The San Jose Sharks have had a busy four days with a home match vs Detroit, and road dates over the weekend at Dallas and Colorado. The Sharks made it through these games with flying colors as the Sharks took the Red Wings 5-2 this past Thursday Night to conclude a six game home stand at the Shark Tank. The Sharks then logged some air miles over the weekend and came away with wins over the Stars and Avalanche by identical 4-1 scores.
The Sharks three wins elevate their overall mark to 12-5-1 for 25 points in and 3rd place in the overall Western Conference Standings. The Sharks wins here are important as big tests lie ahead in their next two games, both at the Shark Tank. The Sharks will be taking on Chicago (Wed Nov 23rd), and Vancouver (Sat Nov 26th), the two teams ahead of them in the overall Western Standings, by two points apiece. The Sharks a week from tonight travel to Los Angeles for a rematch with the Kings. The good news is that the Sharks are starting to pick up their stride, and close to the one quarter point of the season team teal is starting to get a sense of themselves. The players starting to trust each other on the ice. Let’s have a look at the last three games…
Red Wings in a “pickle”-Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s four point night (a goal and three assists) lead the Sharks to a 5-2 win over rival Detroit in their second meeting this season. It did take the Sharks about a period to get their legs underneath them, however once they did they were able to wrest control of the game from the Red Wings who outshot the Sharks 17-6 in the first period. I have always said that “Short Handed Goals change games”, and this game was no exception. With the Sharks trailing 1-0 and facing another Red Wings power play towards the end of the first period. On the faceoff won by the Sharks, the puck was cleared down to the Detroit defensive zone where Joe Thornton was able to chase it down. J Thornton then was able get a pass from behind the net to Joe Pavelski who slapped the puck past Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard. This tied the game at 1-1 with 12 seconds left in the period and set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The second period saw the Sharks light the lamp three times as Joe Thornton, Torrey Mitchell and Vlasic all scored to put the Sharks up 4-1 and they never looked back. Vlasic’s goal was an effort of the likes of what you teach players, never give up on the puck. Vlasic was able to recover the loose rubber biscuit after being pushed off of it and was able to wrap around a shot that went in on the right corner of the net before J Howard could get over to block it. Thornton’s goal was the perfect execution of a 3 on 2 break away, with Jumbo Joe taking a feed from Logan Couture and drilling a wrister past J Howard. Brad Winchester’s third period goal past Red Wings back up goalie Ty Conklin sealed the deal as the Sharks cruised. Antti Niemi was sharp and kept the Sharks in the game early and frustrated the Red Wings all night, making 40 saves. The Sharks also blocked serveral shots defensively in their zone.
Fighting with the Stars- The Sharks Saturday Night took care of business as they handled division rival Dallas, who always has been a perenial thorn in the side to team teal through the years. The Sharks controlled the game throughout building a 3-0 lead through two periods with scores from Brent Burns, Logan Couture and Brad Winchester. The Sharks could have had probably six goals in the first two periods if not for Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft who was peppered heavily throughout facing 38 Sharks shots on net. Antti Niemi was again strong in the net making 30 saves. The game was also marked by several fights or near fights, with under-cards of Ryane Clowe vs Krystofer Barch, Jim Vandermeer vs K Barch, and Steve Ott being a pest and trying to take on basically anyone on the Sharks team. I think Douglas Murray (aka “Crankshaft”) should introduce Mr Ott into the boards next game as Ott continues to be a major pain in the rear. Then again, that’s what he gets paid to do. That’s okay, we’ll just take the two points in the standings and move on…
Patrick’s Hat Trick- Patrick Marleau’s three goals and Joe Pavelski’s slapper past former Ducks goalie (and Sharks nemisis) Jean-Sebastien Giguere gave the Sharks a 4-1 win in Denver versus the Colorado Avs. The Sharks looked a little jet lagged early and it took them about half of the first period to get going. Shorty after falling behind 1-0, the Sharks tied the game as Patrick Marleau stuffed in a feed pass to a wide open net as Giguere was caught out of position. Marleau’s second period tip in put the Sharks ahead to stay, as he would also add an empty netter late in the third period. The Sharks in this game were outshot by the Avs 37-18 and had to be soild defensively, and they were. Thomas Greiss had a solid night in net with 36 saves. The Sharks despite being outshot heavily in my assessment played the perfect second game of a back to back road affair. The Sharks were dealing with the second game in two nights (and the third game in four nights), and add to that the altitude that Denver is famous for. The Sharks in the game still found a way to be efficient, and a lot of the credit goes to the defense as the Avs really did not get too many second chances in the Sharks zone. When they did, Greiss was ready and handled business.
More Rivalries to be renewed- Wednesday Night the Sharks will meet the Chicago Blackhawks in the first of a two game home stand at the Tank. The annual pre-Thanksgiving matchup with the Hawks will feature a Chicago team that really smartly retooled itself one season removed from it’s first title in 49 years. The Hawks are deep with the usuall suspects of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marion Hossa, Patrick Sharp, and Duncan Keith. The Hawks are in the middle of the annual “Circus Road Trip” and seem to bring their play up a notch when away from the Windy City. Saturday Night the Vancouver Canucks and the Sharks meet at the Tank for the first time since last years WCF round won by the Canucks in five bitter games. The Sharks will be tested by a Canucks team that has not really changed that much. Vancouver will get more severly tested by team teal too as the Sharks have retooled with the Canucks in mind (as well as the Blackhawks). This should make for two riveting constest and some very interesting hockey. The Sharks will look to measure themselves against these two teams as the first quarter of this season winds down. Afterward, the Sharks head to Los Angeles next Monday to take on the Kings in a renewal of another Pacific Division rivalry, with the Sharks capturing the first match at the Tank 4-2 Nov 7th. Things are just starting to get a little interesting here…
…and to all “Blades of Teal” staff and readers…Happy Thanksgiving!!!
The King Shark