- Defensemen thankful for the new hybrid icing rule.
- Goalies are thankful for big pads…that may change.
- NHL is thankful for the 12 year $5.2B dollar with Rogers for Canadian TV and digital rights.
- Tomas Hertl is thankful for playing on Joe Thornton’s left wing.
- Patrick Marleau is thankful for playing his entire career in the Bay Area.
- All hockey players are thankful for parents who foot the bill and drive the car to early morning practices and games far from home.
- The Ducks are thankful for the huge contribution of Dustin Penner.
- Todd McLellan is thankful for the quality minutes Justin Braun plays every night.
- Downtown restaurants and bars are thankful for the business fans bring on game nights.
- The Sharks are thankful for the mere presence of hall of famer Larry Robinson.
- Fans are thankful for the fantastic Sharks coverage CSN California and KFOX provide game in and game out.
- The Coyotes are thankful for new ownership and chance to re-invent themselves to the Phoenix sporting market.
- Arena workers are thankful for fans that spend money at SAP Concessions.
- Fans are thankful for the gigantic SAP jumbotron and the fantastic game presentation.
- Gary Bettman is thankful that there will be NHL labor peace for years to come.
- Everyone is thankful that Frank Zamboni invented the ice resurfacing vehicle.
- Sharks fans who move away are thankful for NHL Center Ice on Directv.
- Satellite radio listeners are thankful for NHL Radio’s 24/7/365 coverage of the National Hockey League.
- Anti Niemi is thankful for the SJ defensemen who play so well in front of him.
- Sharks players are thankful for the energetic home fans which help push them to home ice perfection.
- SJ Sharkie is thankful they make jerseys in XXL.
- Owen Nolan is thankful for being able to retire in San Jose and live out his other dream which is to produce the hunting and fishing TV show…Sportsman 360.
- Web surfers are thankful for the supercharged SJSharks.com website.
- Sharks fans are thankful for the contending, consistent high-caliber teams Doug Wilson assembles each and every season.
- Hockey players young and old are thankful for the spectacular 4-sheet Sharks Ice.
- Trees are thankful that hockey sticks are made of carbon fiber and aluminum.
- Hockey fans world-wide are thankful for the coverage NHL.com and NHL game Center Live provide.
- Sharks fans are thankful for the safe, clean and fun environment that is SAP Center.
- Relocated NHL fans are thankful that every team in the league will play at least one game in San Jose this season.
- Dan Rusanowsky is thankful for his induction into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.
- Kids are thankful that are able to press their noses against the glass during warm-ups.
- TV producers are thankful for super slo-mo replays.
- NBC is thankful that January 1st a world record 110,000 fans will fill Michigan Stadium for the Wings Leafs outdoor game.
- Hockey is thankful for the fantastic Bay Area support of the San Jose Sharks.
- The Sharks are thankful for every fan who attends, watches or listens to Sharks hockey.
So far so good on the Sharks five game home stand. The 5-1 win over Tampa Bay was impressive and they managed to score just enough against Martin Brodeur and shut down Jaromir Jagr in the 2-1 win over the Devils. Now things get really, really interesting.
There’s no way the NHL schedule maker could have known it at the time, but it’s hard to imagine a more compelling three game set than the one the Sharks face at home starting Wednesday. The LA Kings, hot off their stunning come from behind win in Vancouver on Monday night, pay their first visit of the season to SAP Center. The last time the Kings were in the Bay Area they dropped Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals but would go on to knock the Sharks out in Game 7. LA also beat the Sharks 4-3 in overtime in their only meeting this season back in late October at Staples Center.
After a break for Thanksgiving, the Sharks host St. Louis in a rare 1 p.m. matinee game on Friday. The Blues are hot right now and after a four game drought, so is their leading goal scorer Alexander Steen. He bagged a pair of goals Monday in their win over Nashville giving him 19 on the season. Steen is very much in the hunt with Alexander Ovechkin for the Rocket Richard Trophy. The Sharks beat the Blues 6-2 in St. Louis last month on the night that Dan Boyle was injured on the hit by Maxim Lapierre. But don’t be fooled. The Blues are the real deal and have managed to stay within a point of the first place Blackhawks in the Central Division.
