it'd be Olympic gold. That's my feeling.
DANY HEATLEY: I think they're just different, obviously. The Stanley Cup is a group you're with all year. You go four rounds in the playoffs. Olympic gold is a group that has to come together real quick and win games in a short period of time.
BRODIE BRAZIL: Can you rate them, Patty?
PATRICK MARLEAU: He stole my answer (laughs). I think there's definitely some significance being with a team for a full year and going through ups and downs. It's such a short tournament with a lot of different teammates and players. Sure, you're going to grow together as a group during the two-week period but that probably doesn't compare with the camaraderie you have going through a full season.
A few weeks back Team USA center Joe Pavelski was interviewed on the popular KNBR 680AM Razor and Mr T program by Ralph Barbieri and former Golden State Warrior Tom Tolbert. An mp3 of the interview can be downloaded here. Ahem, go USA.
- San Jose blogger Mike Chen chronicled the 2010 Winter Olympic opening cerimony from a hockey perspective at fromtherink.com. Given the subdued feel after the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, Canada has to walk a tight balancing act while using the Olympics to showcase a beautiful city, showcase the open and vibrant Canadian culture, and showcase the global Olympic competition. I am rooting more for Canada and Vancouver to make a positive lasting impression than for any individual competitor or athlete.
The Worcester Sharks used another stellar performance by rookie goaltender Alex Stalock and two goal nights from both Matt Jones and Cory Quirk to defeat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 6-1 Friday night at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Connecticut in front of an announced crowd of 3,679.
In a game where seven goals were scored one wouldn't ordinarily think of top notch goaltending from both teams, but both Stalock and Sound Tigers netminder Nathan Lawson had great games with Stalock making 33 saves on 34 shots and Lawson stopping 43 of 49 Worcester attempts. Each goaltender had to make quality saves on breakaways and odd man rushes early in the game, and luckily for Worcester it was the Sound Tigers armor that kinked first.
The WorSharks would grab the only goal of the first period at 17:14 off a face-off to the right of Lawson. Quirk won the draw straight back, where Jones swung in and picked up the loose puck and fired a shot on net. Lawson made the save, but Quirk crashed the net off the draw and was able to jam the rebound home for the 1-0 lead.
The teams would exchange goals in the second period, with Bridgeport drawing even 1-1 at 9:14 after an odd man rush. Winger Ryan Kinasewich would break into the WorSharks zone down the left side and fire a shot that Stalock made the save on, but the rebound bounced away and right on the stick of defenseman Anton Klementyev for his first pro goal.
Worcester would get the lead back at 16:32 with a power play goal by Benn Ferriero. Jason Demers started the play with a nice feed to T.J. Trevelyan, who fired a shot on Lawson. The shot was blocked by the Sound Tiger defense, but ended up right on the stick of Steven Zalewski in the slot. Zalewski saw Ferriero streaking to the net to his left and threw a lazy pass that Ferriero blasted into the net for a 2-1 lead after two period.
After Jones had a power play goal wiped out by a high stick early in the third, he would get one that would count at 3:35. With the WorSharks controlling the play in the Bridgeport zone, Quirk threw an easy pass to Mike Moore from the left half-boards. Jones was standing at the near post to tip Moore's blueline blast past Lawson to make it 3-1.
Jones would grab his second of the game at 8:44 after a nice keep in by Nick Petrecki. With Bridgeport trying to break out of their own zone Petrecki was able to get a skate on a pass attempt and deflect it back into the zone to Jones at the right wing faceoff circle. Jones skated around for a better angle, and then fired the puck just inside the near post and past Lawson for the 4-1 lead. Joe Loprieno is listed on the scorers sheet as having the assist on the tally, but it was definitely Petrecki with the helper.
Not to be outdone by his linemate, Quirk would get his second of the game with a goal at 16:06. Demers wheeled the net and fired a shot that went across the slot and right to Quirk standing alone at the far post. Quirk probably won't have an easier goal as his shot the puck into the yawning net to make it 5-1. John McCarthy had the second assist on the goal.
Brandon Mashinter would tack one on the end when he took a two zone feed from Petrecki and beat Lawson at 17:31 for the 6-1 final.
Worcester's injury list remains the same but there is some good news on the injury front as Logan Couture (shoulder), Ryan Vesce (groin), and Michael Wilson (finger) are all back to skating. Joe Callahan (neck) had surgery on Thursday and his return is probably measured in months and not weeks. With Louis Liotti being sent back to Kalamazoo(ECHL), and Jamie McGinn being pulled off the team bus just outside of Hartford after being recalled by San Jose, rookie defenseman Will Colbert was the only healthy scratch. Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up goaltender.
The WorSharks have finished their season with Bridgeport, going 5-0-0-1 and getting 11 of a possible 12 points against the Sound Tigers. The only blemish on their record was an October 9th 4-3 shootout loss in Bridgeport. Rookies John McCarthy and Brandon Mashinter both had their first pro goals in that game.
Nick Petrecki and Michael Haley had the only fight of the contest at 3:53 of the first period. It was the third time this season the two have introduced themselves to each other, and despite being cut wide open Haley really laid a whooping on Petrecki for the easy win. (Photo courtesy of Rich Stieglitz and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers).
Matt Jones finished the game at +4, and John McCarthy and Cory Quirk were a +3. The three linemates also combined for 14 of Worcester's 49 shots, and most were high quality scoring chances. Jason Demers, Mike Moore, and Frazer McLaren were the only WorSharks without a shot in the game.
The three stars of the game were
1. Jones (2g,a,+4)
2. Quirk (2g,a,+3)
3. Stalock (33 saves)
The Sharkspage player of the game was John McCarthy.
Even strength lines
Sharks trade enforcer Jody Shelley to the New York Rangers for a 6th round draft pick according to TSN
LEFT WING JODY SHELLEY TRADED TO RANGERS AFTER 137 GAMES IN SJ
JODY SHELLEY'S 1310 PIMS RANK 2ND IN NHL SINCE 2000-01
Veteran San Jose Sharks enforcer Jody Shelley, once described by former head coach Ron Wilson as the team's "nuclear weapon", was traded to the New York Rangers today for a conditional 2011 6th round draft pick according to TSN. If the New York Rangers forestall an Atlantic Division arms race and resign him, the Sharks would then receive a 5th rounder.
"Jody Shelley has been a tremendous competitor and teammate for this
organization for the past three seasons. He strived to
make a difference on and off-the-ice in San Jose and he was a leader in
both areas. We thank Jody and his wife, Mandy, for everything they have
given to the Sharks organization and wish them all the best in the
future," San Jose Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson said today via a press release.
The move is bittersweet for Sharks fans. After being acquired in 2008, Shelley registered 285 penalty minutes in 137 games played for San Jose and he quickly became a fan favorite. In Columbus, Shelley was equally popular with the fan base as well as being a member of a Blue Jackets leadership group inside the locker room.
