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POSTED ON Thursday, 07.11.2013 / 11:36 AM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

It was 6 years ago to the day, on July 1, 2007 that Joe Thornton signed his first 3-year extension with the San Jose Sharks. Joe could have waited a year to test the free agency market but instead took a deal that paid him fair market value but also left money on the table for the Sharks to sign other key players like Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle to long term deals.

That’s Joe Thornton; he’ll try and do what he can to make his team better. He has the rare combination of size, skill, hockey sense and toughness that make him such a complete hockey player. It’s easy to take for granted how good Joe really is, especially his on-ice vision and passing ability. He makes plays every game that most players in the NHL can’t make, and it’s usually setting someone up for a great scoring chance.

Joe’s stats and individual accomplishments including winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP are well documented, but there are other factors that show Joe’s team first mentality and why he has been such a huge part of the San Jose Sharks organization since being traded on Nov 30, 2005.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 1:42 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN summed up this series as well as anyone, "Kings claim epic California battle -- barely".

Someone had to lose this incredibly close, well fought series where every player that played laid it on the line and paid the price. This was the 'no time no space' series accentuated with a lot of ice bags.

Darryl Sutter, whose post game pressers always have a level of intrigue summed up the Sharks very concisely, "they're as good as us."

That doesn't make any of the Sharks players, coaches, management or its loyal fan base feel any better. As Logan Couture said on Twitter this morning, "Today Sucks".

Today is not about analyzing what went wrong because you'll drive yourself crazy. The difference in this series is one goal, a flukey power play goal after a questionable interference call on Brent Burns. Don't get mad at the refs, in the end the penalties and calls evened out.

The closer you get, the bigger the disappointment. I equate it to hiking a mountain - the higher the mountain, the tougher the climb, the more likelihood you won't make it to the top, but when you do make it to the top it's the best feeling in the world. Take the easy short hill over the mountain and you can get to the top but the view and satisfaction isn't the same.

The Sharks will get to the top of the mountain one day. Winning the Stanley Cup is one of the hardest trophies in sports to win. It will take a breakthrough performance from a breakthrough group to do it, just like the Kings did last year.

As Dustin Brown said after last nights game, "I didn't know this until June 12 last year, but you don't know what you're really playing for until you win. You don't know the feeling; you don't know what it's like until you win it."

It's no real surprise based on Brown's quote that the 5 remaining teams in the playoffs (4 after tonights Chicago vs Detroit game 7) are the last 5 Stanley Cup Champions. They know the feeling and want to feel it again.

The additions of Brad Stuart, Adam Burrish, Scott Gomez and Larry Robinson as Assistant Coach know, because they have all won Stanley Cups. Someday Logan Couture is going to know that feeling because he is an amazing player and leader and has the ability to will his team to victory.

Today's feeling of "this sucks" is part of the process but every player on the Sharks can hold their head up high because they battled adversity all year and were a fun team to watch.

As Todd McLellan said yesterday morning before game 7, "Nothing more powerful in sports than people coming together and playing for each other."

The Sharks did that and more this year and it was incredible to watch. Maybe they didn't make it to the top of the mountain but it was fun watching them try and will make it all the more enjoyable when they do get to the top. And they will, because they have the will.

Long live Sharks Territory!

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POSTED ON Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 1:16 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

Watching the NHL Playoffs is awesome but I can't stop thinking that the West, overall, has better playoff style teams. I look at the Sharks and Kings series and I wonder how many teams in the East could beat these teams in a 7 game series. The same goes for the Blues vs Kings 1st round matchup. It's probably safe to say some people in Vancouver are also saying the same thing right now.

In a way, the NHL Playoffs are kind of unfair. The West has more travel and better competition. The best team could be in the East, and Pittsburgh sure looks good, but what if they had to match up against a bunch of West during their run?

It will never happen for a lot of reasons, let's just leave it at that. But wouldn't an East vs West 1st round crossover, in a playoff bracket system, be really interesting to play out?

Just think of some of the potential Stanley Cup matchups that could happen that otherwise cannot:
Toronto vs Montreal
San Jose vs Los Angeles
Pittsburgh vs Boston
Chicago vs St. Louis

Another interesting question is how many West teams would still be playing in the 2nd round? Or the Semi-Finals? My guess is 6 teams in the 2nd round and 3 in the semi's.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 4:02 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

So it's now a best 2 out of 3, as it should be and really to no one's surprise.

