Home » More & Less Hockey » The checklist: things to track while your team is just winning

The checklist: things to track while your team is just winning

(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, January 28, 2013)

The Sharks appear to be working from a checklist.  Obviously scoring in the first period is on that list.  They have done that ever since that disappointing game in Calgary.    Also, power play goals are important, their power play lacked some shock and awe last season.   Needed to fix that.

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Patrick Marleau had his two-goals-a-game objective.  Perhaps that was drawing too much public attention away from the team, so he skipped it last night.  Making NHL history would be way too high profile for such a modest guy.  Still, it was clear that the Sharks wanted to get that 2nd goal for Marleau, because historic records are fun to hold.  Too bad they were so worn out from back to back games.  

Who were they playing against last night?  I thought I heard it was some team that had a winning streak at HP Pavilion to defend.  Does it even matter who the Sharks play anymore?

I’m being facetious of course.  The Shark killers are out there, but this current winning streak harkens back to the adage: play your game, you can’t control what the other guy does.  The Sharks have a very strong game.  So long as they keep their heads together it really doesn’t matter who they play against, they will have a good chance of winning.  They just need to stick to the checklist.

During the first intermission, Ryane Clowe revealed something from his own list to Brodie Brazil:

“I needed to get a fight under my belt, it’s been a while..”

Check. I wonder how many penalty minutes Clowe has on his list?  I would guess he collected enough last night for several games to come.  Never put off ’til tomorrow the penalties you can take today!

What did Clowe say their objective was in that frenetic first period?

“I think last game even though we had a pretty good overall game, we didn’t have a good start. We wanted to rectify that tonight.  I think we had a much better start obviously, we had good legs, we had good jump.”

The Sharks did something they’ve never done before, starting the game 4 on 4.  Is that a good thing or just odd?  Shots on goal?  9-6 Sharks. Meh.  They scored two  goals in the first five minutes.  Good start: check.

On everyone’s checklist of course is the penalty kill.  I can’t remember which new coach said it, Robinson or Johnson, that they wouldn’t be changing much from last season, they would just be making some tweaks.  That is kind of like saying “no big change, you’ll still have two legs after we replace those defective ones you’ve got there.”

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Last night the penalty kill was a perfect 7 of 7.  That works for me.  We would never have seen such a stat were it not for Mr. Clowe.  You never know what you can do until you have to do it!

On my list is Niemi’s puck handling. He hasn’t been doing much in that department but I was floored by his mid-first period excursion to the blue line to help out on a Sharks power play.  He sent the puck through the neutral zone right to Clowe’s stick.  He also seemed much calmer behind the net, taking just enough time, showing a good awareness of what time he had to get the puck where it needed to go.  Check?

Even the posts seem to have a plan: stop as many shots as possible.

The thing about a checklist is that you hardly ever use it just once.  You make the list because you know you will need to use it again and again.  According to one tweet I saw, the season is only about 12% over.  As many check marks as they might have already made, the Sharks will have to keep checking that list for each and every game in the 88% of the season that remains.

Guessing games

Dan Boyle left the game early, but not because the refs told him too.  That was alarming.  Even with his phenomenal resilience, having him out isn’t a good thing.  I was contemplating Petrecki’s introduction to the lineup when I saw that Boyle had been pulled due to a bloody nose that wouldn’t stop bleeding.  That’s supposed to be reassuring???  HAS IT STOPPED YET????

I don’t think any of my opinions after last season were especially far-fetched. I wasn’t alone thinking the Sharks should keep McLellan and Marleau.  I know I wasn’t in the minority thinking they needed new ACs.   It’s still nice to see it all working out so well.

I need to gloat for a second about knowing that McLellan would put Desjardins in Clowe’s spot after Clowe was ejected from the game.  He had played on various Sharks lines before, unlike Gomez or Burish. He was playing the wing last night, even if it isn’t his usual spot.  Using Wingels wouldn’t make sense, why break up the third line when the fourth line has energy to spare?  He was the obvious choice.

It only wound up being 2 shifts but after much cutting and pasting of TOI stats, I found that my eyes did not deceive me, Desi  was indeed out there with Couture and Havlat in the 3rd period:

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It was just a tiny bit of rightness, but it was fun.  It also made me wonder what happened to Couture after that last mid-period shift.

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