After registering 3 assists in October and November, the enforcer was sidelined for 23 games with a hand injury from a lopsided November 7th win over Pittsburgh's Eric Godard. Shelley was eased back into the lineup, but in his last 3 games he has dropped the gloves twice with Nashville defenseman Wade Belak and scored the knockout of his San Jose career with a heavy overhand right against Toronto's Colton Orr.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson mentioned after the Dany Heatley offseason trade that he would continue to evaluate his roster right up to the March 3rd NHL trade deadline. After acquiring defensive-defenseman Niclas Wallin under the cover of Super Bowl Sunday, Wilson moved Shelley just prior to the noon February 12th Olympic trade freeze.
In the second year of a 2-year contract, freeing up a prorated portion of Shelley's $725,000 adds a sliver of flexibility to the Sharks tight salary cap situation. When asked Monday night by television play-by-play host Randy Hahn if Wallin would be the final piece added to the Sharks puzzle, Doug Wilson was non-committal. "You never know," Wilson said.
The 6th round draft pick could pay dividends for San Jose's aggressive scouting department. In 2003 the Sharks picked up Joe Pavelski in the 7th round (205th overall), in 2006 Boston University co-captain John McCarthy was taken in the 7th (202nd overall), a pair of high level prospects in Nick Bonino
and Frazer McLaren were nabbed in the 6th and 7th rounds in 2007, and then-Yevgeni Nabokov was selected in the 9th round in 1994 (219th overall). San Jose has used late round selections in the past not to restock, but to reload.
The move also opens the door for younger enforcing prospects Brad Staubitz and Frazer McLaren. Staubitz has a one-dimensional mindset to inflict a hurting on opponents, as evidenced by his infamous fight against Nashville pest Jordan Tootoo, but occasionally that aggressiveness can work against him. 6-foot-4, 225-pound Frazer McLaren could add a little more roster flexibility on the 4th line. He has shown a proficency on the penalty kill, and at 22 he could be the next true Sharks heavyweight enforcer in the making. Think Scott Parker.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that Donald Brashear cleared waivers at 12 noon after being scratched in 12 of the last 13 games. Brooks also noted that the addition of Shelley could impact Aaron Voros as well as Brashear, and that Shelley could join the team Sunday for their last game against Tampa Bay before the Olympic break.
[Update] Via EJ Hradek's twitter: "Rangers get Jody Shelley. Another odd move by Glen Sather."
DOH Podcast #86 examines games against Detroit and Columbus, playoff questions, and the upcoming trade deadline
Mike Peattie and Doug Santana discuss recent Sharks games against the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, Sharks playoff questions heading into the Olympics and the stretch run, Setoguchi's evolving role on the team, last offseason's trade of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, and the addition of Niclas Wallin on the 86th episode of Dudes on Hockey.
This Sharks podcast is posted here with permission. Visit dudesonhockey.com for more coverage of the team, or download the podcast MP3 file directly here.
More from GM Doug Wilson on trade for defenseman Niclas Wallin, Sharks to open 2010-11 season in Sweden
During an intermission interview with CSNCA's Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda Monday, San Jose Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson offered a few more notes on the weekend acquisition of defenseman Niclas Wallin from the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Sharks traded a 2010 2nd round draft pick (from Buffalo), for Wallin and a 2010 5th rounder. According to Wilson, the Sharks targeted the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Wallin for a year and half. "He is a playoff hardened guy that we know very well, a team-first guy," Wilson told television play-by-play broadcaster Randy Hahn. "He has played his best hockey in the playoffs in the past, and a guy that wanted to come to our hockey team. We did our research, he did his research, and we think it is a piece that compliments our team."
Wilson referenced his playoff success and his 2006 Stanley Cup Championship with the Carolina Hurricanes. Wallin earned a "secret weapon" nickname in Carolina on the back of 3 career postseason goals, all overtime game winners. "The one thing about Nic, he is versatile. He can play left side or right side. At 34 years of age, he is at the right time of his career to really fit in and compliment what we have," Wilson added.
Hahn asked Wilson whether or not the Olympic trade freeze Feb 12-28th would accelerate deadline moves leading up to the March 3rd NHL trade deadline. "It (will). A lot of teams, the sellers of players, try to dictate what the market will be," Wilson said. "They have an obvious motivation to move the player before so they do not have to carry the money." On the flip side, "The guys looking to add pieces, you don't want to held at the last moment not getting a player that you want. A lot of these deals don't happen over night, there are conversations back and forth."
Hahn also finished by asking Wilson whether or not there would be a future trade for the San Jose Sharks. Locally, Doug Wilson is well known for not discussing opposing team's players or speculating about trades. Apparently, outside of San Jose a trade denial can actually mean something else. This blog once walked passed Wilson while he was declining to talk about a trade to an out of town reporter, while at the same time a radio clip of Wilson declining to talk about a trade on KNBR was overheard from a nearby office. Asked if he was done yet, "You never know" was the reply Wilson gave Randy Hahn.
Wallin finished his first game as a Shark with 1 blocked shot, and 17:10 of ice time in 23 shifts (all but 1 with Dan Boyle). The Sharks moved to a more traditional 12 forward 6 defenseman lineup, instead of the 11 forward 7 d lineup they used against Nashville. Speaking to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, Doug Wilson also mentioned comments from several of Wallin's teammates in Carolina, similar to the research he did prior to trading for Dany Heatley in the offseason. "There are a lot of mutual friends that speak really highly of him as a teammate and competitor... Whether it be Arturs Irbe or Bret Hedican, for example. We know about him as a person and as a teammate, and he's always played his best hockey in the playoffs," Wilson told LeBrun. Hurricanes teammate Bret Hedican was hired as an NHL analyst this season by Comcast Sportsnet California.
Much of the speculation in the leadup to the trade turned out to be accurate, but news that Wallin's agent initially declined waive a no-trade clause in pursuit of a contract extension deserves more investigation and a second look. In San Jose land, former captain and one-time NHL goal scoring leader Patrick Marleau, and 2010 Team Russia starting Olympic goaltender Evgeni Nabokov are monster UFA's after this season. Both are apparently in "wait-and-see" modes with the organization, and based on past results neither team nor player are insulted by waiting until the posteason plays out. Center Manny Malhotra, leading the NHL in faceoffs, signed a deal at less than market value to join a Stanley Cup favorite and based on performance is first in line for a raise next season. A large multi-year contract offered to defenseman Kent Huskins also makes negotiating a long-term extension more difficult. The Sharks are in full "put up, or shut up" mode this season, from the top down.
Wallin noted to the News Observer that it was a bittersweet move to be traded to San Jose, leaving behind the only NHL team he had played for in 9 seasons. "This is my team, I'm really proud of what I've been a part of here," Wallin said. "When you hear the term 'heart and soul' of a team, he's one of those guys who's such a big part of what we do," former Carolina teammate Matt Cullen said of Wallin.
An unprecedented six NHL teams – the San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes– will open the 2010-11 NHL regular season by playing six games in Europe as part of 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere™ and NHL Face-Off, the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) announced today. It will be the fourth straight year the NHL will begin the regular-season with games contested overseas...
The Blue Jackets similarly will be making their first European appearance in franchise history when they play in Stockholm. Columbus has two Swedish Olympians, Fredrik Modin and Sammy Pahlsson, and two other Swedish players in defenseman Anton Stralman and left wing Kristian Huselius. Meanwhile the Sharks return to overseas play after a two-game regular season series against the Calgary Flames in Tokyo in Oct. 1998. The Sharks feature defenseman and Swedish Olympian Douglas Murray, who is originally from the Stockholm district of Bromma, and the recently acquired Niclas Wallin.
