(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, February 6, 2013)
The Sharks were missing a couple of Ds last night. Both Jason Demers and Andrew Desjardins missed all or part of the game for no good reason. Is it any surprise then, that the team allowed more goals against than they had all season? The NHL rescinded the match penalty against Andrew Desjardins the same night. I’m sure the Blues know how much not better that made the Sharks feel. It reminds me of a joke about a farmer, his new bride, and a cow: that’s two.*
“That doesn’t help a team that’s played a lot of hockey, needed that player and should have been on the power play for four minutes,” said an upset Todd McLellan… -Working the Corners
I beg to differ on the last point. In this case, saying that a power play would help the Sharks is not very accurate. I keep expecting the law of averages or some such normalizing factor to kick in, but the Sharks’ power play failure streak is becoming as noteworthy as their penalty killing streak. So on that point I wouldn’t have expected much from a power play, four minutes or other.
The hit itself was much less clear-cut than the Backes hit on Huskins. It did look to me like Desjardins made contact with Mayers’ head, but only after Desi’s should slid up off of Mayers’ shoulder. The league will have a hell of a time getting that sort of contact out of the game. As for the call being made by a linesman, that reminds me of something I’ve seen in ECHL games. All calls are guesswork of course. On-ice officials can’t review tape in the game, but someone needs to get these guys together and figure out what is what and who has the right to get a player tossed from the game. If there was enough doubt to admit an error even before the game ended, it should never have happened.
The absence of Desjardins was felt, I’m sure. His energy and versatility would have been useful. Even without him, the Sharks didn’t completely fall apart. There were a lot of mistakes. Clearly it was Braun’s night to err, as it has been Vlasic’s in other games. Douglas Murray’s miscalculation that led to a goal against, Dan Boyle having more trouble than usual settling the puck, way too many Sharks giving the puck away… did anyone not give it away?… All these things happen, and sometimes they happen more than they should. But despite some very sloppy play, the Shark’s weren’t blown out by the best team in the league. Maybe the ‘Hawks were having an off night.
In just about every stat, the teams were quite close. The only number that jumps out at me was the giveaway stat: the Sharks had 18 to the Blackhawks’ 13. That is ugly, but it still isn’t an overwhelming disparity. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the Sharks couldn’t, even after two losses in a row, find a way to avoid such a sloppy game. Yes, they were tired, yes the Blackhawks are very good and play a fast game and were all fresh as daisies after two days of rest. The Sharks still need to find a way to clean that mess up. They won’t get any mercy from this schedule, they need to have a backup plan.
There were some successes for the Sharks in the game. Scoring from the lower lines was a change of pace. Tommy Wingels’ goal was lovely, having Handzus score was a boon. But it makes me wonder if we should be careful what we wish for. What does it cost to get that depth scoring? Starting the game with Clowe on a line with Thornton and Pavelski was was an experiment too far. I like those three individually, but together on the same line they’re not going anywhere fast.
Where was Jason Demers?
@PollakOnSharks: Why Demers sitting for #SJShharks? Just a theory, but that way McLellan keeps his shutdown pair of Stuart-Vlasic together vs tough CHI.
The thing is, Vlasic and Stuart, considering how much they can bring individually, have been underwhelming as a pair. Some probably felt that having Irwin in the lineup was important. But to sit Demers? After his marvelous performance the night before, after he has played so well in both of his appearances? It doesn’t make sense that he would sit for anything he did badly or anyone else did better. Maybe he was fatigued, maybe his wrist was acting up. Maybe the Sharks wanted someone to see someone else play. Maybe… it just didn’t sound like a hockey decision so much as something outside the game.
I don’t like things outside the game interfering with the game, especially when the team is working within such a tight margin of error.
During the game, Kevin Kurz tweeted that he saw a familiar face in the building.
@KKurzCSN: Good seeing #Flyers scout John Chapman in the house tonight. Now there’s a team that could use a puck-moving defenseman…just sayin’.
That is hardly unusual. Going to games is a scout’s job, right? It still made me a little nervous. If someone gets sent away, I would normally be delighted to have them go to the Flyers. But right now Philly is something of a hockey purgatory. Things are a mess over there, and I have a feeling Zack Rinaldo is going to get someone killed. To be fair, Peter Laviolette is the one putting that loose cannon on the ice so he’s more to blame. On the other hand, going in there and being the blue line hero would be pretty cool, if only for part of a short season.
It doesn’t look to me like the Sharks are in dire need of any particular kind of player, but sometimes an opportunity is too good to pass up. If Wilson makes a move now, it better be one of those. The thing is, I don’t think the Flyers can spare any such player, it wouldn’t make any sense for them to mortgage their future to patch up what they have this season. Then again, Holmgren’s decisions haven’t made a lot of sense to me for a while now.
@PollakOnSharks: Team has the day off and – barring unforeseen, maybe another ownership change or #SJSharks moving to Seattle – so do I. #makingstuffup
Oh no you didn’t, DP, you didn’t just say that. Way to freak me out. Wait, wait, that’s not right. If I’m thinking about it, it isn’t unforeseen, right?
*The story goes something like this: A farmer goes to town to meet his mail-order fiancée who is arriving on the train. He is delighted to see that this woman he’s never met is so pretty. He can’t believe his good luck. He is so happy that he buys an expensive new cow before leaving town. On the way home, the new cow walks very slowly, pulling against its tie rope. The farmer stops the wagon, makes the rope longer, pats the cow. As he gets back in the wagon, his wife says “that’s one.” A few more miles down the road, the cow starts running back and forth, pulling again, and breaks the wagon. The farmer gets out to catch the cow and fix the wagon. He gets back in the wagon and his wife says “that’s two.” They finally make it home, the farmer ties the cow to the water pump while he unpacks the wagon. The wife goes in the house. The cow pulls again, breaks the pump, sending water spraying into the air. The wife comes out of the house with a rifle and shoots the cow in the head. The husband shouts at her “what the hell did you do that for? That cow was worth fifty dollars!” The wife says “that’s one.”