Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Entries with the tag: todd mclellan

Todd McLellan is a genius

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.

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  Tags: andrew+desjardins, antti+niemi, brent+burns, douglas+murray, genius, jason+demers, logan+couture, los+angeles+kings, matt+irwin, ryane+clowe, todd+mclellan

Everyone’s a critic

“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.”
-Kurt Vonnegut

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.

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Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: critics, doug+wilson, douglas+murray, hasso+plattner, joe+thornton, penalty+kill, scott+gomez, todd+mclellan

Even Steven, don’t wait for Nate

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.

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  Tags: doug+wilson, hasso+plattner, james+sheppard, larry+robinson, matt+pelech, tim+kennedy, todd+mclellan

Flatlining, or where did the fourth go?

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?

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  Tags: adam+burish, fourth+line, joe+thornton, martin+havlat, time+on+ice, tj+galiardi, todd+mclellan

Every which way to lose

Holy flashbacks, Batman.  This is what Sharks fans mean when they say "these are the same old Sharks," when they start making suggestions like the ones described in this tweet:

@BroThornton: bring back irwin! trade marleau! go back to the cow palace!

It was the sort of game that leaves you speechless.  You could go rant somewhere about this or that mistake, but... where do you start?  Where does it end?  Beaten by Columbus 6-2?  It makes me tired just thinking about it.  I don't know if I've got a rant left in me to do it justice.  McLellan described that speechless, astonished feeling very well  post-game:

"It's a pretty simple league -- the team that works the hardest wins," a visibly intense McLellan began. His team, he added, was "outworked, out-executed, out-detailed, out-goaltended, out- a lot of things."

The team lost in every way they could.  In that respect, they succeeded with flying colors.

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  Tags: brent+burns, flashbacks, justin+braun, larry+robinson, todd+mclellan

Two scrimmages and finding Mash

I was in a city named Read.  There was a festival going on, something like a Dickens or Renaissance Fair.  The city had winding cobbled streets on steep hills.  I kept bumping into people from my Twitter feed.  Jewel Staite was singing an operetta on an open air stage.  A Dickensian play was being performed in an amphitheater, the cast mostly Sharks prospects.  There were silver beer steins in every hand.   I realized I was in costume too, everyone was.  We were literally players on a very big stage.  "As in: All the world's a...?" I thought.  That cliche overload might be what woke me up.

I think this means that I am ready for hockey season to start.  The immersion process has begun.

The Sharks scrimmaged today, no drills.  Irwin cemented his place as the front runner for a spot on the blue line by being paired again with Dan Boyle.  As far as I could tell, Petrecki and Tennyson were paired, making Pelech the odd man out.  Braun was with Murray again, and Vlasic with Stuart.

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  Tags: bracken+kearns, brandon+mashinter, todd+mclellan

What was all that about?

What was that Sharks press conference about yesterday?  I can’t begin to answer that.  I don’t blame them that Dreger blabbed the Stuart news before it started, but they weren’t even prepared to confirm that news.  So why did they meet with the press at all?

As the non-news trickled in, I thought maybe this was the owners’ attempt to quash those rude stories about them not being around or not knowing what was going on and nobody knowing who they were.  That works.

Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos explained that they don’t tell Doug Wilson what to do with the team, even if he does run the big ticket items by the owners.  I think that’s nice.  Busy-body owners only muddle things, and what is a General Manager for if you don’t let him manage?  They also mentioned that they are in this to win:

“Mission No. 1 around here is winning the Stanley Cup and that’s what this whole business is about,” Sclavos said. “We’ve been spending to the salary cap every year to put the best team on the ice that we think we can and in aggregate, the performance has been good.  -Working the Corners

Aggregate isn’t a word I use much but I like that idea- don’t go jumping off of bridges over one step back if you’ve made progress over several seasons.  While explaining that they’re not in it for the money, they mentioned that the organization isn’t in debt.  That’s fairly dazzling in this era of debt junkies. 

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  Tags: brad+stuart, daniel+winnik, doug+wilson, douglas+murray, kevin+compton, martin+havlat, nhl+cba, offseason, stratton+sclavos, tj+galiardi, todd+mclellan, trade

How much should we put on Todd McLellan for the Sharks’ season?

