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Tag:San Jose Sharks
Posted on: May 1, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 11:04 pm
 

Red Wings look frazzled as Sharks take 2-0 lead


The Detroit Red Wings were on their way to losing their sixth playoff game over the last seven against the San Jose Sharks and it showed. 

Tomas Holmstrom negated a crucial Wings power play with a roughing call drawn by Sharks defenseman Jason Demers early in the third period. That penalty put a serious crimp on a chance to answer the eventual game-winning goal by Niclas Wallin as the Sharks earned a 2-1 victory at the HP Pavilion on Sunday to take a 2-0 series lead. 

“We are ready for them,” Demers told reporters after the game. “It’s the playoffs. Everybody is hit. Everybody is contributing to the physicality side of it. It’s good to see tonight that we pushed back when we are being pushed.”

The Red Wings have made the playoffs 20 seasons in a row, but these Sharks are by no means intimidated by the winged wheel. Nor should they be. They are much deeper than the Phoenix Coyotes -- who the Wings swept in the first round -- and the Sharks seemed to have shaken out the uneven play from their first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings

Beyond Holmstrom’s penalty, Todd Bertuzzi was also called for roughing, but at least he took Shark Ben Eager with him to the box in the second period. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard also got a few whacks in on Sharks forwards, usually after when snow showers were shoveled his way by Joe Pavelski. Both Howard and Pavelski were called for roughing for similar behavior in Game 1. 

Sharks coach Todd McLellan, a former Red Wings assistant, isn't a fan of those antics as a means to unsettle Howard.

"When it comes to snow showers, I have no time for gimmicks or crap like that,” McLellan said (via CSN Bay Area ). “If our players do that, they’re going to hear it from me, but they’re going (to hear it) from me if they don’t go into the blue paint and look for the puck. But this is not a circus, it’s not a clown show.”

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom told CSN Bay Area that Detroit has brought the snow flurries to the attention of officials. 

“That’s up to the refs,” Lidstrom said. “It’s obvious they are trying to do it. We spoke to the refs about it several times. They have to do something about it. You have to get away from that.”

A key for Wednesday’s Game 3 is for the Sharks not to try to overdo the physical play and take some unnecessary penalties of their own. The Wings are still potent with the man-advantage and their only goal Sunday came on a Henrik Zetterberg maker on the power play with six minutes left in regulation.
  “We have played each other (the last two) years in the postseason,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. “With good teams comes a little bit of hatred in the game. There’s nothing real cheap, but guys are playing hard. That’s what you expect in the playoffs.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 29, 2011 6:07 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 2:50 am
 

Preview: No. 2 Sharks vs. No. 3 Red Wings


Full NHL brackets, schedule 

The San Jose Sharks, a franchise celebrating their 20th season in existence, often see their postseasons run through Hockeytown USA. This is their fifth postseason meeting overall and the second consecutive season the clubs have met in the second round. (The Sharks advanced in five games a season ago.) The teams have split the four playoff series overall, which stretches back to the Sharks’ seven-game upset of the Wings in 1994. But San Jose coach Todd McLellan, a former assistant with the Wings, asked not to read much into the prologue. 

“One of our biggest jobs as a coaching staff is to separate last year from this year,” McLellan told reporters this week. “We are a very different team when you look at our goaltending, the blue line and the forwards we’ll be using. That lineup will definitely be different. The circumstances are different. If we reach too far back to those experiences last year in that playoff series, we’ll be trailing before we know it.” 

Here’s the breakdown: 

Forwards: After sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and his coaching staff have experimented with different lines in practice. It’s a luxury --- now that Henrik Zetterberg , who missed the first round with a lower-body injury, is healthy --- rather than a necessity. The Wings will also have the services of playoff beast Johan Franzen, who missed the final game of the first round with an ankle injury. Pavel Datsyuk, who had injury woes of his own in the regular season, was a force in the first round with six points (two goals, four assists). Sharks captain Joe Thornton may have shed – or maybe at least shrunk --- the notion he’s an underperformer in the playoffs. He scored in OT of Game 6 as the Sharks clinched the series against the Los Angeles Kings. Hardnosed Ryane Clowe led the Sharks in scoring (seven points) in the first round. The Sharks have also gotten decent secondary scoring from Kyle Wellwood and Torrey Mitchell among others.

Edge: Sharks

Defense: Nicklas Lidstrom is, well, still Niclkas Lidstrom. This is his 19th season in the league and it might not just be a coincidence this is the Wings 20th consecutive season in the playoffs. Now that defensive partner Brian Rafalski is healthy, they’ll be the best 1-2 combo in the series. San Jose will counter with Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle. But the most productive pairing of the first round was Niclas Wallin and Ian White. White, who missed a game with a concussion, still managed to lead all Sharks defenders in scoring with five points. 

