Teal Troubles Continue- If the Sharks were to have drawn up a scenario where they could have played an overall bad game of hockey, Monday night’s script against the arch rival Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center certainly would have fallen perfectly along those lines. In a game where the Sharks batched a line change that led directly to one Ducks goal, and gave up another score on a game sealing short handed goal, team teal was truly at best their own worst enemy in a charitable 5-3 loss to the Ducks. The Sharks display of hockey at times actually looked balanced, however not balanced enough to recover from mistakes you almost rarely see at minor league levels of hockey. Francois Beauchemin scored twice for the Ducks. The Sharks also played the role of Santa Claus visiting the Honda Center in March, giving up two goals to players who rarely have appeared in any box score. Peter Holland scored his second goal of the season as the result of a perfect tic-tac-toe play, and 34 seconds later rookie Emerson Etem scored his first National Hockey League goal after the Sharks committed a turnover in the Ducks defensive zone. The short handed goal scored by Ryan Getzlaf later in the second period sealed the game as the Sharks just looked like a team that has truly lost their way as a team.
Anaheim with the win keeps pace with the Chicago Blackhawks as the second seeded Ducks now are 21-3-4, second best record in the NHL next to the ‘Hawks who won in Colorado earlier in the evening. Meanwhile the Sharks clearly are a team in complete decline and free fall dropping their 16th game in their last 21. It appears that baring some divine intervention, the Sharks should they even make the post season are realistically only going to be playing four or five extra games for their efforts just as they did last season. It’s just not looking good for team teal at this point no matter how you slice it.
A Comedy of Errors- After what appeared to be a better start for team teal after a poor effort at the Staples Center Saturday Night, the Sharks seemed to actually play much more sounder and with a purpose. Even Andrew Desjardens challenged Ducks’ sniper Sheldon Souray early in the game with a brief skirmish. The Sharks skated well and looked like they were going to give their arch rivals a run for their money. However, all good thing must come to an end. With the Sharks, good things only last as long as a steak in a lions den. In an fundamental error that very well may be played in the NHL’s season follies for years to come, the Sharks in a line change apparently failed to communicate as to who was supposed to come off of the ice and maybe even more to the point who was supposed to come onto the ice. In a scene right out of the “Keystone Cops”, all the Sharks skated off of the ice with the exception of Antti Niemi and Marc-Edoward Vlasic. Joe Thornton and the rest of the crew skated across the blue line, then left the ice and let the puck sail away rather than at least clear it down ice. The Ducks themselves probably couldn’t even believe the charity they were just given as a few even looked back to see what had happened to their opponent.
Did Someone Call for a Starbucks Run? Was Slappy Kidnapped? Where did everyone go?
While the Sharks with the exception of Vlasic and Niemi were enjoying the view from the bench, Beauchemin took control of the puck and did the only thing he could do, shoot the puck towards Niemi. Beauchemin’s shot beat Niemi to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Niemi and Vlasic just stared back at the Sharks bench wondering where everyone had gone to. This was the only real mistake the Sharks made in the first period, but it was one for the ages. It was as frustrating as it was almost comical. The Sharks must have realized what had happened and did their best to atone for this egregious mistake. Late in the first period the Sharks had set up shop in the Ducks defensive zone, Jason Demers took a feed pass from TJ Galiardi and drilled a 50 foot slap shot that beat Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth. The period ended with the game tied at a goal apiece.
A Sloppy Second Period- The Sharks continued to push the pace against the Ducks in the second period as they were able to create some early scoring chances and keep the Ducks at bay. Anaheim would get a couple of decent scoring chances however the defense made it difficult for the Ducks and Niemi was able to shut the door each and every time. However, again the Sharks ability to keep pace with the Ducks would only last for so long. Adam Burish alone in the Sharks offensive zone turned the puck over to Kyle Palmeri after being knocked off of the puck by Sourey. Palmeri hit Andrew Cogliano with a with a cross ice feed pass. Cogliano then fed the puck to Bobby Ryan who instead of taking the shot, fed the puck over to a wide open Holland who easily beat Niemi with a tap in to the open side of the net. Just 34 seconds later, the Sharks again being sloppy and mishandling the puck would pay dearly for it. On a break out former Shark Daniel Winnik fed the puck to Etem who in turn easily stuffed it under Niemi. With the Sharks down by two, Head Coach Todd McLellan called time out and angrily addressed his team telling them things they probably already knew.
Then things would just go horribly wrong for the Sharks after getting a power play opportunity. Once again losing control of the puck inside of the Ducks defensive zone, Etem came away with the puck and skated away down ice before finding Getzlaf wide open to tap in a short handed goal that again easily beat Niemi. In just under three minutes the game had gone from tied to Anaheim leading by three. Team Teal meanwhile suddenly had the look of a team that was a cross between having lost their way and a team that was simply getting schooled by the Ducks. The short handed goal was clearly a back breaker. The Sharks would get a late goal from Marleau with just seconds remaining in the period to cut the Anaheim lead to 4-2. Logan Couture would get a shot on goal at the buzzer that just missed the Ducks net.
Final Period Effort Good, Just Not Good Enough- After looking horrible in the later half of the second period the Sharks to their credit did what they could to try and get back into the game. They outshot Anaheim 16-6 and controlled much of the play. Matt Irwin scored for the second time in two games, drilling a 30 foot slap shot past Fasth with just over 13 minutes remaining. Brent Burns fed Irwin the puck after the Ducks misplayed the puck on their defensive end of the ice. With 8:10 remaining, Demers drilled a slap shot that Fasth saved. The puck however bounced back towards Tommy Wingles who made a dive for the rubber biscuit in an effort to get it past the Anaheim net minder. With under a minute to play the Sharks having pulled Niemi for an extra skater lost control of the puck after a face off deep in the Ducks zone. Winnik carried out the puck before passing it over to Getzlaf. Spotting Beauchemin in the open, Getzlaf fed the puck to him and Beachemin tapped it 20 feet into the open net.
Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game were all from the Anaheim Ducks, 3) Ryan Getzlaf; 2) Francois Beauchemin, and 1) Emerson Etem. In the meaningless stat department, the Sharks outshot the Ducks 35-28. The Sharks have now given up five short handed goals with three of the five leading directly to losses. Short handed goals simply change games and in the one given up tonight, there was virtually no hustle to try and prevent it. The effort looked very lazy at best. Getzlaf tonight before the game signed an eight year contract extension with the Ducks, likely meaning he will play the rest of his career in Anaheim. Sharks majority owner Hasso Plattner in an interview with David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News refused to give any takes on what he thinks about the teams struggles. Plattner recently became the majority owner after buying out Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos who are no longer part of the Sharks organization. It is not known what kind of owner Plattner will be. If he is as upset about what has gone on so far as most fans have been, expect some changes most likely in the offseason… one likely to begin after April 27th at the team’s current pace…
Next Sharks Game- Wednesday Night (3/20) in Edmonton as the Sharks take on the Oilers in the third and final match between the two teams this season (6:30 pm PDT, 7:30 pm MDT). The last time the Sharks were in Edmonton, they scored six goals in the opening period in route to a 6-3 win over the Oilers. That was the Sharks high water mark for goals in a single game this season and have not come close to that total in their last 23 games.
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