Petshark: Talking Stick
Entries with the tag: antti niemi
McLellan is an outside-the-box-fearless genius for solving a problem with the pieces at hand instead of waiting for new ones. That declaration is contingent on him keeping Brent Burns at forward. Failure to continue doing so will trigger revocation of said genius status and an indefinite stay inside the box.
Loved Cranky showing off for his dissenters. Seriously, all the way down and around the net, with a shot reversed through his legs? Beautiful. Makes me want to say something vulgar to the haters.
Back to that big fancy new forward Brent Burns. I've liked that idea more by the minute, but I think my liking is maxed out, I don't know if I can keep liking it more. It might give me an aneurysm or something.
Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
Tags: andrew+desjardins, antti+niemi, brent+burns, douglas+murray, genius, jason+demers, logan+couture, los+angeles+kings, matt+irwin, ryane+clowe, todd+mclellan
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.
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 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?
Where are the Sharks? Of course they are in Calgary, about to play a game.
But where do they stand now, with camp all wrapped up? It might have something to do with where they have been. I asked several players over the course of the week about the pros and cons of playing overseas during the lockout. There seems to be a consensus from observers, myself included, that those who did play are in a better position to start, even if those who did not play might be better off in a couple of months. Fitness wasn't exactly what I was asking about, and I got several interesting answers that addressed the mental aspect of playing overseas.
Earlier in the week, I had asked Jason Demers and Justin Braun about how they made the transition to the Finnish game, a somewhat different question from making the adjustment back. Here's what I asked other players later in the week, and what they told me.
Over the past few days, I discovered an impatience I haven't felt for a while, the "hold on, no games today? Or tomorrow? Or... I'm supposed to wait how long for a game?" feeling. It was irritating, but not bad. It reminded me of a normal hockey season. It feels like being all adapted to the new hockey universe.
This impatience drove me to start hunting for European and KHL games online. This is not only difficult because feeds tend to move around, but also because an audio feed will not do. I don't speak most of the languages these games are broadcast in. I did manage to dig up a Dinamo Minsk game going on yesterday morning. A video feed was not available to me (which only took me about an hour to figure out) but following the scoreboard was better than nothing. So that was fun, except that Minsk blew a lead and fell 6-3. At least Pavelski got a goal.
There are several Sharks abroad. I found the following information online, but I can't be sure how complete it is. I started with Eurohockey.com because they have an easy search that found most of the Sharks quickly. From there I sort of wandered:
Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
Tags: antti+niemi, bundesliga, del, douglas+murray, jason+demers, joe+pavelski, joe+thornton, justin+braun, khl, logan+couture, michal+handzus, nla, sm-liiga, t.j.+galiardi, thomas+greiss, tommy+wingels
Northern California got some rain and fireworks for Game 1 in St. Louis. I think we even had tornadoes. Apparently it’s St. Louis’ turn today, so both teams get to hear and feel the thunder. To survive this one, the Sharks will need to do more than prove they are hard to drown. That surprised the Blues once, it won’t work again.
Nothing ever turns out quite the way you expect, even when it’s the predicted outcome. David Pollak wrote:
The boss gave me the green light before the series started to book flights for Game 5 because I found a fairly decent air fare. Now the only way that ticket goes to waste is if the Sharks sweep. -Working the Corners
There are two predictions that I find odd: predicted sweeps and predicted seven-game series. The one claims there will be total dominance and the other claims there will be next to none. So to me, predicting a seven-game series and still choosing a winner is like not choosing at all. (For reasons I may get into later, I’m in a babbling mood right now, so this may go all over the place. Apologies. )
The Sharks play the Kings tomorrow. I don’t know about all Sharks fans but I’ll just hold my breath until then. It would be nice to have Douglas Murray back in but, as he said, we don’t want him rushing back and having to leave the game again.
Sharks fans are still not showing universal, not even majority approval of Niemi’s performance lately. That bad first goal in Dallas was vexing but I thought Niemi redeemed himself in advance. It was nothing short of miraculous that the Sharks managed to score first after being pinned so long in their own zone to start the game. Was it not as bad as it looked? I must be biased and prone to panic. But I credit Niemi with some of that non-scoring by Dallas. Later, his timely save that preceded Thornton’s back-breaking goal was not beautiful and but it did the job. No complaints here. If the team’s confidence continues to grow, so will Niemi’s.