The Sharks and Kings each won twice against each other in the regular season. San Jose was 2-2-0 and LA was 2-1-1 losing one game in the shootout but winning a relatively non important last game of the season. Total goals in the regular season were 10 for San Jose and 13 for LA.

In the playoffs the series is tied 2-2 both teams holding serve at home. The Sharks have scored 7 goals in 4 games and the Kings have scored 8 goals. This series is a mental and physical battle that is testing the resolve of both teams. In other words it's playoff hockey at its finest.

Some thoughts on the first 4 games:

* The Sharks played one of their best periods in a long long time to start game 4 led by Captain Joe Thornton. I think he reminded everyone the type of leader and player he is and he has a great supporting group around him that he makes better.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.21.2013 / 12:06 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

Logan Couture has been the 1st star in 3 of the Sharks 5 playoff wins this year!

Last game Logan changed the energy in the HP Pavilion when he emerged from the dressing room near the end of the 2nd period to let everyone know he was fine as he did a little loop during the TV break. Everyone was watching including his coaches, teammates, the Kings players and coaches, the fans, broadcasters and anyone else associated with the game. He then went on to be the best player on the ice and score the OT winning goal.

Jonathan Quick has been the 1st star in 3 of the Kings 6 playoff wins this year!

Quick made a couple of mistakes in games 1 and 2 vs St. Louis and then stole game 3 for the Kings as they got back into the series. This version of the LA Kings relies on Quick, almost too much. While shots are not the sole indicator they do tell a story when you watch a team that doesn't have territorial edge for most of the games it has played in the playoffs, which is the case for the LA Kings. They were outshot in 4 of the 6 games vs the Blues and outshot 177 to 149 in the series. Against the Sharks the shots have been tied once and the Sharks outshot LA the other two times. The shots for the series are 106 to 78 for San Jose who looks like the better team.

The Sharks need Logan Couture as he has emerged as a superstar in this league. This season and playoffs are a bit of a coming out for him and he is handling the added attention as the pro that he is.

The Kings don't just need Quick to be amazing, they rely on it happening. He's good enough to steal a game and help propel his team to a series win as he did against the Blues.

This series is not Couture vs Quick but you sure get the impression that how they go, so goes their respective teams.

The best players and leaders make others better and that's exactly what these players are doing for their teams.

Bring on game 4, and let's see who is going to be the first star tonight.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 12:29 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

So what do the Sharks need to do to win game 2. I would say based on the quotes below play the same way they did in game 1 but with more edge, grit and desperation in the offensive zone.

Here are some telling quotes from the last few days.

Jarret Stoll - before the series discussing what the Kings need to do in this series

“There’s probably 5 or 6 guys on that team that we’ve got to neutralize, and we’ve got to shut down, get in their face, make it a very uncomfortable game for them. That’s what playoffs are all about – making it uncomfortable, taking away time and space, getting people out of their comfort zone and staying out of the box too.”

Stoll's quote is very telling and LA played that way in game 1 and were victorious. Now take a look at some of the quotes from the Sharks after game 1.

Head Coach Todd McLellan

“I spent six days reviewing the St. Louis series, and I heard a lot of the same stuff coming out of their mouths,” McLellan said. “We didn’t accomplish enough. There is a team that just played against them for six nights, and said they had a lot of chances and the goaltender made a number of saves. We can’t be that team again. We’ve got to find ways to score, and we’ve got to make it a lot harder on him.”

Logan Couture

“Guys weren’t committed to getting in front of him (Quick), so that needs to change. They check tight. You’ve got to beat their guy out of the corner to get to the net, and we weren’t able to do that.”

Dan Boyle

“Our effort was pretty good,” Boyle said. “But, it’s probably a broken record with what St. Louis went through. I read that they felt they possibly were the better team in the series, they just weren’t scoring enough goals. We’ve got to get a little hungrier and a little dirtier and a little meaner in front of their net.”

Joe Pavelski

“We feel we can play with them. After tonight, everyone in this room feels they are beatable. It's not going to be easy, obviously. They are the Stanley Cup champs, a team that has learned how to win."

