January 15th, 2010, 7:58 am
The story of last night was three guys, two of which you probably expected- Joe Thornton and Tim Thomas. The third? Daniel Paille. This guy, who was drafted in the first round in 2002, was being ground into obscurity in Buffalo before being traded to Boston this year for a third and a fourth round draft pick. Paille, who played not a single second on the power play (that would be zero point zero) managed seven shots and a goal, and from my vantage point, seemed to be either creating chances or in on them all night. And although this article sings his praises in Boston, it’s about his prowess as a penalty killer, not as a offensive juggernaut, which he seemed to be last night. I certainly noticed him much more than Marco Sturm, who played four more minutes and (allegedly) registered six shots.
Tim Thomas, being the unconventional, floppy goaltender he is, came up big several times, to keep the Sharks almost off the board, the only goal coming from a flukey loopy duck of a shot that fluttered over his head before big Joe put it in. He did manage to crack the tough nut (I’m being sarcastic here) of Ryane Clowe in the shootout, not biting or freezing at all on Clowe’s forward fake, easily gloving Clowe’s predictable backhand roof shot. Really Clowe. It’s a great move. Great. But you need more than one, if only to give the appearance you’re not going to use it every single time.
So the title refers to Chara scoring in the shootout on a slap shot, a move about a predictable as Clowe’s. As soon as I saw the lumbering Slovak throw his gigantic feet over the boards, I though to myself, “slap shot between the circles” and I was right. Not that it takes a genius to figure that one out, he’s got fewer moves than the new guy on The Pickup Artist. But the 87-inch stick (or whatever the hell it is, I’m sure it’s taller than Scott Nichol) flexed almost in half when he beat Nabby on the stick side.
The second line continues to struggle, with Seto gripping the stick so hard it’s leaving impressions. There’s no fun in his game right now, it’s a grit-your-teeth, I-need-a-point-so-bad-I-peed situation. I have no idea how you relax when you’re in a brutal slump in a contract year, but he has to find a way. Yoga. Trancendental meditation. Mescaline. Whatever.
With goaltenders in the game playing that well, it almost doesn’t matter who’s out (Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron) or how much you dominate in the faceoff circle (42-24, jeezus). While it’s certainly disappointing, with Thomas and the new one-man wrecking crew Paille on their respective games, I actually feel fortunate the Sharks got a point. But Clowe still needs a new move.