San Jose Sharks
(We’re moving right along with the CtA season preview. Today we take a look at the Pacific Divison which has a ton of old guys.)
#3 Phoenix (97) -#7 San Jose (96) – #8 Los Angles (95) – Dallas (89) – Anaheim (80)
LOS ANGELES KINGS:
New Guys: Nobody. This team is pretty much the opposite of the 2010 Blackhawks. They get to keep the band together.
Gone: Nobody. Well, Ethan Moreau retired, but he doesn’t really count.
Young players to keep an eye on: The Kings have a number of fantastic young offensive players in their system, but with every position on the roster filled, it doesn’t look like there will be a need to carry any of them. Should a center go down, Andrei Loktionov would be a candidate to fill the roster spot. Slava Voynov is the kid on the blue line and should get more minutes in his second season. While he had a quiet playoff, he’s still one of the most intriguing young defenseman in the NHL and possess with an absolute blast from the point. Dwight King, who was stellar for the Kings when they got hit with the injury bug, will also enter his second season.
Outlook: Pretty damn good. The lockout should have taken care of any hangover problems and they have the entire Cup roster ready to make another run. Watch out.
New Guys: 112 year old Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, Cody Eakin, Aaron Rome (eww) and Ray Whitney (also old).
Gone: Brad Richards (just rubbing it in), Mike Ribeiro (SUSHI), Sheldon Souray (has a ‘Baywatch’ wife), Steve Ott (gross) and Adam Burish (I thought he sucked but you all loved him).
Young Players to (probably not) watch: They have a couple good young prospects like goaltender Jack Campbell, Brett Ritchie and 6’7 fucking monster Jamie Oleksiak – but I’m not sure any of these guys fit into their immediate plans. There may be spots to be had on their (weak) blue line for players like Brenden Dillion and Patrick Nemeth. Personally, I love those hulking defenseman so I hope its Oleksiak.
Outlook: It’s sort of sad to see the Stars Twitterverse treating Jagr as if he were Sidney Crosby. But I guess it can’t be denied the Stars are sporting a different look this year and that should be refreshing to their fans. Roy and Eakin strengthen the Stars down the middle, yes, but that defense still looks awfully suspect. The Stars always seem to hover right around that 8th spot and I’m sure they’ll be right there again. Maybe the addition of a few seasoned vets like Jagr and Whitney will get them back into the playoffs……or maybe not. The best news for the team this offseason was the announcement that will be sporting a new uniform very soon. We can all agree this is a good thing.
New players: Steve Sullivan (still alive), Zybnek Michalek, David Moss and Nick Johnson.
Gone: Ray Whitney, Adrian Aucoin (only Columbus would have him) and Taylor Pyatt.
Young players to keep an eye on: Puck mover David Runbland should make the team. Otherwise, there aren’t many spots on the blue-line to be had and their offensive pipeline is nil.
Outlook: This team is boring as hell and I don’t want to really waste my team thinking about them. A lot depends on Mike Smith replicating his performance from last season. A dull team that competes every single night. Always dangerous. Continuing to watch Oliver Ekman-Larrson develop will be a pleasure. He should give fans in either Seattle or Quebec City something to cheer about for years to come.
New Players: Bryan Allen, Sheldon Souray, Daniel Winnik and Brad Staubitz.
Gone: Lubomir Visnovsky (currently doing everything he can not to be an Islander), Sheldon Brookbank (now a Blackhawk) and the mustachioed George Parros.
Not Gone: Teemu Selanne. He’s sticking around for one more season. Admit it, you don’t give a shit about the Ducks and you wanted him to be a Jet. I sure did
Young players to keep an eye on: Devante Smith-Pelly and potentially Emerson Etem. Both are good, strong forwards on a team desperately in need of some depth behind their big three. Power forward Kyle Palmeri is another candidate to see time in the NHL.
Outlook: Bruce Boudreau will coach his first full season with the Ducks. They got some help on the back end in free agency, but this is still a team with a few glaring problems. My theroy is that Jonas Hiller struggled because he stopped wearing that badass black helmet with the gold cage. Or maybe it was the vertigo. This is a team that teases a fire sale every year, but if they stumble this season it could finally happen. I want Bobby Ryan.