Pete Sampras drops exhibition match to Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-6 -- holds court with media on retirement, USA Tennis, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer
PETE SAMPRAS UNCORKED A 124 MPH SERVE IN 1ST SET AGAINST VERDASCO ATP #11 RANKED FERNANDO VERDASCO RETURNS A SERVE IN THE 2ND SET SAMPRAS ANSWERED QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA IN A POST-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE
Spurred on by the recent Australian Open and the SAP Open men's tournament beginning this week, local players have been swarming tennis courts in the brief moments between major winter storm systems. Monday night, 5,948 fans braved the rain to watch #11-ranked Fernando Verdasco down 14-time Grand Slam winner Pete Sampras 6-3, 7-6 (2) in an exhibition match at HP Pavilion.
Sampras, a 2-time SAP Open tournament champion in 1996 and 1997, dropped the first game to Verdasco but he answered on serve 40-0. On his next service game, a volley wide and a double fault gave the Spaniard a break and a 3-1 lead. A fit and mobile 26-year old Verdasco was a machine on the court, with footwork setting up his groundstrokes and solid return of serves. The heavily partisan crowd tried to will a slower 38-year old Sampras back into the first set, but a tweaked calf muscle did not help his efforts to revive the serve-and-volley of old. "It took me a few games to figure it out, by the second, I said I'm not playing a match for a few more months, so go for it," Sampras said in post-game press conference. Up 40-15, he mixed it up with a 115 mph spin serve out wide to make it 4-2.
Sampras punctuated another game with a 124mph serve to push Verdasco to 5-3 in the first set, but the result was a foregone conclusion. A blistering Verdasco forehand dropped into the far court like it fell off a table, a glimpse of what it is like when the dial is turned up to 10. Verdasco took the first set 6-3. He was an integral part of Spain's 2008 and 2009 Davis Cup winning teams, and he stormed through Radek Stepanek, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before losing a 5-set thiller in the 2009 Australian Open semifinals to Rafael Nadal. The 5 hour, 14 minute long match was labeled by many as one of the best of the year.
Pete Sampras was popping his serve to start the second set. 127 mph and 129 mph aces were 2 of 9 total for the match, and another at 120 mph forced a return into the net. He started making his way to the net more, but a left-handed Verdasco matched him pace for pace. After a dig Sampras volley cut just over the net later in the set, Verdasco called out to the crowd "let me see a replay." But the moment was shortlived. Timing and instincts honed from regular Tour play eluded Sampras, who shook his racquet after one missed ground stroke and stared blankly at a linesman after looking flat-footed on another Verdasco ace.
Up 6-5 and trying to force a third set, Sampras could not dent the Verdasco serve. In the second set tiebreak, an errant ground stroke on a long rally and a forehand volley wide gave an early lead to Fernando. With a Sampras double-fault thrown in, the match ended at 57 minutes with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) exhibition win for SAP Open #2 seed Fernando Verdasco. On the court after the match, Sampras told HP Pavilion announcer Danny Miller that Verdasco was a "tough" opponent who is capable of winning a major. Miller responded by mentioning that when Sampras adds his 2 SAP Open titles to his 14 Grand Slams, he is tied with world #1 Roger Federer.
In the night session finale, American Wayne Odesnik fought off a first set bagel and won a second set tiebreak before losing to 6-foot-5 Czech Tomas Berdych in 3 sets, 6-1, 6-7(5), 7-5. Odesnik started to open up more from the baseline as the match progressed. Berdych has a heavy, flat serve. In other Day 1 Singles results Isreal's Dudi Sela defeated Columbia's Santiago Giraldo 7-6(2) 7-6(4), Argentinian Leonardo Mayer defeated Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-4, Finland's Jarkko Nieminen defeated Germany's Lars Poerschke 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin defeated American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 7-5, and American Taylor Dent defeated Qualifier Alex Bogomolov Jr 6-4, 7-6(2). In Doubles action, Haas-Stepanek defeated Cerretani-Kohlmann 6-3, 6-3, and Fish-Querrey defeated Ginepri-Rettenmaier 6-3, 6-4. The SAP Open's top seeded Andy Roddick, and second seed Fernando Verdasco, return to action Wednesday at the Tank. Fourth seed Tommy Haas and seventh seed Sam Querry take the court Tuesday.
A photo gallery from the SAP Open Day 1 night session is available here.
[Update] In a post-exhibition interview with reporters, Pete Sampras discussed his retirement, the state of American tennis, recent comments made by Agassi in his auto-biography, whether Roger Federer should be considered the greatest tennis player of all-time, and several other topics.
A selected transcript is available below:
[Q] How was it out there?
[A] It was a little frustrating, I was having a hard time getting to his service games. His serve was tricky for me to get a hold of it. Sometimes he would spin it in, sometimes he would press to 135, so it kept me off balance. It was frustrating, I couldn't get any rythmn in the service games from the offensive side. I felt pretty good with the serve and volley. When I was broken, I was a little taken aback by a 3-all point. I double faulted, it was a little downhill... I got broken and I felt I could just never get into his service games. It is harder for me to just play defense. It is harder for me to move. He is a tricky player, he plays with a lot of spin. Tricky serves and second serves, give him a short forehand and you are done. He is tough, he is the real deal. He was seventh in the world last year. He is right there, he can win a major. Obviously he is not one of the main guys, but he is a good player.
He strings it real loose, real light. He just whips it and controls it. It is a tough ball to get back. All these guys, you look at a guy like Nadal, it is a tricky game to play against. That Luxilon string, it is tough to play.
[Q] Did your calf loosen up in the second?
[A] It did. I felt a little twinge. It sort of took me a few games to figure it out. I said I am not playing a match for 3 more months so I would go for it.
[Q] Can you describe what you meant by your Hall of Fame induction comments, 'I'm a tennis player, nothing more and nothing less'?
[A] It was a just a comment that I wanted to end it with, that I am a tennis player. I wasn't an entertainer in that way. I looked at what I did as a profession, and it was very pure to me. I didn't get involved in the whole image/entertainment part of the sport. I was just a tennis player. That was the way I came into the game, that was the way I left the game. I did some nice things in the middle. It was just my way of ending the speech, 'nothing more, nothing less than a tennis player." That was the way I felt good about ending it.
[Q] Looking back on your career, and on your visit to the Wimbledon final last year, how do you look back on yourself now since it has been a few years since you left the sport?
[A] When I was at the finals I was amazed at how well Roger and Andy played, it was a great tennis match. But you look back at my career and my time at Wimbledon, and what I looked out there, how dominant I was and what I did on the court. It was reflected a little bit in that 5 hour tennis match, on my game and the 7 titles I won there. The game has changed, I am pretty removed from it. I still play a little here and there, coming up here is fun for me. Fernando is a tough deal for me, but I hope fans enjoyed it. It was a good night.
[Q] On the 2010 Australian Open...
[A] The final of a major, Roger can play a bad match here and there, but in the final of a major the great ones really tighten it up. I have seen some highlights, it was like target practice. Andy wasn't offensive enough, he didn't make it happen. You give enough forehands to Roger and he is going to hurt you... you put Roger in the final and he is going to be tough to beat.