It was 1977 on KFOG’s Ten at Ten. That was more exciting in theory than reality for me, because I had guessed the year from the clues. Those clues were a very young Carrie Fisher saying: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” followed by a clip of “Three is Company too…” The songs that started the set didn’t really resonate with me.
It’s bright and clear in the Bay Area but darn it was cold this morning. Of course I forgot to pack gloves. Of course.
All the Sharks but Galiardi were on the ice this morning. For the second game day in a row I saw Couture, Vlasic & Braun stay out a little late with White and Vandermeer, tipping shots in front of Niemi. They didn’t stay as long as the scratches but they were out longer than everyone else who expects to play.
Good thing to do, giving your goalie a little extra attention like that.
Actually, the Flyers have been here for a couple of days now, learning about Pinkberry from Wayne Simmonds, being bussed between rinks and meeting fans at Sharks Ice. It is very exciting for Bay Area Flyers fans. It’s like a TaO fan holiday.
Yesterday I saw this article on NHL.com detailing the deadline day trade between the Sharks and the Avalanche. The title is “Avs add McGinn on deadline day.” It goes on to talk about what a splendid acquisition McGinn is for the Avs.
Isn’t that nice? McGinn is the big news, the article makes his acquisition out like the big story, only devoting a few lines at the end about Galiardi and Winnik…
Wait, what? OMG, DW, what did you do?
Of ending Detroit’s record-setting home win streak, Todd McLellan said:
“There have been a lot of teams that came in and tried to do it. Some have come extremely close, others haven’t,” McLellan said. “We’re going to take our kick at the cat and see what we can do.” -Working the Corners
Was Todd McLellan’s peculiar choice of words a malapropism or a Freudian slip? Could it be both? Cats, unlike cans, are famous for quick, evasive action. There’s a high likelihood that the cat is unharmed and the kicker ends up on his caboose. Is that what McLellan is trying not to think about?
Beating Detroit will not be easy, it hardly ever is with or without a winning streak on the line. McLellan has been slow to say who the starting goalie will be. I really don’t think it matters right now.
Someone cuts McCarthy’s face. I see red. I try to remember that line so nicely spoken by Samuel L. Jackson, something about “great vengeance and furious anger.” I am incapable of delivering that, even if I am in the mood to do so.
Before I can stuff my temper back in its box, the Lightning score, taking the lead—again. But Vlasic gets a little revenge, ties it up. Then, of all improbable things, White scores a go ahead goal.
I’m dizzy with all the ups and downs of this game.
I review my list: get points, win a lot, stay healthy, pick up a forward… two out of four is not excellent.
Not good, guys.
Before the last game I was worried about some pretty routine things that do tend to happen, just not all at once on the day I talk about them. I suppose that would be different if I were writing a group itinerary, in which case writing things down would presumably be part of why they came to pass. I guess I feel like I wrote a reverse itinerary yesterday, a great big jinx.
It was said on Twitter. McLellan was quoted saying it on Working the Corners and in Kurz’s CSN blog. It was discussed during the pregame show. It was the big story before Saturday’s game in the mostly empty Jobing.com arena: how very dangerous, unpredictable, hungry and possibly tough to play against the Phoenix Coyotes would be. What were they thinking? Here’s what I was thinking:
I didn’t get it. Why would the Coyotes be more frantic than Dallas? Isn’t that losing streak they’ve been on an indication that they are not playing well? Was everyone trying to say the Coyotes have the Sharks’ number?
If that’s the case, I thought, it’s a very bad sign for the Sharks. I hoped fervently that it was all a bunch of manufactured drama, like the endless euphemism-filled discussion of where Niemi was hit by that puck, why he missed the last game. I’m still not clear. As Brodie pointed out during the pregame show, women don’t understand these things. Someone will have to be more specific.
Something, presumably not grave, happened to the Sharks number one goalie yesterday in practice. I will assume it had nothing to do with a baseball bat:
@PollakOnSharks: “Change in net: #Sjshark Niemi dinged up in practice and Tyson Sexsmith recalled from WOR to serve as Greiss’s back-up tonight vs. DAL.”
