A Bad Night- The San Jose Sharks may have been overdue for a bad game. Capitalizing on turnovers and a bad line change, the Vancouver Canucks scored three goals in the first period and never looked back as they would go on to handle the Sharks 4-2. Thursday Night was absolutely not the Sharks night in any way, shape or form. If it wasn’t for Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo’s misplay of a puck early in the first period, the game would have never even been close. The Sharks best player on the ice all night was back-up goalie Alex Stalock who made 21 saves in relief of starter Antti Niemi. Niemi was pulled in the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots. The loss wraps of a largely unsuccessful three game home stand by the Sharks who went 0-1-2. The Sharks overall have lost four straight but at least were able to get the previous three games to overtime. Vancouver was having none of it tonight. After the first period where the Sharks were outshot 9-6, the Canucks would outshoot the Sharks 17-5 in the second period as the Sharks really never seriously threatened the Canucks afterward. The final score was 4-2, however if not for Alex Stalock, the Canucks probably could have easily won this game by five goals. It was that bad.
First Period Mistakes- The evening started out with the Sharks getting on the scoreboard just 1:17 into the game as Joe Thornton was credited with a goal after the puck hit the boards behind the Canucks goal. As Luongo tried to grab the hot rubber biscuit out of the air it hit his glove and bounced into the net. The Sharks had a 1-0 lead. It would turn out to be one of their few highlights of the evening. The Canucks would soon draw even thanks to the first of several on ice mistakes by Team Teal. Just barely three minutes after the Sharks took the lead Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s pass from behind the Sharks goal to Tyler Kennedy was intercepted by Kevin Bieksa at the point. Bieksa would pass the puck back up near the Sharks goal towards Darren Archibald. The puck sailed past him as well as Vlasic and Justin Braun who were trying to defend in front of the Sharks goal. The puck landed on the stick of Brad Richards who then easily buried the puck past Niemi to tie the game. Vancouver would take the lead five minutes later when the Sharks were caught in a line change which left Patrick Marleau and Niemi to fend for themselves. By the time help arrived Mike Santorelli buried another point-blank shot past Niemi. The Cancuks however were not perfect in the first period either as soon after Vancouver took the lead a neutral zone turnover gave James Sheppard and Mike Brown a two on none break away against Luongo. Brown would drill a slap shot that Luongo despite a dive forward could not come up with. The Sharks were back in the game 2-2. This would be the last thing that would go right for the Sharks most of the evening. With just over a minute remaining in the period the Sharks continued being a turn over machine as this time Jason Demers inexplicably tried to make a cross ice pass to Scott Hannan in the Team Teal defensive zone from behind the blue line. This did not work out too well and would end badly for the Sharks. Alex Burrows would intercept the pass and manage to get the puck to Chris Higgins as Hannan and Demers ran into each other in something that looked reminiscent of the Keystone Cops. Sharks fans were not laughing though when Higgins took the pass and buried another puck past Niemi. By the time the first period had ended the Sharks looked dazed, confused and lost. This did not bode well for the rest of the evening.
Stalock Saves Some Face for Sharks- Things would get no better for the Sharks in the second period as the Canucks just were totally dominant. The Sharks were outshot 17-5 and outplayed so decidedly that the shots they did get on net were a best weak. The shots and chances for the Sharks were so few and far between that Luongo could have worked a crossword puzzle in between Team Teal chances. At the 5:22 mark of the second period Zack Kassian’s tip in of a Bieksa slap shot from the point made it 4-2 Vancouver. This ended Niemi’s night after giving up 4 goals on 13 shots. Stalock came in and actually played very well and would stop all 21 shots he would see for the rest of the evening, including 13 in the second period. Stalock was the only reason the Sharks trailed by two goals for the rest of the evening. However despite Stalock upholding his end of the bargain the Sharks offensively were just locked down by the Canucks, who defensively just shut down Team Teal and made it look somewhat easy. In the third period the Sharks did outshoot the Canucks 13-8 but outside of one early push never really threatened. The Canucks were successful in stopping shots on goal before they even happened by locking up sticks and just causing the Team Teal a lot of frustration. The Sharks truly never came close to scoring again after the first period and were basically owned in this game. As for the power play the Sharks had four chances in the game and just as with Buffalo Tuesday did absolutely nothing with the man advantage. The only upside for the Sharks in this game was Stalock keeping the game from becoming truly embarrassing for Team Teal.
Lessons Learned- This is just on the hopes that there will be some, and not just from this game but also from the last few that preceded it. Obviously in an 82 game scheduled the Sharks will have their share of great games. They will also have their share of clunkers. This was one for that latter category. For most of the team the only thing they did right all evening was put on their sweaters correctly. Nobody outside of Stalock had anything close to a good game or half-ways decent showing. Before the beginning of the third period Comcast Sport Net’s Brodie Brazil spoke briefly with Assistant Coach Larry Robinson. With some obvious anger in his voice, he told Brazil “If you don’t work, you don’t win.” In other words, the Sharks are a better team but were not doing enough in this game to even stay competitive. After a hot October, the Sharks are winless in November and have clearly cooled off. The good news is that the team despite what happened here at least has the opportunity to learn from these game. They know they need to be better and tonight was just one of those nights. In an 82 game schedule, this is going to happen a few times. The objective now is to not let it become “the norm.” 10-2-4 is certainly not bad after 16 games. The Sharks are in a slump that’s more mental than physical. They just need to clean up their game more than anything else. That takes work.
Twitter Quote - Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan; “It’s about the work ethic & the commitment. We were clearly outworked.” -McLellan postgame courtesy of @SanJoseSharks
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks now put this rather ugly three game homestand behind them as the hit the road for five more games. The first four stops are in Western Canada starting Sunday at Winnipeg against the Jets. Winnipeg since coming back into the NHL two years ago has turned out to be one of the league’s best fanbases. The MTS Centre in Winnipeg is not only one of the NHL’s loudest arena’s, but also one of the toughest ones to play in for any opposing team. The Jets feature amongst players on their roster is former Shark Devin Setogucci. The game starts at 5Pm Pacific Time (7pm in Winnipeg). The Sharks made need the time away to get back on their game.
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