Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Too familiar by half

The pre-game transaction news gave me more to think about than yesterday's game, and it wasn't unexpected news at all:  Burns activated, Irwin reassigned, Petrecki waived.  All this was bound to happen.  As for the game, I couldn't decide whether the Sharks were all playing with flu symptoms, or if Tippett's Coyotes and McLellan's Sharks are way too familiar with each other.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt.  Contempt seems like a waste of perfectly good scouting reports, but it might have been more entertaining than yesterday's stalemate.   The game felt lost even before the shootout started.

But that's crazy, if they are so familiar with each other, wouldn't they be able to anticipate each other's moves, and compensate accordingly?  Yep.  And if they were both doing that, I think it would look exactly the way it looked, like a choreographed, scoreless skate.

@SharksStats: Today was the 2nd 1-0 shootout loss in Sharks history. Nabokov was the losing goalie in the other instance, Oct. 12, 2009, also vs Phoenix.

There's that.

The Sharks did find some offense in the end, but it still looked like the Coyotes could predict where the Sharks would go, where they would shoot, and vice versa.  It shouldn't have looked like that.  If the Sharks could muster a little extra speed and determination at the end, why couldn't they do it sooner?  It isn't as if the Sharks looked better because the Coyotes ran out of gas.  The Coyotes weren't tired, they hadn't played the night before.

The ice was a factor.  I have never seen so much snow scraped off during breaks, not on a rink that wasn't outdoors with actual snow falling on it.  Pucks were bouncing, etc etc... still, that bouncing wouldn't favor anyone if it didn't favor the home team.  Just like the Ducks fall less than visitors do on their messy pond ice, you should know how to play on your own bad ice better than the other guys do.

The Sharks made one last attempt to confuse onlookers by putting seven defensemen on the ice for warm-ups.  It wasn't much of a ruse, if you consider Friday's practice pairings.  With Burns-Stuart, Vlasic-Boyle, Demers-Braun out there, obviously Douglas Murray was the odd man out.  He was the only one missing a partner.  The only player on the roster still waiver-exempt, Irwin was the clear choice to make room for Burns' activation. 

Andrew Desjardins' maintenance day ran over too, turned out he has the flu.  If there was one single thing that would make me start believing the whole "flu" story, that was it.  What was really missing from the story about Boyle suffering the effects of a contagion?  Contagiousness.  Thank you for volunteering, Desi.  Get well soon.

I like that Thomas Greiss is featured in the pregame video montage.  That seems long overdue.

If Burns still doesn't look like his frolicking self of Fall 2011, the decision-makers must have felt that game time wouldn't set him back.  Who knows, I've heard of goalies playing better when they are sick, or their game improving after an injury.  I've never heard of them playing better before they were all recovered, but that's goalies.  Burns, even at 80%, could probably still out skate most players.

With Petrecki on waivers, Irwin could go back on the San Jose roster today.  But should he? Does the team need eight defensemen here, when Irwin could be getting ice time in Worcester?  Seems like a waste of young talent for him to be sitting up in the press box.

I had mixed feelings about Douglas Murray sitting.  One the one hand, I was happy to see the blue line so full of young products of the Sharks system.  It is their time: Demers with his confidence restored, Braun hitting his stride, and Vlasic, possibly the youngest guy you ever thought was a seasoned veteran.  That has to make the organization and its fans proud.

I still feel sorry that a player so long relied upon, such a familiar part of the lineup, was absent.  It made me want to pick apart some unflattering tweets about his absence, the kind that make me cranky.  Instead, I'll use a tweet that isn't about Murray as an example of how to make a point without being hateful:

@ViewFromBensch: Dont like Thornton and Clowe together. Two best puck protectors in #sjsharks top 6 on same line

I confess to saying worse about that top line, something about a tractor pull I believe.  I agree completely with Bensch's point, that doubling up on strength is only a good idea if you have an excess of that particular strength.  You could make a similar statement about why Havlat and Marleau shouldn't be on the same line because you're lumping the team's fastest forwards together instead of spreading them out.  There's no need to harp on about someone's shortcomings when you can say the same thing in terms of a player's strengths.

I'm going to try to abide by this rule, making an exception for specific bad acts, like not looking before passing the puck, or worse, passing it to the wrong team while looking.  That is a really dumb thing to do, even if it isn't a mark of bad character or general uselessness.  Everyone does stupid things once in a while.  I can forgive it while still mentioning that it was dumb.

=================

@xarexerax: Hockey Fans: a Very Serious Internet Poll for you. Would you accept a 0% PP if it meant a 100% PK?

That tweet is from February 6th, and it has been bugging me ever since.  I still don't really know how to answer it.  I suppose, being defensively inclined, I would go with the perfect penalty kill, but I'm not sure.  If you can't score, stopping the other team from scoring on the man advantage has limited value.  You can still end up with, oh, say... a 0-0 tie.  

That's no reason to look a gift horse in the mouth.  There is no evidence whatsoever that the Sharks' successful penalty kill is stifling their scoring ability.  It isn't a trade you can make, you don't get one for giving up the other.  So yay Sharks penalty kill!  Keep up the good work!

Filed in: | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: andrew+desjardins, brent+burns, douglas+murray, matt+irwin, nick+petrecki, penalty+kill, phoenix+coyotes, shut+out

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When the Sharks were doing well early in the season, they were getting lots of people to the front of the net for screens and second chance opportunities.  Now that they are struggling, they are either not getting anyone in front of the net or passing away from the screen so the goalie has a clear view of the shot.  They are also letting themselves get boxed out of the front of the net so they are not getting to rebounds like they were.
This is a problem the team has had over and over again and to be honest with players like Handzus, Clowe, etc. there is no excuse for it.  They have the big bodies to make a goalie’s life hell.  Instead, they make goalies look like world beaters because they are not willing to go to the dirty areas and pay the price needed to score when the outside shots are not going in.

Posted by grndlprm on 02/10/13 at 12:52 PM ET

petshark's avatar

I can’t argue with any of that.  Why they stopped doing what worked is the question.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 02/11/13 at 02:07 AM ET

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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