Petshark: Talking Stick
Many years ago, I trained a horse that was so smart it was difficult to train him. He learned everything instantly. Half the time, I didn't realize what I was teaching him. "Seriously?" I wondered, "Is he really shaking his head every time I scratch my nose? Does it matter if I use my left hand or my right?" People are just like that horse. We might think we're practicing one thing, but we're also practicing everything we do before and after that thing. This is the basis for all those superstitions hockey players talk about.
Practice what you preach. I don't mean it the way Ratto meant "just win the game!" I mean it quite literally. Need to shoot more? Practice that. Want defensemen to shoot quickly, at game speed? Practice that. Need to execute better? Practice that. Now practice it all together and don't stop until you get it right.
Two lines stood out in the last two games, one line in each, by performing above expectations. Sheppard, Burish and Galiardi were surprisingly effective in the game against Colorado, especially since they weren't even a line before the game. Kennedy, Handzus and Clowe stood out in last night's game against Detroit, by getting crazy close chances through hard work and relentless digging. Both lines had this in common: they were playing their first game as a line.
Tuesday afternoon, I heard Walking on Sunshine on the radio and it stuck in my head. I heard a whole lot of songs after that, but I couldn't wash it out. I also felt unaccountably cheerful, sort of the way the Sharks looked at the morning skate. Part of me thought them looking jolly was an ill omen, the way it was the last time I noticed that, before the Ducks beat them some time last season.
Of course, there is no good reason to not be cheerful when you're thinking about a hockey game. Win or lose, it's still a hockey game and the whole point of the thing is to have fun and make people happy. Maybe the sun shining and the fluffy merry nature of sport and entertainment would not be suppressed.
It was still derned uncomfortable, being all bouncy happy for no good reason.
The Worcester Sharks started the weekend badly but it ended well. Friday they lost at home, 7-2 to the Manchester Monarchs. Worcester goals were scored by Matt Tennyson (PPG, Irwin, Kearns) and Jon Matsumoto (Kearns, Doherty). Harri Sateri made 24 saves on 31 shots. The power play went 1/3, the penalty kill 4/5. Everyone who suited up for the Monarchs scored, so I'm going to skip them. (Not really, only 1/3 of them not counting the goalie, and even he got an assist. I'm still skipping them. If you really must see the scoring carnage, go to the AHL site.)
As mentioned, things got better from there, with the Sharks winning Saturday 4-1, again at home, this time against the Portland Pirates. Worcester goals were scored by: Danny Groulx (Tennyson, Oleksuk), Bracken Kearns(13) (SHG, McCarthy), Jimmy Bonneau(1), Matt Tennyson(5) (Livingston, Viedensky). Worcester's power play was an abysmal 0/6, but their penalty kill was perfect at 6/6. Stalock made 36 saves for the win. His shutout was spoiled in the third period by Portland's Phil Lane(5) (Klinkhammer). For Portland, Mike Lee made 11 saves on 14 shots, and Louis Domingue made 22 saves on 23 shots.
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Tags: alex+stalock, alex+tuckerman, america+one+sports, bryan+cameron, dean+ouellet, harri+sateri, marek++viedensky, martin+lee, matt+pelech, rylan+galiardi, simon+danis-pepin, taylor+nelson, tristan+king, worcester+sharks
“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”
I once had a professor explain the difference between criticism and criticising. The first is an attentive analysis of the work, the second is just saying mean things. Obviously that's not how he put it, but it works. At times like these, the lines blur. I tried to watch the Sharks play in Dallas without judging. I started out okay, but I couldn't hold the line:
Couture from second line center to top line winger. Marleau and Pavelski to the second line. Gomez from healthy scratch to second line center. Kennedy from third line to fourth, Desi back to center, Burish back to the wing. What a difference some badly-timed roughhousing makes.
Okay, I shouldn't count the Kennedy move as a result of Clowe being out. That was probably just Sheppard returning to his rightful place on the only line that McLellan didn't dismantle.
Winning breeds winning. The Sharks defense is "winning," their offense isn't. It's easier to get your brain into a defensive or reactive mode when you lack confidence. Being aggressive or creative requires confidence, or such a lack of it that you feel fear, like a cornered animal. You don't want to be cornered. The execution of a cornered animal is about as precise as a cannon with one broken wheel. Fear, while it might make you go faster or be stronger, won't help with precision or missed passes. You know the ones I mean, those passes that leave the stick about two seconds before the brain registers "Wait, he's not on my team..."
