Kukla's Korner

Entries with the tag: san jose sharks

The Ron Wilson Pattern

Don’t look now, but those Toronto Maple Leafs—the team left for dead about a month ago—are within two points of a playoff spot (of course, they’re tied with five teams, but that’s parity). All of this happened despite having a horrific goals-against and an ungodly 70% penalty kill rate.

Part of this coincides with the arrival of Phil Kessel, but part of this seems to follow a pattern Ron Wilson had when he first arrived in San Jose.

In his first year with the Sharks (2002-03), San Jose was on the tail-end of an implosion that started with Stanley Cup aspirations and ended with the trade of Owen Nolan and the free-agent departure of Teemu Selanne. The next season didn’t start out much better with a horrific October (one win and an inability to keep the puck out of the net).

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Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: ron+wilson, san+jose+sharks, toronto+maple+leafs

Should The Sharks Re-Sign Patrick Marleau?

He’s been their best player so far this season, and was the team’s MVP from last year. He’s the all-time leader in franchise points, a consistent short-handed threat, and one of the team’s faceoff leaders. Tally that all together and it makes sense for the Sharks to re-sign Patrick Marleau before he hits unrestricted free agency status this July. Of course, logic doesn’t always come into play in the salary cap world; more importantly, does Marleau even want to stay in San Jose?

Since the beginning of his NHL career, Marleau’s been in and out of the Sharks doghouse, either with the fans or his coaches. Both Darryl Sutter and Ron Wilson had their moments with Marleau, though Wilson at least recognized how to properly develop Marleau to his full potential. Fans and media have slagged him off and on throughout his career, usually for either being too soft or too quiet. The bulk of the blame from last year’s first-round defeat against Anaheim was shared between Marleau and Joe Thornton, despite most objective pundits’ views that the series was far from the usual 1 vs. 8, and that Marleau was playing with a bad MCL.

That being said, Marleau didn’t talk publicly about his no-trade clause or contract status this summer other than telling season ticket holders that he wanted a chance to “prove the naysayers wrong” in San Jose. He’s lived up to his end of the bargain, but is he simply driving up his asking price this off season?

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: patrick+marleau, san+jose+sharks

Steven Patrick Morrissey vs. Patrick Marleau

(Hey, that’s two posts in a row that use something vs. something. Totally unintentional.)

If, while pondering the great mysteries of life, you’ve ever wondered how a Smiths song could possibly sum up an upcoming San Jose Sharks season, have faith in the universe—I’ve finally answered that burning question. Check out the 2009-10 San Jose Sharks preview over at Puck Daddy.

And now, musical awesomeness after the jump…

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Filed in: San Jose Sharks, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: morrissey, san+jose+sharks

Likely Sharks Lines

As an addendum to news about the Dany Heatley for Milan Michalek/Jonathan Cheechoo trade, here are the lines that Todd McLellan was originally using as Sharks training camp was opening:

Setoguchi/Mitchell (sitting out because of tendonitis)/McGinn

With Heatley in the mix, I’m guessing that McLellan will still want Marleau to stabilize/push Pavelski and Clowe into consistency while the top line becomes Heatley/Thornton/Setoguchi. The power play will likely be Heatley/Thornton/Marleau, with the option of throwing Marleau on the point (he’s done that from time to time) and Setoguchi up front.

I’m personally not a fan of what Heatley pulled this summer or his contract, but he had chemistry with Thornton in previous international stints.

Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: dany+heatley, joe+thornton, san+jose+sharks

Kessel Can’t Go To The Sharks (Directly)

Ok, so the Phil Kessel-to-San Jose rumors are flying about now thanks to the Sharks’ cap-clearing moves last week. However, a simple look at numbers shows that a trade between the two teams is pretty much impossible without a third party getting involved.

Please recall that the trading of Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks opened up about $4 million of cap space. That’s why everyone thought the trades were a precursor to something else. However, the Sharks promptly signed Torrey Mitchell, Brad Staubitz, and Thomas Greiss, which took up about half of that $2 million cap space. As it stands right now, the Sharks are hovering around the $54 million mark. That leaves them with about $3 million in cap space.

The Bruins, on the other hand, have about $1.5 million to play with thanks to buyouts of Glen Murray, Peter Schaefer, and Patrick Eaves, along with the $3.3 million signing of Derek Morris. However, this is a best-case scenario as it doesn’t factor bonuses in there (bonuses count against the cap); if all bonuses are achieved, then the Bruins are technically around $1.5 million over the cap—and that’s even without Kessel’s new contract.