Still waiting for news from Shark Territory.  Today I listened to the Morning Skate radio show out of Ohio.  They mentioned McLellan as one of the coaches currently under review, who might become available. He was not among the radio show’s first two choices for the Blue Jackets—Alain Vigneault and Guy Boucher were. What I found curious was that Joel Quenneville was on that list too. Really? I didn’t follow the Blackhawks closely at all this season, but what are the chances he’s gone? Tom Renney rounded out that list. Anyway, the lengthy review process puts McLellan in a mixed company of coaches not yet guaranteed a job next season.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun have been playing in the World Championships, but Vlasic was injured in the last game against the USA. It didn’t look very grave but he was listed as day to day with a lower body injury.  Now he is not expected to return to the tournament.

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  Tags: doug+wilson, iihf+world+championships, justin+braun, marc-edouard+vlasic, todd+mclellan, trent+yawney

The longest meetings: Doug Wilson to stay, nothing else confirmed

The LA Kings have a bus going around Lala Land today, its ultimate destination Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals at Staples Center.  Their Twitter account is keeping us all updated on its progress.  Because I bought a ticket to a Sharks @ Kings game, I also get emails keeping me informed of the Kings’ adventures, stinging little missives like salt in a wound.

The Sharks ownership group has given Doug Wilson a vote of confidence for the time being.  I can’t say that was the wrong thing to do.  One really bad year shouldn’t erase the value of several very satisfactory years past.  So, no big surprise that Wilson will stay.  Where should he start, fixing this thing?

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  Tags: communication, doug+wilson, exit+meetings, todd+mclellan

Patrick Marleau: the canary who won’t sing?

Doug Wilson says you need to keep your head, take emotion out of the equation when deciding what changes to make in the offseason.  As a fan, I have no responsibility to do that. Additionally, I lack information, as a lot of people do.  What we see from outside the organization, even what is shared with the media, is so limited as to only be a glimpse of the whole picture.

That doesn’t mean we can’t piece something together from what we do see, as the two-dimensional residents of Flatland might understand a three-dimensional star in their midst.  Their understanding will not be perfect but they can extrapolate from what they do see, and suspect, or feel.

I won’t argue that keeping Marleau is the best thing, even if that’s what I feel.  Maybe he needs a reset, moving might be good for him.  What I fear is that trading him would be such a big, dramatic move, it would throw up such a dust cloud that no one would feel pressure to address the more pernicious reasons behind the team’s failures.  If you can’t get the best out of Patrick Marleau, your own prodigy, someone who has a shitload of talent and a strong vested interest in your team’s success, what is wrong with you?

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  Tags: canary+in+a+coal+mine, doug+wilson, patrick+marleau, todd+mclellan, trade

Sounding the fire alarms in Shark Territory

Here we go, into the offseason blame game.  It should be as fun as a Bud Light ad.  First, you get rid of the most visible under-performers, the players:

From a pure hockey standpoint, the smartest Sharks solution would be a maximum reboot and rebuild.  Older players would go out the door. They would be traded for draft picks or young prospects.  Over a few years, a new core of Sharks would be developed into winners. By 2017 or so, they’d be back among the league’s four or five best teams. -Mercury News

Well, yeah, but only if you keep the new youngsters around.  Train ‘em up and ship ‘em out, assuming you do find a bunch of good ones (which would be safer to assume if present depth could back you up), and you’re right back here.

Besides, if Marleau and Clowe and Niemi and Boyle were all gone, who would fans have to blame?  Well, there’s still Thornton, he will hang around and he’s fun to complain about.  But what if he keeps playing well?  Whose name will we scream in the ecstatic writhings of despair?  Meh, someone will step up.

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  Tags: dan+boyle, doug+wilson, fire, joe+thornton, patrick+marleau, rebuild, todd+mclellan

Experienced?

The Sharks used two sheets of ice today, skated for well over an hour.  Mitchell practiced on the third line without sharing the spot with Handzus.  Evidently he suffered no ill effects from yesterday’s practice.  Clowe was still out, which is alarming despite the assurances that he will be fine for Game 1.  When teams start using playoff-speak, I need to see with my own eyes to believe.

That Brian Elliott was injured in practice has most people thinking Halak will start for the Blues.  Since they traded Bishop away, they don’t have an experienced NHL backup.  I don’t think it matters a lot unless Elliott’s injury is a lot more severe than anyone thinks.