Ray Emery playing well is never depressing for me. I was in the Emery Comeback Camp from the time I heard he was hoping to return from that hip surgery. I couldn't believe he'd make it back, but I was impressed that he wanted to do it. So part of me is always rooting for Emery. After the game, he was asked about the Sharks:
That's a great power play, those guys they put out there are a great group, so if we keep them off the board, it's a bonus.
Such a nice thing to say, even if it's not true.
In the wake of Lindy Ruff being fired, it seems like a good time to talk about one of my pet peeves in the coaching area. Oh, who am I kidding? It has nothing to do with Ruff or McLellan or any head coach. It's all about the "surprising revelation" that Kevin Kurz shared about Antti Niemi and how he brought his Finnish goaltending coach back with him from Finland. This touches on something I wonder about a lot, and have wondered about for years. Why is the NHL so slow to recognize the importance of goaltending coaches? I would add to that, isn't it a no-brainer that one goaltending coach won't fit all?
Where head coaches and assistant coaches can't be expected to fit every player the same way, a goaltending coach seems like the sort of job that a team could afford to fit to each goalie, or at least the designated starter. Actually, I have no idea what that would cost or how many teams could afford it, but it still makes sense.
You'll need more than three guys to outnumber Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Why do you think he has three names?
Wow, Murray came in fast to get that icing call. How often does that happen? More often this season than last to be sure. "Oh that's not speed, it's just..." What? Good sense? Reading the play? Smarts? Who cares what it is if it gets him there first?
The Sharks only allowed the Blues two shots on goal in the first 15 minutes of the third period? That's pretty cool.
McLellan really should leave the nines together. To heck with that commie egalitarian nonsense. With Kennedy, Wingels, Desjardins and, hopefully, Sheppard soon too... the lower six will be fine.
Those were the things I noticed as the Sharks crept closer their first win in eight games.
The Sharks recalled Matt Pelech again, and placed James Sheppard on IR. That last is based on the Sharks' online roster, which I'm not sure I can rely on. Tim Kennedy has gone missing from that same roster, but maybe he wasn't there to begin with. I haven't been checking closely. I only checked today to find out why they needed Pelech again. Kennedy isn't on today's AHL transactions list so he could be anywhere except in the AHL. I like to think it's a webmaster omission, because without him the Sharks only have twelve forwards available and that's not great. There's so much that isn't great in Shark territory right now, it is only natural that injuries would pile on.
Sometimes you *#$%@& up. Sometimes that's all that happens, you hardly notice it happened. Other times, you *#$%@& up and all the bad things that could happen slam you from behind like a twenty car pile-up. Those cars are full of your past mistakes, the missed steps and continuing shortcomings. Way in the back, there's a minivan carrying other people's issues. They're screaming bloody murder over damage to their Aerostar, because it's just one of those times.
The Worcester Sharks played three road games last weekend, but only won one. Friday, their seven power plays went scoreless against the Springfield Falcons (AHL affiliates of the Blue Jackets). The Sharks killed seven of eight penalties. The lone goal for the Sharks was scored by Daniil Tarasov, with assists to Danny Groulx and Adam Comrie. It was Tarasov's fifth of the season. Harri Sateri made 27 saves on 29 shots. LW Tommy Grant and defenseman Denny Urban were second to Tarasov in shots on goal, with four each.
Saturday, the Sharks traveled to Glenns Falls to play the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL affiliate of the Flyers). They came away from that with a 3-2 win. They scored on one of their two power plays, and killed four of five penalties. Sharks goals were scored by Jon Matsumoto (PPG, Kearns, Urban), John McCarthy (Hamilton, Viedensky), and Freddie Hamilton (Groulx, McCarthy). Alex Stalock made 26 saves on 28 shots for the win.
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Tags: ahl, alex+stalock, daniil+tarasov, dean+ouellet, harri+sateri, john+mccarthy, jon+matsumoto, jordan+morrison, kris+belan, marek+viedensky, mikael+tam, peter+sivak, scott+langdon, thomas+heemskerk, worcester+sharks
That's six. I hate to think what the farmer's new bride would do to the person who crossed her six times, but I'm sort of relieved that the Sharks got this out of the way. If they were mystified about why they lost again, after doing so many things so much better, well, it could not have happened any other way. Once they lost five, the sixth loss was going to will itself into being no matter what. That's a good thing, it means that this season isn't last season, it's more like the two seasons before the 2011-12 black hole.
TJ Galiardi, Adam Burish, and Martin Havlat... What in the world happened while I was testing out America One Sports? When I said the Sharks should just play their game, just go out there and do what they know how to do, I wasn't including Todd McLellan in that freestyle instruction. On the other hand, putting that line together touched on something I've been wondering about for years now: why have a traditional fourth line?
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 email@example.com