Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Shave and a haircut: two points

This morning, Pollak reported that Joe Thornton was clean-shaven for the early skate. It just so happens that, in trying to make sense of this nascent season, I had been rereading my entries from this week last year, and on October 21, 2010 I mentioned that the Sharks all looked very nice clean-shaven.  They have not gotten so furry as the did during the 2010 early bad patch, but it made me say huh anyway.  After Pavelski scored his tying goal, I noticed that his hair is very short now.  Unless he shaved his head some weeks ago, he probably had it trimmed in the last week or so.

Little things like that, aside from providing fodder for obsessive observers, do actually have some significance.  It’s like cleaning up your house, trimming things down, simplification.  These are the easy things you can do to get your head in order.  Snip snip, scrape scrape, and you feel like a new person.  There is more to do, but you are probably better prepared to do it.

I don’t want to ignore the theme of the day, that this was Joe Thornton’s 1000th game.  Brodie had some good tweets tonight, including this one:

@brodiebrazilCSN: “Being a point-per-game guy for 82 nights in one season is impressive… but how about Thornton: 1004 pts in 1000 games. wow. #sjsharks”

Indeed, very impressive.  Were it not for Jagr, Thornton would also have the most assists per game among active players in the NHL.  What’s Jagr supposed to do, wait until next year to come back?  Oh well, second best isn’t bad in that race.

The game in New Jersey started out pretty badly.  Were it not for a host of matching flubs from the Devils, the Sharks could have been down by more goals than they were. Boyle was having a hell of a time handling the puck, most of the Sharks were getting pushed around pretty badly.  They didn’t look like a big physical team or a particularly skilled one.  They were way off their game and they were probably lucky to end the period with even 7 shots on goal.

Things looked better in the second, and by the third, I remember seeing someone holding onto, handling, and finally gently passing the puck while being manhandled by a Devil.  I thought it was Havlat, and I remembered Couture praising Havlat’s hands.  I was just about to say “I see what he meant,” when I realized it was Couture.  The Sharks displayed a lot of better and even pretty awesome puck control later in the game.  I don’t know what is going on with their firsts, but their seconds and thirds are starting to look pretty good.

The Sharks could very easily have lost this game, but they didn’t.  Who scored?  Some Devils, and also the Sharks’ top lines.  Both Joes, Clowe.  Nbd, that’s what we expect from them, right?  Of course it was pretty amazing, exciting, the first two goals scored within a minute and three seconds of each other, and the last within the last 33 seconds.  Very exciting, a regular nail-biter for Sharks fans.

I’m not crazy about what Niemi is showing us.  He isn’t moving as well down low as he used to.  Rust is a likely cause.  It might take him quite a few games to get back into it, and if the Sharks do as they have always done, he will probably get those games, hell or high water.  Well, if they do as they did before last season, when this sort of play got him time on the bench while Nitty got called the Number One.  If more games are all he needs, fine.  I think it’s a shame because Greiss really did play pretty well for them.  Niemi’s strength was always his legs, not a lot of pucks got through the five hole on him.  So when that happens, as it did tonight, I consider it a red flag.  His glove and his upper body used to be the issue.  I hope this is all because he’s been working on that or something.

Maybe I’m being too hard on him.  Justin Bourne had some nice things to say about his performance:

@jtbourne: “Remember when Niemi robbed Selanne earlier this year? Pretty sick save on Parise here too. Guy is good. bit.ly/qmBDkb

Once again, chaos in the first period resulted in injury, two this time: the Devils’ Jacob Josefson and the Sharks’ Torrie Mitchell.  I only mention Josefson first because we know he will be out for some time with a broken clavicle.  Mitchell appeared to have an arm or shoulder problem but it is still being called just upper body.  Josefson’s injury came from a more spectacular wreck than Mitchell’s, though clearly Mitchell got hit pretty hard.  Josefson sort of tumbled headfirst into the end boards after being pursued by McGinn and Boyle on a breakaway.  It didn’t look like he was pushed with any force, but he may have tripped over all the sticks in his path, including his own.  It was ugly and looked like it could have been worse.

Sigh.

That leaves an interesting little hole in the lineup.  Good thing Desi and Wingels are still around.  I would guess, just from recent patterns, that McGinn will move up, unless it is Murray because he can play right or left wing.  I think McGinn is the most likely.  I hope that lovely (not) pass right up to the wrong team there in the second doesn’t put him in the dog house.

Of course, Mitchell could be back sooner than later but he looked pretty stove in as he left the ice. It is awfully early for anyone to be playing hurt.

Ferriero, for a player who saw less than 10 minutes on the ice, only had one shot on goal, was even in plus/minus, and had no points, still has me convinced he’s some kind of harbinger or psychic indicator or possibly a very subtle Jedi.  He just seems to be around when good, or better things happen with the team.  Is it because, time and again, they call him up when they have lost their cool with things going badly?  Is calling him up part of getting mad and doing something about it?  Whatever it is, they are running out of chances to do that.  He will soon have to stay for good.  Then, perhaps, someone can ask him if he dabbles in manipulation of the Force or something.

At the same time that the Sharks were doing all that, the Worcester Sharks were also playing.  They took the lead early, then lost it, and wound up going to overtime tied at 3-3.  Like the Sharks, they also went to a shootout, but they lost there.

Pretty uncanny, I thought, both teams going to a shootout from a 3-3 tie.  San Jose sort of had to win once it got to that point, once Worcester fell.  I mean for it to be any other way would have been freakish improbable. 

Some might say that McLellan’s choices for the shootout were improbable.  Once upon a time, choosing Clowe seemed odd.  But since he’s done so well, he’s sort of a given now.  Choosing Handzus raised some eyebrows I think:

@PollakOnSharks: “Somebody just handed Michal Handzus a stick. On the list or decoy?”

I don’t think Handzus is so new to the shootout as all that, but it was a funny thing to say.  It was demoralizing to see Niemi beat on the first shot, but nice to see him bounce back enough to stop two shooters, including Parise after Parise beat him with the penalty shot.

Similarly, the first Sharks shooter, Pavelski, missed, but the next two scored.  That looks like more problems with firsts… crazy.

Whatever got it done, it was done.  One losing streak down.

@brodiebrazilCSN: “Gritty effort by the #sjsharks; 2 comebacks tonight, so far.”

As he said, so far.  Here’s hoping the Sharks are starting a new streak, a winning one.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: antti+niemi, benn+ferriero, jacob+josefson, logan+couture, torrie+mitchell

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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net