San Jose Sharks:
New Players: Brad Stuart (former Red Wing) and Adam Burish.
Gone: Torrey Mitchell and Daniel Winnik.
Young players to watch: Uh, none? There’s that tool who wears #69. They have Chicago area native Tommy Wingels who played well for them last season. They also have Sebastian Stalberg – Vik’s brother. In retrospect, they probably shouldn’t have traded Charlie Coyle.
Outlook: This is a team that has a bunch of good players but just never seems to be able to but it all together. Are Stuart and Burish what they’ve been missing all along? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I’m always conflicted when I think about the Sharks. I want to pull for Marty and Nemo and Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski are certainly likable players. But at the end of the day the fuckbaggery of Joe Thornton and guys likes Marc -Edouard Vlasic are enough to make me forget all that other stuff. Remember Thronton’s repeated targeting of the head of Jonathan Toews? Vlasic’s love of the slash behind the play? Then add the whole Hjammer offersheet thing. Yeah, screw the Sharks.
It’s difficult to believe that less than a month ago, Chicago took down the San Jose Sharks at the United Center; and furthermore that the game was our second straight victory over San Jose this year. The only game we lost to the Sharks was in the Tank back in November on the Circus trip, and that was a 1-0 loss.
We can skate with this team. Well… we could skate with this team. Of late we can’t skate with Edmonton, or Colorado, or any one of a host of other teams that we should skate circles around. We’re having trouble beating the bottom feeders these days.
The Sharks are in first place in the Pacific Division. Oh Nellie, here we go…
Out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak. After a humiliating loss to the Red Wings on Saturday, the Blackhawks get to suit up against yet another Western Conference rival on a hot streak in the form of San Jose. The new year has been good to the Sharks, with 6 wins and a shootout loss to their credit thus far.
In those six victories, they never allowed their opponents to tally more than twice. Defense is a big key to the Sharks’ game — they are 5th-best in the league in goals against. There is just one regular member of the Sharks roster who has a negative plus/minus. One. It’s Jason Demers, in case you’re interested.
But that’s not to say the Sharks have lost their once-potent offense. The usual one-two punch of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau is still as effective as ever, with the three-four punch combination of Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture close behind. Those four account for over 130 points of the Sharks’ offense. This is not a team that is prone to sitting back and protecting a lead.
Daddy likes the sauce.
Patrick Sharp potted his second consecutive overtime winner and first as a father, sealing a 3-2 Blackhawks win over San Jose on Sunday night at the United Center.
While Sharpie’s handsome winner and Andrew Brunette’s deflection with a little over a minute remaining to tie the game were fantastic, the ‘Hawks played like they were wearing slippers for the first 40 minutes. Getting outshot 33-13 through the first two periods is just downright embarrassing, and it caused Q to switch up his lines – and rightly so – to start the third.
Whether it was that which sparked the rally or the Sharks playing not to lose, the Blackhawks were able to improve to 6-1-1 in their last eight games and are taking advantage of a favorable schedule like we all hoped.
Quick thoughts before Boxing…
♦ It’s true Jonathan Toews didn’t play his best game tonight, and there might be a reason: His 26 minutes, 55 seconds of ice time were a career-high, as Ben Smith sat and watched. Granted, Toews playing this many minutes simply can’t happen night after night, but Q called on his Captain to play the necessary minutes to get the ‘Hawks back into it. Toews went 14 for 23 on the faceoff dot, including winning the draw leading to Brunette’s equalizer. That’s why he’s the best player in the world at this moment. He doesn’t need to show up on the score sheet to affect the outcome of a game.
♦ Speaking of Brunette’s goal, the ‘Hawks executed the play just as it was drawn up. Brunette darted straight for the blue paint after the puck was dropped. Two quick passes and a one-timer toward the net gave the ‘Hawks exactly the type of goal they were looking for to beat Antti Niemi, whose solid performance went for naught.
