June 16th, 2010, 8:47 am
Now that the NHL season is completely over, with the Blackhawks winning the Cup, Mike and Doug talk about the series, and the challenges facing the Hawks and the cap next year. Rob Blake will make final what we heard last week- that he will be retiring from the Sharks. Mike and Doug talk about what that means for the defense, and process other rumors and speculation involving free agents.
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March 29th, 2010, 11:10 am
Seems so long ago that the Sharks got crushed by the worst team in the NHL 5-1. But it’s only been eight days. I think Adrian Dater said it best (from Colorado’s perspective):
Here’s the problem: they didn’t win the game. And another: that wasn’t the real Sharks they played tonight. That was San Jose’s B Team. No Joe Thornton, no Evgeni Nabokov, no Rob Blake. First-line center, starting goalie, arguably the top D-man – not in the lineup.
Well, ok, maybe not. Blake is ‘arguably’ the Sharks’ top D-man? Please. But he was right in the first part- the Sharks were missing some key players, fought against a much better team than the Oilers and won. Despite the sinking feeling that inevitably comes with Jumbo being out of the lineup, the fact that the Sharks can still pull off wins against playoff teams is very encouraging. The latest news on Joe is that it might not be serious- tests are being done today (Pollak), and he’ll most likely be on the road trip. If he sits out a few games, it’s not the end of the world. It was particularly interesting to see how the Sharks would respond without an all-world passer in the lineup, and they responded exactly how I hoped they would- with gritty goals.
Despite my criticism for Todd McLellan this year about his (in my view) overplaying of Nabokov, one marked difference between this year and last is the care the coaching staff has taken with injured players. I think the lesson was learned from last year’s playoffs when Marleau played the Ducks series with a fairly serious knee injury. This is a situation I’m sure T-Mac does not want to replicate, and sitting Blake and Thornton is absolutely the right plan. I hope he sits both of them an extra game or two just to be sure. Blake could probably use the rest anyway, and we need Joe 100%. It also makes the last games more interesting – I like to watch Couture mature (I’m a poet and I don’t even know it), and the Demers-Vlasic combo could be the #2 pairing next year.
In other news, it seems Cheechoo has been suspended two games for this hit (thanks for the link, Joel)
While I admire Cheech’s ingenuity with the poolhall-type combination shot, it was a pretty dangerous play, and deserves to sit.
March 26th, 2010, 10:05 am
Not to say the Sharks couldn’t immediately fall into another slump starting Saturday in Vancouver, but the play over the last two games has shown to me real promise. Less east-west drop passes and stickhandling, more north-south drives to the net and grit in the corners. And although the win last night against Dallas was far from perfect, it’s the general approach to the game that seems the most encouraging. Less fuss, more effort. Clowe with a move on Robidas that looked like the dressing-down he gave Ehrhoff a week ago. Seto going a thousand miles per hour and hitting everything possible. Nabby challenging shooters. Steve Ott playing like a cheap-ass. Nice to see the world is back on its axis.
Certainly the biggest downside of last night’s game was Rob Blake’s early exit. Sure, we’ve been on him quite a bit lately, but his play the last two games was on par with the best he’s had as a Shark. Although I still would like to seem him get a couple of fewer minutes, especially since Vlasic is back, it’s hard to argue with his success the last two games. The question is, can he keep it up? If he’s a little banged up and needs to sit out a couple of games, that could be a blessing in disguise. We can certainly use him battling in front of the net and getting the point shots on net like he’s been doing recently. What we don’t need is him fatigued and looking a bit like the proverbial pylon.
Also nice to see the ice-time has settled out a little, defense-wise. I was just looking at the Vancouver box score from last week, and Huskins had over 22 minutes of ice time to Wallin’s 14. Very strange. But last night, Wallin had 15:08, Huskins 14:18. That’s more like it. Although Boyle had almost 30 minutes, with a whopping 7:40 on the PP. That’s three minutes more than anyone else.