If you’ve been following Twitter news about Alex Stalock, you might wonder why the Sharks would fly Sexsmith all the way out here and send Nitty back to Worcester instead of just bringing Stalock over from Stockton. Sure, Sexsmith is higher in the depth chart but all that to and fro air travel is hardly a sound ecological strategy. Luckily, I stumbled on an answering machine tape out in Stockton that recorded this recent phone call:
“Hi, Dan, Doug here. How are you this morning?”
Last night, Benn Ferriero took one shot, got one point, and Antti Niemi blanked the Flames. No, Niemi didn’t do it by himself, but he gets the special credit for it.
Ferriero’s been kind of quiet lately, but last night he made an effort to point out the obvious: if you can’t hit the target, you need to get closer.
@SharksStats: Benn Ferriero’s 4th career game-winning goal, 3rd this season. All 3 GW goals this season in road games.
The lone goal of the game was Ferriero’s sixth of the season. It was the only shot he took, if you believe the shot counters, and he took it at point blank range. I think that might qualify as a teachable moment. Sounds like McLellan thinks so too:
“We’ve got to get a little hungrier in and around the net, much like the winning goal tonight.” -Mercury News
It was just one goal. It was the Flames. The Flames have been better lately, but they’re still the Flames.
It was just the first win for the Sharks after three losses.
The Caps came to San Jose, gave Sharks fans a great game to watch, and brought Stephen Whyno from The Washington Times with them. Well, the Caps didn’t bring him but that’s why he was here. He promptly wrote a story about Douglas Murray and his approach to hitting, under new rules and old. Murray followed that up with a demonstration, during the game. For anyone bothered by said demonstration, there’s a Twitter hashtag: #blameWhyno.
A few good things happened this weekend in my hockey book, along with the above-mentioned marvelous Sharks demonstration of why the Capitals will never win here. Sharks have been winning. Flyers winning too. Leighton won in the AHL outdoor game. Yes, I’m an unabashed Leighton fan. I am strange, perhaps, or just loyal to a fault. Whatever. The Phantoms won 4-3 in OT, not a splendid win for a goalie, but hey, a win’s a win, most of the time.
Friday the Sharks had a long practice, were on the ice for about 90 minutes. They seemed to be working on the power play in particular. Nitty and Greiss shared one net, Nemo had the other.
Someone yelled “*#$%@&!” but I was looking the wrong way to know who it was. I think maybe it was Greiss because there was a puck in his net, but it didn’t exactly sound like him. Then again, I don’t hear him yelling anything a lot out there so I couldn’t be sure. I don’t think the children heard it.
Seeing Boyle looking well and playing well made me glad, a reassuring feeling like when you have a paycheck in your pocket or a full tank of gas. Everything felt okay.
Well that was a strange thing to be thinking, what with the Sharks having lost those two games, those two terribly important games to end the home stand. It should feel like being on the losing side at the Alamo, not reassuring at all. But it didn’t, it didn’t feel like the last stand before the end of the world as we know it.
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.”
In college, I read about a ritual in some Native American cultures where you give away all your possessions. This is supposed to get rid of your bad luck, spiritual crisis or mental funk. Is that what the Sharks are doing, giving away the puck and fan patience, bit by bit each game? I think doing it by accident misses the point.
And still their even strength scoring plummets, their power play ails, points slip away. Their penalty kill seems better than before, but is that just compared to the fall off of the rest? Last night, Kevin Kurz tweeted:
“Blues may have played well defensively, but I’m not completely buying some of the post game quotes. Final recap, here: http://t.co/nm2BubxJ”
Before even reading those quotes, I thought “I don’t buy them either.” The Sharks are usually understated in their postgamers (which has to make you wonder what Clowe or Boyle say off camera). Even so, there just doesn’t seem to be any valid excuse for this loss. Perhaps a mea culpa on a par with Bryzgalov’s “lost in the woods” speech. Maybe that would do.
I don’t know exactly what a red card is but I suspect it has to do with misbehaving in a soccer game. So I think it’s kind of ironic that I watched the Sharks @ Stars game at a sports bar called Red Card. I usually lean toward older, danker places where the wood (there’s got to be lots of wood) was steeped for years in cigar smoke and the leather upholstery is a bit alive with the scent of many bodies.