♦ Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe are complete ass hats. Thornton should have gotten another minor for shoving Toews around the ice after his high stick, and I’m still in shock Clowe didn’t have to start OT in the box after punching everything in a ‘Hawks sweater.
♦ Ray Emery is the reason the ‘Hawks even had a chance to tie and win that game late. He’s 3-0-1 in starting the last four games, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he started Wednesday in Minnesota against the surging Wild. Corey Crawford isn’t going to get off the bench soon if Emery keeps this up.
♦ FREE STUFF ALERT! I’m going to be giving away two free tickets in Sec. 326 to Friday’s game against Anaheim. No catches, the tickets are a free holiday gift as an appreciation for stopping by and reading us here at our new home since moving here in June. The random drawing will be held Tuesday, and one winner will get both tickets. Contest rules will be posted Tuesday morning on Cheer the Anthem’s Facebook page, so if you haven’t “liked” it yet, you better do it now. Only those who “like” the page have a shot at winning the tickets. Good luck!
Boxing is all I’ve got from here…
Most of you noticed the cavernous silence coming from Cheer The Anthem following the pair of weekend losses that shall be known henceforth as “The Alberta Ass-Whooping of 2011.” Between the two games, we were out-scored 14 – 4. That’s a High School JV football game.
The net effect was like a nature special with hyenas tearing apart a carcass: what could we say? Edmonton in particular was like watching a game of dodgeball between a class of fourth-graders and the University of North Carolina basketball team. Lambs to the slaughter.
Weekends like those are when being a blogger sucks the worst. You can’t talk up the positives, because there weren’t any; you don’t want to jump on the bring-up-the-IceHogs-and-fire-the-coaches bandwagon, because you know in a week they’ll be lighting up goalies like artificial Christmas trees. So what do you say?
Nothing. There’s nothing to say. All you can do is look forward, and that time is here. It’s game time again, tonight at the Shark Tank. San Jose awaits.
Finally, the Blackhawks got to Antti Niemi.
The 6-3 win Monday night boosted the ‘Hawks up to the 4th spot again in the West and ended a three-game losing streak which had many talking “Must Win” against San Jose. I don’t care how bad ass or bleak things look, every game is “Must Win.” Get used to it.
Patrick Sharp had four assists in the second period alone, tying Jim Pappin’s franchise record set in 1973 – with two of them coming on the power play to Marian Hossa, who put both through Niemi’s five-hole. Hossa’s goals gave him at least 20 for the 11th straight season. Boom.
And who better than Jonathan Toews to provide the goal which ran Niemi. The Captain seems to have his hand in everything, setting a career-high with 71 points in the victory.
Seeing Niemi trudge toward the bench was bittersweet, in a way. Him getting the hook tonight gave me little satisfaction. Yes, it was nice to get back at him for the three defeats earlier this season. However, I would’ve felt the same way if it was Antero Niittymaki getting pulled. Going out for revenge at this point in the season is senseless. Sharp admitted it was nice to get to Niemi, but everyone made a point to say the win is what matters. There’s just always going to be a soft spot for a guy who really, truly wanted to stay in Chicago.
Speaking of goaltenders, Corey Crawford gets yet another win despite pretty much everyone lobbying for him to get a rest. Though he got the W tonight, he’s given up 16 goals in the last five games. And if he lost to Niemi, wouldn’t you believe Crawford’s confidence would have been completely shot, especially heading into the playoffs? Well, David Haugh sure as hell believes it.
Here’s what sent me into a rage:
Yet of all the Hawks, rookie goaltender Corey Crawfordperhaps can benefit most from having success on a night defined by Niemi’s failure. Crawford was coming off one of his roughest weeks mentally. Had Niemileft town with a 4-0 record against the Hawks, Crawford could have spent the next month awaiting the playoffs suffering by comparison.
(Begin rant)Want to talk about suffering? How about seeing Haugh’s byline next to anything Blackhawks-related. When you’re being read simply so people can laugh at whatever loads of bullshit you want to make up that day, that’s when you need to stop writing about a sport you know nothing about. (End rant)
Patrick Kane hit a milestone with his 100th career goal, Viktor Stalberg even got in a nice whack in to contribute.
