Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
This evening, as the Sharks attempt to even the series, Marleau must again be the impact player he was in the Game 3 victory two nights ago. As a leader, he also must help push the team’s collective thermostat up a notch higher.
But with the soft-spoken and even-keeled Marleau, there is always the question about whether he has the passion to spearhead a playoff charge. I think the passion simmers beneath the sunscreen. We’ll find out if I’m correct soon enough.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
When it was over and the non-sellout crowd of 16,277 had filed out of the Honda Center, the top-seeded Sharks could claim several victories: they had cut the Ducks’ series lead to 2-1, ended the Ducks’ penalty killing streak at 14 over two-plus games, and had continued a trend in the series by winning on the road.
They got help from the Ducks on each of those counts.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s almost like hitting yourself in the head,” Ducks winger Teemu Selanne said of his team’s unbreakable habit of parading to the penalty box.
“Why? You’ve done a great job killing penalties. Why keep forcing things? You can make winning so much easier if you stay out of the penalty box. There’s no team in the league that if they’re going to get 20 power plays in three games, they’re [not] going to score eventually. No question. If you don’t learn that you’re stupid.”
from Tim Tawakami of Talking Points at the Mercury News,
The Sharks have it easy. On that point, there can be no dispute. Too easy, almost certainly. (I blame myself.)
And that might explain some of their annual softness in the playoffs, if you ask me…
Even after dropping the first two games of the playoffs at home to the Ducks, the Sharks still pretty much live in a little crysalis of no-crisis, generally speaking, when compared to what any other NHL team (except the Kings or, weirdly, the Ducks) ever experience after shaky postseason performances.
Patrick Marleau is the Sharks captain, and he skipped the optional skate before Game 2. (Jeremy Roenick skipped it, too.)
My thought: Isn’t that like Tom Brady skipping an optional meeting before the AFC title game? Or Paul Pierce skipping a shoot-around, with permission, before Game 7 at Cleveland? I think it is… At least show up. Show up for your teammates. You’re the captain, show up.
from Cecile Nguyen at SanJoseSharks.com,
“We put ourselves in a bit of a hole here but we have a good team,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “We’ve been the best team all year. We have to prove it now and I think the guys know that we need to step up. We’re not nervous or overly worried. We’re not going to go out there and try to do too much. We’re just going to do what we have done all year.”
A day after their Game 2 Stanley Cup Quarterfinal loss to the Ducks, the Sharks’ locker room following practice Monday afternoon remains positive.
“We’re confident. All the guys in here are confident,” center Joe Pavelski. “We’ve had some good practices and guys are hungry. There’s a sense of urgency in Game 1. There’s more of a sense of urgency in Game 2. And now obviously Game 3 we got to have it.”
from Drew Rememda of the Seagate Broadcaster Blog,
First the Bad News, some things did not change from Game 1. The powerplay is still “0 for.” I believe the Sharks have to make the adjustment on the breakout and into the neutral zone. Better more patient support, using the ice behind and building up speed would be my change, (I know the Coaches are working on solving the entry problems). Puck recovery is also an issue. In the first two games the Ducks PK is outworking the Sharks Powerplay.
Obviously Nabokov needs to be better. I’ve always believed Evgeni to be a top flight goalie but he’s being beat by a rookie netminder. True Nabby has made some big stops, like the breakaway chance by Marchant in Game 2. But if the Sharks are going to get back into the series he can’t let anymore Andrew Ebbett wristers from the goal line in.
It may not be fair but it is accurate.
The BIG GUYS for the Sharks need to deliver….
from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
Here are five things I jotted into my playoff notebook while watching the Ducks put the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Sharks into a 2-0 series bind Sunday night at the Shark Tank.
1. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller’s game has had few holes so far in the California classic. The Swiss-born stopper, who grabbed the net because longtime Ducks starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere was struggling, has been rock solid, turning back 77 of 79 San Jose shots….
2. The Sharks finished the regular season with the third-best power-play unit in the league, converting at a 24.2 percent clip. In the first two games of this first-round playoff series, that same power play has been a dud….
added 11:03am, from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
The Sharks have not been that bad in this series. They have been inspired for the most part (although they have had no ability to maintain momentum or keep any sustained pressure on the Ducks). Their goaltending has been excellent and Joe Thornton accomplished more in his first shift in Game 2 than he did in all of Game 1.
It’s certainly not fair that Jonas Hiller is playing better than he ever has in his life.
from David Pollak of Working the Corners,
First, a couple numbers — of the 291 NHL playoff series where teams have started out 0-2, the team trailing has come back to win 12.7 percent of the time. Strangely, in the 66 cases where it was the home team that was trailing as the Sharks are now, 16 have ended up winning the series, or 24.2 percent. Makes no sense to me either.
Most players subscribe to the theory that you take the positives and move on after a loss like Sunday night’s where the Sharks genuinely did improve their play but still came out on the short end. Dan Boyle isn’t one of those players.
“Some guys have a different attitude,” he said. “I look at it as black and white. We lost the game. I don’t really feel good about stuff. I’m different, but you’ve got to win the game. That’s the bottom line.”
from Dan Wood of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
Entering Sunday’s game, the Ducks are 10-5 in their previous 15 visits to HP Pavilion, including a 1-2 mark in three regular-season games this season, and are 24-19-3 all-time in San Jose. By contrast, the Ducks are only 18-22-5 all-time against the Sharks in Anaheim, with losses in two of three games this season.
Home ice, then, doesn’t appear as if it will be a critical factor in this series.
“I think it’s just that they’re such tight games,” Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne said. “Every game is like a playoff game, even during the regular season. I don’t think it matters where you play.”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
He’s a nice guy, fun to be around. Sweet hands. Big body. Good teammate. Doesn’t ever play the “I’m a star” card.
But when the light goes on for the playoffs, it’s like he gets stage fright. Does he have it in him to be a lead dog in the playoff race, like Vincent Lecavalier, another highly talented centre, was with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004? Or the mild-mannered but zealously competitive Joe Sakic for all those years in Colorado?
Admittedly, it took Steve Yzerman 14 years before he carried his first Stanley Cup in Detroit and legitimized his career. Super Mario Lemieux didn’t win until he was seven years along the NHL trail in Pittsburgh. But this is Thornton’s 11th NHL season. His legacy continues to be that of a wonderful player in the regular season, a guaranteed top-10 point-producer.
from Allison High of SanJoseSharks.com,
II’s not out of the ordinary for the rookie coach to bark at his players, but after seeing their slow start to practice, McLellan whistled his men back to the white board.
“It’s April,” said McLellan. “We wish that they could come out and be sharp right from minute one to minute 45, but sometimes they have to be woken up. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time. I was happy with the pace of practice. The execution early wasn’t as good, but it got a lot better and we should be ready to play.”
This strategy is not uncommon for coaches at this time of the year. McLellan explained that the same thing happened in Detroit during his tenure. And by doing it on Saturday in San Jose, the Sharks responded. The twenty minutes spent on special teams’ drills was some of San Jose’s best.
“We were still asleep,” explained Sharks center Jeremy Roenick in response to his coach’s pep talk. “A little wakeup call is always nice.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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