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Team USA Probables

Pavelski on Team USA

As the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are fast approaching, this is the first post in a series of posts discussing which Sharks players are eligible for what team, and who has a chance at playing in Sochi. This article will focus on Team USA.

There are many Sharks who were born in the United States, and therefore qualify to be on Team USA. On the team, forwards Mike Brown, Adam Burish, John McCarthy, Joe Pavelski, and Tommy Wingels all qualify to be on Team USA. In addition to these forwards, defenseman Justin Braun and Goaltender Alex Stalock were also born in the US.

As shown above, Joe Pavelski played for Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and is the most likely of any of the Sharks mentioned above to play for Team USA in 2014. It would be hard to imagine Team USA without Joe Pavelski.

Its difficult to say who else from the Sharks will be able to play in Sochi, as Team USA has many skilled players contending for spots in Sochi. With players like Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, and David Backes all vying for forward spots, there won’t be many Sharks forwards on Team USA. In addition to Joe Pavelski, the only other Shark forward that I could see making Team USA would be Tommy Wingels, but his chances are almost none. As Wingels career progresses, I definitely believe he will make Team USA at some point, but I don’t think his chances are great this year.

Along with talented forwards, Team USA has many strong defensive candidates too, like Brooks Orpik and Ryan Suter. Despite this, Justin Braun may have a chance to make Team USA, but like Tommy Wingels, Justin Braun’s chances aren’t great. In my opinion, Braun still needs to develop before he will be able to play in the Olympics. Currently, I believe Braun isn’t fundamentally strong enough to be able to play in Sochi.

Similarly, with competition like Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick, Alex Stalock will not be playing in Sochi. As a backup goaltender, Stalock will not be playing for Team USA this year. But, similarly to Wingels, Stalock may be able to make Team USA later in his career.

In summary, here are my predictions for Sharks that will make the Team USA 2014 roster for the Sochi Olympics:

Yes: Joe Pavelski

Maybe: Justin Braun

 


Questions or Comments?

Comment Below or Email me at: kellen.sharksblog@gmail.com

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Sharks Jump out to Early Lead Over Blues

Burns Celebrates Goal

In an action packed game, topped off with Brent Burns’ first career hat trick, the Sharks were able to defeat the surging St. Louis Blues. The Sharks were able to jump out to an early lead with a goal just 35 seconds into the game by Brent Burns. Another goal by Burns, along with goals by Thornton and Wingels gave the Sharks a 4 goal lead at the end of the first period.

But, as has been a characteristic of the Sharks this season, the Sharks relaxed coming into the second and allowed the Blues to claw their way back into the game. After scoring 4 goals in the first period, the Sharks didn’t score again until late in the third period. In between their 4th and 5th goals the Sharks allowed St. Louis to score 3 goals, giving the Blues a chance. Fortunately, the Sharks were able to get goals from Burns and Hertl to grab a 6-3 victory.

Interestingly, the Sharks are 11-0-1 when Brent Burns is in the lineup, which may not surprise fans after Burns’ 4 point performance today. In contrast, the Sharks are 6-3-5 when Burns is not in the lineup.

What surprised me most about this game though was Braun’s selection for 3rd star of the game. I did not feel he deserved to be the third star of the game, and was actually at fault for St. Louis’ 3rd goal:

On this play, as the only defenseman back, it is Braun’s job to not allow a pass across the ice to the other forward breaking in, in this case Jaden Schwartz. This would allow Niemi to square up to Vladimir Sobotka and try to cut down his angle. Niemi does this, but Braun fails to do his job, allowing Schwartz score, threatening the Sharks lead. This isn’t a very complicated concept for defensemen, as this skill is taught to youth hockey players. Braun, as an NHL defensemen, should know that he is defending a 2-on-1 and know that his role is to block the pass and let Niemi take the shot. So why he is then given 3rd star of the game after giving St. Louis a goal is beyond me.