[Q] Can you talk about the general demise that Tiger Woods experienced?
[A] All I am going to say about it is that it is a sad situation. I don't know Tiger all that well. You just feel for his wife and kids.
[Q] Can you talk about the state of American tennis after Andy Roddick?
[A] Sure it would be great to have more Americans in the top-15 or top-20. After Andy it is a little thin. We have (John) Isner, who is coming along, and (Sam) Querry is there. Fans and the media were a little spoiled in the 90's. With myself, Andre and Jimmy, it was a pretty rare group of guys. Now we are looking for our next champion, our next #1 guy. People are looking, but its a little thin. We are pretty good, not where we want to be, but it might take 5 years or 20 years. It is hard to say. Andy is our leader, and he came so close in that Wimbledon final. It would have been huge for him. James is slowing down a little bit, it is looking a little thin.
[Q] A down period?
[A] It is a cycle, a down cycle... The game is all around the world, so you have a lot of great players. Tennis in the U.S. is still very popular, but it is competing with basketball, baseball and football. It is a tough go, it is going to take some time.
[Q] Did you have a conversation with Andre about comments he made about you in his book?
[A] We did... He talked, and I listened. If anyone is a bad tipper, it is him. I gave him so many lessons over the years. We talked about it, I didn't read the book, he said he wanted me to read the book before I commented on it. I got wind of a few things here and there. Listen, it is not a big deal. The book is what he says and does. With me, we are above all that, taking shots. I certainly could have taken my shots at Andre over the years in my book, but I chose not to. He choose to be a little more open and honest about a lot of things, that is his choice. I was a little surprised, but I still like the guy. I have no ill feelings toward Andre, but I was a little surprised he went down that road.
I like Andre, if I see him in here I would not walk the other way. I think it freaked him out a little how I did my thing, or certainly it messed with his head that I was able to maintain my focus. To me it wasn't a big deal but he was amazed by it. So I may have been a little on the quiet side, he couldn't understand that. I think, why can't you understand that. That is what Borg did, that is what Roger did, it is something that is very normal to me.
I don't know if he was distracted or not, everything was very sensitive, everything was a big deal. (On Andre saying he hated tennis) Tennis has been pretty good to me, I am flying home on a private jet. I am not going to complain about it. About some of his comments, I think they came from his childhood, the situation with his father. At the same time, you are complaining about being world famous and making a lot of money. It is a good life, I wouldn't trade it.
It was a positive (conversation). It was fine. It was cordial. He said what he needed to say, and I told him where I was at. It wasn't a big deal, I don't want to give this any more power than it is. I know (he said a lot of good things too). Hearing some of the negative things, you know the press wants to talk about the negative things... I am going to go overseas, maybe I will bring it with me and open (his book) up.
[Q] If you had a chance to write your book, would you do it any differently or is there a sort of lockerroom code?
[A] No, it is not my style. I didn't want to offend anyone. I was sensitive to my family's feelings, I was sensitive to other players. I could have gone down that road but I chose not to. It wasn't about that for me, it was about how I became a champion. The publisher wanted me to write about that stuff, but I want a book that my kids can read that I am proud of, that was my choice. I didn't write a book where I could make a lot of money. It was something I wanted to be proud of... where my kids could understand me as a tennis player.
[Q] Can Roger Federer win a calender year Grand Slam?
[A] Anything is possible. It is not probable. The French is going to be a big one for him to defend that. You look at all these Verdasco's and Nadal's, I think it is possible with Roger. He needs to follow the plan. He needs a good draw, he needs good luck, he needs great weather. Anything is possible. The French will be a real tough hurdle. Wimbeldon will be tough, it is not going to be easy. He is a freak of nature.
[Q] His streak in the semis of 23 straight Grand Slams, do you think that people pay enough attention to that record? People reference DiMaggio.
[A] It is sick. To be that consistent on all surfaces... it is mind boggling.
[Q] Outside of exhibitions like this, are you still looking to be involved in tennis?
[A] It is tough to find out what to do. I talked to the USTA about trying to help out a little bit. We are sort of on different pages on that. If I am going to be doing some things, I want to be compensated for my time. They are on a different page with that. I am in to helping some young juniors and pros, I do know what I am doing out there. I talked to Pat McEnroe a few times. He is on a different page. I am cool with that. I thought about an academy or whatever, I have tossed that idea around. Tennis is a tricky sport to retire and to try to figure out what is next. Golf you can design clubs our course, in team sports you can get into different things, in tennis it is tricky. You play for awhile, and then what do you do. You are not going to own a tournament. I am not into putting on a coat and tie. It really is just playing a little bit, getting involved and giving back in some way. I have time on my hands. If the USTA wants to step up a little bit, I will make a champion.
I live in LA, there is a facility in Carson that is not too far away. I have a lot of time. I find myself hitting with a lot of these younger guys, like I have the last few weeks and few years. I want to help these guys, they are so green. I see in their game and in their attitudes that they need a change. I am not one to tell a kid this is what you need to do, but I'm available for services. When the phone doesn't ring, I know it's them.
[Q] Besides the fame and the wealth, what more did you derive from the game of tennis and what kept you going for so long?
[A] I look at the years that I was the best player in the world, and the grind and the stress, I felt it took some time to get there but that I showed good character when times were tough. Physically going through some things I just felt that I did not sell out, I did it my way. I look back at the tough years, and the grinding and getting massages until 3 in the morning, icing down, it was tough, but I was able to look back at those years and think that I did well. I was proud of myself, and that is not an easy thing for me to say.
UPDATE: According to the News Observer blog, Hurricanes defenseman Niclas Wallin was traded to the Sharks along with a 5th round draft selection in 2010 for the San Jose Sharks 2nd round draft pick in 2010 (acquired from Buffalo). Confirmed via San Jose Sharks official twitter account.
"Niclas is a playoff-hardened, veteran player with lots of postseason experience and a Stanley Cup ring. Good, solid character players are hard to come by and we think he will complement our existing group very well. He has a history of playing his best when the games mean the most," San Jose Sharks EVP and general manager Doug Wilson told NHL.com.
After trade talks were recent rumored to be called off, reports were surfacing earlier today that San Jose Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson was still interested in trading for the services of 34-year old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Niclas Wallin. San Jose Mercury News beat writer David Pollak noted on his blog last night after a 4-3 win over Nashville that the Sharks were still interested in Wallin. "Those conversations that would bring Niclas Wallin from Carolina to San Jose are back on again, according to a source familiar with the situation," Pollak said.
After TSN's James Duthie and Darren Dreger broke the news via twitter Wednesday night that the Sharks were interested in Wallin, trade talks apparently broke down with multiple sources in Carolina reporting Friday that the pending trade was "no longer pending". Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told Chip Alexander of the News Observer that, "There is no trade." According to Alexander, the apparent 24-hour window for the trade fell through when Wallin did not waive his no-trade clause. Wallin was scratched in a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Friday, and in Saturday's 3-1 win over the Islanders.