Speaking of Wallin, thanks to Jeremy for creating this YouTube gem. Make sure to comment and rate. I’ve watched this at least 5 times already, and laughed out loud every time. Well done, sir. It’s no doubt the best video on YouTube that combines Wallin, techno, and food.
March 19th, 2010, 10:11 am
Another game. Another Loss. Another win for the red hot Coytoes. Is it possible the Sharks might actually plummet to the #4 slot?
There are certainly more questions than answers right now surrounding the Sharks as they free fall down the stretch. Why has Jed Ortmeyer, who was such an important energy player in the first half of the season, completely fallen out of favor with the coaching staff? While it’s hard to notice Ortmeyer’s contributions on a nightly basis since he is really here to do the “little things”, the equivalent of an offensive linemen in football speak, has he really bombed out so badly that he should ride pine? If the Sharks want to give Logan Couture a really solid look before the playoffs to see if he can play a scoring 3rd line role, that’s fine by me – but is Staubitz really going to play in May? Shouldn’t he sit and Ortmeyer, who can actually kill a penalty, be in the lineup? Hard to say what’s going on in their minds right now…but there are other coaching decisions that many of us are continuing to question.
What about the Sharks clear win/loss advantage with Jason Demers in the line-up? As many of you have pointed out in the comment thread, the Sharks are 30-9-7 with Demers manning the blueline and 13-8-3 without him. That’s a .652 win percentage in Demers’ favor and .541 without him on the ice. While Mike pointed out the Sharks are .500-ish without Vlasic, I think this stat absolutely should be noticed. While he’s not perfect and certainly has growing pains, the Sharks lack of commitment to Demers this season has been mildly troubling. So, who’d you rather in the playoffs? Kent Huskins, Stanley Cup winner and playoff vet, or rookie Jason Demers, much stronger talent and potential for a big play…
Rob Blake’s ice time. What gives? At a point where the Sharks should be tempering their best players ice time to get them ready for a deep playoff run – are they burning out Captain Blake with 20+ minutes night after night after night. He has been half the player he was last year – literally – with a difference of 45 points, +15 and 110 PIM’s to this year’s version of 21 points, +6 and 50 PIM’s. I’m still really concerned about his role going in the Cup playoffs – not to mention Hamburgers lack of a defined role on this team. He played 13 even strength minutes last night compared to Blake’s 17 even strength minutes and Huskins 20+ even strength minutes. Why did we get this guy again if he’s not going to play? Ewwwwww…
Bring back Demers. Play Couture extended minutes. Sit Leach and Staubitz. Give Wallin some of Blake’s even strength time. And stop doing a Ron Wilson impression and leave the lines alone. Do all these things and we’re back on track…cause I know everything.
February 14th, 2010, 11:08 am
If the regular season were to end today at the Olympic break and 62 game mark, the San Jose Sharks would once again be the #1 seed in the Western Conference, but not the President’s Trophy winner – that dubious distinction would go to the Washington Capitals. Capping off a 4-2 road trip that ended on with a particularly lame effort last night in Buffalo, here’s what else we’re left to ponder for two weeks.
If the season ended today:
The Sharks would likely field a 4th line of skilled players in the playoffs who will play the body, create actual scoring chances and threaten their opponents 3rd pairing with speed, unlike last years combo of Cheechoo, Grier and Shelley. This is good news and should help the Sharks get past their postseason blues.
Doug Wilson would be left with unfinished business. He still needs to address the lack of quality blueline depth and hopefully seeing Rob Blake’s dismal final three games of the road trip (-2 and two horrible penalties vs. Detroit that should have cost the Sharks the game, especially the one in OT), Doug Wilson must add another d-man who can play 20+ minutes and lessen the burden on the 40 year old Blake, who is really showing his immobility and age down the stretch. Trading Shelley helps and created a 750k cushion for either the permanent stay of Jamie McGinn or for Wilson to add someone of significance. I’m sure if something happens it will come out of nowhere, in typical Doug Wilson fashion – but watching Blake this last week confirmed my opinion – something MUST happen for the Sharks to beat Detroit or Chicago in May, or we’ll see more of Blake skating in cement as Kane and Datsyuk glide right around him.