Despite this, the Sharks did many things well this game:

  1. Shots – The Sharks were able to get 32 shots on goal this game.
  2. Blocked Shots – The Sharks were able to block 27 shots this game.
  3. The Sharks were able to come out strong this game and put St. Louis in an early hole.

What the Sharks need to work on for next game:

  1. The Sharks need to be more disciplined. They were short-handed 7 times this game, but were able to survive killing 6 of 7 penalties.
  2. The Sharks had too many giveaways. They recorded 18 giveaways this game.
  3. The Sharks need to play all 3 periods. They came out strong in the first period, but slacked off in the second and the first half of the third, allowing the Blues to climb back into the game.

Next the Sharks will take on the Anaheim Ducks at 7:30 (PT) at the SAP Center in San Jose. This is a big game for the Sharks, as they are tied for 1st in the Pacific Division with Anaheim at 39 points.


Questions or Comments?

Comment Below or Email me at: kellen.sharksblog@gmail.com

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Game Preview: Sharks vs. Flames: March 6, 2013

Kipper makes a save on Ryan Clowe

After last night’s game versus the Vancouver Canucks, the Sharks boarded their plane and prepare to play against the Calgary Flames.They will take the ice in Calgary in less than 24 hours after the game against Vancouver. So far this season, the Sharks and Flames have only faced off once, resulting in a 4-1 victory for the Sharks in their first game of the season. Despite this success in Calgary earlier this season, the Sharks are 4-5-1 on the road this season, while the Flames are 5-5-2 at home in the 2012-2013 campaign. Much like this game and all of the other games the Sharks have played this season, this game will present a good challenge for the Sharks. At this point in the season, the Flames have 7th best power play in the NHL with a 21.33% conversion rate, scoring 16 goals in 75 chances. On the other end of the spectrum, the Flames have the 8th worst penalty kill in the NHL with a kill rate of 78.57%. So a struggling Flames penalty kill will be tested by a struggling Sharks power play, which is currently ranked 13th with a conversion rate of 17.35%. In comparison, the Flames 7th place power play will be opposed by the Sharks 4th ranked penalty kill. This will be a big game for the Sharks because they are only 7 points behind the Ducks and 1 point ahead of the Coyotes. Also, with this win, the Sharks are tied with the defending Champions for 2nd place in the Pacific Division. Tomorrow, the Kings will play the Stars in Los Angeles.

Keys to the Game:

  1. Score first – This season when the Sharks have scored first, they are 9-3-1. If they score first, they will have a good chance at winning.
  2. Faceoffs – The only time the Sharks played the Flames this year, the Sharks won 61% of faceoffs. This allowed them to set up plays and gain possession in order to make something happen.
  3. Special teams – As we saw in last night’s game, special teams are critical to success in a game. They Sharks were not only able to shut down the Canucks power play, but they were actually able to get a short-handed goal from Adam Burish.
  4. Goaltending – That night, the Sharks received a command performance from their player of the month for January and February, Antti Niemi. Because he played last night, Thomas Griess will most likely getting the start tonight.
  5. Forechecking – A key element that the Sharks weren’t able to be successful at against the Canucks. If the Sharks can successfully forecheck the Flames, they can disrupt the fluidity of their play and keep the puck in their attacking zone. The few times that the Sharks were able to successfully forecheck against the Canucks, they were able to get some good scoring chances.
  6. Stay Out of the Box – The Flames have a strong power play. Don’t test it. The Sharks need to avoid taking penalties, if possible, especially unnecessary penalties, like Clowe is notorious for.

