Most offensively productive players

So, you want to know who’s the best player on the Sharks?  What criteria do you use?

When you use statistics, you can almost any result you want.

So, excluding “power” rankings, opponent quality, etc., here are the ranked players by point production per minutes played, based on last season’s stats.

Forwards

  • Matt Nieto
  • Tommy Wingels
  • Raffi Torres
  • Tomas Hertl
  • James Sheppard
  • Patrick Marleau
  • Andrew Desjardins
  • Joe Pavelski
  • Joe Thornton
  • Logan Couture
  • Tyler Kennedy
  • Mike Brown
  • Eriah Hayes
  • John Scott (Buffalo #s)
  • Freddie Hamilton, Adam Burish == no points

Nieto and Wingels are way and above top of the class; it drops significantly to the next in the list.

Defense

  • Jason Demers
  • Brent Burns (using his “forward” #s)
  • Marc-Edouard Vlasic
  • Matt Irwin
  • Scott Hannan
  • Justin Braun

Now, you kinda expect the defense to not be as offensive as the forwards, especially those players identified as “defensive defensemen”.

But take all that with a big Sharkarita in your hand, while wearing teal sun glasses, if you think it means anything with respect to line assignments/defensive pairings or fantasy hockey.

Just a way to fill the time waiting for the season to start (and find a starting point for discussion).

Antici…….pation

It’s more than a month to the start of the season.  And training camp is just under three weeks away.

Sigh.

It’s been such a loooooooooooooooong summer with the Sharks ousted from the playoffs in April.  That’s meant four (and counting) months of bombardment from pundits’ about the “playoff choker” Sharks one more time, and little news regarding new players added to the organization.

But just like the fans, the players are anticipating the upcoming season.  They are starting to pump their physical preparation for training camp and the season.

At captain’s skate, for instance.

What is that, you might ask?  An opportunity for the players (already) in town to get out on the ice, perhaps do some drills, shooting practice, or windsprints, plus some scrimmage (more like a spirited/fast game of shinny than a hard hitting game you’ll see in the regular season).  It’s an opportunity to get the eye/hand coordination readjusted, and work on the cardiovascular stamina required.  And have fun on the ice. (For a few local players, friends of players, or even teenaged sons of players, and some of the retired players, a chance to “play” with the NHLers. Some guys bring out their young kids before/after the scrimmage to enjoy some family time; amazing how some of the toughest guys have the biggest smiles for their kids.)  The Sharks also open up the skate and training facilities to former Shark players, and other NHLers who might be in the area as well.  So, while the majority of players on the ice will be wearing Shark white or teal jerseys, you might have a rainbow of other teams represented.

Not all Sharks players get their ice time in San Jose.  Some agents have camps in Montreal or Toronto.  But all will converge in San Jose before training camp.

(A note on the goalies, there are often 1-2 “pick up” goalies on the ice until the last week before camp to give the NHL goalies opportunities to take a breather, should they want it. These goalies participate in the local adult leagues, or may be alumni from San Jose State’s club hockey team. Helps them improve their game to face NHL shooters.)

Oh, and per CBA rules, no coach can be on the ice nor directing their on ice actions.  (So, if someone needs to blow a whistle or direction to do the drills, it’s coming from one of the players, or perhaps a helpful fan.)

Just one more harbinger of the upcoming season.

Drop the puck, already!


Anticipation
©2014 GJ Berg

The lights are half on.
The boards are empty,
The benches, empty,
The stands, empty,
The walkways clear.

Silence reigns.
Except for the small
Mechanical noises of
HVAC and
Contracting metal.

It is cold.
The metal bench
Leeching heat.
Open rink door
providing more.

Cold ice has a smell:
Damp,
Vaguely pungent,
Sweaty overtones,
With a hint of testosterone.

Anticipation. Waits.
Scoreboard clock
Slowly counts
The minutes
Of the hour.

Anticipation. Delays.
Clock silent,
Slow increase,
Minute by
Minute.

Anticipation. Duration.
Metal creaks.
Fog may rise
If humidity allows.
Minute increases.

Anticipation. Impatience.
Worry over
Cancellation,
Postponement.
Minute passes.

Anticipation. Release.
Lights blaze full.
Zamboni roars,
Lap after Lap.
Ice glistens, wet.

Anticipation. Grows.
Ice dulls, to dry.
Practice pucks
Endanger goals
Wait on the ice.

Handle turns,
Players emerge.
Greetings ensue.
Sticks grasped,
Dropped at bench.

Skate blades cut,
Ice becomes snow.
Grind.
Crunch.
Swosh, a shower.

Pucks demonstrate
Velocity, physics.
Thwack. Bang.
Thwack. Swish.
Thwack, thud.

Glove captures.
Blocker defends.
Stick thwarts.
Arm deflects.
But not all. Goal.

Greetings crescendo,
Last on the ice.
Scatological sarcasm
Replaces.
Down to business.

Stretches,
Silent,
But for
Verbal
Jibes.

Today perhaps
Begins with some
Drills.
Rote.
Familiar rhythms.

Next Scrimmage.
Jersey color
Defines team.
Linemates in season
Faceoff.

The guy loved
To play with
Now opposite.
Small dose of
Hate to play off.

Shifts advance.
Pucks lead
Play,
End to
End.

Flying changes.
Flying bodies.
Flying pucks.
Flying words.
Goal. Repeat.

Defender
Valiant
Prevents goal.
But skill
Nets one.

Score advances.
Shift of defending end.
Play continues
Until max
Score reached.

Some declare
Done.
Others move
To work on
Individual skills.

Windsprints.
Shooting precision
On the go.
Shooting from
The blue line.