(For anyone interested, those bonuses are for Milan Lucic, Blake Wheeler, and Tuuka Rask. So you can be pretty sure that the first two will achieve their bonuses. The latter? Not so much.)

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, phil+kessel, san+jose+sharks

In Defense of Patrick Marleau

Several years ago (pre-lockout), a friend and I debated what Patrick Marleau’s actual upside was. This was when he still floundered in 40-point brilliant-one-game-awful-the-next land, pre-captaincy and with the life being squeezed out of him by then-coach Darryl Sutter. We finally agreed that under the right coach and with the right circumstances, he could ultimately turn into a Mike Modano-style player: 80-90 points per season, a good penalty killer because of his speed, and a threat for 35+ goals each season.

It seems fitting, then, that like Modano a few years ago, Marleau was stripped of the captaincy. While Todd McLellan has left open the possibility of the C returning to his chest, reports out of the San Jose Mercury News make it seem like that won’t happen. McLellan hinted at a decision come training camp based on work ethic and focus, but that just seems to pave the way for Dan Boyle being named captain. He’s skilled, signed long term, honest without Roenick-style foot-in-mouth disease, and brings a genuine intensity to the team, along with Stanley Cup experience. It’s a logical choice, and as a fan of Boyle since his Tampa days, I fully support it.

(The dark horse candidate is Joe Pavelski, in a move that might mirror Dallas’ choice to make Brendan Morrow captain.)

But I continue to find fault with people who make it seem like Marleau’s head deserved to be on every possible chopping block from here to Saskatoon. It’s funny, not in a “ha ha” kind of way but in a shake-your-head-in-bemusement kind of way. It seems like everyone forgot about the year that Marleau had.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: dan+boyle, patrick+marleau, san+jose+sharks

Juuuust A Bit Outside

From the ever-amusing Drew Remenda at the Seagate Broadcaster Blog (remember, he was an assistant coach for the Sharks before he became part of the only NHL broadcast team to publicly discuss their telecast’s drinking game):

Now a normal video before a game at the team meal would be 6 to 10 minutes. Dean Evason and Kelly Kisio used to walk in the room and ask, “How long?” Just so they could watch the clock and get out of there. Well Deano asks me “how long?” I respond 45 minutes. Dean and Kelly almost punched me out they are so mad. I said “Hey guys, we’ve lost the last two games by a combined score of 19-1, so we’ve got some things to fix.” I said they could watch it while they ate and that the video was self-explanatory so we wouldn’t have to start and stop and go back. That settled them a bit. They stacked their plates, sat down and I turned on the video.

First scene has Charlie Sheen as Ricky Vaughn taking the head off the wooden batsman with a big time out of control fastball. The guys laughed and continued laughing for 45 minutes. The tape was funny but it also had the underlying message of the movie still intact. A message of hope, teamwork, sacrifice and friendship when the odds are against you.

The perfect coda to this would be if next season prior to a big playoff game, Patrick Marleau looks at his stick and says, “F&*! you, Jobu, I do it myself” and gets a hat trick to get past the second round of the playoffs.

Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: drew+remenda, san+jose+sharks

Shark or Flame?

Both the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames went into the playoffs with hopes of playing deep into the post-season. For the Sharks, they thought a President’s Trophy and a dynamic regular season was a sign that they were on the right track. For the Flames, they thought the addition of Olli Jokinen gave them a talented final piece.

Whoops. A day after both teams found themselves on the outside looking in, members of both teams started spouting out pretty much the same cliche. See if you can figure out which team each quote came from. Answers after the jump.

1: “This was the best team, no question. The organization gave us the opportunity to go deep and to win and we didn’t get it done.”
2: “It’s tough—I really enjoyed playing here, and I really thought we had a lot of hockey left. I thought we were going to do something special.”
3: “It’s really disappointing with the expectations we had this year and we didn’t come through again.”
4: “You don’t expect this to happen when you have such a good team. We expected more out of ourselves and we didn’t live up to that.”
5: “This is something I didn’t expect. I figured to be playing a lot longer than this. We really thought we had a special team. And to end the season the way we did, it’s not fun.”
6: “I was pretty disappointed in what happened and in my play, too. I really don’t have answers to anything, right now. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t do more individually.”

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: calgary+flames, san+jose+sharks

The Battle of California and “Battle of California”

Since I’ve joined KK, I’ve tried to keep most of my posts more general while shifting my Sharks stuff over to the Battle of California blog. Well, now that we actually have a Battle of California, here’s my shameless plug to point you guys over to the unique wackiness going on there. If you’ve never visited, here’s a little snippet of the current playoff preview posts, though much more will be coming in the next few days—including those famous Earl Sleek cartoons.