I keep hearing predictions that say the Sharks have more recent playoff experience than the Blues, but the Blues will win the series anyway.  Pshaw.  If the Sharks can beat the Blues even once,  why not four times?  I want to look at the other, more verifiable claim: that the Sharks have more playoff experience than the Blues have and this matters.  I know it matters, I believe the Sharks have more experience, but sometimes I like to make lists anyway.

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  Tags: experience, playoffs, ryane+clowe, st+louis+blues, todd+mclellan, torrey+mitchell

Game 82, Kings @ Sharks

The Sharks will once again wear black for the playoffs.  Of course this disappoints me and I cannot understand why the team can’t get teal jerseys that they like as much as the black ones. I can see how the design could require more fabric or a heavier one, but figure it out already!  It doesn’t matter if you like the style of the teal ones, if you’re not going to wear them.  You can’t be Team Teal in black. It is ridiculous.

So new teal jerseys as comfy as the black ones, these are on my off-season wish list.

David Pollak @PollakOnSharks: Handzus in for ailing #sjshark Mitchell in finale tonite vs. LAK.

That word “ailing"alarmed me.  For some reason it makes me think of a worsening condition instead of a regular injury.  I’m sure that isn’t what he meant, but the situation is still disturbing.  Douglas Murray stayed out with the last players to leave the ice, so I would guess he’ll be out tonight too.

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  Tags: darryl+sutter, douglas+murray, jonathan+quick, la+kings, michal+handzus, todd+mclellan

O me of little faith

Here’s another interesting word: doubt.  Nowadays it means “I don’t think it will happen but I’m not sure.”  It used to mean “I think it will happen but I’m not sure.”  It’s a subtle difference but it’s noteworthy.

Tickets for the Sharks’ first round of the playoffs go on sale tomorrow morning, though the dates of those games have yet to be announced.  I guess everyone has a general idea, give or take a day.  The tickets will be on sale Saturday at 10:00 am, online at Ticketmaster (Game A, Game B) or from the HP ticket office using a wristband procedure detailed here.

I wouldn’t say I doubted that the Sharks would make it into the playoffs (by either definition) but I certainly didn’t have faith that they would.  I can’t say what the Sharks’ frame of mind was, surely they must have had some faith.  But prior to the game, the Sharks were certainly not expecting any help from outside sources:

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  Tags: doubt, douglas+murray, faith, joe+thornton, playoff, ryane+clowe, tickets, todd+mclellan

The curious case of Mr. Clowe

Last night, Ryane Clowe was struck in the head by a slapshot, which he said was the last straw in a game that caused him great deal of agitation:

“I was boiling up to here before the puck in the head,” Clowe said, holding his hand even with his forehead, “and it probably tipped me over. More than anything, I just didn’t want to have to leave the game. That’s what I was ticked off about.” -Mercury News

That seems like a reasonable explanation for an otherwise inappropriate outburst.  I have another, more scientific explanation.  Observe where the subject was struck by the flying puck.  You can see the mark on his head near the end of this sequence gif’ed by @mymclife:

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  Tags: jamie+mcginn, optimism, phrenology, ryane+clowe, todd+mclellan

The ides of March are come (and gone)

The Sharks earned two important points by beating Nashville, but it was a bigger win than two points indicates.  Nashville is a good team, a strong team, a major player these days:

Darin Stephens ‏ @SharksStats: “Entering last night: Nashville 29 wins when scoring first, 26 wins when leading after two periods (both 5th in NHL). #GoodWinByTheSharks”

Beating the Predators was a big deal.  The Sharks haven’t prevailed against anyone in that class for a while.

I think a lot of people associate the Ides of March with dreadful regicide, but really it’s just the middle of March.  Also, the fact that we think of Caesar’s murder as a tragedy on a grand scale and the wrong thing to do… well, hey, we weren’t there.  Neither was Shakespeare.  Maybe Julius Caesar was a jerk. 

For the Sharks, the 15th has come and gone and was not marked by a dagger to the heart, or back, or neck.  No, it was more like a time for settling debts, time to get all those shrieking monkeys off their backs.

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  Tags: dominic+moore, ides+of+march, justin+braun, martin+havlat, ryane+clowe, todd+mclellan

No fate

I didn’t watch the game (live).  I didn’t write about the Sharks on game day. I did not expect a win, I did not let myself think the thought “they are winning” during the game. I did not visualize the puck flying past the Sharks’ goalie.  I reverted to all the anti-jinx rules I made for myself years ago.  I forgot one: to think nice thoughts about the other team’s goalie.  It’s been a while, I’m out of practice.

