Monday, November 10, 2008

Sharks-Coyotes: Was that Last Season's Sharks?

Sunday night, the team with the best record in the league (San Jose, 13-2) played the team coached by Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest player of all-time. It was broadcast on NHL Network in Canada, but to get it in the Bay Area, I would have to pay $159 for NHL Center Ice.

Even in a better economy, that is madness. In this economy, it is criminal.

Thus, I was relegated to listening to it on the radio. That's why I am not confirm who was on the ice.

The scoresheet says Dan Boyle scored the first goal of the game and recorded a double minor for high sticking, and he was not a member of last season's squad. Neither was Rob Blake (assist) or Brad Staubitz (fighting).

But I would swear this was last year's squad. Let me showcase why:

The Good: The Sharks ended last season with one of the league's better power play units, but so far this year they are in the bottom half of the league. Sunday, they scored on two of the first three power plays, both on penalties to Dan Carcillo. (Both were from the second unit--i.e. not the one with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.)

The Bad: Unlike most games this year, the Sharks did not dominate in shots on goal, with only a 32-29 edge. They actually trailed in the department for most of the game and did not control that stat in the second period like they have this season, being outshot 10-9.

The Ugly: After getting that early 2-0 lead, the team seemed to quit playing. They took two shifts in a row off, and the Coyotes scored on both, at 12:07 and 12:34 of the first period. So because the Sharks took a minute off, they had to work hard for 47, and it was not enough. Very 2007-2008.

Notes: The Sharks second goal was scored by Ryan Clowe, assisted by Blake and Christian Ehrhoff. It was his fifth on the power play and ninth overall, and his fifth game in a row with a goal. He also had an assist on the first goal, along with Marc-Eduoard Vlasic. The Sharks power play was 2-5, and Phoenix went 2-7.

Brian Boucher suffered his first loss of the season and second game of nine as a Shark in which he gave up more than one goal. The Sharks were on the opposite side of the fortunate scheduling this time, as they started this game less than 20 hours after completing their game in Dallas, and had to take the nearly two hour flight to Phoenix to boot. Only the ducks and the Rangers have played more gamesthan the Sharks.

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