January 25th, 2010, 7:50 pm
This week is the Week of Secondary Scoring. I read these posts on Fear the Fin ten days ago, and they put into blog form what everyone was a little worried about – the fact that Heater and Patty were scoring all the goals. This week, all that changed.
My analysis is different from FTF because I included Joe Thornton, trying to make a distinction between top scorers, top lines, and balanced scoring. Partly because I think you can’t say Heatley and Marleau would be scoring at the same clip without Big Joe’s 67 54 assists this year. And also partly because if your top two scorers are on different lines (like Kopitar and Brown in L.A.), your scoring is more balanced than Detroit, Anaheim, and the Sharks, whose top three scorers are on the same line together. Keep in mind this is an inexact science, since many coaches shuffle lines fairly regularly. I got these lines from the most recent games these teams have played, thanks to timeonice.com. Here they are, in current conference standing order.
||Top Line Goals
||Total Goals For
||Top Heavy %
As expected, the Sharks are way out front, the top line scoring over 20 goals more than any other top line, and accounting for more than two out of every five goals scored.
But this past week, and admittedly it’s a small sample size, it’s wildly different. The top line, in the four games this week, scored 5 of the 22 goals scored, or 22.7%, lower than any other top line on this list. The Olympic Line (or the Burger Line, or the HTML line, whatever) will be staying together for the conceivable future, and teams have been targeting them all season to no avail. That’s not to say that they couldn’t suffer a letdown, maybe after the Olympics, or in the playoffs (again. Do I really have to type ‘again’ again?).
So which is better- having an unstoppable first line, or having four very even lines like Buffalo had on Saturday? Frankly, I want the superstars putting up superstar numbers. If the Sharks only have three guys that can score at all, it doesn’t matter how the lines are constituted, we’ll be in for another playoff disappointment. But the opportunities presented themselves, Boyle was out of the lineup, and the second and third lines stepped up. I’m very encouraged. If Patty, Jumbo, and Heater decide to put up six goals between them per game and freeze everyone else out, I’ll find a way to live with it.
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.
December 30th, 2009, 10:07 am
San Jose is the new Regina!
A quick congratulations to Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Thunder Joe and Dany Heatley for making Team Canada for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics! Hard for anyone to argue that they all don’t deserve it and it would be surprising if Babcock didn’t use the Sharks top line as a unit in Vancouver.
Has Mike Green’s Norris Trophy status dropped that much? Has the reported locker room drama in Calgary prevented their three All-Star blueliners from being on the team? How funny is it that the worst team in the West (Anaheim) has three guys on the toughest team to make in the world? That doesn’t bode well for how badly Murray has screwed up their supporting cast.
Who got the Olympic shaft the hardest, Dudes?
December 18th, 2009, 8:49 am
Hey Seto! Want to go to the mall later?
The Sharks finally got off the train to Loserville last night with a convincing 4-1 win over the hated Ducks. While this is certainly nothing to be too proud of, the Ducks are the worst team in the Western Conference by record so far this year at 13-14-7 and are a woeful 4-6-5 on the road, Anaheim had been playing better of late and had managed points in their last six games in a row until losing last night at the Tank. There was one bad thing from last night, they almost did it again! Did what you say? Lay a giant turd in the third period. The Ducks emerged from the 2nd intermission with a powerplay, promptly scored before you could get comfortable in your chair with your freshly scooped Rainbow Ice Dip’N'Dots, and proceeded to put endless pressure on the Sharks for about ten minutes. It was like Groundhog Day, but this time what Bill Murray was seeing wasn’t that dude Ned, it was Ryan, Perry and Getzlaf.
This aside, there were a lot of good things to take away from the game. Here’s my list:
- Seto scored! He looked more relieved than he did avoiding me at the mall on Tuesday (listen to the podcast here for that whole story) and we saw what kind of roll Ryane Clowe got on once he finally broke through. The Sharks biggest problem during this skid was their inability to score goals, and they need Seto (obviously) to make that happen.
- Jason Demers was back and looked good. Ready for something dramatic? The Sharks record without Demers is 2-2-3 and coincided with their recent five game slide. With Demers, the team is 18-6-4. While the kid has some growing to do, there’s no doubt the effect he has on the puck movement of this team, (Exhibit A: their four goal output tonight). It’s tough to take away your 2nd highest scoring D-man for a seven game stretch and still succeed, and I think Doug Wilson and company recognized that punishing Demers to the detriment of this team isn’t worth it. Let him learn on the job.
- I thought all four lines were rolling strong last night and the Sharks fourth line of Nichol/Ortmeyer and McLaren outclassed the Ducks fourth line all night, which was a huge problem for San Jose last season vs. this team. I didn’t notice Mike Brown or Parros at all.
- I got a hearty chuckle when Mike got angry at Joe Thornton for not shooting and then right as the words were coming out of his mouth, he feathered a pass to Seto and they scored. Timing is everything.
I hope this is the wake up call that’s needed before the Sharks head into a critical stretch of games in December and early January. With an outstanding long homestand and two key road match-ups this week, the Sharks have a chance to make a statement against two teams in Dallas and Chicago that have had San Jose’s numero this year. I think anything less than three points on this two game swing is unacceptable. If San Jose loses again to Chicago, I doubt Doug Wilson’s patience and understanding will carry over into the New Year.
We’ve got a pretty exciting guest on the podcast next week when local Bay Area NHL prospect and current USHL player, Ben Paulides, is joining us on the air. Don’t miss it.