Petshark: Talking Stick
Jason Demers is ready to play. He took slapshots Tuesday and Wednesday, and spent some extra time working with both Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson after Tuesday's practice. Wednesday, he was practicing with a power play unit. That would argue for Demers being in sooner than later. My guess is that sooner would be even sooner if Boyle is still out Thursday. Today, Frazer McLaren was waived so the Sharks have made room for someone. That's a one, not some two.
Brent Burns, just yesterday so glum, looked better today. He did more drills with the team, he was taking longer strides, making more turns and stops. He looks better than he did before camp. Suddenly, he looks not so far from good to go, but that would be sudden. It's unreasonable to think one day would make such a difference. But back to back days skating, and skating harder the second day is great news. At least it indicates steady progress.
McLellan put some new lines to work this morning:
The reports about Jason Demers and Brent Burns should be considered positive developments. The reports I mean are things like:
Jason Demers practiced with the team and took line rushes with Matt Irwin this morning while Nick Petrecki and Brent Burns skated together. Still, McLellan stopped short of declaring Demers good-to-go. -Working the Corners
Even if Demers isn't expected to play tonight, he isn't far off. With him available to play, the team will have choices to make but they are good choices. Like sitting Sheppard to make room for Gomez, it is more a wealth of riches than a shortage of options.
Brent Burns, while probably not as close to playing as Demers, also showed visible improvement. His merely being in the practice tells us that. Still, what he told David Pollak doesn't inspire confidence:
The Sharks appear to be working from a checklist. Obviously scoring in the first period is on that list. They have done that ever since that disappointing game in Calgary. Also, power play goals are important, their power play lacked some shock and awe last season. Needed to fix that.
Patrick Marleau had his two-goals-a-game objective. Perhaps that was drawing too much public attention away from the team, so he skipped it last night. Making NHL history would be way too high profile for such a modest guy. Still, it was clear that the Sharks wanted to get that 2nd goal for Marleau, because historic records are fun to hold. Too bad they were so worn out from back to back games.
Who were they playing against last night? I thought I heard it was some team that had a winning streak at HP Pavilion to defend. Does it even matter who the Sharks play anymore?
Friday, January 25: The Worcester Sharks defeated the Springfield Falcons 3-1 in Springfield. The Falcons' Scott Howes opened the scoring at 3:07, with assists to Brian Helmer and Andrew Joudrey. Tommy Grant, acquired by San Jose in the Brandon Mashinter trade, tied the game just over a minute later with an unassisted short handed goal. It wasn't until the mid point of the second that James Livingston scored to give the Sharks a lead. The lone assist on his goal went to John McCarthy. Early in the third, Daniil Tarasov scored a power play goal, with help from defensemen Danny Groulx and Denny Urban. Harri Sateri made 21 saves for the win, Worcester finished with 18 shots on goal.
Saturday, January 26: The Worcester Sharks hosted the Providence Bruins in Worcester's final game before the AHL All Star break. The game went to the seventh round of a shootout, with the Bruins picking up the extra point for a final score of 4-3. The Bruins scored three goals in the first period, leaving the Sharks to crawl back from a two goal deficit through the rest of the game. According to Darryl Hunt, the game should not have made it to overtime:
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Tags: ahl, all-star+game, bracken+kearns, christian+ouellet, daniil+tarasov, dean+ouellet, peter+sivak, san+francisco+bulls, tommy+grant, worcester+sharks
There was some fuss after Brad Stuart's hit on Gabriel Landeskog during the Saturday game in San Jose. There were two things about the fuss and the subsequent penalties that made me think "dumb, and dumber."
I am no expert on NHL hits, but Stuart's hit reminded me of a hit by Niklas Kronwall on Jakub Voracek in a game last season. There are probably better comparables out there, but it's one that was recent enough to fall under similar officiating and review standards.
Suffice to say, Landeskog came away from being hit in better shape than Voracek did. Still, the Kronwall hit didn't result in a suspension, or even a penalty. There was no reason to think the Stuart one would either.
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Tags: brad+stuart, colorado+avalanche, gabriel+landeskog, hit, hockey+fight, jakub+voracek, niklas+kronwall, penalty, suspension, visor
With tedious regularity, Patrick Marleau scores two goals. Of course it's not tedious at all, it's a beautiful thing. Someone should write a song about it.
He scores two goals in Alberta,
And two in the next game.
He scores two goals before he scores two goals,
Well, we're not to game five yet. But he's already done something that hasn't been done in nearly 100 years:
@SharksStats: "Patrick Marleau 2nd player in NHL history to begin a season with 4 multi-goal games (Cy Denneny, 1917-18 Ottawa Senators). #Elias"
Brad Stuart predicted this.