A history lesson from Earl Sleek:

Three years ago, the Sharks and Ducks each had home ice in the second round, and each were leading their series two-games-to-none (which prompted James Mirtle to start this blog to offset an already-popular Battle of Alberta).  Had the Sharks not then lost four straight games to the eighth-seeded Oilers, the BoC would have occurred in the WCF that spring; instead the Pronger-Oilers knocked out both clubs.  Two years ago, the Sharks and Ducks were also one round away from meeting—the Ducks were in the process of eliminating Vancouver in the second round and the Sharks had a one-game-to-none lead over the Red Wings.  Detroit stormed back and prevented a WCF BoC, but the Ducks kept winning en route to California’s first Stanley Cup.  Last spring was Anaheim’s chance to blow it—in the first round against the Dallas Stars they dropped their first two games at home and couldn’t recover, and instead of a second-round BoC the Stars also upset the Sharks.  Three legitimate chances for a postseason BoC, and three instances where one of the teams failed to deliver and “get there”.

So this year, it seems, Anaheim and San Jose left nothing to chance.  While the Sharks fended off the Wings and the Bruins for the President’s Trophy all season, the Ducks swallowed their talent and surgically divebombed their way down to the 8th seed.  (By design?  Hardly, but it matters little now.)

From me:

Here are my predicted over/under values for the series. This can, of course, also double as a drinking game. Sip a beer if your team is winning, take a shot if your team is losing.

Bad Rob Blake holding penalties: 8
Chris Pronger elbows: 42
Called Chris Pronger elbows: 2
Corey Perry/Evgeni Nabokov run-ins: 33
Corey Perry goaltender interference penalties: 0
Periods before refs put away the whistles and lose control of the series: 1
George Parros/Jody Shelley fights: 1

BoC also has Kings coverage (though that’s pushed down the priority list over the next two weeks) and some great on-ice photos from Sharkspage’s PJ Swenson. Oh, if you’re offended by cartoon versions of states abusing each other in a prison-style rape scene...um…this blog isn’t for you.

Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: anaheim+ducks, san+jose+sharks

No Clear Favorites

I don’t know about you, but I look at the top of the standings and I vulnerabilities. Obviously, the Sharks, Red Wings, and Bruins are good teams—their records speak for themselves. But the great thing about an 82-game season is it gives teams time to understand and exploit the inherent flaws in each team. No team is perfect, and sometimes it just takes a little time to discover this.

That’s why I’m guessing that at least one of these three gets knocked out in the first round. Their inconsistent play in the second half of the season shows that they’re all vulnerable in their own ways. In fact, scanning down to the second tier of teams (Chicago, Calgary, Washington) and the New Jersey Devils, who are floating somewhere in between of the first and second tier, I wouldn’t put my money on anyone right now. Out of all of the “have” teams, I’d say that the most consistent going into the playoffs might just be the Devils—but the “have not” playoff teams really aren’t that far away.

Out west, if I was a top seed, the one team I’d try to avoid like the plague would be the Columbus Blue Jackets. In past seasons, I’ve had little reason to watch Columbus but since the All-Star break I’ve tuned into more and more of their games and I’m pretty sure that they’ll be loads of problems for whichever top seed they face.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, columbus+blue+jackets, detroit+red+wings, san+jose+sharks

Anatomy Of A Slump

4-5-1 and 5-4-1…not great records, but not exactly the end of the world. Still, when you’re the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, respectively, greater things are expected. Let’s look at how the Bruins and Sharks fell back down to earth over the past ten games:

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, san+jose+sharks

A California Classic?

On the eve of the Winter Classic (oh, there’s something about a new calendar year happening tomorrow too), I took a look out the window to the gray skies and morning frost of this early Northern California day and pondered whether the NHL would ever bother trying something like that in Sharks territory. I know Sharks ownership actually inquired about it, including proposing a few feasible locations, but I imagine a California Winter Classic is way, way down on the NHL’s selection list. If it ever happened, I’m guessing we’d have already exhausted the Original Six and Canadian teams several times over.

Still, just like Jim Carrey said in Dumb and Dumber, the fact that the league actually listened to the Sharks means that there is a chance. Ok, but are the logistics feasible?

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: san+jose+sharks, winter+classic

Humble Pie

If you were a child of the 80’s (or if you just have a strange fascination with cartoons from that period), you might recall an episode of GI Joe where Gung Ho, the rugged marine with a porn-star mustache, was being upstaged by a former protege of his. The tension built up to the inevitable fist fight between the two, where Gung Ho’s adversary touting how he was younger, faster, and stronger with each punch. Gung Ho, however, got the upper hand, throwing the cocky whippersnapper down and giving him a good dose of humble pie.