And with that … BOXING:
How many times can we use the phrase, “must-win” in a single year? What about “do-or-die?” Or “crunch time?” It seems I’m typing those phrases almost daily now, and this is no exception. With the Blackhawks’ OTL to the Capitals on Sunday, Chicago dropped into 7th in the Western Conference standings, just two points from having to fluff the throw pillows before playoff games.
And look who we’re playing! The San Jose Sharks, who sit first in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of us, and who are looking for a sweep in their season series against the ‘Hawks.
Long and short: if we thought Washington was a hard-fought game, this one is going to be even worse.
If there’s one thing this team has been able to do in recent years, it’s fight through adversity. When faced with ugly circumstances, this team has faced each challenge head-on, often coming out on top, but never going down without a fight. Remember last season, when we fell behind to Calgary 5 – 0 in the first period, but fought back to win 6 – 5 in overtime? I hope we see that kind of who-says-we-can’t attitude tonight when the Blackhawks take on the San Jose Sharks at the UC. 12 of the players from that game will be on the ice tonight.
The Sharks are coming off a loss to lowly Minnesota, which follows being shut out by Los Angeles on Monday. Offensively San Jose is an open book. Their top-six forwards, plus defenseman Dan Boyle, are scoring threats. The rest of the team are no more useful than figure skaters in hockey gear. Keep those seven guys under wraps, and the Blackhawks can win.
Let me know if I should keep doing this or not …
Well, it’s the regular season and that means Joe Thornton may actually be visible on the ice tonight. And unless you’ve been preoccupied with your plot to murder Nick Boynton, you know that Jonathan Toews won’t be suiting up for a couple weeks.
So, before the Blackhawks take on the Sharks for the third time this season after dropping the first two at The Tank, let’s breakdown the matchup with some statistics from the recent regular season history between the two teams.
The BLACKHAWKS are …
… 20-15-3 (2nd, Central)
… 12-9-0 at home
… 6-4-1 in December
… 6-3-1 in their last 10 (Lost 1)
… 6-2-1 against the Pacific Division
… 16-7-2 when scoring first
… 16-3-1 when leading after 2nd period
The SHARKS are …
… 19-13-5 (3rd, Pacific)
… 9-8-2 on the road
… 8-5-1 in December
… 5-4-1 in their last 10 (Lost 2)
… 5-4-1 against the Central Division
… 13-2-3 when scoring first
… 15-2-2 when leading after 2nd period
POWER PLAY: Blackhawks, 24.6% (1st) ; Sharks, 23.1% (6th)
PENALTY KILL: Blackhawks 79.0% (26th) ; Sharks 82.3% (13th)
» The Blackhawks are 0-for-20 on the power play in the last 7 vs. the Sharks
» The Sharks are 7-0-2 in their last 9 visits to the United Center
Click the jump for more STATS
Sorry loyal readers, but there won’t be any “Boxing” for the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Sharks on Saturday night. I was part of a world-record crowd in Ann Arbor during that day for The Big Chill at the Big House to watch the Michigan Wolverine manhandle my Michigan State Spartans, then had some internet issues on Sunday.
To be very brief, the loss wasn’t all that bad to swallow. Sure, things could have gone better. However, the Blackhawks ran into a very good Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford played very well. Sometimes the amount of goals just don’t work out in your favor.
Jordan Hendry got on the scoresheet and — for a brief moment — out of Q’s doghouse, but that was more out of necessity than anything.
Viktor Stalberg got robbed of a goal and the officiating was suspect all night, but that is one of the few complaints I have.
Oh, and the dipshits who constantly boo Brian Campbell because he played six minutes in a Sharks uniform.
Once again, I apologize for the lack of “Boxing” or more in-depth recap, but that will be coming tonight after the Avs game.
Spinner will be along shortly with the weekend Espo and Tim will have your preview for tonight’s game around 3pm.