Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 12/26/11 at 07:39 PM ET
Niemi will start for the Sharks tonight, Greiss will backup again. Aside from distracting us from the usual question about who will start, the answer to “who will backup?” doesn’t really tell us a lot. Which goalie will they move? Based on who sits on the bench, you could argue either way.
Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer are still out. It goes without saying, but I don’t want to forget about him: Martin Havlat is out too, as he will be for a long while. According to Kevin Kurz, the lines looked unchanged from the last game at the Sharks’ morning skate.
That skate was a long one, according to tweets from Brodie Brazil.
@brodiebrazilCSN: Boyle on #sjsharks long skate today: “trying to get our mindset back into the game and not in the clouds and Christmas presents, and stuff.”
The Ducks have been on a slide for a long time now. @KKurzCSN: “Ducks last road win? Oct 27 at Wild, 0-9-4 since then.” Yikes. The fact that they beat the Sharks back in October, twice, is but a distant memory of long ago to them. I hope it doesn’t feel that way for the Sharks. There are not a lot of Sharks roster changes from those early games: Braun in, Murray out. That’s it except that Wingels played in one of those games instead of Ferriero, and Greiss played one while Niemi played the other.
The Ducks have a new coach since then, and Eric Stephens tweeted that: “BB said Saku Koivu (groin) is a game-time decision.” Also:
@PollakOnSharks: Tough-guy alert. RT @icemancometh Ducks have recalled Jean-Francois Jacques from AHL Syracuse.
Just in time for Boxing Day. Lovely.
Last time the teams met, Koivu was in the Ducks’ lineup, and so were Gordon, Macenauer, McMillan, and Smith-Pelly. Per Eric Stephens, now we’ll probably see: Hagman, Bonino, Palmeri and Pelley, as well as Jacques. I may have missed someone there, but it looks like they’ve made more changes since those October games than the Sharks have. Also, Ellis started one of those games for the Ducks.
Where do the Sharks stand now? They’re third in the Western Conference and first in the Pacific. Beyond that, their penalty kill squeaked its way into 28th place for the blink of an eye last week, but it’s back in 29th today. Well, it’s better than last place. Anaheim’s is in 11th. Offsetting it’s horrible place in the rankings, the Sharks’ penalty kill was 10 for 10 before the Kings ended the streak for them. So it is better now than its league rank would indicate.
The Sharks’ power play, which once seemed so potent, is ranked 12th this morning. Well that’s not so bad! Yes, the five (and a half) that failed on Friday look kind of ugly. Anaheim’s is 15th. Considering the Ducks have lost the great majority of their games lately, it would be nice to have their power play a little “more worse” than the Sharks’.
In the goals against column, we have the Sharks ranked 8th in the league, the Ducks 25th: 2.38 (SJ) to 3.21 (ANA). They are a little closer in the rankings in shots against; 8th (SJ) and 23rd (ANA).
What about goals per game? That has to be important, right? The Sharks are averaging 2.84, the Ducks 2.32, good for 11th and 27th respectively.
The shots, the SHOTS the team averages per game has to be important. The Sharks are still number 1 there, with 34.5. The Ducks? Aha! They are LAST with 26.2. That’s a difference of more shots than some games see in a period. So why are the Ducks scoring only about half a goal per game less? That’s the conundrum of the Sharks’ season(s).
Hey, what do I expect? It’s the NHL, even the worst NHL team still has to be pretty good, which is why you see upsets on a regular basis, “bad” teams beating their “bettors” all the time. It’s that parity thing Bettman has been bragging about.
The only stat that really interests me is that the Sharks have played the Ducks twice this season, and lost twice. I do not care if it was back in October when half the NHL still hadn’t really gotten out of bed yet. EVERYBODY is beating the Ducks these days, it seems very important for the Sharks to do so too. Unfortunately, EVERYBODY has been beating the Ducks, so the Ducks might be feeling a powerful urgency to not be beaten again. They might feel more urgency than the Sharks feel to win one more, right now.
Make it not so.
What can I glean from the Sharks’ last game? I give the Kings credit for being very aggressive defensively. Seemed like they were ready to hit any Shark with the puck in their zone, which makes it seem like they were very good at predicting when the puck was going where. That isn’t good.
I took a friend to that game, she asked what happens if the game is tied. I got to explain it and then it was demonstrated for us. That was considerate. So far my record is pretty good for games I attend this season. I think I’ve just seen the one loss, but they’ve all been close.
The Sharks did win it but not in a way that would ruin Christmas in LA. Ah well, two points are two points and no one likes a Grinch anyway.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org