I was not alone in my antics. Before the game, I watched other fans hatch a plan on Twitter to try and change things up.  They agreed to wear fan gear for other teams.  It wasn’t random gear, it was all gear they had anyway because they liked players who were no longer on “their” team.  I think the sincerity behind having the gear must be an important component.  You can’t distract the fates by waving new colors in their faces.  You have to really care to divert their attention away.

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  Tags: edmonton+oilers, fan, supersition, todd+mclellan

Let’s review

I’ve been holding my breath about this game against the Oilers.  Even after watching the Sharks run through a lengthy review session on Monday, I couldn’t find much to tell me what is likely to happen tonight.  Is there ever, really, aside from who will start in goal?

As Mark Emmons tweeted, Martin Havlat was skating well yesterday morning.  He participated in all the drills, even line rushes of a sort.  His “line” was three guys in orange, Ferriero and Winchester being the other two.  They all ran the same drills everyone else did.

McLellan spent a lot of time on instruction yesterday.  He was out there talking and directing for the better part of an hour.  He didn’t have the super-sized white board but I think this was pretty close to that episode.

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  Tags: colin+white, concussion, jim+vandermeer, martin+havlat, oilers, todd+mclellan

Can the Sharks beat the Blues?

When I arrived at practice this morning, the first thing I looked for was Douglas Murray’s expression.  He was smiling again.  Sure, maybe someone had just said something funny to him but I thought it was too much of a coincidence that, during the last two practices, he has been smiling a whole lot.  I compare this to the tail end of his last recovery: he did not smile, he very clearly expressed frustration until the day he was cleared to play.  He doesn’t like not playing and he is not very good at hiding it.  Predictably, there’s a veritable glow about him when he knows he will be able to play.

I wonder if having a lousy poker face is a problem for Douglas Murray.  I guess it doesn’t much matter, during a game, if you can gauge his mood.  What are you going to do about it?

Murray is ready to play (no matter what Woodcroft says, come ON, the guy’s wearing a flashing neon “Good to go!” sign), Couture is probably back, all kinds of good news coming in.  If that’s not enough to chase your blues away, what will it take?

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  Tags: concussion, douglas+murray, kent+huskins, logan+couture, scott+nichol, st.+louis+blues, todd+mclellan

The Flyers are here

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?

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  Tags: antti+niemi, ilya+bryzgalov, jamie+mcginn, logan+couture, todd+mclellan, zac+rinaldo

How to be a gracious host to the losingest team in the league

When the game is winding down and the Sharks have a power play and Vlasic is out there with Douglas Murray, John McCarthy, and Brad Winchester, something has gone awry. 

Here is where I begin a rant likely to alienate any hockey fan who bothers to read my blog.  If it makes a difference, I know how you feel: alienated.  So we have that in common. For the sake of that common experience, I apologize in advance.

I felt badly for the Blue Jackets going into the third period of last night’s game.  What a disaster they are, how depressing to be them.  That said, I wouldn’t for a second indulge their need to hit something.  I’m not that much of a softie.

I guess the Sharks felt differently.

I introduced another friend to hockey last night.  While Dan Boyle was punching the kneeling Brassard, my friend commented: “It’s not very gracious to be doing that, when the Sharks are up by so much.  It isn’t very sportsmanlike.”

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  Tags: columbus+blue+jackets, dan+boyle, hockey+fights, todd+mclellan

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon

Luck and legend distinguish the Dragon from the other symbols in the Chinese and Mongolian zodiac.  It is said to be the very luckiest birth year, the sign of the emperor.  Unlike the other symbols, a dragon is not the sort of critter most of us will see in our lifetimes.  Since there are twelve signs in this system, that is a little surprising.  The year starts today and ends around this time in 2013.

As someone who grew up in San Francisco, I guess I should say something about the Niners.  They lost.  Bummer for Niners fans.  I wasn’t all that anxious for them to win because I feel that trips to championship finals disperse geographically in such a way that if the Niners had gone on, this would have been bad news for the Sharks.  Look what happened with the Giants- the other Giants I mean.  Condolences to Niners fans, may the loss not be in vain.

The Sharks begin the year in Edmonton.  I don’t know if any of them attended a parade, but a big spectacle like an NHL game should do.  Wow… that would be cool, if someone brought a paper and silk dragon to the game and sent it around the stands… I know, that probably won’t happen.