Bob Harwood Waeghe at the Canes Country blog noted Thursday that the sticking point in the talks might be the length of the contract extension San Jose is willing to sign. Canes Country cited a radio interview with Hurricanes radio play-by-play announcer Chuck Kaiton, where Kaiton believed the Sharks wanted to sign the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Wallin to a 2-year deal where the defenseman and his agent Paul Theofanous only wanted 1. Kaiton believed a good return for Wallin would be a second round draft pick (in a good, but not great draft).
ESPN insider Pierre LeBrun blogged today that, "Wallin has a no-trade clause, and it's believed he was seeking a contract extension to waive it." The Swedish-born Wallin is playing in the final year of a four-year, $6.9 million contract he signed with the Hurricanes in 2006.
For their part, the Sharks put up results earning 11 out of a possible 12 points in Boyle's 6-game absence due to a lower body injury, but scrambly losses to Chicago and Detroit highlighted possible weaknesses on the blueline. Minute eating defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was also injured in the first period against Chicago, and the Sharks were forced to mix up all three D pairs with the addition of Worcester Sharks callups Jason Demers and Derek Joslin. Rookie Demers put forth his worst performance in the NHL to date against Chicago, with mistakes directly and indirectly leading to Blackhawks goals and scoring chances. He rebounded with his first 2 goal performance of the season against Minnesota, but management in San Jose has to be eyeing Demers with a focus on the postseason.
The Sharks were blessed with a puck moving element on each defensive pair last season (Boyle, Blake/Vlasic, Ehrhoff), and the result was 4 defenseman registering 30 or more assists for only the 4th time in NHL history. The Sharks needed to clear salary for Dany Heatley, and a significant portion of the blueline was turned over with the loss of Ehrhoff, Lukowich and Semenov. San Jose moved hulking Douglas Murray up to the top pair with Dan Boyle with great results, but Rob Blake and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have struggled to maintain their production from last season on the second pairing. Kent Huskins, who signed a 2-year, $3.4 million dollar contract with San Jose in the offseason, started on the third pair with rookie offensive-defenseman Jason Demers.
Demers registered a goal and 12 assists in his first two months of play, but a lack of intensity in his own zone and inconsistent play have been problems. Derek Joslin, whom this blog labeled a polished depth defenseman in the past, has taken a half a step back in his development this season. A fleet of foot skater with adequate size, positioning and defensive zone coverage have been problems for Joslin as well. Enter veteran defenseman Jay Leach, who was claimed off waivers from Montreal on December 1st. With Montreal responsible for half of his $475,000 cap hit, Leach quickly developed chemistry on the third pairing with Huskins.
The Sharks are tight against the NHL's $56.8 million cap for 2009-10, with a pair of websites placing them with roughly a million plus in space (prorated for season in progress). Not taken into account by either website are San Jose's near daily transaction wire manipulations. According to an excellent article by David Pollak, on January 16th the Sharks registered 76 seperate transactions, "three times the league average and 28 more than the next busiest team." The Sharks made 9 more transactions from January 16th to February 1st. San Jose has rotated in AHL forwards Frazer McLaren, Benn Ferriero, Ryan Vesce, Logan Couture, John McCarthy, Steve Zalewski and defenseman Jason Demers, Derek Joslin and Joe Callahan to make incremental improvements on the bottom line and provide enough cap room for a deadline trade or an emergency maneuver.
The acquisition of Niclas Wallin helps the Sharks blueline short and long term. In the near term, Wallin can buttress the defense in Marc-Edouard Vlasic's absence. Down the stretch run and in the postseason, Wallin could create a 3-person battle for playing time on the third pair with veterans Kent Huskins and Jay Leach. According to Hockey Forecaster, Wallin is described as a defenseman who "plays a smart game in the defensive zone and makes few mistakes with the puck."
A depth move by San Jose, the Sharks are looking for simple, sound fundamental play from Wallin early. Short chips off the wall and out of the zone, gauging how much time he has to play the puck, use of the body and stick to prevent a clear path to the crease. With the NHL Olympic trade freeze from February 12-28th, that leaves precious little time for GM Doug Wilson and the rest of the NHL to make a move before the March 3rd NHL trade deadline. Whether this is the last, or just the latest, tweak by Wilson remains to be seen.
This year is an odd year for the NHL’s annual trade deadline as there is a hiatus during the Olympics and then there are only three days for trades following the break. "It's important to have time to integrate someone into the team," said Wilson. "He understands how to play with good players."
A strong part of the trade is the Sharks were able to acquire a player with Wallin's qualities without having to deplete their roster. "It worked out, we wanted to add to our team and not subtract from it," said Wilson.
Dan Boyle returns to lineup, 3-point night by Dany Heatley helps Sharks outlast Nashville 4-3 on the road
#20 EVGENI NABOKOV STONES #19 JASON ARNOTT WITH PIVOTAL SAVE IN 2ND - CSNCA
Dan Boyle returned after missing 6-games with a lower body injury and Dany Heatley registered 2 goals and an assist en route to a sloppy Sharks 4-3 win over Nashville. One day after longtime Predators head coach Barry Trotz called out forward J.P. Dumont's 2-way game and lack of play in front of the net, Dupont responded with 2 goals in the first 2 periods against San Jose. "We win and lose as a team, it's a big loss but we played well," Dupont told Tennessean.com after the game.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Dumont is known as a scoring winger, but in his first 3 seasons after signing with Nashville he has yet to eclipse 30 goals. This season Dupont is on pace to match his lackluster 16 goal total from 2008-09. Early Saturday night at the Sommet Center, Dumont showed excellent coordination kicking a rebound off his skates and burying a point blank shot to open the scoring against the Western Conference leading Sharks. The Sharks answered with 4th-liner Brad Staubitz snapping a 16 game goal scoring drought. On a mixed-and-matched line with Pavelski and Mitchell, Staubitz took a clean faceoff win by Pavelski and drove to the left faceoff circle. After passing back to Huskins on the point, Staubitz drove the net and wedged the rebound of Huskins shot up and over Pekke Rinne to tie the game at 1-1.
Dumont scored his second goal of the game on a power play. About 10 feet farther out in the slot than his first goal, Dumont slid to an open area and buried a 1-timer as Heatley and Thornton scrambled for position on the penalty kill. Nashville was carrying much of the action in the second period, and they ended up outshooting San Jose 38-29 for the game. Factoring in shots that missed the net and blocked shots (CORSI number), that figure was 64-40. Despite allowing 1 power play goal on 3 opportunities against, the Sharks capitalized on 2 of their own 4 power plays, and finished a solid 63% from the faceoff circle (43-25). "They're No. 1 in the league and there's a reason why, they have a lot of experience there and some size. They do a good job in the face-off circle. Faceoffs haven't been a strength for us this year," Barry Trotz said.
The Sharks have a reputation at times of scoring their way out of problems, and Saturday night it was Dany Heatley who would lead that comeback. It would begin with spectacular goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov. After Brad Staubitz took a boarding penalty in the second, Joe Pavelski blocked a point shot on the PK but Patrick Marleau could not clear. Defesneman Shea Weber instantly fed captain Jason Arnott in front of the net to the left of Nabokov. Rob Blake had released up ice thinking Marleau would clear the blue line, so Arnott had an open lane to pass across the goal mouth to an unchecked Patric Hornqvist. Nabokov sealed the right post, forcing Hornqvist to pass back across the crease to Arnott. Jason Arnott fired a shot towards the center of the net, but Nabokov reversed direction and kicked the puck off the goal line with a pivotal skate save.