Edge: Red Wings

Goalies: Jimmy Howard was in net last season as a rookie when the Wings fell to the Sharks. Now, he doesn’t have the luxury of a tested backup since Chris Osgood is done for the year after hernia surgery. He stopped .915 percent of the shots he saw in the first round. After letting Evgeni Nabokov walk last offseason, the Sharks signed Antti Niemi. He hasn’t been on top of his game ---and nowhere close where he was when he led the Chicago Blackhawks to the title a season ago --  but he has the faith of McLellan. Niemi was yanked twice in the first round and finished the series with a horrid goals-against average (3.99) and mediocre save percentage (.863). On the plus side, Antero Niittymaki was solid in relief. 

Edge: Sharks

Special teams: The Wings had a success rate of 26.7 percent in the first round, the second-best rate among teams who made it to the second round. Detroit, however, struggled on the kill. The Wings allowed six goals on 18 shorthanded opportunities for a 66.7 kill percentage, the worst of the 16 playoff teams.  Maybe the Wings’ PK is just what the Sharks need to kick start their moribund power play. San Jose scored only twice in 23 trips to the power play (8.7 percent). San Jose got better after a shaky start on the kill against the Kings as the series progressed, highlighted by a five-minute kill that stretched from the end of regulation and into OT in Game 6. 

Edge: Red Wings 

Prediction: The Sharks are still (barely) in the stage where they are a year more experienced rather than just a year older. Niemi should be able to rebound from his shaky first-round performance and the Sharks will eventually break out of their power play malaise. The Sharks should win this in six.

No. 2 San Jose vs. No. 3 Detroit - Series tied, 0-0
Date Site Time/Result
April 29 at SJ 10 p.m.  
May 1 at SJ 3 p.m.  
May 4 at DET 8 p.m.  
May 6 at DET 7 p.m.  
* May 8 at SJ 8 p.m.  
* May 10 at DET TBA  
* May 12 at SJ TBA  


-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Calder Trophy: Skinner received my top vote


San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture, New York Islanders winger Michael Grabner and Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner were unveiled as the three finalists for the Calder Trophy -- the NHL’s version of the rookie of the year award -- on Tuesday. This a solid rookie class where an argument could be made for any of these three to be handed the trophy in June. As a proud, voting member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, here’s my top 3:

1. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes: This was one of the votes that I went back and forth on several times before I submitted my ballot. In the end, I gave Skinner the nod since the 18-year-old performed at a consistent level for nearly the entire season on a team that was in the playoff hunt until Game No. 82. Skinner led all rookies in points (63), was second in assists (32) and third in goals (31). He was a fixture on Carolina’s shootout from the beginning of the season and contributed key goals down the stretch, minus which Carolina wouldn’t have even been a contender. Also, I put a slight priority on centers over wingers if all else is equal.

2. Michael Grabner, New York Islanders : While Skinner was the seventh overall pick in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Grabner wasn’t even the Isles' property at the end of training camp. They claimed Grabner off waivers on Oct. 5 and he went on to lead the Islanders in goals (34), which was also tops among rookies. Probably even more impressive was his plus-minus (plus-13), a stat that doesn’t alway treat first-year players too well. At 23, he’s five years older than Skinner. I didn’t use that as a factor in my voting. I also didn't take into account he's one of the best follows on Twitter

3. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks: On a team with Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, Couture was still one of the team’s most consistent forwards. Along with his speed, Couture is a tenacious back-checker and one of the best young finishers in the game. He was second on the Sharks (and among rookies) in goals (32). The line he typically centered with Ryane Clowe along with Heatley or others on the wings was often the Sharks line that got them revved up en route to another Pacific Division title. 

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: April 15, 2011 5:59 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 7:53 pm
 

Kings' Jarret Stoll receives one-game suspension

Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll received a one-game suspension a day after he checked San Jose Sharks defenseman Ian White into the boards, the NHL announced Friday. 

Exactly how long White will be out isn't so certian, according to the Mercury News:

"At this present time, I would say no," coach Todd McLellan when asked about the likelihood White would be able to play.

"It's our job," the coach added later, "to put players in situations where they can succeed and you can't do that if you're not healthy and alert. He has to prove to us as a coaching staff and a training staff that he can do that. We all know the protocol now for head injuries. When he and the training staff march into my offce and tells us he's ready to go, he's that important and he'll play."

McLellan refused to call White's injury a concussion, although all signs point in that direction. White won't be allowed to retrun until he gets a doctor's clearance, McLellan said.

