The San Jose Sharks returned to the SAP Center for the first time since last years Western Conference Finals for an exhibition against the Ducks.
After a long emotional off-season for the San Jose Sharks and their fan base it was refreshing to see the team once again take the ice at SAP Center.
The Sharks fell to the Ducks 4 – 3 following a promising 2 – 0 start from in the first frame. Nevertheless, despite it being just preseason action there was plenty to take away from a game full of pleasant surprises and bitter disappointments.
Jumbo is in mid-season form – Joe Thornton had himself a sensational night centering a line in-between Marcus Sorensen and newcomer Jonny Brodzinski. The veteran skater got involved early assisting on a goal potted by Timo Meier just minutes into the first period.
He didn’t do much more on the stat sheet, but in his 17:44 of ice time Thornton was dishing passes all game long. Adding to this he had a dominate night in the face-off circle against this inexperienced Duck squad.
This is great news for the Sharks but isn’t all that surprising considering this has been the first real off-season for Joe Thornton in some time. The Sharks desperately need Jumbo’s leadership and his uncanny ability to put the puck into dangerous areas of the ice.
All is well with Aaron Dell – Sharks backup netminder Aaron Dell played like his job was on the line. Seeing the first half of this game Dell faced 12 shots stopping 11 of them in the process.
The final sequence of the night that he witnessed transpired because of a defensive breakdown initiated by the Sharks over aggressiveness on offense. Regardless Dell made a beautiful stop that bailed out Team Teal’s defenders.
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Compounding with this Josef Korener did not play well when he came into the game to replace Dell at the midway point. He along with Antoine Bibeau have a serious shot at taking Dell’s backup role before the start of the season. So a good effort is just what Dell needed at the start of preseason.
The kids are alright – Building off the momentum they built throughout the Rookie Face-off last weekend the prospects within the Sharks organization put on a show in their first exhibition of 2019 -2020.
Skaters like Noah Gregor and Danil Yurtaykin made their presence known in all three zones with excellent skating and above average hockey sense. Blueliner Ryan Merkley was heavily involved in the play contributing two assists while also bouncing back from a few NHL level hits.
However it was winger Joachim Blichfeld who stole the show garnering much of the attention from the media and fans. He turned heads with his rocket of a wrist shot that beat Ducks goalie Anthony Stolarz just minutes into the third frame.
Backup Battle – On the flip side of Aaron Dells solid start Josef Korener struggled in his first action of the year. The 21-year-old saw 13 shots come his way but was only able to stop 10 of them. He had moments where he exhibited his skill set but ultimately looked lost between the pipes.
It’s too early to tell but judging by Korener’s first appearance another year of seasoning down with the Barracuda might be what the young netminder needs when it comes to his development. However this might be a little too critical considering that the Sharks didn’t help him out all that much defensively.
Don’t fret it’s early – In spite of a strong start by the Sharks they faded out as the game transpired. The Ducks out scored San Jose in the 2nd frame 3 – 0 and never really took their foot off the gas,
This shouldn’t be all that concerning for Team Teal considering that it is the first game of year and were likely testing a few specific players to see if they have what it takes to play at the professional level.
We won’t have to wait long for some more Sharks pre-season hockey to dissect and over-analyze. Team Teal is set to take on the Calgary Flames at the Saddle Dome tomorrow night with a whole different group of players.