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Sharks Win Shootout Thriller On The Road

Joe Pavelski Scores a Shootout Goal

“Little Joe” Pavelski showed that he is anything but little when he won the game for the Sharks in Vancouver. Leading up to this point, both teams had many chances, which amounted to a thrilling game, but little scoring. The Sharks were able to get two goals early on from Scott Gomez and Adam Burish, who were finally able to get “Off the Schnyde”. Gomez scored his first goal as a Shark in the first period off of a slapshot from the high slot. Burish scored his first goal in teal while the Canucks were on the power play early in the second period, after he received a nice pass from Brad Stuart, which sent him on a breakaway. Unfortunately, the Sharks weren’t able to hold their lead and gave up two goals in the last 6:30 of the second period. After these goals, none were scored until the shootout, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some good scoring chances. The last 10 minutes of the third period were action packed and full of chances, but neither team was able to score. Through overtime, no goals were scored either, which forced the Sharks to participate in their 7th shootout of the year. The Sharks, who entered the shootout with a record of 3-3, faced the Canucks, who entered with a shootout record of 2-4. Fortunately, with goals from Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks were able to win the shootout on the road, and get themselves prepared.

What the Sharks Did Well:

  1. Special teams – The Sharks were able to shut down the Canucks power play and not let them score. Not only were they able to be strong on the penalty kill, they were able to generate some offense down a man too, in which they got a key short-handed goal from Adam Burish. 
  2. Contribution From Unusual Players – The Sharks were able to get 2 goals from players who hadn’t scored all season, Adam Burish and Scott Gomez. These players not only got their 1st goals of the season, but they got their 1st goals as Sharks. The assists on these goals also came from players that don’t normally contribute offensively; Brad Stuart and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Stuart had assists on both Gomez’s and Burish’s goals, while Vlasic had an assist on Gomez’s goal.

What the Sharks Didn’t Do Well:

  1. Forechecking – The Sharks weren’t able to pressure the Canucks defense and create some offensive zone turnovers. Instead of having the puck in the offensive zone and trying to set up a scoring chance, because they weren’t able to create a turnover, the Sharks were forced to play defense instead of offense. The Canucks had a strong forecheck and they created many offensive zone turnovers.
  2. Turnovers – The Sharks had several turnovers, one of which directly caused them a goal. Even if a turnover didn’t cost the Sharks a goal, they still forced the Sharks to scramble and try to get the puck back, instead of taking the puck up the ice and trying to set up a play of their own.
  3. Didn’t Take Away Time – The Sharks allowed the Canucks to take the puck into the zone and set up plays, instead of pressuring them and causing turnovers. When good teams are allowed to take the zone and set up a play, they will make something happen, which the Canucks were able to do.
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Sharks Get Much Needed Win Over Predators

Martin Havlat shoots on Pekka Rinne

 

The Sharks were able to use their special teams to their advantage (excluding the short-handed goal they gave up) and put 2 powerplay goals in the net to give them a much needed win. After losing 10 of their last 12 before entering Saturday night’s game. The Sharks were able to win their first game against Nashville this year, and were able to do so in regulation, the first of three games this year between two teams that ended in regulation.

The Sharks were able to defeat the Predators 2-1, with powerplay goals from Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski, moving their powerplay to 12th in the NHL with a 17.89% conversion rate. Although their powerplay gave the Sharks 2 goals, they also gave up a short-handed goal to Gabriel Bourque. Despite this goal, the Sharks were able to hold off the Predators and get their 10th win of the season. With this win, the Sharks move up to 2nd in the Pacific Division, trailing the red hot Ducks by 8 points.

After this win, the Sharks prepare to take on the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday March 5th at 7:00pm in Vancouver. The Canucks have just 2 more points than the Sharks with a record of 11-5-4, compared to the Sharks 10-6-4. The Sharks have only faced the Canucks once this season, winning the matchup 4-1.

Before the Sharks and Canucks play, the Coyotes, who trail the Sharks by only one point, are scheduled to take on the Anaheim Ducks on Monday March 4th in Phoenix. The Coyotes and the Ducks played on March 2nd in Phoenix, with the Desert Dogs winning 5-4 in a shootout. Either way this game turns out, the Sharks see benefits and repercussions from this game. If the Coyotes win, then the Sharks fall behind the Coyotes by one point and fall to 3rd in the Pacific. But if the Coyotes win, then the Sharks have an opportunity on Tuesday to gain ground on the division leading Ducks, and can reduce the gap from 8 to 6 points, if the Coyotes win in regulation. If the Ducks win, the Sharks won’t be able to gain ground on the Ducks, but if the Sharks defeat the Canucks, they can put some distance between themselves and the Coyotes, who only trail the Sharks by one point.