The Sharks would draw Calgary in the first round, as the standings sit today. Could be worse (Detroit), could be better (Nashville). Calgary is a team in turmoil and they still haven’t found any rhythm since making major roster changes two weeks ago, losing three of their last four. The Flames are never an easy draw, but Brent Sutter has been a lousy playoff coach – with both his Devils teams losing in the first round his two years there. I feel confident we could beat Calgary in 5 or 6 max.
Some people say it’s to the Sharks advantage to finish 2nd and avoid the pressure of #1, but I say – Hell’s No. There is enough separation right now between Colorado at #6 with 76 points and the group clogged up for the final two spots (Detroit, Nashville, Dallas, Calgary, Anaheim and St. Louis) that the probability that Detroit will end up #7 is pretty damn high. Avoid the 2nd seed at all costs, or a date with Detroit awaits. I’ve championed the Curse of the Blackhawks all season, their dealings with Martin Havlat and RFA madness in the offseason created bad hockey karma and it will all come crumbling down around them when they draw Detroit in Round One. MAKE IT SO HOCKEY GODS! This is why San Jose must stay #1. It’s critical to our postseason success. All roads must go through Detroit – and it wouldn’t be a Cup run within having to beat the best – but let’s not have it be in the first round. We all know the ending to that fairy tale.
I'm a #7 seed waiting to happen. I can smell Huet from here!
January 29th, 2010, 9:16 am
Save the opening ten minutes of last night’s game, the Sharks put in a really good effort. The second and third periods were more or less how we expected the entire game to be- fast, end-to-end, with dynamic chances. After the longest layoff since mid December, the Sharks started the game flat, which certainly includes Nabby. They coughed up three goals before you could say “Kris Versteeg douchey sunglasses.” While the first goal was clearly a missed assignment, leaving Byfuglien alone in the high slot for an open shot, I thought the second two were mostly on Nabby. He had plenty of time to get in position on Brower’s first of the night, leaving the near side open. Then, on the third goal, a shot came from a sharp angle, and instead of Nabby kicking it to the corner or directing it behind the net, it was kicked back to Hossa, who passed it to Ladd for the tip-in. I might have pulled Nabby right then and there.
But give the boys some credit- they woke up, and managed to tie the game eventually on the NHL’s #1 team in terms of shots and goals against. Going back to the formula that beat the Hawks in their barn on December 22nd, the Sharks were shooting high all night on Huet, and several missed seemingly by millimeters. All this without Marc-Eduouard Vlasic, who Doug and I only noticed wasn’t out there in the middle of the third. He actually only played 7:25, his normal load for the first, and never came back for the second or third. The fact that Huskins had more ice time than he’s had all season (25:46), Murray third most all season (23:54), and Blake third (24:26), seemed particularly evident on the last play of the game, when Murray rushed the puck deep, the Hawks produced a turnover and an ensuing rush, and Murray looked even slower than usual in getting back in the play- from where I was it looked like dead legs.
I can’t find a single report that even mentions Vlasic’s injury, much less the extent of it. I expect Pollak should have something on his blog today. All I can say is, Boyle, we missed you, and Vlasic, get well soon. Hurt even more because he had another strong offensive night, being in exactly the right place and passing the puck perfectly to Pavelski. Say that three times fast.
January 22nd, 2010, 10:51 am
Me no like Blake. Me want Boyle or Demers.
Just a quick hit from last night’s game. The Sharks responded as we all hoped they would and have now made it five in a row over the Ducks. You think that’s not intentional? I can only imagine it is an unwritten team goal to sweep the season series with the Ducks this year and they are one more win away from just that. It makes me tingle inside with giddiness.
What did everyone think of the new D pairing last night? It certainly brought out the best in Vlasic and Blake, so has the coaching staff stumbled onto something here in Boyle’s absence? I thought Vlasic played his most aggressive game of the season, tying his career high of five shots and burying a goal from the point. Rob Blake got into the action and scored as well, activating from the point and batting in a Joe Thornton laser. So, is it coincidence that Blake and Vlasic played more effectively without each other, or are they just a mismatched couple to begin with? On paper, Blake and Murray seems like an immobile disaster, but they played pretty effectively together. They were out there for the Ducks goal, but Blake and Murray were out there in some form for every goal last night. Demers and Vlasic were fun to watch, pushed the tempo and it seemed to free up Vlasic’s game – which was also odd. But, whatever works baby.