And then to top off the holiday weekend the Sharks go back to back at home on Saturday night against the Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks. It’s the first meeting of the year between the California rivals and will be an awesome way to end as compelling a week of hockey as we’ve had around here in quite some time. Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy the hockey at SAP Center!
I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com
During every game, Dan Rusanowsky and I go over SAP Analytics and break down some numbers. It's a fun segment and considering we live in Silicon Valley where one's and zero's dominate our lives. I want to analyze and explain some numbers that I find intriguing.
TOI = Time On Ice
BS = Blocked Shots
FO = Faceoffs
+/- = Plus Minus
EV PTS = Even Strength Points
- Let's start the with the fist battle of every shift, the faceoff.
- 57.8 % - That is Pavelski's FO % and it's 1st on Sharks and 8th in the NHL
- 41-19 - That is Pavelski's FO record on the Power Play. So Pavelski's FO % is 68.3 when the Sharks are on the PP. Winning a faceoff that pretty much every time is in the OZ is a good way to start a shift on the power play.
- Even strength points, whether 5-5 or 4-4 is a telling stat over the course of a season. The Sharks have two players who are in the top 20 in the NHL in this category.
- 17 - Number of EV PTS that Thornton has, tied for 12th in the NHL with Jonathan Toews. Corey Perry leads all skaters with 22 EV PTS.
- 16 - Number of EV PTS that rookie Tomas Hertl has, tied for 14th in the NHL with Matt Duchene, John Tavares, Henrik Sedin, Pavel Datsyuk and David Backes. Hertl is keeping some pretty good company in the EV PTS department!
- Blocking a slapshot that is coming at you anywhere from 80 to 100 miles per hour is not fun. To be honest, if you block it perfectly it doesn't hurt, but that only happens some of the time. The other times it hurts, more often than no, a lot. Blocking a shot is paying the price for your team. Here are the top three shot blocking forwards for the San Jose Sharks and where they stand in relation to all forwards in the NHL.
- 25 - Couture - Tied 1st team - Tied 3rd NHL
- 25 - Pavelski - Tied 1st team - Tied 3rd NHL
- 24 - Wingels - 3rd team - Tied 7th NHL
- Playing against the other team's top players night in and night out and leading your team in +/- speaks volumes. Here are the Sharks +/- leaders who often get the assignment of playing against the other teams top line.
- +16 - Braun - 1st team - 2nd NHL (Braun is +7 at home and +9 on the road)
- +10 - Couture - 2nd team - Tied 18th NHL
- Because of the Olympic Break in February this 82 game season is a compressed schedule making ice time distribution extremely important over the long haul. The fact the Sharks are 15-3-5, have had to deal with injuries to key players and yet they distribute ice time so well speaks volumes about the depth of the team.
- 21:55 - Braun - 1st Team - 55th NHL
- 20:57 - Boyle - 2nd Team - 90th NHL
- 20:41 - Vlasic - 3rd Team - 102nd NHL
- 20:21 - Marleau - 4th Team - 1st Team Forwards - 113th NHL - 23rd NHL Forwards
- 19:30 - Couture - 5th Team - 2nd Team Forwards - Tied 151st NHL - 43rd NHL Forwards
- 19:13 - Pavelski - 7th Team - 3rd Team Forwards - Tied 171st NHL - 55th NHL Forwards
Stats can never tell the whole picture but they are very interesting when studying players and teams.