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Yet Another NHL Lockout

The 2012 Lockout

 

As the clock ticked to 12:00AM ET,marking the end of September 15 and the deadline for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the NHL officially went into another lockout.This lockout is the 4th in the last 20 years, the most of any professional sport.

Fortunately for hockey fans, the lockout doesn’t mark the end of the 2012-2013 hockey season. If a new CBA can be reached by the start of the season, then there will be a full season of hockey this year. If the CBA is agreed to sometime mid-season, the season will still be played, but with a shortened schedule. If no agreement is reached by or around Christmas time, then the season won’ t happen.

Despite the possibility of some or all of the season being cancelled, the lockout brings one major positive to the NHL. If a Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached around the mid-season time, there is the possibility of the season being started with the Bridgestone Winter Classic. This years Winter Classic is scheduled to be played between 2 Original Six teams, the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Sharks Hold On To Lead For First Win Of Series

After losing two strait, the Sharks decided that they weren’t going to lose another game. They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead at the end of the first. The score stayed that way through the second also. At this point it seemed fairly easy for the Sharks but, of course, nothing important in life comes easy. Just after a minute into the period, the Canucks scored. But even after this the Sharks still seemed like they would win, especially since the Sharks scored a powerplay goal just five minutes after the Canucks scored, giving the Sharks their three goal lead back. And as the game progressed the Sharks seemed more and more likely to win. But 11 minutes into the third things took a turn for the worse when Jamie McGinn took a five minute major and a game misconduct for boarding*, his second game misconduct of the 2011 playoffs.

That means that the Canucks got five minutes to score as many goals as they could in five minutes and they still wouldn’t lose their powerplay. In those five minutes the Canucks scored two goals making the score 4-3. Luckily the Sharks were able to fight off the surging Canucks to win the game 4-3.

* Today the NHL reviewed McGinn’s hit and didn’t give him any further discipline.

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2nd Round Set

 

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The 2nd round of the NHL playoffs was set tonight after the 4th game 7 in two days was ended. Here are the second round matchups:

Western Conference:                                                                                Eastern Conference:

Seed 1 Canucks vs Seed 5 Predators                     Seed 1 Capitals vs Seed 5 Lightning

Seed 2 Sharks vs Seed 3 Red Wings                                Seed 2 Flyers vs Seed 3 Bruins

For the second year in a row the 2nd round seeding has a pattern. Last year the two conferences had no seeds that matched, but this year it is the opposite. This year the seedings for the two conferences are the same for both conferences.

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Sharks To Play Wings

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With their overtime win, the Canucks finished round 1 for the Western Conference. The 2nd seeded Sharks are going to play the 3rd seeded Red Wings. It is going to be the Pacific Division Champion vs the    Champion. It is a chance for Detroit to get revenge on the Sharks who knocked them out in the 2nd round last year. Let’s hope Pavelski can produce as big of a series as he had last year against the Red Wings.

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Sharks Only Team Left In California

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Game 6 was an important game for the Sharks series. They went into the game with a 3-2 lead on the Kings and a chance to be the only NHL team remaining from California. And they capitalized on that opportunity and are now advancing to the second round to play either the Blackhawks or Red Wings, which is dependent on the outcome of the Vancouver vs Chicago series. That series is playing in a game 7  tonight.

The Sharks won their series in overtime at the Staples Center in L.A. Joe Thornton scored the series winning goal right after killing a five minute major that was called on Jamie McGinn  The Sharks last season beat the Avalanche in game 6 of the first round at the Pepsi Center only one day before the Sharks win last night.

 

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