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A busy road trip for the Sharks

(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, January 23, 2013)

Two games, two cities, two wins by three goals each, a new player.  Busy few days for the Sharks.

Such games can make a fan base hungry like an infusion of MSG.  Raise the bar that way and folks are more happy than grateful.  They say things like “where were these Sharks last season?”  Ten goals in two games?  Two multi-goal games for Marleau?  Goals from Boyle in both games?  Six goals in one period?

Edmonton.  Calgary.  Still, better to win than lose, and winning with authority is best.  Do we thank the new coaches?  Do we thank the fact that the players have been chomping at the bit to get going for months now?  I feel the need to thank someone, everyone for the way the Sharks looked.

How ’bout that new penalty kill?  Um… maybe the team should avoid taking penalties and it won’t matter so much.  But of all the things the team was doing, that was the most new thing, so I’m willing to be a little patient.

Did the Sharks look tired?  Why should they, they didn’t have to play back to back games, they haven’t played in eons, not NHL hockey anyway.  And yet some teams looked a lot more unprepared than the Sharks did those first few days of the season.  The Sharks weren’t doing a lot weary reaching for the puck, they weren’t chasing the other team in a bunch of losing foot races.  They looked good, even if they weren’t playing the best teams in the West.

James Sheppard got to play.  In 8:10 of ice time, he recorded one shot and one hit.  He was not on the ice for any goals against, he didn’t take any penalties.  It was a good start for a guy not accustomed to a 4th line role.  Frazer McLaren also did no harm in his return to the NHL, but he had less ice time, and didn’t get credit for a hit or a shot.  When you’re talking such small numbers, those last don’t seem very significant.

Niemi did a good job, he got a lot of praise on TV and on Twitter.  I still miss the more limber,  slightly quicker Niemi from his first few weeks as a Shark.  Sure, he overslid a lot back then and wasn’t as good with his glove, but he appeared more nimble.  Maybe that was just because he was having to hustle to get back to his net.   I don’t know.  The difference between then and now doesn’t matter too much if the team can sustain some defense in front of him.

The Sharks took a guest with them on the trip.  Scott Gomez got to skate with the team and everyone wanted to know what he was doing there, how could they win a trip like that?   The Sharks didn’t announce a contract until they got back to San Jose. For one year (really 4-5 months) at $700k, seems like a lot of fuss and stalling.   Oh well, he’s a Shark now, which I think a lot of people expected, WHAT WITH HIM TRAVELING TO TWO CITIES WITH THE TEAM and all.

I guess this means he won’t be using his knee to pin Couture to the ice by his neck any time soon.  Maybe I’m misremembering, maybe that wasn’t Gomez at all.  In any case, that’s probably a perfectly good tactic for everyone to not use.  Ever again.  On anyone.

The arrival of Scott Gomez pushed Brent Burns to IR.  Why Burns was not on IR before is a mystery.  I mean, you can announce a roster without 23 players, can’t you?  It isn’t like they needed an extra name on the list, and it came down to a coin toss between Burns and Demers.  Or was it?

The Sharks also signed Tim Kennedy  From the Sharks’ press release:

This season with Worcester, Kennedy leads the team in scoring with 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) and a +5 in 31 games. He was selected to the 2013 AHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team but has missed the last nine regular season games due to injury. He was also named the AHL Player of the Week (ending Dec. 2) after scoring five goals and boasting a +5 ranking in three games.

He was immediately put on waivers so he can play in Worcester.  The Worcester Sharks have missed him, for reasons detailed above.   This would lead me to believe he must be not injured anymore, but:

@210Darryl: It has been announced that Tm Kennedy will not be available to play in the AHL All-Star Classic. #WorSharks

Because nothing can be simple in Shark territory.

Last season the Sharks started with a blowout of a win.  That was against the Coyotes, six goals in the first two periods, ending 6-3.  They will get to play their first home game again against the Coyotes, but the chances of another 6-3 result have to be infinitesimal.  That would be too much of a coincidence.  I just hope they can ride this crazy wave they jumped on a little while longer.  Six goals aren’t necessary, all I ask is some sustained momentum.

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