1) Going into the home game Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, the Sharks were beginning a stretch where they play 33 of the next 48 games at home. Hey, who’s complaining about the road travel now?
2) I said in an earlier blog that the Sharks are the most interesting team in the NHL. I was wrong, Toronto is!
3) Speaking of the recent road trip, I found time to fly from Columbus to Syracuse (on the off-day last Friday) to watch my daughter play. She plays for the UVM (Univ. of Vermont) Woman’s hockey team and I was there to watch them come back from a 3-0 first period deficit to win 6-5 in overtime. Talk about spoiled, I got to see my daughter, watch her team win in OT and see a team I was cheering for score six goals.
4) You know where this was leading. In the last 7 games the Sharks have scored 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1 and 2 goals. That’s 11 goals in seven games for those keeping score at home.
5) So what do the Sharks need to do to start scoring? Well that’s the question they are asking themselves but I’ll chime in with a few thoughts:
- Cleaner, crisper breakouts
- Speed through the neutral zone – attacks off the rush
- Hit the net – not hitting the net means you don’t score on the original shot and can’t create 2nd/3rd scoring opportunities
- Make the goalie move laterally – it opens up holes and makes it more difficult for the goalie to control rebounds
- Muck it up in front of the opponents net and get some gritty, greasy, dirty goals that are created by screens, tips, rebounds and just finding a way to score
6) Some great games coming up:
- Wednesday, Nov. 26 – Calgary Flames (one of the early season surprises)
- Saturday, Nov. 29 – Anaheim Ducks (you remember what happened last game eh?)
- Tuesday, Dec. 2 – Philadelphia Flyers (their only visit to SAP Center this season)
- Thursday, Dec. 4 – Boston Bruins (Original 6 team, Thornton’s old team, enough said!)
7) My thoughts and prayers to Ottawa GM, Bryan Murray, as he fights the stage 4 cancer that is in his body. May he find strength in his battle and peace in knowing he has so many people thinking and praying on his behalf.
8) Joe Thornton has been the most consistent player for the Sharks this season. He is currently riding an 8-game point streak, has 20 points on the season. Of the 20 points, 16 are even-strength points, 7 more than any other Sharks forward.
9) Jason Demers, aka ‘Daddy’ is a wonderful person and I wish him all the luck in Dallas. And I would like to give a big warm welcome to Brenden Dillon who is now part of Sharks Territory.
10) It’s a head scratcher to think the Sharks are done with Columbus, Florida and Buffalo for this year and ended up with a 0-5-1 record.
11) Anaheim and LA are a combined 15-4-4 at home this year. Of the 4 regulation losses, two of them have been to the Sharks who beat LA 4-0 on opening night and Anaheim 4-1 on Oct 26. Scratch scratch!
12) The Sharks are 5-2-1 against teams in the West. That’s a good thing because they play 18 of their next 20 games against teams in the West.
13) I broke up the season into quarters (21, 21, 20 and 20 respectively) and here is how it breaks down from a home/road and West vs East (opponent) standpoint:
- 1st Quarter: Games 1 – 21: Home (5), Away (16), vs West (8), vs East (13)
- 2nd Quarter: Games 22 – 42: Home (13), Away (8), vs West (18), vs East (3)
- 3rd Quarter: Games 43 – 62: Home (14), Away (6), vs West (13), vs East (7)
- 4th Quarter: Games 63 – 82: Home (9), Away (11), vs West (11), vs East (9)
It’s my day in the rotation to write a thought of the day and it just so happens that it coincides with the parade in San Francisco for the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants on Halloween.
There’s no need for a trick here, this is a treat to witness a dynasty in today’s modern era of sports and to say it’s impressive in an understatement of huge proportions.
I’m writing about the Giants because last night after the Giants won their 3rd World Series in five years, team President Larry Baer said “We play a team sport, I think we are a role model for all teams” in regards to playing for each other and dealing with the highs and lows of a long season and playoff drama.
So if the Giants are in fact a role model, then what is the secret? Below is an excerpt from the New York Times about the Giants’ playoff heroics:
“Many of the players have changed over the years, but the team has had three important constants: Larry Baer, the team president; Brian Sabean, the general manager; and Bochy, the manager, who also led the San Diego Padres to the National League pennant in 1998.
“It’s down to the culture and chemistry of this club,” Baer said. “All the working parts have to work together. These working parts worked together like I’ve never seen before.”
Culture and chemistry, the exact thing the Sharks are longing for so they can reach the pinnacle of their sport, winning the Stanley Cup.
Makes sense, now lets get back to enjoying the ups and downs and seeing how the team responds. Watching the Giants was great theater, and so is watching the 2014-15 San Jose Sharks.
Definition of Interesting
In – ter – est – ing
“arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention”
It’s early in the 2014/15 NHL season but two topics are very interesting so far.
