The San Jose Sharks probably will never admit this, nor should they. The only good news for team teal following another loss to the Anaheim Ducks, this latest one a 3-1 disappointment at the Honda Center in Anaheim is that the Sharks do not face the Ducks again this season. Two third period goals from career Shark nemesis Teemu Selanne and a controversial “empty netter” awarded to Corey Perry gave the Ducks their fifth win over the Sharks in six games for the season. In six games, the Sharks won only once while seeing the Ducks win all five in regulation, with three of those five coming at the Shark Tank, and two of those games seeing the Ducks win very easily and convincingly. If the Sharks fail to make the post season, or even seed low in the post season and get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, no doubt the Anaheim Ducks as any arch rival would have played a huge role in a team teal demise. The Ducks may not make this post season this year, however the have done their letter best to make darned sure to do what they can to keep the Sharks out as well.
The loss to the Ducks came with immediate consequences to the Sharks as both the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars won their games rather handily against Calgary and Edmonton respectively. The Sharks have five games remaining and get right back at it Thursday night in Phoenix, and thankfully because of that have almost no time to dwell on this game. The Sharks need to be ready to go against a team who has had three days rest since their last game. Team teal also needs to be ready to go in a building where they have been blown out of twice this year, with the first one of those starting a hard downward slide that the Sharks are still trying to recover from. Just not a good night at all for the Sharks who now need to get ready to go against the hungry Coyotes less than 21 hours later.
Recapping the (thankfully) last game against Anaheim for this season:
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before- Missed opportunities haunted the Sharks throughout the evening. Hey, I said to stop me. Anyway, this is what is so darned frustrating about the Sharks at times. Just when they have the opportunity which appears to be a golden chance for a goal, the opportunity gets missed either because of poor luck, poor timing or just poor play. The Sharks if it wasn’t for their bad luck at times would have none whatsoever to speak of. Joe Pavelski was robbed by Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller twice, once on a power play chance as he knocked away a point blank shot to the left of the goal. Hiller would later stone Pavelski again on a hard shot from the slot in the third period. The Sharks had some good chances during what would be their only power play of the evening (and the only power play of the game) in the first period. Joe Thornton and Brent Burns would also get some hard shots on net but have nothing to show for it. Dan Boyle would later launch a hard shot from the point and the puck hit Hiller’s glove before going over the goal net.
As the period progressed, the momentum would start to slowly shift towards the Ducks favor as Sharks goalie Antti Niemi would find himself getting rather busy towards the end of the first period having to handle five of Anaheim’s eight shots in the later half of the stanza. Niemi made three solid saves on Bobby Ryan and Devante Smith-Pelly in once sequence, then later would stop Smith-Pelly’s bid to stuff another puck into the net on a diving effort.
A Quick Exchange- The Sharks and Ducks would continue to trade scoring chances in the second period as each team would take turns trying to mount attacks in each other’s defensive zones. Niemi would deny Selanne a point blank chance from the slot after following up a wrist shot from Andrew Cogliano. Moments later though the Ducks would get the games first goal with 10:38 remaining in the period as Ryan tipped in a perfect feed pass from Smith-Pelly to put Anaheim up by a goal. The Sharks however would quickly answer back as the Ducks got a little careless on their own end of the ice just a moment later. Logan Couture was able to get ahold of a loose puck from behind the Anaheim goal and feed the puck to Ryane Clowe. From there Clowe put a move on Hiller that forced him to dive to his right. Clowe skated around Hiller and put the puck into the open net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Sharks would get a few more opportunities though for the most part they were really nothing to write home about. Hiller did make 11 saves in the period. Outside of Clowe’s goal, Hiller for the most part had a fairly easy time handing what the Sharks threw at him. Niemi meanwhile held the fort as long as he could in making nine saves of his own for the period, including a point blank shot by Ryan Getzlaf. The second period ended with the game tied, however also with the Sharks not really having a whole lot in the way of momentum going into the third and final period.
What A Quack- The Sharks in the final period would see some scoring chances develop for them however again were denied as Hiller continued to make some rather routine saves. The Sharks attack as the period would move along just seemed to lack any substance or real urgency. The Ducks took the lead for good Selanne deflected in a hard slap shot from Luca Sbisa almost five and a half minutes into the final period. Niemi was in a position to actually make the save until Selanne got his stick on the puck and re-directed it. Hiller meanwhile had some business come his way about midway through the period and with 10:06 remaining in the game made a huge save on an (early mentioned) Pavelski shot from the slot area.
With 5:30 remaining in the contest Couture made a very uncharacteristic turnover which allowed Selanne a fast break towards Niemi. Standing his ground, Niemi made the save and kept the Sharks in the game for the moment. However as time would down, the Sharks for whatever reason never could get a forecheck going that would maximize what few true scoring chances they had. To add insult to injury in regards to this game and maybe even the season series, Corey Perry was awarded a goal for shooting the puck into the side of the net with :08.9 seconds remaining. Perry was awarded the goal because the officials on the ice ruled that Dan Boyle had interfered by knocking the net loose. That last goal probably would not have made that much of a difference, but when the opposing team is not exactly doing a good job laughing out loud by games end, you have to know that they just skunked you for the season and they don’t mind letting you know it. That’s just downright embarrasing.
Game Analysis- Perhaps the only good thing that comes out of this game other than being done with Anaheim until sometime in October (next season) is that the Sharks are just a point out of first in the Pacific with still a decent chance at winning the division. However the Sharks have been poor in the division going 8-10-1 versus the Pacific Division thus far, including that 1-5 mark against the arch rival Ducks. The Sharks after the first period and certainly by the third period had the look of a team that simply got lost along the way this evening. There are a lot of things you can attribute to this loss from poor execution to maybe even just matching up poorly with Anaheim for whatever reason. When you consider what is at stake, and also considering this team just embarrassed you in your house nine days earlier would at least have been some level of emotion and fire. That did not happen for the Sharks Wednesday Night.
As the game went along I just got the sense that the Sharks again were guilty of “…being there in name only.” If the Sharks make the post season, “…being there in name only” usually buys you four to five post season games before you get unceremoniously dumped in the first round. I feel this team frustrating because even now 77 games into an 82 game schedule you still don’t know which Sharks team you’ll get. As far as going 1-5 against the Anaheim Ducks this season, you have to give the Ducks credit for playing the Sharks hard even when it was apparent to them that the post season wasn’t going to happen this year. As for the Sharks, 1-5 is not only unacceptable against the Ducks, it’s something that could when it’s all said in done for the 2011-12 season something that certain people high up in the Sharks organization are going to have to answer for. It’s simply unacceptable. When you go 1-5 against a rival as in this case, it’s usually a pretty good indicator that your team isn’t exactly Stanley Cup material. Wanting it has a lot to do with it. Some day’s the Sharks seem to be lacking in the “wanting it” department. What else can you conclude from this one?…
The Sharks will somehow need to shake off this one quickly and get ready to enter another team teal house of horrors in the Jobbing dot Com arena. Hopefully the Sharks can put the Anaheim game behind them quickly. Unlike the Ducks though, the Coyotes are also battling to get into the post season and capture the Pacific Division. Nothing will get easier for the Sharks the rest of the way though. If the Sharks miss the post season, much if it will be of their own doing and not just against Anaheim…
GO SHARKS!!! MISSION PHOENIX: BEAT THE COYOTES!!!
The King Shark
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