White’s head bounded off the boards on the collision, which occurred with 25 seconds left in the first period of the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 of the first-round series on Thursday. White suffered a bloody nose on the play and appeared dazed as he was helped to the locker room by Sharks medical personnel. Here’s a look at the collision

“Obviously, I’m disappointed and upset with the decision," Stoll told reporters (via Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider.) I don’t want to miss any games, whether it’s regular season or especially the playoffs. I’m really disappointed with the decision but I respect it, and I respect Colin’s decision, to do what he did and give me the game.”

Stoll had a conference call earlier Friday with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. 

"I just explained what I was thinking and what I did and the play," Stoll said. "I was honest with them. I told them what I thought, and I think that was the best way to go about it.”
-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 13, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 4:52 pm
 

UMD's Mike Connolly signs with San Jose Sharks

Mike Connolly, a junior forward on the University of Minnesota-Duluth championship men’s hockey team, agreed to terms with the San Jose Sharks, CBSSports.com has learned. 

Connolly, a winger who skated on the highest-scoring line in the NCAA this year, was UMD's third-leading scorer (54 points). He didn’t figure into the scoring column in UMD’s 3-2 overtime victory over Michigan in the title game on Saturday, but he had an OT goal over St. Cloud State University in the WCHA playoffs and contributed heavily to the team's stretch run.

The only knock on Connolly, a native of Calgary, is his size: he’s 5-foot-9. Linemate Jack Connolly, no relation, was UMD's highest scorer and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist. 

-- A.J. Perez
Category: NHL
Posted on: April 12, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 7:50 pm
 

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No. 7 Los Angeles



All three California teams made the playoffs -- that’s one more than Canada, if you’re counting -- and no rivalry in the state goes back as far as Sharks-Kings. At the end of November as the Sharks sat in 11th place, it was questionable whether San Jose would even make the playoffs, let alone win another Pacific Division title. But the Sharks -- using some new and old parts –- rebounded and enter the playoffs relatively healthy. The same can’t be said for the Los Angeles Kings, who could be without both their top scorers from the regular season. Azne Kopitar (ankle) is out the rest of the season and Justin Williams is a question mark for the series. The teams split their six regular-season contests. 

Here's the breakdown: 

Forwards:   Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau are a veteran corps that led San Jose to the conference finals for the second time in team history. Thornton didn’t take many faceoff circles down the stretch possibly due to a hand injury, but he said he could go back to draws now that it’s the playoffs. Rookie Logan Couture was also one of the Sharks’ most consistent forwards this season with 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists). The Sharks are a bit hobbled in the gritty forward category as both Ryane Clowe (lower body) and Scott Nichol (upper body) missed time down the stretch. Kopitar, the Kings’ leading scorer at 73 points, tore ligaments in his ankle on March 26. Williams, who separated his shoulder a week earlier, has returned to practice, but no decision has been made on when he’ll return. Captain Dustin Brown, who was tied for second with Williams with 57 points, and trade deadline acquisition Dustin Penner will be leaned on to make up the difference.

Edge:
San Jose. 

Defense: No Sharks blueliner who played more than 29 games had a negative plus-minus. Dan Boyle led the Sharks in ice time (26 minutes, 14 seconds per game) and finished with 50 points, seventh overall on the team and first among defensemen. Jason Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic took another step in their development this season and 6-foot-3 bruiser Douglas Murray was again reliable. The Kings counter with a solid core group of defenders as well. Drew Doughty hasn’t had the same kind of season that led him to become a Norris Trophy finalist, but it was a solid effort at 42 points and plus-13. Jack Johnson led all Kings defensemen in points (42), but his minus-21 may cancel that out. The Kings also have a Cup winner in Rob Scuderi to lean on and rookie Alec Martinez also performed well throughout the season. The Kings allowed the third fewest shots per game (27.9)

Edge: Kings.

Special teams: San Jose had the league’s second-best power play (23.5 percent) and scored 68 goals on the man-advantage in the regular season. Heatley, Joe Pavelski and Marleau each had 11 goals. With the Sharks' depth at forward, they have been able to create two solid power-play units. Kings forward Ryan Smyth may not have the explosiveness he did earlier in his career, but he can still be a force in front of the net, as evidenced by his team-high nine PP goals. The Kings were 21st in power-play percentage (16.1), although they fared much better on the PK.  Los Angeles was fourth-best in the league with an 85.6 percent success rate. The Sharks were 24th, 79.6 percent.

Edge:
San Jose. 

Goalie: Evgeni who? Antti Niemi, a free-agent acquisition last offseason, has done more than just replace Evgeni Nabokov, the Sharks goalie for the better part of the last decade. The Sharks finally have a goalie with size --- which seems to be a must in the modern NHL --  and Niemi is coming off a season where he helped lead Chicago to the title. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had the sixth-best goals-against average (2.24), although he did lose three of four down the stretch and was yanked mid-game after he allowed four goals against the Sharks on April 4.