1. The parity in the league culminating in close games and come-from-behind wins.
Example: On Tuesday October 20, 2014 there were 10 games around the league:
- Seven saw a team overcome a deficit at any point in the game to pick up a win.
- Six were tied or within one goal entering the third period.
- Five featured a third period comeback that eventually led to a win.
- Five went past regulation, including four that were decided in overtime.
- Two saw a tying goal scored in the final five minutes of regulation. Both teams that tied the game late in regulation went on to win in.
2. The San Jose Sharks have to be one of the most interesting teams, if not the most interesting team, to watch this season. Case in point:
- Game 1 – Sharks spoil the Cup Banner night in LA shutting out the Kings 4-0.
- Game 2 – Sharks explode to early lead, shutout Jets 3-0 and go 0-8 on the PP.
- Game 3 – Sharks have 3-0 and 4-1 leads in Washington and end up winning the game 6-5 in the shootout.
- Game 4 – Sharks get outshot by a large margin, give up a lead, tie the game in the 3rd before losing the game in the shootout to the Islanders.
- Game 5 – Sharks score first for the 5th consecutive game, are comfortably up 3-0 early in third but give up two quick goals before holding on for 4-2 win with ex-Captain and current assistant Captain Joe Thornton getting his 1,200th point by scoring into an empty net.
- Game 6 – Sharks were playing well until late in the 2nd period when they looked like the bad news bears for about 2-3 minutes and ended up getting shut out to the Rangers for their first regulation loss of the year.
- Game 7 – Sharks score twice late in the 2nd period but give up three unanswered goals in the 3rd to lose to the Bruins.
Call it can’t miss live action, or can’t miss TV or can’t miss Radio or can’t miss Internet, this NHL season has already shown it’s going to be a wild with lots of ups and downs and the Sharks are in the front seat of this roller coaster ride.
I love it, because interesting can be good, can be bad but as the definition says, it certainly captures our attention, and isn’t that what pro sports are all about?
I wrote this blog as the Sharks prepared to play their last regular season game at Nassau Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders. Being here is nostalgic for me because when I was younger my favorite team was the Islanders, and yes my high school years were fun as they pumped out 4 Stanley Cups.
So why were the Islanders so good? And at the same time, what makes the current version of the San Francisco Giants so good when it comes to playoff time?
No question you have to have the right ingredients of speed, skill and toughness but lots of teams have that and don’t rise to the occasion when it matters most. The last piece to the Championship puzzle is the mental side of playing the game and this next part is important, the ability to over-achieve as an individual and a team.
The Giants know they just need to make the playoffs and then it’s time for everyone to rise to the occasion. That’s what the great Islanders team did, and that’s what the LA Kings did last year.
Having a great regular season gets you good contracts that set you up for life. Having a great playoff is what your legacy will be remembered for. As I looked at the 4 Stanley Cup banners hanging in the rafters I didn’t think about how the Islanders team did in the regular season, but how they dismantled other teams in the playoffs with their; tenacity, grit, speed, toughness, skill, goaltending and an willing desire to refuse to lose and be mentally stronger than their opponents. Their legacies are cemented in Islander and NHL history!
That’s what this season is about for the San Jose Sharks. Can they, as individuals and a group, over-achieve when it matters most. It’s been a long time since a Sharks team has over-achieved.
The regular season is about getting invited to the party. Like the Islanders, Kings and the San Francisco Giants, it’s then about peaking at the right time and taking your game to a new, and much higher level. That’s the opportunity and challenge that lies ahead for the 2014/15 version of the San Jose Sharks.
It’s hard not to be inspired watching the 2014 NHL playoffs, which many consider to be the best playoffs in years, many years meaning in decades. The passion and parity of this year's playoffs has been off the charts amazing and another reason why hockey is the ultimate team sport.
I decided to look up the meaning of inspiration and here is the definition from the World English Dictionary:
Inspiration -- noun
- stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings, etc, to do special or unusual activity
- the state or quality of being so stimulated or aroused
- someone or something that causes this state
- an idea or action resulting from such a state
So let’s talk about inspiration from a leadership standpoint because great leaders inspire others to be stimulated, aroused and do special things, like go above and beyond when it matters most.
Here are examples from the four teams that played the Conference Finals.
PK Subban is all about inspiration and was the emotional leader for Montreal as they beat the top-seeded Bruins in the 2nd round before falling to the Rangers in the Conference Finals.
How about Toews and Kane from the Blackhawks? They are all about inspiring others. The Blackhawks have won 2 Stanley Cups in the last 4 seasons and a lot of the reason has to do with their inspirational leaders. The way the Hawks battled back from a 3-1 series deficit to the Kings and taking game 7 to overtime was beyond impressive and it started with the inspiration from its leaders.