The Sharks would capitalize on Nabokov's performance minutes later when sniper Dany Heatley scored his 31st goal of the season on the power play. Heatley took a pass on the point from Devin Setoguchi, took 2 strides and wristed a shot that beat Rinne cleanly from 43-feet out. Marleau and 3 Predators provided a screen in front of the 6-foot-5, 206-pound Rinne on the play. After Joel Ward scored on a breakaway to give Nashville their third and final 1-goal lead of the game, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov came up with another explosive pad save to keep the game manageable. Ryane Clowe turned the puck over to Hornqvist in his own zone, creating a 2-on-0 odd man rush for Hornqvist and Arnott in front of the net. Hornqvist tried a hesitation forehand to backhand move, but Nabokov ate his lunch snapping his right pad out to close down the short side.
While the game realistically should have been 5-2 Nashville, it was 3-2 with an opportunity for the Sharks to pull off a patented late game comeback. A 3-on-2 rush for San Jose saw Patrick Marleau snap a shot wide off the end boards. The rebound came directly to Dany Heatley on the opposite side of the crease. Heatley wristed a quick shot, which was deflected off the goal line by a reverse facing Pekka Rinne. Rinne made a backhanded glove save after first trying to locate the puck behind the net, then diving to his left to cover the lower portion of the goal. Defenseman Rob Blake gained position at the top of the paint, then slid a quick backhand under Rinne to tie the game at 3-3.
"They played tight. They have good goaltending, some guys offensively that are quick and can make plays, I thought Nabby made some real huge saves and the right times for us tonight," Dany Heatley said after the game.
Dirk Hoag at ontheforecheck.com notes that after two periods the teams were tied with 22 shots apiece, and that Nabokov's 16 saves on 16 third period Nashville shots was the deciding factor in the game. After withstanding an early Preds barrage, defenseman Dan Hamhuis took a boarding penalty at 11:32. The Team Canada + USA/Russia power play unit was on for the Sharks as 6 Olympians took the ice (Marleau/Heatley/Thornton, Boyle, Pavelski and Nabokov). To say the door was open to win the game would be putting it mildly. Thornton and Marleau used a give-and-go to create room along the half boards. Dany Heatley gained stick and body position on defenseman Francis Bouillon, and he hammered home a hard pass from Patrick Marleau to give the Sharks their first lead of the game at 4-3.
"It wasn't a real good game. Between the second and third we were actually commenting that it felt like a September game, an exhibition game... It was sloppy, with turnovers, it was a little all over the map," San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told the media. "I thought we settled down in the third, and we were good enough at that point to get the win."
More game notes:
With an undisclosed lower body injury suffered by center Manny Malhotra in the last game against St. Louis, the Sharks dressed 7 defenseman and 11 forwards for Nashville. Defenseman Dan Boyle skated 21 shifts for 19:10 of ice time after returning from a 6-game absence. He registered 2 shots on goal, and 2 blocked shots. Defenseman Kent Huskins played in his 200th NHL game. Jody Shelley dropped the gloves twice with right wing Wade Belak for his 8th and 9th fights of the season according to David Singer of Hockeyfights.com. Tampa Bay center Zenon Konopka and recently traded Brandon Prust (NYR) lead the NHL with 21 total fights. Former Shark Marcel Goc was an injury scratch for Nashville. He is day-to-day with an upper body injury but is expected to return against the Islanders on Tuesday. Goc signed a 1-year, $775,000 contract extension with the Predators last week, and will join current and former San Jose Sharks backup goaltenders Thomas Greiss and Dimitri Pätzold, as well as former Sharks Christian Ehrhoff and Marco Sturm on the roster for Team Germany at the 2010 Olympics.
There is a certain snarl in San Jose these days. Excuse the discontent and general air of skepticism. The natives, indeed, are restless, and their wait-and-see attitude through these dog days of hockey's winter would leave the casual fan of the San Jose Sharks wondering if this were a first or last place team.
You see, not even a season full of sellouts, the best record in the Western Conference, the league's leading goal scorer, or the best penalty killing unit in the National Hockey League provides comfort.
Darryl Hunt: Shorthanded WorSharks Drop Game to Providence, 5-3
The Worcester Sharks overcame several mental mistakes early in the game to take a late second period lead, only to lose that lead in the third period while playing half the period shorthanded in a 5-3 loss to the Providence Bruins Saturday night at the DCU Center in front of 6,319 fans.
Worcester defenseman Mike Moore would have the first costly mental error when six seconds into killing Joe Loprieno's interference minor his clearing attempt went into the crowd for an automatic delay of game minor. Providence would connect just nine seconds into their two man advantage when Trent Whitfield fired his own rebound over WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock's right shoulder and just inside the far post for the 1-0 lead at 7:19 of the first period.
The WorSharks would even the score while skating with a two man advantage of their own early in the second period with Providence's Mikko Lehtonen in the box and referee Jamie Koharski ready to call a delayed minor on the Baby-Bs, allowing for Stalock to get to the bench for an extra attacker. Steven Zalewski threw an easy pass to Benn Ferriero, and Ferriero skated to some open ice and fired a seeing eye wrist shot through traffic that beat Providence netminder Dany Sabourin at 1:21. Danny Groulx had the second assist on the play.
WorSharks rookie defenseman Will Colbert, whose play has been very solid despite his limited duty in the AHL, had the second mental error when he lost control of the puck in the faceoff circle to the left of Stalock. P-Bruins' winger Craig Weller pounced on the loose puck and blasted a laser past Stalock to make it 2-1 at 9:08.
Worcester would again draw even with some hard work around the Providence net. After an initial Sabourin save Brandon Mashinter and TJ Trevelyan would both have whacks at the puck, with Trevelyan finally lighting the lamp at 17:37. Moore would also grab an assist on the tying goal.
It would take the WorSharks just 69 seconds to grab their first lead of the game when Jamie McGinn sent an easy backhand pass from the halfboards to Zalewski in the slot. The second year center skated in a couple of strides and threw a wrist shot to the stick side to beat Sabourin for the 3-2 lead at 18:46 of the second period.
Once the third period started the wheels were kicked off the wagon by referee Koharski, who called the WorSharks for six consecutive minors--mostly all terrible calls--resulting in the WorSharks being forced to play nearly half the pivotal period shorthanded. And because Worcester ranks near the bottom in penalty killing in the American Hockey League it was only a matter of time before Providence broke through.
With John McCarthy off for interference--the only truly legitimate penalty against the WorSharks in the period--Lehtonen connected at 6:05 with a one-timer from the circle to the right of Stalock to get Providence even.
The Baby-Bs would get the game winner at 12:05 when Brad Marchand's blast off a face-off rang off the far post and rolled along the goal line behind Stalock and on to the stick of Whitfield, who buried it for the 4-3 Providence lead.
After Lehtonen's empty net goal at 18:51--a goal scored with Koharski's arm up to call what was surely another phantom minor against Worcester--Groulx apparently had enough of the antics of the referee and lit into Koharski, earning himself a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. After the final horn Groulx continued to show Koharski all the respect he deserved and earned himself a game misconduct for his efforts.