“You forgot one thing,” Gung Ho said. “I’m better.”

That little life lesson (and knowing is half the battle) reminded me of last night’s Detroit-San Jose game. It’s funny how one complete smackdown can make a Sharks fan forget the record-setting start (is it really a start 30 games in?) to the season. Still, the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the Red Wings showed that the Sharks aren’t invincible, that their system can’t come back and dominate everything, and that they can get run out of town just as easily as they’ve run over some opponents.

Still, this isn’t exactly a bad thing.

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Filed in: San Jose Sharks, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: detroit+red+wings, san+jose+sharks

Hope For The Hopeless: 03-04 Sharks

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. That is, if you replace “Virginia” with “Disgusted Hockey Fan” and “Santa Claus” with “Chance at Being Really Good.”

Had a terrible October? No worries. There’s still a chance that your team, as hopeless as they seem, can wind up in the conference final. Presenting the ultimate crappy-team-turned-awesome: the 2003-04 San Jose Sharks. And for all you Maple Leafs fans, this is your great shining beacon of hope that Ron Wilson is the right man for the job.

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Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: ron+wilson, san+jose+sharks

Your Liveblog Alternative

Ok, ok, so the Chief is the master of liveblogs. But since his beloved Red Wings are playing the Sharks tonight, well, now you have a second liveblog option. Or you could just open up a second browser window and have both liveblogs going on (recommended course of action).

I’ll be participating over at AOL Fanhouse for the Sharks/Wings tonight and you can check it out here.

Filed in: , | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: detroit+red+wings, san+jose+sharks

Hot Starts And Ugly Finishes

“Last year was a little different. We had a bad start and I didn’t play well. This year we’ve had a good start and I’m kind of feeling comfortable and I’m playing better than last year.”

“I don’t think there’s any such thing,” said the coach. “Just play right, and that’s an attitude, a mental thing. Like the Montreal Canadiens in the mid-1970s, when they lost eight games all year. I think they peaked all year. They were the best players, that’s why they won, but if you’re the best players and you do things right, when do you peak? You always play good.”

“Confidence is very underrated. If you’ve got confidence in your ability, and the people you’re playing with, you’re going to succeed.”

Oh, those hot starts. It’s all about good habits and confidence and feeling good about team play. Are those quotes from the 4-0 San Jose Sharks?

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Filed in: San Jose Sharks, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: ottawa+senators, san+jose+sharks

San Jose Sharks v4.0

With a victory over Columbus, the San Jose Sharks have gotten off to their best start ever and Todd McLellan’s short coaching record remains unblemished. It’s difficult to judge things this early in the season but anyone who’s seen a Sharks game so far can tell you that this team is far, far different from any previous Sharks team. There’s a swagger to the whole squad, a confidence that was never there under Ron Wilson.

Under Kevin Constantine (Sharks v1.0), the Sharks were a defense-goaltending squad that overachieved on the backs of miraculous Arturs Irbe saves and Sergei Makarov/Igor Larionov chemistry. The Darryl Sutter days (Sharks v2.0)  were about grit and power, almost to the point where skill was being squeezed out—ask Teemu Selanne about that. Even in 2003-04, when Ron Wilson (Sharks v3.0) transformed a bunch of speedy second-liners into Conference Finalists, that was more about system and synchronicity, the proverbial lightning in a bottle. The post-lockout Wilson squads were hit and miss but even at their best, everything seemed like a controlled affair. And these guys under Todd McLellan (Sharks v4.0—hey, the tech speak works, we are talking about a Silicon Valley team, after all)? There’s just a different shine to the whole package, a feeling like all the parts are finally working cohesively together.

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Filed in: San Jose Sharks, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: patrick+marleau, san+jose+sharks, todd+mclellan

Marleau on Thornton’s Wing

The ever-vigilant Dave Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News has posted that the Sharks will open training camp with Patrick Marleau on Joe Thornton’s wing. The duo will be flanked by Ryane Clowe, not Jonathan Cheechoo:

Here’s how the top forward lines will look on Day One:

Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Ryan Clowe
Milan Michalek-Joe Pavelski-Jonathan Cheechoo
Marcel Goc-Torrey Mitchell-Mike Grier
Tomas Plihal-Jeremy Roenick-Devin Setoguchi

I’m personally not a fan of putting Marleau and Thornton on the same line together except for the power play.



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Filed in: San Jose Sharks, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: joe+thornton, jonathan+cheechoo, patrick+marleau, san+jose+sharks, todd+mclellan

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