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  Tags: dan+boyle, james+sheppard, jamie+mcginn, jason+demers, joe+thornton, logan+couture, patrick+marleau, thomas+greiss, todd+mclellan, tommy+wingels, year+of+the+dragon

San Jose just keeps on rollin’

As has happened so many times this season, a player was hit hard in the head and went to the quiet room.  Andrew Desjardins was able to get to his feet but he had to be helped off the ice:

“I got up and my legs fell under me a little bit, so obviously he caught me pretty good,” he said.-Sharks Talk

Now Sharks fans wait, and that’s pretty much what the team does too.  During the game, one of the announcers mentioned something to the effect of “we hope he can return to the game.”  This comment made me angry which is why I won’t repeat who said it.  I absolutely did not want to see Desjardins back on the ice in this game.  He looked distinctly woozy, he clearly needed to be treated as if he had a concussion.  You can’t wish it away, you take care of it.

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  Tags: andrew+desjardins, columbus+blue+jackets, patrick+marleau, todd+mclellan

The big three: should old acquaintance be forgot?

We thought The Big Three was thing of the past, to be contemplated only to the tune of Auld Lang Syne: Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley playing on the same line.  Apparently, the number three never dies.  It is as big today as ever it was:

“We have to have the understanding that three is a very important number for us. Three is the be-all and end-all,” McLellan said. “It’s either hurting us when we give up three or helping us when we score three.” -Working the Corners

Like a holy trinity, three goals are the secret to everything:  “the first to three,” “a 3-2 league,” “the most dangerous lead.”  Well, that last one is pretty old.  I like it because it illustrates my reason for being highly suspicious of any psychological or predictive theory that turns a number into a grail:  you get ahead by three and you get sloppy.  It’s hogwash, of course.  A team can fall apart or get it together at any time, but people take it into their heads and their hearts and give it power.

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, statistics, three, todd+mclellan, vancouver+canucks

Starting from zero: new coaches in So Cal, new trends in San Jose

Last night, the California NHL teams with new coaches faced off.  The game went to a shootout.  I think this could be good news for Sharks fans, because unless both the Kings and the Ducks have already made enormous strides with their new coaches, it looks like they are not much changed from the state of terrible that got their previous coaches fired.  I don’t know how many people expected dramatic improvement, especially from the Kings since their new coach just arrived the day before. Coaches aside, these are mostly the same teams that suddenly failed to perform for coaches they did pretty well with last season.

I am not above wanting our team’s opponents to play badly.  Hockey players may be proud enough to prefer to win a good game instead of an uneven one, but I don’t have any compunctions about being greedy for points no matter who the Sharks get them from.  What about that idea that the Sharks play better against tougher opponents?  Throw it out.  What about the fact that the Sharks played better on the road?  Toss it.  What about the Sharks playing better in the [fill in the blank] period and falling down in the others?  Forget it.  Starting from zero is the best approach after a gluttonous victory like we saw Wednesday.  That game against Tampa Bay broke with all the Sharks’ trends this season, including being the fourth home win in a row.

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  Tags: darryl+sutter, dwayne+roloson, helene+elliott, la+kings, ryane+clowe, todd+mclellan

Once more, with feeling

Todd McLellan says he doesn’t think booing is a good motivational tool, but he’ll take it if it works.  I agree.  I prefer a stern silence, but any help is welcome.  The Sharks did get booed Thursday night.  Even though they won, there were still holes in their game big enough to boo.

In a few minutes, Nitty will start for the Worcester Sharks against the Albany Devils.  I guess the Sharks’ goalie glut is upon us.

I didn’t feel at all like booing the Sharks Thursday.  Sure, I would have preferred a more complete win, without all that falling behind nonsense.  I would have preferred they beat a team that was not green, was less tired, and was playing better.  I would have preferred fewer penalties, and maybe a pk that could survive without Marleau.  But it was a win and I’m happy for it.

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  Tags: antero+niittymaki, boo, dan+boyle, todd+mclellan, torrey+mitchell

Will and trust and hunting polar bears

Apparently Todd McLellan chose “trust” as the theme of the season for the Sharks.  If the team has been doing trust exercises, I bet there are a lot of bruised derrieres right now.  This morning Twitter was fairly quiet regarding the Sharks.  Two lone tweets came out from practice saying only that the gates were closed and the injured defensemen were skating before the group.  It was an unsettling silence, a silence that allowed for all manner of speculation after yesterday’s loss.