The LA Kings get inspiration from the likes of Doughty, Williams, Quick, Kopitar and Brown as they have an unrelenting ability to inspire and a ‘refuse to lose’ attitude. The Kings have won three straight game 7’s on the road, for the first time in NHL history, and have done so against great teams; San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago. Their leaders inspire others to be better and it’s why they are in the Stanley Cup Finals.
And last but not least the NY Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist is all about inspiring his teammates to be better, but the circumstances that have followed Dominic Moore and Marty St. Louis are taking inspirational leading to a higher power. Could the Rangers be a team of destiny because of the inspiration from their leaders?
The NHL playoffs are all about passion and inspiration. It’s been great theater so far and the Stanley Cup Finals promises to continue the trend of amazing hockey.
What a treat it is to be a hockey fan right now!
Here’s the reality and truth about NHL players – they bleed for the logo, their teammates and the fans.
As the players head into the playoffs they all know one thing, starting Thursday night the intensity gets ratcheted up another notch and in the next two weeks and beyond pretty much every player is going to be hurt or injured in some capacity and will still lay it on the line during games.
This is what makes the NHL playoffs such an amazing spectacle… Players have received their full salary for the year and now they literally play for passion, pride and a chance to win the greatest trophy in the world, the Stanley Cup.
Knowing you are about to begin a journey where you get injured, and excited to do so, takes a different type of person and athlete. To win the Cup it will take a band of players that are selfless, play for each other, make each other better, are tough, fast and skilled and after all of that they will still need a bit of puck luck.
16 wins, that’s what it takes. The toughest 16 wins of the year, but its worth it because hockey players bleed for the logo, their teammates and their fans.
It’s what makes hockey so special!
Ladies and Gentleman, start your engines, buckle up and let the real season begin.
I am Jamie Baker, ex-San Jose Shark who bled for you and can’t wait to watch this version of the Sharks do the same.
As I write this blog the Sharks are tied for 4th in the NHL in points, 7th in goals per game and 4th in goals against per game. With only 3 games left in the regular season the Sharks will start the playoffs at home against either LA or Minnesota. I say bring it on - don't care who the opponent is because the road to the Cup is supposed to be tough.
The stats say the Sharks are a very good team. What about opposing coaches, what do a few of them say?
Dan Bylsma, Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins
"They (the Sharks) play not only a physical game but a fast game and I think it's something that they counter quickly. They play that type of game. They are maybe the best team in the league at getting pucks and bodies to the cage and they showed that tonight."
Darryl Sutter, Head Coach of the LA Kings
"I thought we played real well, the challenge is that they're a really good hockey club."
Patrick Roy, Head Coach of the Colorado Avalanche
"They're a team that protects the puck really well and they had a lot of chances."
I can be nit picky and say the Sharks should have won this game, or how did they lose to that team. The bottom line, after 79 games, this is a very good hockey team that has a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup. Of course there are 15 other teams thinking the same thing and as we all know the teams in the West are very very good. I don't think anyone who has watched the West this season would argue there are 6 legitimate teams that could represent the West in the Cup Finals; St. Louis, Anaheim, San Jose, Colorado, Chicago and Los Angeles.
So here we go Sharks fans, the last week of the regular season and the best spectacle in sports, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs will be upon us. I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far, and I hope the best is yet to come.
The 2013-14 version of the San Jose Sharks has a different feel than in years past and in a very good way. It's called chemistry and character which is the foundation that is necessary if any team has a real chance of winning a championship.
I have been around a lot of teams over the years, some are more talented than others but there is one thing that I always look for in a team's identity and that is whether the players truly play for each other when it matters most. This team does that … in spades.
The Sharks played one of the most dominating team games I have seen in a long time against Pittsburgh this past week. As Vlasic said about that game, "We played hard, physical and fast. We raised the bar of how good we can be." Well said!
The following game, the Sharks shut out the Montreal Canadians for the second time this season. Two things stick out from that game:
- The ferocious back-checking of Patrick Marleau all game but in particular on the Couture goal. Patty used his speed and tenacity to create a turnover inside the Montreal zone that led to a perfect saucer pass from Nieto to Couture.
- With 8 minutes left in the game and the score 4-0, a Montreal forward had the puck in the neutral zone and was all alone heading towards the two Sharks defenseman. Joe Thornton back-checked as if his hair was on fire and forced a turnover.
When two leaders and star players like Marleau and Thornton back-check that hard, regardless of the score it sends a message to the rest of the team. Marleau and Thornton and both selfless, team-first players who once again held off from free-agency to sign with the team they love to play for. It starts with them and they are leading by example and want nothing more to help bring a championship to the city of San Jose.
It's about character and chemistry and this team has an abundance of both and it starts with the two leaders and all around great guys.