Red Card isn’t like that. It’s got shiny metal highlights and a lit bar that changes colors. It also has exposed brick walls and black and red leather upholstery. You know it’s a pub, even if the chairs and bar stools are of a distinctly modern design. It also has a bunch of satellite feeds so it gets pretty much any sports event you need to see.
I order soup and beer and watch the Sharks game begin.
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Tags: antti+niemi, brad+winchester, brent+burns, jamie+mcginn, jason+demers, jim+vandermeer, red+card, ryane+clowe, todd+mclellan, travel
I was surprised by how difficult it was to find a place to watch Sharks or Flyers games the first day I was here. I spoke to bartenders, hostesses, a hotel concierge and one bar-restaurant manager, and none could answer me the simple question: where can I watch a Sharks/Flyers game?
Answers I received:
-“We might show that if it’s on CBC and nothing else is on. But I can’t promise anything.”
-“Right upstairs”, to which upstairs responded “what channel is it on? Oh, no, we only show Canadian teams.” To which downstairs retorted “I used to work upstairs, I know they have a lot more hockey channels than we do down here.”
I did not go back upstairs to pursue this matter.
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Tags: andrew+desjardins, andrew+murray, antti+niemi, brad+winchester, colin+white, jason+demers, marc-edouard+vlasic, todd+mclellan, travel
Todd McLellan wanted a good start against the Predators, a good first period from the Sharks. He got one. I guess he phrased his wish incorrectly because the genie forgot to include a good finish with that good start. Apparently McLellan isn’t as upset about Saturday’s loss as he was about Thursday’s win:
“... I thought we had a much better game, we just didn’t win. There was about a 10-minute lull in the third period where we weren’t our best. But, sometimes we don’t give enough credit to the other team… They were better for that 10 and 12 minutes, and we didn’t stop them.
“... The whole was better than it was two nights earlier.” -Shark Talk
When the game ended, I felt the same way, and wasn’t sure why. Maybe I was still drunk from the Flyers win earlier. Or maybe it’s the surgeon’s logic: the operation was a success, but the patient died.
It is early still to say whether or not the Sharks’ plans for the 2011-12 season are working, but there is some data available.
First part of the plan was to get Dan Boyle’s minutes down. It does look like his TOI is creeping down. At least from the first game (27:28) to the last (22:49) there’s a reduction, with a spike of in the middle there. Boyle’s time on the penalty kill isn’t dropping off as much as some would like but overall others are balancing out his minutes. The drop is not drastic but it is there, probably because Vlasic and Burns are looking better.
There’s a story about two joggers being chased by a bear. One stops to tie his shoes and the other asks “why are you doing that? You can’t outrun a bear.” The first replies “I don’t have to run outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.” The same goes for winning a game. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than the other guy.
I thought the Sharks game in Boston was their best of the season, but I use strange metrics. They had some messy meltdowns, but as a whole their game was more resilient and aggressive. Niemi looked miles better, until the third period. His own error behind the net resulted in the first goal that broke his shutout. The second Bruins goal was a cruel one. The Sharks, make that Boyle and Murray in particular, got tangled up and left their goalie all on his own while he was still trying to get over the first big failure. Not fair, that is no way to support your goalie in his time of need. Even after all that, Niemi still finished the game looking quicker than he did in New Jersey.
This morning, Pollak reported that Joe Thornton was clean-shaven for the early skate. It just so happens that, in trying to make sense of this nascent season, I had been rereading my entries from this week last year, and on October 21, 2010 I mentioned that the Sharks all looked very nice clean-shaven. They have not gotten so furry as the did during the 2010 early bad patch, but it made me say huh anyway. After Pavelski scored his tying goal, I noticed that his hair is very short now. Unless he shaved his head some weeks ago, he probably had it trimmed in the last week or so.
Little things like that, aside from providing fodder for obsessive observers, do actually have some significance. It’s like cleaning up your house, trimming things down, simplification. These are the easy things you can do to get your head in order. Snip snip, scrape scrape, and you feel like a new person. There is more to do, but you are probably better prepared to do it.
Turn the page. Turn it around. Turn up the volume. Okay, not sure how that last one works but I think it is time for the Sharks to take a turn for the better. Yes yes, they did win one already but that was ages ago. We’re ready for another.