@FTFsTCY: “There are definitely rumors floating around today. Just an FYI that any involving Marleau are bunk. He has a full NMC.”

It turns out that David Pollak was still in transit from Denver, and his internet access was limited. Kevin Kurz was ill. I guess Mark Emmons just didn’t feel very chatty.  Nothing much came out today in terms of Sharks news, especially about the NHL issues of the day. No one has a concussion and McLellan has not been fired.  And no, Marleau is not being traded (as far as we know).

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  Tags: dan+boyle, doug+wilson, joe+thornton, leadership, todd+mclellan, trust

Giveaway

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.

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  Tags: antti+niemi, brad+winchester, joe+thornton, martin+havlat, todd+mclellan

Are the stars aligned yet for the Sharks?

It wouldn’t be ridiculous to say that the stars were aligned so the Sharks would win Thursday.  Statistically, Dallas was expected to lose.  But the Sharks haven’t really been following statistical rules lately, have they?  So better to say they are following some metaphysical pattern that we can’t quantify.  Maybe Cancer got shot up by a meteor shower and all its children are still picking up the pieces.

Most Sharks had good reason to be a little cranky, impatient, even pissed off with themselves.  Were they angry at each other?  Of course not, hockey players don’t get angry with teammates. wink  In any case, one would hope they’d had enough of losing and were ready to win.

All I needed from the Sharks Thursday was to not lose to another team they should beat.  Their recent outings had lowered the bar for what I required from a Sharks game.  I won’t put the Panthers in the class of “teams Sharks should beat handily” just yet.  But there were the Habs too.  Sure, the Sharks beat them.  That was fun but it could have been less suspenseful.  Minnesota?  Yeah, they’re doing pretty well but there’s no reason to think the Sharks can’t beat them.  Every time.

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  Tags: dallas+stars, dan+boyle, equilibrium, st+louis+blues, todd+mclellan

Shameles

Shame isn’t helpful.  It makes you stop when you should go. It makes you afraid to go out, horrified you ever did, fat and old and badly dressed as you are.  What were you thinking?  Just parading around in public with those wrinkles?  That hair?  Shame makes you old, your teeth yellow, your skin blotchy and horrible overnight, even if you were a reasonably unremarkable-looking person the day before.  As shame starts to fade, you might develop a deep resentment for the person who made you feel shame, even if it’s yourself.

I don’t think the Sharks were feeling fat or ugly Sunday.  I even doubt they felt shame.  Successful people don’t waste their energy or time on shame.  They may feel remorse, promise to do better next time, or to never do that again, but they don’t sit on the floor of the bathroom, chewing on a sleeve, afraid to go out and be seen, paralyzed by shame.  Cat-o-nine-tails?  Some fans might hope.  No, not that either.

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  Tags: brent+burns, douglas+murray, logan+couture, sharks+talk, todd+mclellan, working+the+corners

Red Card: Sharks @ Stars

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

On the road again

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

Things could be worse, but now the Sharks need to be better

Sharks fans thought we had it bad when the Sharks embarrassed themselves and us by losing 3-0 to the Coyotes. That was bad, but it could have been worse. Coyotes do stuff like that all the time, sneak up on you and steal your chickens (or your cats, or your toy dogs) when you’re not looking. Imagine being a Wings fan and watching the Blues… oh. Right, done that too. Some Wings fans are pretty mad about that. Like, really pissed off. I wonder if Mr. Babcock is also pissed off.

Ok, well, what about Stars fans, however many there are? They have to be pretty angry about a 6-0 loss to the Panthers. Sure, the Panthers are on a streak of road wins but still, it’s the Panthers, and Dallas has forgotten they were doing amazingly well.  They’ve started dropping games like pennies in a wishing well. So it could be worse.

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  Tags: detroit+red+wings, phoenix+coyotes, todd+mclellan

Look on the bright side of loss

I did harp on how important the third period would be in last night’s Coyotes @ Sharks game.  I’d like to start with how obvious it was that the Sharks took the third period very seriously, worked hard and had their heads in the game, even if the first and the second periods slipped through the cracks.

I’d like to, but I have to settle for giving the team the benefit of the doubt and supposing they were trying really hard to get their act together, in some subtle way I just couldn’t see.  They were more frantic but no more effective.  After all, Thornton was bleeding from his face.  He must have been trying to do something.