Pavelski said it very well, the Sharks know they can beat the Kings but it won't be easy. I am going to re-visit my RAM Trucks 3 Keys to the Series because they were applicable in game 1, will be applicable tonight and throughout the series. This is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one.

1. Patience

Tight checking. Low scoring. Always someone in your face. No time or space. That's LA hockey and it's frustrating to play against and tests your moxie and patience. The Sharks have to be prepared for 60 minutes plus every night with air-tight defense first hockey that requires incredible focus and concentration.

2. Every battle counts ... a lot!

This is LA's bread and butter - they wear you down by winning battles which wears you down mentally. The Sharks match up well in this category but it will take an enormous toll every shift, every period, every game.

3. Confidence thru goaltending

When your goalie exudes confidence it reverberates throughout the lineup because the players know the last line of defense is the goalie and he has you covered if you make a mistake. Niemi vs Quick is an enticing matchup because they are the goalies who have won 2 of the last 3 Stanley Cups and they are both on top of their game right now.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 1:36 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

The Matchup


Dan Boyle when asked about the Sharks next opponent said "It doesn't matter to me who we play but I do know they are going to be a good hockey team."

He's right, the Sharks are in a pick your poison waiting game to determine if they play the defending Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings who just disposed of the very good St. Louis Blues by winning 4 straight games to win the series 4-2. Or the Sharks get the Chicago Blackhawks who won the President's trophy with the most points in the regular season and were the only team with a winning percentage over .800 (.802).

Interestingly, the 3 best home teams in the regular season were:
Los Angeles 19-4-1
Chicago 18-3-3
San Jose 17-2-5

Keys to the Series

My RAM Trucks 3 Keys to the Vancouver series were:
1. Goaltending
2. Don't be the first to blink
3. Special Teams

Goaltending will always be a key to a series because it's that important in hockey. Niemi bested his Vancouver counterparts and the Sharks skaters did the rest both on the special teams and winning the mental battle.

I've had time to start thinking about the RAM Trucks Keys to the next series and here is a double dose, one set of keys for each potential tough matchup.

Chicago

1. Goaltending

Goaltending Niemi won the Stanley Cup as the goaltender for the Blackhawks back in 2010. As a Vezina candidate he is having his best season as a pro and I'm pretty sure his motivation level would be high to beat his former team. Chicago has a goaltending tandem that has been tremendous, so far, this season.

2. Win the Battle of the Prime Real Estate

In this case prime real estate is net front presence. The Blackhawks can spread the ice but they also have a blue collar work ethic and attack the net as well as any team in the NHL, starting with Captain Jonathan Toews. The Sharks don't need to control the entire ice surface but they will need to be better in front of both nets where over 90% of goals are scored.

3. Transition Game

Chicago has a tremendous transition game because they have such good overall team speed, and that includes both defense to offense and offense to defense. Beat them at that game, or minimize their transition game and your chances of winning the series go up.

Los Angeles


1. Patience

Tight checking. Low scoring. Always someone in your face. No time or space. That's LA hockey and it's frustrating to play against and tests your moxie and patience. The Sharks have to be prepared for 60 minutes plus every night with air-tight defense first hockey that requires incredible focus and concentration.

2. Every battle counts ... a lot!

This is LA's bread and butter - they wear you down by winning battles which wears you down mentally. The Sharks match up well in this category but it will take an enormous toll every shift, every period, every game.

3. Confidence thru goaltending

When your goalie exudes confidence it reverberates throughout the lineup because the players know the last line of defense is the goalie and he has you covered if you make a mistake. Niemi vs Quick is an enticing matchup because they are the goalies who have won 2 of the last 3 Stanley Cups and they are both on top of their game right now.

Bring it On

So the Sharks get to test themselves against a team that beat them in the Conference Finals in 2010 and won all 3 games this year, albeit the last game was Feb 22 and the Sharks are a different team now.

Or the Sharks get to play divisional and state rival, who are also the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

As Boyle said, the Sharks are going to be playing a good hockey team next round and I guarantee Sharks and hockey fans are in store for some amazing hockey.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 12:05 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

Well that was FUN!