The odds of losing three in a row are not a lot better than the odds of winning three in a row. I guess you could say three’s a charm. The Ducks already won three in a row, has to be harder to win four, right?
The odds of the Sharks starting two seasons in a row by winning one and losing three in a row have to be very long.
Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
Tags: anaheim+ducks, andrew+desjardins, andrew+murray, antti+niemi, jamie+mcginn, martin+havlat, silly+prediction+methods, tommy+wingels, torrey+mitchell
After spending yesterday paying attention to another team, I feel especially cranky that we have to wait until tomorrow, yes it is finally just tomorrow but it is still not today, to see the Sharks play. If you’re paranoid, that smacks of NHL conspiracy and disregard for our needs as fans. Whatever, you can’t always get what you want.
Marleau did skate today, but said he was not 100%:“Hopefully the muscle ache goes away,” Marleau said, “and we’ll be ready to go.” (-Working the Corners). I’m not sure it’s worth it for him to play. Is it safe? What if he pulls something? I mean, it seems like everyone else has scheduled injuries and illnesses for now, why not him too? No need to rush back.
No news is as much good news as we’ll get about the Sharks’ injured players today:
“From my understanding, he’s close,” said McLellan, before adding he still hadn’t talked to the team trainers or doctors yet about his number one netminder. -Sharks Talk
Eeek gads but that is discouraging. Time to interview the doctors, guys. Get on that, would you?
News on Havlat is better but no more conclusive. Saturday before the game, he was on the ice early and late, ending with some board work in the corners with Vandermeer and McLaren. As expected, there was a lot of pushing and shoving involved in that. According to Kurz, he was out there for the full practice today. So that all sounds good. Still, waiting for strength to return is a slow thing. So I won’t expect him back on Friday, but he will be back.
Welcome back NHL hockey. Yesterday’s practice gave me some what ifs to ponder. What if the Sharks had to manage a penalty kill and, for whatever reason, the only forwards on the ice were McGinn & McLaren? What if the team was down two men, and the only forward was Andrew Murray? Apparently, in these situations, the team could make due with White and Vandermeer there too. Something tells me that exercise was more about who was on the power play than the penalty kill but it still made me wonder.
Tomorrow the Sharks play their first game of the season, and there are several things I’m looking forward to, not the least of which is being there to hear the noise.
For those going to the game Saturday, the Sharks will host their annual opening night street rally from 5 to 7, next to HP Pavilion. There will be food, music, carnival festivities (face painting, dunk tank, slap shot hockey, other fun stuff), and a scavenger hunt. For more on the scavenger hunt and a chance to win game tickets, go to: www.sjsharks.com/streetrally.
They’ll have a benefit beer booth and Sharks gear to tempt you. Even if you aren’t going to the game but are in the area, check that out. It’s all subject to change in case of inclement weather, fingers crossed.
Mike Moore and Cameron MacIntyre reported to Worcester today. Evidently MacIntyre got there last night, and was promptly interviewed. Thanks to @worcestersharks for posting the vid.
When you know someone has been hurt, you watch them differently than you would watch someone you assume to be healthy. Any little misstep will be cause for doubt. Considering the gravity of the injury sustained by Alex Stalock last season, I think it’s nothing short of a miracle that I only noticed one misstep this morning. He wore lower pads only. I’m no expert and I don’t know how his leg feels but it looked like both legs were doing what he told them to. Between exercises, he tossed the puck around, hitting the wall, and shooting at both nets. Part of me thought “Dude! Don’t even play around with putting the puck in your own net!” But having fun is good for healing, so he should do whatever amuses him for now.
Chicken Little checking in from Sharks Ice.
The Czech word for the color orange is not the same as the word for orange the fruit. I find that curious. Similarly, I wonder how it is that I avoided ascribing any significance to Havlat wearing orange, then panicked when it did occur to me that it was odd, then took comfort in the news that the Sharks no-contact color is NOT orange, only to be flung back into a state of alarm by the news that Havlat is, in fact, not 100%. Yet. I guess orange doesn’t mean what I thought it did, and yet there it is, sitting right next to what I thought it was. It’s not fair, it’s way too confusing.
As I ran back and forth thus headless, more than one person told me to chill, that there was no need to panic. Intellectually, I know this. Viscerally, I can’t stop freaking out. It’s just too much information of the wrong kind.