Monday, October 13, 2008

Sharks Go To 3-0 With Sweep of Southern California


Brian Boucher continued his exemplary play as a Shark with a shutout Sunday night

The San Jose Sharks completed the three-game sweep of Southern California rivals Sunday night with a 1-0 victory in their first road game of the season. Lukas Kaspar scored the only goal, the first of his NHL career (in his sixth game), on a feed from Patrick Marleau; Christian Ehrhoff had the secondary assist.

Back-up goaltender Brian Boucher stopped 21 shots and caught a break on two disallowed Kings goals. One was an easy call, a "distinctive kicking motion" as per the rules; on the other, there was a forward in the crease. These are rules the league needs to revisit.

The league is always claiming they want more goals, so who cares if it is kicked? Who would choose to kick it instead of use his stick, and allowing those goals would save time trying to determine if a kick is distinctive or not.

And apparently the officials did not think there was contact on the first disallowed goal since no penalty was called. So who cares if someone is in the crease of they don't make contact with the goalie?

In any event, Los Angeles goaltender Jason LaBarbera (18 saves; .933 save percentage for the two games) was sharp again, and the Sharks could not generate much offensive pressure. The Kings' young legs looked like they were clearly responding better, but the Sharks defence did a great job clogging shooting lanes and pouncing on rebounds.

In four of the Sharks' nine periods thus far, they have held the opposition to fewer than five shots; in two more, they held them to five or six. That is the prime reason they have yielded just two goals in three games.

The Sharks also held the Kings without a power play goal in five chances, improving their penalty kill to 10 of 11 on the season. But they need to be exceptional defensively because they have only scored eight goals in three games, almost exactly the pace that made them 19th in the league last season.

For instance, they struggled for the second straight night against last year's worst penalty-killers on the power play. After going two for seven on the opener, they have missed on all nine chances against the Kings.

The important thing is they have three division games and three victories in regulation. With two of those wins coming over the Los Angeles Kings and the teams only facing off six times this season, they have all but assured Battle of the Pacific Kings writer "Big Dave" will be writing a 1000-word essay on the superiority of the San Jose Sharks--I can't wait!

The Sharks play Tuesday at 7:30pm in HP Pavilion against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Notes: Alexei Semenov got his first action of the season, and did make one good play. Of course, he also turned over the puck and then committed a penalty, so his presence was still a liability, but at least I don't think I would have played better last night.

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