While the score was a tight 2-1 favoring the home team, setting things up for a monumentally challenging week against Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Anaheim, I’d like to offer a tip of the hat to a couple of future Hall of Famers who showed their stuff at SAP Center this past Saturday:
We’ve taken players like Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr for granted, because they’ve been so good for so long and it’s almost considered as constant as the sun rising each morning that we’ll see them on a National Hockey League team, plying their trade with top-level excellence. On Saturday, fans were entertained with another solid performance from these two players, who have 2,647 games of experience between them. They continue to defy the march of time, so let us count the ways:
- Jagr had a quieter night with 0 shots on goal, but he had two opportunities toward the net, one of which was blocked and the other which missed the net. He played 19:54, and certainly was noticeable every time he was on the ice. By my memory, he wasn’t on the ice for any significant period against Tomas Hertl, and that was the only thing that was mildly disappointing about the evening.
- Earlier in the week, Jagr had just scored his 690th career goal in Los Angeles. That tied his former linemate and mentor Mario Lemieux for 9th all-time. The goal was his 121st game-winner, which tied Gordie Howe for 1st all-time. So, kudos to the Sharks defense for working well against JJ in this game.
- Jagr has 2 Stanley Cup championships, 5 Art Ross Trophies, and 1 Hart Trophy to his credit. He’s tied for 8th all-time with 1706 points.
- The game featured three of top four active Czech-born scorers: Jagr, Patrick Elias, and Martin Havlat. Elias was blaming himself when a bobbled play gave Havlat a chance to assist on Tyler Kennedy’s game-winning goal, but the second most prolific Czech scorer of all-time picked up his 941st career point when he scored on the power play in the third period. That made a game of it.
- Brodeur absolutely robbed Logan Couture with a tremendous second-period glove save that makes us all think that he still has several years to go in his Hall of Fame career.
- Brodeur has more games played (1233) and more wins (676) and shutouts (123) than anyone. He’s one of only 6 goalies to play more than 900 games (Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Ed Belfour,Curtis Joseph, and Glenn Hall). He has 4 Vezina Trophies, 3 Stanley Cups, 3 goals, 42 assists, and at 41 years of age, most recently had consecutive shutouts at Philadelphia and at home against Nashville.
- Incredibly, Brodeur has played in more Stanley Cup playoff games (205) than the Sharks (174) have. That includes 24 games in 2012, when the Devils made it to the Final and lost to the Kings. San Jose hopes to catch up over the next two postseasons, but Brodeur will do his best to stay ahead.
- It was heartwarming to hear the crowd really applaud Brodeur when he was named one of the stars of the evening. As always, Sharks fans show their class.
Meanwhile, the “showcase” segment of the season is now over and the Sharks are moving into “the grind,” which is the way that we describe Games 20-50. The grind begins this week, with an incredible set of challenging games within a very short span of time: Los Angeles on Wednesday, St. Louis on Friday afternoon, and Anaheim on Saturday night. Three games in four days. Oh, yes, there is a lot for a hockey fan to be thankful for. I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com.
“The one major event that the NHL can fully brag their success is the 'NHL Winter Classic'." Claiming New Year’s as their own, the NHL’s outdoor spectacular is popular fans and non-fans alike.
It takes the game back to its roots, taking it outside into the snow and ice. Anyone who grew up in America’s Midwest and North can tell you the emotions of the winter season. It’s a harsh environment to play in but it can be so fun. Playing outside in the winter was fun for many reasons…snowball fights, snowmen, sled rides, and making snow angels. Right up there is skating on a frozen pond. Some of my fondest memories were getting new skates and sticks on Christmas morning then getting the neighborhood kids to play a big outdoor game on Christmas afternoon. We’d play for hours with snow banks in place of boards and homemade nets the target for goals.
The Winter Classic is a one of a kind event. Or should I say, was a one of a kind. This winter will find 5 NHL games scheduled outdoors. On New Year’s day in Ann Arbor, Michigan, upwards of 110,000 fans will jam into “The Big House.” Michigan Stadium is the venue where the University of Michigan Wolverines play NCAA football. Original 6 clubs, the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs will add another chapter to their long-time rivalry that day. It will set an all-time hockey attendance record.