What a night at HP Pavilion as the Sharks carried a lead into the 3rd period, then found themselves trailing after 2 Vancouver goals before tying it up late in the 3rd and then winning the game in overtime. If that scenario sounds familiar it is because that's what happened in game 2. This time it was Patrick Marleau as the hero that sent the Sharks fans into a frenzy.

The Sharks are now 19-2-5 this season at HP Pavilion and based on some of the tweets after the game by Logan Couture and Brent Burns I would say the Sharks players are picking up and using the energy from their great fans.

@logancouture "Just want to give a huge shout out to the fans. You guys were our energy in the third and in OT. See you in Round 2. Stay Loud!"

@Burnzie88 "Tank was Great tonight .. Lots of legs And energy from you guys. #chompersigns"

@Burnzie88 "Thanks for everyone at tonight's game .. Tank was shaking!! #unbelievable #bestfans"

Sharks fans, thank you for being so awesome.

STAY LOUD!!!

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POSTED ON Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 12:40 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / Great White Bites

My thoughts on game 2 ...

Well that was fun!

Who woulda thunk it!
So Brent Burns the forward sets up Raffi Torres for the OT goal. The same Raffi Torres who was on teams that derailed the Sharks chances in years past of getting to and winning the Stanley Cup. He played for the Oilers when they lost in game 7 of the Cup Finals to Carolina and beat the Sharks 4 games to 2 in the second round. He also was on Vancouver when they lost in game 7 of the Cup Finals to Boston after knocking out the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. Ya, that Raffi Torres!

And now he is a Shark and trying to get back to the Cup Finals for a 3rd time and help the Sharks get there for the first time. You gotta love sports eh!!!

Quick redemption
Dan Boyle attempted a pass from the corner in the defensive zone to Joe Pavelski who was in the slot area. The pass was just off and landed right on Ryan Kesler's stick who had time to tee it up and boy did he ever ... firing a bullet past Niemi to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead at the time.

On Marleau's game tying goal in the last minute there were two assists - yup, Boyle and Pavelski.

Weeble's wabble but they don't fall down
Justin Braun is clearly not a weeble because he took a few monster hits to make plays but kept getting up. Brauner's fall but they don't stay down!!!

#NiemiVezina
How good was Nemo, especially in the 2nd period and OT ... I think awesome is an appropriate choice of words.

Winging it
Tommy Wingels continues to play gritty hockey as he led the team with 8 hits and also added 5 shots.

Marleau-time
Need I say more?

Love the city but that doesn't mean I want to go back
Vancouver is beautiful, especially at this time of year and the people in the city are great. I love going to that city but my preference is to not return for awhile.

Game 3 Reminder
Don't forget it starts at 7pm on Sunday and I don't have to tell you to be loud but let's really welcome our Northern neighbors with the loudest building in the NHL.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 1:02 PM
By Jamie Baker - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

This is an important playoff series for both teams/organizations because someone will be getting bounced from the first round two years in a row, which means not meeting the high expectations that are set in both dressing rooms. The statistics from the regular season and the matchups have all the makings of a long, tough series. So in the end, what will push one to team victory and send the other to the golf course?

3 Keys to the Series


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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 21 12 4 5 58 53 29
2 VAN 20 13 6 1 61 60 27
3 NSH 19 12 5 2 54 40 26
4 LAK 20 11 5 4 53 44 26
5 CGY 21 12 7 2 66 57 26
6 STL 19 12 6 1 50 39 25
7 CHI 19 11 7 1 55 39 23
8 WPG 21 10 8 3 43 47 23
9 SJS 22 10 9 3 59 60 23
10 MIN 18 11 7 0 53 41 22
11 ARI 20 8 10 2 49 62 18
12 DAL 20 7 9 4 56 68 18
13 COL 20 6 9 5 49 64 17
14 EDM 19 6 11 2 48 65 14

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Thornton 22 7 13 3 20
J. Pavelski 22 8 10 3 18
L. Couture 22 8 10 0 18
B. Burns 22 7 11 -5 18
P. Marleau 22 6 12 -2 18
T. Wingels 22 5 5 -4 10
T. Hertl 22 4 6 1 10
J. Braun 22 0 7 8 7
M. Vlasic 22 2 4 10 6
M. Nieto 21 1 5 -2 6
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 2 2 1 .925 2.38
A. Niemi 7 6 2 .917 2.56
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