Worcester gets a quick chance to even the score with a game against Providence this afternoon in a pre-Super Bowl tilt in the Ocean State.
The WorSharks went with the same line-up as Friday night, and there were no updates to Worcester's injury list.
There were two fights in the contest, with Brandon Mashinter taking on Lane MacDermid in the first period and Dennis McCauley going with Drew Fata in the second period. Both Mashinter and MacDermid landed some clean shots, but Mashinter's finish with a flurry of several clean shots earned him the win. McCauley and Fata was a total mismatch, with McCauley landing an incredible amount of unanswered shots for the easy victory. Andrew Desjardins and Brad Marchand were in an altercation late in the third period that was everything a fight is without actually being called a fight. Both earned ten minute misconducts for their troubles.
With both goaltenders making great saves on the night, the biggest save on the evening may have been Danny Groulx scooping the puck off the goal line behind Stalock and flipping it harmlessly away in the third period while Worcester was killing Kevin Henderson's two minute minor for throwing a clean open ice check, called "roughing" by referee Jamie Koharski as he apparently forgot the hockey was a contact sport.
An update from last Sunday's Lowell game where a pane of the new glass was shattered during warm-ups. In a brief conversation about some of the building upgrades DCU Center General Manager Sandy Dunn was asked by Sharkspage how much one of those new panes of glass cost. Dunn wasn't specific with an amount, simply saying "it's up there", and then added with a smile "we'd prefer that no more get broken".
In the "why can't we get players like that?" department, last night playing against the ECHL affiliate of the San Jose and WorSharks Sharks Kalamazoo K-Wings former WorSharks forward T.J. Fox had a career night scoring two goals and adding five assists to set a single game scoring record for the Wheeling Nailers in their 10-1 over the K-Wings. Fox is averaging just over a point per game for the ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh/Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
The three stars of the game were
1. Whitfield (2g)
2. Zalewski (g,a)
3. Marchand (2a)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Brandon Mashinter
Even Strength Lines
The Worcester Sharks used great team defense to help rookie goaltender Tyson Sexsmith to his first professional shutout in defeating the Lowell Devils 3-0 Friday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 3,012 fans. The win, coupled with the Manchester Monarchs loss, put the WorSharks in first place in the Atlantic division with three games in hand.
With Lowell's Olivier Magnan serving the second of a two game suspension for boarding Logan Couture Sunday afternoon, all thoughts were on the WorSharks looking to possibly settle the score. And Worcester showed exactly how they were going to do that right after the opening faceoff when Dennis McCauley leveled Lowell winger Patrick Davis in the center ice circle with a huge shoulder hit.
Referee Jean Hebert was obviously aware of the potential for the game to get out of hand and laid down the law early, calling McCauley for two borderline minors in the period and Lowell's Cory Murphy for a borderline minor of his own. Once it was clear that Worcester wasn't interested in anything but playing a physical game Hebert went back to his normal style of letting the boys play, and play they did.
Worcester held a 14-4 shots advantage in the scoreless first period by playing very sound hockey in their own end, keeping Lowell from getting any good scoring chances on Sexsmith while not being afraid to break out when the chance presented itself.
The WorSharks would grab the game's first goal at 1:37 of the second period right after Lowell netminder Jeff Frazee had made a couple of nice saves on a Worcester power play that straddled the first intermission. After a clear that put the puck in the Worcester end and a line change McCauley, playing in place of an injured Dan DaSilva, flipped the puck down the right wing boards and chased it into the corner, fighting off a check by Lowell defender Murphy along the end boards. The loose puck bounced to John McCarthy behind the net, and it was an easy bang-bang play to Andrew Desjardins in the slot that lit the lamp for Worcester.
Worcester would continue its great play on both ends of the ice, and nice saves by both Sexsmith and Frazee kept the score 1-0 deep into the third period when Lowell finally pulled Frazee in favor of an extra attacker. Lowell put their best pressure of the game on Worcester with the sixth skater on the ice, but several blocked shots and blasts going wide kept the puck away from Sexsmith. The one save he had to make turned into an assist for the rookie.
After Sexsmith made a nice left pad save Danny Groulx decided to relieve the pressure by icing the puck to give the Worcester defenders a breather. But McCauley had other ideas, and for the second time this season outraced an opponent--this time it was Lowell's Murphy--and after fighting off being checked managed to bang the puck into the wide open net for an empty net tally at 19:01.
All that was left for Worcester was to preserve the shutout, and the WorSharks went into full defensive mode to keep the puck away from Sexsmith. After another flurry in front of the net that resulted in no shots on goal, T.J. Trevelyan flipped a loose puck out of the slot to the left sideboards, where again Danny Groulx sent it the length of the ice to relieve the pressure, only this time the puck slid into the empty net for the 3-0 final.
With the shutout in his 10th professional start, Sexsmith becomes the second quickest to get his first pro shutout in franchise history. Alex Stalock was the quickest, getting his first professional shutout in just his fifth pro game.
Worcester's injury list is staring to get a little longer. Dan DaSilva was injured in Wednesday's 8-4 win at Springfield, although neither he nor the WorSharks think this will be a longer term type injury. And as usual, neither would actually say what the injury was. DaSilva joins Logan Couture, Joe Callahan, Ryan Vesce, and Michael Wilson on the injured list. With all of the injures Worcester recalled Matt Jones from Kalamazoo(ECHL), and he was a healthy scratch.
And that injury list may have gotten a little longer as Mike Moore didn't play during the third period Friday night. Moore took on Lowell's Louis Robitaille at 7:32 of the second period, with Moore winning the decision. Moore did play after serving his major, but didn't come out of the locker room for the third period.
With the potential for the game getting out of hand, for the first time in recent memory the referee and linesmen were at the Zamboni entrance watching warm-ups. Linesman Brian MacDonald was the first to venture out to watch, and he was eventually joined by linesman Chris Libett and referee Jean Hebert. Press row was also unusually full while both teams were on the ice, and in another unusual move WCTR Charter TV3, who was televising the game locally, had cameras rolling during warm-ups. It was all for naught as neither team showed any real interest in the other during warm-ups.
After the game as Dennis McCauley was being interviewed by Kevin Shea of WCTR, Frazer McLaren snuck up behind the pair and stuffed a towel full of shaving cream into the face of his teammate. McCauley took it in stride, wondering aloud when he started playing for the New York Yankees.
The three stars of the game were
1. Sexsmith (21 save shutout)
2. Frazee (34 saves)
3. Desjardins (gwg)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Dennis McCauley.
Even Strength Lines
Toronto GM Brian Burke pulls trigger on a pair of 'Monster' multi-player deals Sunday, lands defenseman Dion Phaneuf and goaltender J.S. Giguere
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS TRADED G TOSKALA & LW BLAKE FOR G J.S. GIGUERE
PAIR OF MULTI-PLAYER TORONTO TRADES SUNDAY WITH CALGARY AND ANAHEIM
Mired in last place in the Eastern Conference with a league-worst 197 goals allowed, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke pulled the trigger on a pair of multi-player trades Sunday that could shake up both conferences. Burke traded a quartet of starters in forwards Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers and defenseman Ian White to Calgary for former Calder and Norris Trophy finalist Dion Phaneuf, left wing Fredrik Sjostrom and defensive prospect Keith Aullie.