There will be a second rink at the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park in Motown. This will be the site for a Red Wings, Maple Leafs Alumni game, as well as hosting college hockey, junior, and minor league games during the NHL’s hockey festival. It should be a lot of fun everyone, whether attending in person or watching from home.
Four other NHL games are scheduled. The Kings and Ducks will meet at Dodger Stadium on January 25th. This will be a big test building a rink with good ice in a warm weather climate. If it is a success you may see outdoor games in Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Northern California in the coming seasons.
Yankee Stadium will be the site for two games in the Big Apple. The Rangers and Devils square off on January 26th. Three days later, the Rangers will square off against their rival NY Islanders. I’m sure the setting will be stunning. It’s hockey in the House that Ruth Built.
On March 1st, Chicago gets into the act. The Blackhawks will host the Penguins at historic Soldier Field. The very next day BC Place will stage the Ottawa Senators/Vancouver Canucks game.
Is this too much too soon? Perhaps. Is the NHL watering down a signature event? Maybe. But equally important is that more fans at more outdoor events with more viewers is good for hockey and good for the NHL. Stretching these events into more venues could be tempting the gods of weather. What if the ice is unplayable in Southern California? What if the winds are too strong in Chicago? What if it rains in Vancouver? All are valid questions and if so, the NHL outdoor brand could be damaged. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and that fans and non-fans have the appetite for more than just the New Year’s game. I, for one, am looking forward to these events.
A few thoughts this morning.
Tonight (Thursday) Jamie Baker will take my place on the broadcast. I am taking a game off to be at home in Saskatchewan with my family. My Boys are turning 17 and thanks to the Sharks and Comcast I'm able to celebrate with them.
Anyway...Bakes will do a bang up job.
Speaking of my Boys, they are referees! Yes my sons are refs, officials, zebras, stripes!
This is their first year officiating. So far so good. They tell me that the players are great, the parents haven't said much but some of the coaches are a bit too vocal for minor hockey. I'm trying not too look too guilty in that regard because I've got a bit of history with a few (very few) refs when I was coaching.
I was reading a sports column today and some puck pundit was handing out the NHL Individual Awards at the quarter point of the season. A ridiculous premiss I know. Sticking with the ridiculous, the three defenseman he suggested for the Norris Trophy were all cited for their offensive output. Truthfully only one of them could check his coat!
Isn't it time that the league added a new award. First change the Norris Trophy to the Bobby Orr Trophy for the Defenceman with the most points.
Then award the Norris Trophy to the best Defenceman. The guy who actually plays D-Fence.
Speaking of Defenceman how great is it to witness two of the best defenders in the league playing for the Sharks.
Marc Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun have taken their games to a new level of BlueLine Brilliance.
Do me a favour next game. Watch 44 & 61 next game. Notice how they use their sticks, skate and take away angles, communicate, work the net front and efficiently they move the puck out of the zone. I'm sure you will be impressed.
A woman approached me at a charity event Tuesday and asked “What’s wrong with the Sharks?” I reminded her that they have one of the best records in the NHL and that while the loss in Chicago Sunday wasn’t pretty; it’s a long season.
But I do get what she means. When your team starts the season 6-0 for the second straight year you get used to it, and then you start to expect it to continue. When you put up a 9 spot against the Rangers, expectations get a little out of whack.
But the great thing about being an NHL fan is that every season is a roller coaster ride wrapped up in a soap opera. When you play an 82 game schedule in 30 cities from October through April a lot of stuff is going to happen. Times will go from great, to good, to not so great to ugly. If you can manage the not so great and ugly part and keep that to a minimum you’ve got a good chance to make the playoffs. And then a much more exciting roller coaster ride starts all over again.
Here’s the bottom line for the Sharks a quarter of the way through the season. They are a point out of first place in the toughest division in the league and two points away from claiming first place overall to themselves. Joe Thornton leads the league in assists and is one of the best two-way centers in the game. The Sharks have 3 legitimate scoring lines on most nights. The blueline is anchored by Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun who are having Olympic Team worthy seasons. The goaltending of Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock has been great to excellent. Special teams? Check. They are extremely well coached and most nights that is reflected in their detailed play. And they have the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy in Tomas Hertl.
