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Archive for March, 2013

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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