Burke also appears to have landed the Holy Grail from Anaheim in Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winning goaltender J.S. Giguere for struggling Vesa Toskala and right wing Jason Blake. On the surface, it is hard not to acknowledge the fact that 57 goals and 39% of the Maple Leafs total offense is gone, according to Globe and Mail beat writer James Mirtle.
Hagman and Stajan are pieces of an offensive puzzle, and Ian White is garnering praise as one of the more underrated defenseman in the NHL, but the Leafs have been struggling mightly to receive even adequate goaltending from the trio of Gustavsson (9-12-8, 3.03GAA, .899SV%), Toskala (7-12-3, 3.66GAA, .874SV%) and MacDonald (1-4-0, 3.20GAA, .892SV%). A phalanx of highly paid defenseman never congealed as a unit, struggled to put up offensive numbers and provided a porous front in their own zone. The back end lacked an identity.
Both Burke, a former GM in Anaheim and Vancouver, and head coach Ron Wilson, a former bench boss in San Jose, have experience with Californian teams who emerged from transition years by rebuilding from the goal out. While GM of Anaheim, Burke was forced to waive Ilya Bryzgalov in favor of J.S. Giguere and Jonas Hiller. In San Jose, Ron Wilson watched as Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala were moved out to make room for Evgeni Nabokov to take the reigns. Each situation offered a stability in goal, with the next priority falling on the defensive compliment in front of them.
In one day, Burke was able to add anchors in goal and on the blueline. The offensive numbers were down on the season for Phaneuf (55GP, 10G, 12A) and Bouwmeester (56GP, 2G, 18A) in Calgary, but in Toronto Phaneuf will play an oversized role. No other GM in the league can maximize what Phaneuf will bring to the table, a player about whom this blog once said, "The NHL's hacking and obstruction laws appear to be adjudicated differently for Phaneuf." That came in the regular season, before a bitterly contested playoff series where a Phaneuf hit to the head would later lead off an NHL officiating instructional video trying to crack down on hits to the head.
Phaneuf's $6.5 million cap hit leads a corps teeming with 7 defenseman earning more than $2.9 million a year (including an injured Mike van Ryan, not including a trade demanding Garnet Exelby). In the Globe and Mail roundtable podcast held this week to discuss the trade, it was noted that defenseman Jeff Finger could move up to forward, but it would be a stopgap move. Other notes from the podcast, Phaneuf could line up alongside Tomas Kaberle, Ron Wilson said that Giguere might get a majority of starts down the stretch, and that Finger was the player Toronto tried to send to Anaheim instead of Blake.
Goaltending was the largest problem facing the Leafs, the next largest problem is moving a defenseman prior to the March 3rd NHL trade deadline to add scoring punch to the forward lines. The most recent Yahoo Sports team report for Toronto lists 3 to-be-determined's for tonights game against New Jersey.
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle has famously declined to waive his no-trade clause in the past, but according to ESPN's Pierre Lebrun GM Brian Burke will not ask him to waive it prior to March 3rd. "I'm not going to ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade. It's not going to happen," Burke told ESPN. Burke directed questions about the defenseman to his agent Rick Curran. For his part, Curran said, "It's actually quite simple, Tomas Kaberle has been a Maple Leaf since the day he was drafted and would prefer to remain in Toronto to help turn things around there, rather than try to win somewhere else."
That appears to be a large 'No' on the most obvious trade candidate for Toronto, but it was an exceptionally diplomatic way for Brian Burke to handle the question. Off-season acquisitions Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin fit into the Burke philosphy, which he espoused en route to a Stanley Cup in Anaheim. He mentioned that he wanted to create an element of fear on the ice for his opponents. Along with Phaneuf, Komisarek and Beauchemin can deliver on that dictate and then some.
The cliche bottom line analysis of each trade, the team that gets the best player wins, would appear to favor Toronto in each move. After locking up Jonas Hiller to a long term deal, the Anaheim Ducks get out of an untenable contract that apparently only the Maple Leafs could absorb. They also get a quality if oft-maligned winger in Jason Blake (56GP, 10G, 16A) to help fill in on an Anaheim second line wracked with injuries. Teemu Selanne just returned from a broken jaw, Joffrey Lupul is out indefinitely after back surgery, and Saku Koivu recently returned from a sprained knee.
Calgary media and fans were in panic mode after a recent 9-game losing streak. Hagman may not be a top-line offensive threat on many top NHL teams, but his work ethic could help a lineup in desperate need for inspiration. Matt Stajan might be an option to center Iginla, and Ian White compliments an already deep blueline that includes Regehr, Bouwmeester and Giordano. In a recent Calgary game in San Jose, CBC highlighted several rushes up ice by Bouwmeester and Phaneuf. While Bouwmeester had his head up, looking for options to make a strong first pass, Phaneuf had his head down, looking to gather the puck while trying to gain speed. Another note of caution for Toronto, Ian White was also singled out as an "unknown solider" yet "key contributor" in the February 1st issue of The Hockey News. Noted for moving the puck up ice with his head up, "You see a small defenseman out there and you think he gets overwhelmed, but he's a lot stronger than he looks and he plays bigger than he is," Toronto head coach Ron Wilson told THN. "It's his quickness that gets him out of danger and really adds to our offense."
The Leafs may have received the best player in each trade, but the departure of Dion Phaneuf and Chris Pronger out of the Western Conference will have a bigger impact than any addition made to date.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek is facing the possibility of having his season come to a premature end, with his immediate future hinging on another meeting with medical personnel Wednesday.
The 28-year-old has been sidelined since Jan. 2 with an undisclosed upper-body injury, which has been widely reported as a shoulder. His spot on the U.S. Olympic team is also hanging in the balance.
San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan interviewed by Greg Papa on CSNBA's Chronicle Live
Prior to the drop of the puck against Chicago last Thursday, second year San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan sat down with CSNBA's Greg Papa for an extended interview on Chronicle Live. McLellan talked about the differences in the makeup of the Blackhawks and the Sharks, how he planned to match up lines with Marleau-Thornton-Heatley against the top Patrick Kane line, how the 7-2 loss with 3 shorthanded goals against by Chicago earlier in the season was the worst performance of the year, how the Sharks were not the better team in each of the 3 previous SJ-CHI meetings, how Marleau responded to the offseason rumors and that he hopes "Marleau will be a Shark for life", and how the team will run a mini-training camp upon the players return from the Olympics to prepare for the second half of the NHL season among several other topics.
"I would like to think (Team Canada) will start with (Marleau-Thornton-Heatley). I haven't spoke directly to Mike (Babcock) directly about what his plans are, his lines and pairs or anything like that. In fact I probably spend more time talking to (GM) Steve Yzerman than I do Mike. Mike Babcock and his staff are the coaches of that group once they get them, they can use them any way he feels fit. I certainly know he will push their buttons and try to get the most out of them every night. In turn I think our players will respond appropriately. It is one of those situations where I as a coach will get to put my feet up, watch our players play, and not have to worry about the pressure of wins and losses." - Todd McLellan