Do the second periods need to get better? Yes. Can they do a better jog closing out games some nights? I think so. Would it be awesome if somebody other than Logan Couture scored a shootout goal every once in a while? Yep.
But looking at the big picture things aren’t so bad. Was the loss in Chicago disappointing? Of course it was. Maybe the outcome would have been a little different if the Sharks didn’t have to play the defending champions on the final night of a five-game in five time zones in eight days, west-to east-to west-to east, road trip. But that’s one of the obstacles along the way that must be faced.
As a group the Sharks ought to be pleased with the first quarter of the season but not satisfied. They’ve established a foundation for success going forward but there’s room for improvement.
No team wins them all and no team loses them all. It’s a roller coaster ride to be enjoyed. Enjoy.
I’m Randy Hahn
We’ve seen a variety of interesting travel stories over the years of San Jose Sharks history, including some memorable plane flights, interminable flight delays, and inclement weather tales. Some of the best have included: waiting until a playoff game ended in triple overtime to find out which way to fly, only to be delayed overnight by fog; being the last plane allowed to land in an airport due to snow, making it to the hotel, only to have the game cancelled because of the weather; having a delay of over 12 hours because the proper equipment was not available to change a tire on the aircraft; and so on.
But on the recent “criss-cross road trip” that started in Winnipeg and ended in Chicago, Sharks Hockey had another memorable run that has to go down in the logbook. Now, my broadcast partner Jamie Baker already mapped out the 5-game trip with a diagram that had so many crossing dotted lines, it looked like Gerry Cheevers’ old goalie mask. But here is a 10-step outline of one portion of that map, the trip between Edmonton and Chicago for the final stop on the trip:
- The game was originally scheduled at 7:00. After the game, the plan was to bus to the airport, clear customs in Edmonton, and fly to Chicago. That sounds simple, but….
- For Canadian TV purposes, the game was changed to an 8:00 Mountain Time faceoff, necessitating a later takeoff time from Edmonton International Airport.
- On Friday night, a snowstorm swooped into Alberta. Normally, the 35 kilometer trip from Rexall Place to the airport takes about 33 minutes. However, the storm slowed our path by about 15 minutes, in addition to the later hour due to the change of game time.
- While clearing customs in Edmonton is a good idea, a computer malfunction slowed the procedure for a number of minutes.
- Because of the snowstorm, once the team boarded the plane, another 15 minutes or so was added to the takeoff time. Why? The plane had to taxi to another part of the airport to be de-iced.
- Finally, takeoff occurred, approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes after the (later) game had ended.
- Flying from Edmonton to Chicago takes about the same time as flying home to San Jose. In addition, you have to add an hour because we were moving forward from the Mountain to the Central Time Zone.
- Once the plane landed, in this case at O’Hare International Airport, it was fortunate to note that there was lighter traffic due to the fact that it was a Saturday. However, the 18 mile trip takes about 27 minutes.
- It certainly was a weary group that checked into the hotel at approximately 6:20 a.m. Central Time on Saturday and some much-needed sleep.
- On Sunday, tornado warnings and major storms engulfed the Chicagoland area. At nearby Soldier Field, the NFL Bears game was actually delayed and the stadium evacuated when the storm raged in. Instead of being able to have the Formula One United States Grand Prix in the background of my hotel room, I had storm coverage instead. Fortunately, it all was over in a flash, and there were no other incidents other than the 5-1 loss in Chicago, followed by the late night flight home to San Jose.
All in all, the “criss-cross road trip” will be remembered for a 3-1-1 record, and a lot of travel stories. But the final 48 hours of the trip was one for the books. It’s great to be home! For sjsharks.com, I’m Dan Rusanowsky.