So, is it time to break up the band? When Boyle returns, slide him next to Pickles, or if they decide to scratch Leach, play Boyle with Huskins. Could this solve the Sharks inconsistent returns on the blueline this year?
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, HERE’ S CLOWE BEATING THE TAR OUT OF RON JEREMY.
December 7th, 2009, 10:42 pm
Thanks to everyone who was able to tune in to the radio show last night. We hope to have a replay available for download on the website. The show was a blast, especially our interview with former Sharks player Mark Smith – who was amazingly candid and really entertaining. Great stuff.
One hot topic that we heard from some callers on the radio show has been in line with my final rallying cry to Sharks management. Doug Wilson has to be looking for an upgrade on the blueline. Now, I’m not talking about someone to come in and play a Kent Huskins type #5 role – I’m looking for a guy who can log big minutes, do the dirty works like block shots, kill penalties, dish out big hits – and also not be a total stiff offensively. It’s clear the Sharks 0-2-1 record against the Flames and Hawks is reason for concern, and the main difference between the Sharks and the other two teams are their top four d-men are flat out better than ours. I think Doug Wilson did an outstanding job in the offseason of making a Naughty and Nice list and managed to get rid of the three players currently under contract who were at the top of the Naughty list in Ehrhoff, Michalek and Cheechoo. So, who is next on the Naughty list? I think it has to be Vlasic.
Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray are untouchable. The team has made a commitment to Rob Blake by making him the Captain for this season, and I also suspect for next season – I’m 99.9% sure that there is a handshake, wink/wink, nudge/nudge, say no more agreement between Blake and DW that he is coming back for 2010-11. That leaves Vlasic in a put up or shut up situation, and I think he might be beginning to go silent…So, Doug Wilson should parlay his depth at the forward position and find a guy who can jump in and take this team over the top. Guys like Phaneuf, Shea Weber and Chara are not worth discussing – so I’m going to kick off a new weekly series where I’m going to bring a top four blueliner to your attention and why I think he’d be a good fit for the Sharks and what I think it would cost Doug Wilson to acquire him.
This weeks target:
St. Louis Blues/Barret Jackman
Jackman is a stud and doesn’t get a ton of press because he’s been playing for a bad team that finally broke through and made the playoffs last year. In case you’re not familiar with Jackman, let me introduce you. He is the guy who stands in the net and blocks an empty net slap shot attempt like a human brick wall.
That is a guy willing to do anything to win a game. I doubt Nabby would have to ask him twice to block a shot. Jackman’s resume is impressive, he won the Calder Trophy in 2004 with 19 points and 190 PIM’s, beating that hack Henrik Zetterberg – not bad. After battling early career injury problems, he has responded by playing three full seasons back to back, averaging around 22 points and 86 PIM’s. He represented Canada at the World Juniors twice and was a member of the 2007 IIHF Canadian World Championship team in Russia, playing in all nine games.
This St. Louis blogger believes Jackman can be had, and possibly not for much of a return because of his 3.6M cap hit until 2012. If I were Doug Wilson, I would offer Vlasic straight up and if St. Louis didn’t like that offer, I would keep Vlasic and offer power forward Ryane Clowe. It would kill me to lose Clowe, but I’m not sure it would kill the Sharks. Moving Clowe allows a permanent top six forward slot for either Malhotra or McGinn, and they can certainly get the j-o-b done.
What do you say? Take one more look and tell me you wouldn’t love to see this guy in Teal.
MY OFFICIAL PROPOSAL: I think St. Louis might be looking for a change and the potential to get younger.
To St. Louis: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (signed until firstname.lastname@example.orgM)
To San Jose: Barret Jackman (signed until 2012 @ 3.6M)