The Sharks again outshot their opponent, in the second 2 periods by 11-5 and 13-7.  So they were doing something.

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  Tags: dan+boyle, mike+smith, minnesota+wild, phoenix+coyotes, ryane+clowe, todd+mclellan, worcester+sharks

Remember the 3rd, Sharks, remember the 3rd!

Tonight the Sharks play the Coyotes.  Greiss will be in net. Wow.  I mean yay! and also wow.  Maybe the Coyotes games will be Greiss’ games this season?

The Coyotes are in 8th place in the Western Conference right now.  That’s four spots behind the Sharks but only two points behind.  I could say the Coyotes are nipping at the Sharks’ heels but sharks don’t have feet.

I don’t think many people thought Mike Smith was a great replacement for Ilya Bryzgalov, but considering Bryz was given the elite streets of gold treatment last Summer, I don’t think replacing him was ever in the cards for the Coyotes.  But I also think a lot of people underestimate Smith.  He made a pretty good showing in the playoffs for Tampa Bay.  Combined with the Yotes’ tendency to show up and work hard, Smith and company might be one of those teams you have to be very careful not to take for granted, even if your last meeting was a blow-out in your favor.  Remember the 3rd, Sharks, remember the 3rd!

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  Tags: colin+white, dany+heatley, devin+setoguchi, douglas+murray, jason+demers, justin+braun, marc-edouard+vlasic, mike+smith, minnesota+wild, phoenix+coyotes, todd+mclellan

Be careful what you wish for

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.

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  Tags: antti+niemi, benn+ferriero, la+kings, mike+richards, ryane+clowe, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, thomas+greiss, todd+mclellan

Huh? Why? 5-0

They weren’t in Hawaii, but they were visiting Islanders, and now the Sharks are 5-0 on this trip.  Their performance last night was lackluster.  They won anyway, them’s the breaks, no point asking why.

@PollakOnSharks: Couture on #SJSharks 3-2 OT win: “I didn’t think we were very good, but good teams find a way to win games when they’re not at their best.”

A few things did have to work.  Like Pickles.  While the rest of the team seemed fairly convinced that they were tired, Vlasic doesn’t believe in tired.  Probably he does believe in it, he just doesn’t believe he is old enough to suffer from it.  We saw a clever and energetic performance from him. Vlasic is on a tear, isn’t he?

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  Tags: jason+demers, logan+couture, marc-edouard+vlasic, thomas+greiss, todd+mclellan

Four goals, four wins,  three and a half lines.

Four goals for the Sharks’ fourth win in a row, half-played without a fourth line. 

It isn’t right to start by talking about the 4th line.  The correct thing to do, I know, is say how the top lines were awesome and scored and the Sharks won.  Yes, all that.  And Nemo, lots of good things he did.  He was unflappable as he often is.  Well done.  Yay top guys we expect so much from and hardly ever properly appreciate for doing amazing things like being super fast and crazy clever.  They can be difference makers in the playoffs, but only if they get proper support, and I don’t mean applause or a meticulous laundry service.  I mean effective play from the lower lines.

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  Tags: andrew+desjardins, andrew+murray, benn+ferriero, brad+winchester, jamie+mcginn, todd+mclellan

Is everything going according to plan yet?

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.

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  Tags: antti+niemi, brent+burns, dan+boyle, joe+pavelski, marc-edouard+vlasic, patrick+marleau, thomas+greiss, todd+mclellan

Bobbled pucks, fading off, and other signs of shellfish poisoning

People get hurt in all kinds of situations but it’s more likely when people are confused and scrambling.  Last night, the Ducks’ Jason Blake was the unlucky party:

“It was a weird, freak play – the battle in the faceoff and I didn’t really know he fell right away. He was kind of behind me” Burns, continued: ” ...the puck was there and I was trying to kick the puck up and I think he was trying to get the puck. It was just a battle and I didn’t even know he was on the ground.” -David Pollak’s Twitter feed

All seem to agree that it was a freak accident, but one of the things that tends to happen when things are going badly is someone gets hurt.

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, ryane+clowe, thomas+greiss, todd+mclellan

Chill, it’s only September

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.

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  Tags: andrew+murray, antti+niemi, brad+winchester, chicken+little, fans, james+marcou, martin+havlat, sharks+ice, taylor+doherty, todd+mclellan

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