Edge: San Jose. 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 10, 2011 11:07 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 4:31 pm
 

NHL Playoffs: Western Conference breakdown

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks 


Season series: Chicago 2-2 ; Vancouver 2-1-1

Player to watch: Daniel Sedin, F, Vancouver Canucks. The twin of last year's Hart Trophy winne, Henrik, turned in another stellar regular season, leading the league in points (104) and assists (75). He’s averaged better than a point per game over the last two postseasons. 

X-factor: The Blackhawks’ energy level. The Blackhawks, like any Stanley Cup winner, had the shortest summer in hockey. Celebrations, a day with the Cup and all the ancillary rewards can take their toll. Then you lose a good chunk of the team via salary cap moves and you struggle to remain a contender all season. Chicago eventually needed a Dallas Stars loss Sunday to make it in. Let’s see what they have left. 

Schedule:
Game 1 - Wednesday (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver                
Game 2 - Friday (10 p.m.)  Chicago at Vancouver                
Game 3 - April 17  (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago                
Game 4 - April 19 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago                            
*Game 5 - April 21 (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver                
*Game 6 - April 24 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago                
*Game 7 - April 26 (TBD) Chicago at Vancouver                

No. 2 San Jose Sharks vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Kings


Season series: Los Angeles 3-3-0; Jose Sharks 3-1-2

Player to watch: Joe Thornton, F, San Jose Sharks. Thornton took only a couple faceoffs over the last five games of the regular season, although the center said on a conference call with reporters that could change in the playoffs. (As is the case, nobody is calling the move off the faceoff dot was caused by an injury.) He scored his 1000th NHL point earlier this weekend and had 70 points (21 goals and 49 assists) this season. 

X-factor: The Kings’ offense. Los Angeles lost its two top scorers -- Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams -- in closing weeks of the regular season. It’ll be up to Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth and Dustin Penner to pick up the slack. 

Schedule:   Game 1 - Thursday (10 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose                
Game 2 - Saturday (10 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose                
Game 3 - April 19 (10:30 p.m.)  San Jose at Los Angeles                
Game 4 - April 21 (10:30 p.m.) San Jose at Los Angeles                
*Game 5 - April 23 (10:30 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose                
*Game 6 - April 25 (TBD) San Jose at Los Angeles                
*Game 7 - April 27 (TBD)  Los Angeles at San Jose                

No. 3 Detroit Red Wings vs. No. 6 Phoenix Coyotes


Season series: Detroit, 2-1-1; Phoenix 2-0-2

Player to watch: Shane Doan, F, Phoenix Coyotes. The last Winnipeg Jets player left on the Coyotes missed the final four games with a separated shoulder when these two teams clashed in the first round a season ago. He was the Coyotes’ only 20-goal scorer this season and led the team with 60 points. 

X-factor: Will Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg make it back? He missed the final two regular season games with a lower body injury, and coach Mike Babcock told reporters Sunday that he doesn’t expect him back for the start of the series. He led the Wings with 80 points (24 goals and 56 assists). 

Schedule: 
Game 1 - Wednesday (7 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit                
Game 2 - Saturday (1 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit                
Game 3 - April 18 (10:30 p.m.)  Detroit at Phoenix                
Game 4 - April 20 (10:30 p.m.) Detroit at Phoenix                
*Game 5 - April 22 (7 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit                
*Game 6 - April 24 (TBD) Detroit at Phoenix                
*Game 7 - April 27 (TBD) Phoenix at Detroit                                          

No. 4 Anaheim Ducks vs. No. 5 Nashville Predators


Season series: Anaheim 1-3-1;  Nashville 3-1-0

Player to watch: Corey Perry, F, Anaheim Ducks. He’s the only player to reach 50 goals this season. Sure, he plays on arguably the best line in hockey, but he did have to carry things when Ryan Getzlaf was out about a month with a sinus fracture.


X-factor: The Ducks’ goalie situation. Dan Ellis, acquired before the deadline from the Tampa Bay Lightning, could be the starter by default. Starter Jonas Hiller returned for one game (March 24) after a 15-game absence due to vertigo and went on to miss the final eight games. Ray Emery suffered a lower body injury in the penultimate game of the season and his status is also not clear for the playoffs. It's certainly not nearly as stable as Nashville, who have a Vezina candidate, Pekka Rinne, healthy in net. 

Schedule:  
Game 1 - Wednesday (10:30 p.m.)  Nashville at Anaheim                          
Game 2 - Friday (10:30 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim                          
Game 3 - April 17 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville                
Game 4 - April 20 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville                
*Game 5 - April 22 (10 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim                
*Game 6 - April 24 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville                        
*Game 7 - April 26 (TBD) - Nashville at Anaheim   

* - if necessary 

All times Eastern
Posted on: April 10, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: April 10, 2011 2:12 am
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