Yesterday, David Pollak published some quotes from Brad Stuart about his career and about the Sharks, what he saw while he was here the first time, and what he saw playing against San Jose later. One of those answers might explain this mind-boggling start from Team Teal:
Pollak: "...wasn’t last year a step backward?"
Stuart: “Sometimes that can be a bit of a wake-up call and maybe that will motivate the team as a whole to not let that happen again. It all depends on how you handle it as individuals and as a team – who takes responsibility upon themselves to be better. And everybody’s got to do that.” -Working the Corners
So there you have it. This is what the Sharks look like when they are awake.
I think there's more to it. I recall many times last season when Joe Thornton would throw passes to no one. At first I thought this was a positioning issue, like he was too often in the same place or trying something new he wasn't used to. That doesn't seem to be the case. Obviously, the Sharks were having problems with their sonar:
Two games, two cities, two wins by three goals each, a new player. Busy few days for the Sharks.
Such games can make a fan base hungry like an infusion of MSG. Raise the bar that way and folks are more happy than grateful. They say things like "where were these Sharks last season?" Ten goals in two games? Two multi-goal games for Marleau? Goals from Boyle in both games? Six goals in one period?
Edmonton. Calgary. Still, better to win than lose, and winning with authority is best. Do we thank the new coaches? Do we thank the fact that the players have been chomping at the bit to get going for months now? I feel the need to thank someone, everyone for the way the Sharks looked.
How 'bout that new penalty kill? Um... maybe the team should avoid taking penalties and it won't matter so much. But of all the things the team was doing, that was the most new thing, so I'm willing to be a little patient.
Last week I wondered who would start better, older players or younger ones in the NHL? That's what I was wondering as I watched the Sharks win their first game of the season. The win was terribly exciting and a lot of fun to watch. The joy and excitement even got through the haze of non-hockey distraction that overwhelmed me this past weekend. But that was yesterday. Back to the present question, and I don't mean Scott Gomez. That has yet to be answered and cannot be measured with fuzzy math. The answer to my question depends, of course, on how you define "better," and also what you call "older."
"Better:" Scoring goals is important, but helping someone score a goal is important too. Things is, it's much easier to scan a day's results and find the goal scorers. So we'll go with goals. That leaves out goalies but this isn't a scientific investigation and everyone knows goalies are different.
"Older:" This is a lot more difficult than I anticipated when I first asked this question. Work as you might, your body will start slipping when you hit 30. But many of the NHL's top players are at or near that mark, so it isn't fair to say 30 is "older." On average, there are more players playing under 30 than over, but the guys who are still playing over 30 are probably exceptional, there's a reason they are still playing. The best 28 year old players can still demand ridiculous big contracts, 28 can't be "old." If you scan the bios of active NHL skaters, and go to page 9 of the 18+ pages, you're in the 28-29 year range. So there, that's where I'll draw my line: 29 is "older." Someone get me a walker.
I attended the Bulls game as a ticket holder last Sunday with a bunch of friends. We had a wonderful time, though watching the Bulls get beaten by Bakersfield put a damper on it. I went ahead and bought an orange hoodie. I don't buy much fan gear but I can always use another hoodie. I spent yesterday afternoon curled up in a blanket wearing that hoodie watching Chicago beat the Kings before NBC let me watch the Flyers lose. On my way to SF, I got to listen to Worcester lose to the Booshed-up Phantoms too. I started the day in a bad mood, those games did not help.
The Bulls went to Stockton Friday with a revamped roster, working four new players into the mix. They play Stockton again today, making three in a row against the same team. The new Bulls lost that first game to Stockton. The team wasn't all there though: Scott Langdon, Alternate Captain and much relied-on defenseman, was serving the second of a two game suspension. His absence was felt. For the second game in a row, goalie Taylor Nelson was pulled after a brutal quartet of goals against, to be replaced by Bryan Hince. For a more thorough review of that game, I refer you to someone who was there: Paul Gackle.
Saturday, Taylor Nelson started in goal again. Curcio put Galiardi, Sivak and Dean Ouellet on a line together again. Morrison, Trudeau and Christian Ouellet made up another line. The change Curcio did make was to go with five defensemen instead of six. That made sorting out the pairings a little difficult for me, like guessing a 5-digit lock combination. Likewise the lower forward lines, with two additional players to rotate in... I was at a loss to keep track. It didn't matter. The Bulls had their game on last night.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org