Pucks
Laid out
Just so.
Handle in, over,
Around, between.

Work on
Acceleration
From stop.
First few steps
Could determine winner.

Really ambitious?
Battle drills
In the corner
Against the biggest
Guy on the ice.

Numbers dwindle.
Time nearly done.
Zamboni ready.
Pucks gathered.
Sticks retrieved.

Zamboni
Cleans evidence of
Hard work and
Effort.
Ice glistens.

One more day
Gone before camp.
One day closer
To season.
Lights half off.

Anticipation.
Drop
The
Puck
Already.

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening!

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.

Why should you want to know?
Don’t you mind about the future?
Don’t you try to think ahead?
Save tomorrow for tomorrow;
Think about today instead.
— Jesus Christ Superstar (Tim Rice)

One of the hardest jobs in the newspaper industry may be the headline writer.  This person needs to summarize the associated article in a few words.

Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they make you think.

But often the sensationalism of the headlines belies what’s really happening.  In other words, sometimes it’s just so hard to get past the sensationalism to see the reality.

The headlines about the Sharks this summer have been about:

  • historic, epic, collapse
  • culture of failure (and playoff choking)
  • no change in head coach or general manager
  • how to define “rebuild”
  • co-workers vs teammates
  • trading away veteran D (Boyle, Stuart)
  • the dearth of players added to the organization (two free agents, one trade, entry draft players, three undrafted prospects — with the probability of one enforcer on the NHL roster); letting 18 players go from organization; resigning two UFAs (Brown, Hannan), five RFAs
  • while many of the other teams (in the state, division, conference, league) added free agents or made trades to improve to their organization
  • questions about goal tending with Niemi only having 87.7% save vs Stalock 93.2%
  • “tomorrow team”, pulling replacements from within the organization, especially with the often-derided quality of the Sharks prospects
  • the loss of Raffi Torres for perhaps half the season from complications from surgery last preseason (he’s played 16 regular season games with the Sharks since being acquired)
  • open season for a new captain at training camp
  • locker room problems
  • organizational panic

About the only positive headline was regarding the compliance buyout of Havlat which was almost universally applauded (and predicted).

Sigh.

So what does all this mean?  And does it really matter (to those inside the room, or is it mainly for placating the pundits outside the room)?

To answer the latter question first: it really doesn’t matter what those of us in the stands, press box or peanut gallery think.  It’s what the guys in the room and the Sharks “brass” think that matters.

The realities are:

  • Sharks lost Vlasic and the remaining defensive corps could not contain the Kings
  • The team stopped playing Sharks system
  • Sharks scoring dried up/Quick got hot
  • Exhaustion? Push to make playoffs, #2 division finish, compressed schedule due to Olympics (Mental and/or physical)
  • The Kings are a very good team

Is the fix to the problem merely “between the ears?” Or new personnel?

Or both?

With a summer of dealing with the fall out of the first round loss, that’s a lot of time to contemplate the pain from the loss, fix any resulting “issues,” and to set one’s resolve to not see that happen again.  (A new captain and alternates may help with that with new voices leading the team.)

Based one of Doug Wilson’s favorite books, it sounds like a new “bus driver”/captain is needed, and where folks sit “on the bus” needs to change, as well as some of who are on the bus.

Some of the less effective players are off the bus with the departure of Boyle and Havlat.  (That’s not to say they won’t be effective for their new teams, but they no longer fit with what the Sharks needed/wanted. Just like Clowe and Murray.)

If you think that Thornton or Marleau should be replaced on the ice by better players, pray tell, who?  They are some of the most offensively productive players in the league, even if they don’t get the headlines of Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, and Stamkos. If the Sharks did choose to trade them away, and the guys waived their no-movement clauses, it is highly unlikely the Sharks would be able to acquire similarly effective players. And it’s unlikely the Sharks will be drafting from the first row any time soon for a replacement.

So now the team is providing opportunities for younger players, and the team has said there are no guaranteed roster spots. It will be merit and skills, not tenure nor salary/contract that will determine if a player is on the NHL roster at the start of the season (or in the AHL or traded/waived). And that competition will extend to roles or pairing/lines.

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening.

Why should you want to know?
Why are you obsessed with fighting
Times and fates you can’t defy?
If you knew the path we’re riding,
You’d understand it less than I.
— Jesus Christ Superstar (Tim Rice)

Isn’t that as it should be? Making it public that the NHL roster will be up for full competition just puts all the players on notice they cannot “sit on their laurels” or “assume” they have a place on the opening night roster.

I’m expecting this upcoming training camp to be one of the most physical ever.  No “half speed” scrimmages nor “don’t mean anything” preseason games.  It may be “playoff intensity” for those in camp, wanting to ensure they are on the opening night roster.

So what if John Scott, noted enforcer, is on the training camp roster.  That is no guarantee that he’ll be on the opening night roster, nor that he’ll be in the line up any night of the regular season.

What of this path the Sharks are on?  Are they pretenders or contenders for the Stanley Cup? Contenders in my book.

From a distance, I’m seeing that these public gesturings and sentiments are (attempting) to change the external expectations (of pundits and fans). (But based on the current headlines, I don’t think those expectations have been significantly changed.)

The Sharks may need to pop the balloon of expectations filled with hot air and descend to the depths of the standings to sink way beneath the surface to then explosively display it’s status as an apex predator and attack from that depth with deadly consequences for their prey.

Taking it to the streets

For the first time in forever….

The Sharks are taking it to the streets (or actually, outside).

The biggest news of the week is that the Sharks will be hosting the Kings for Coors Light Stadium Series(TM) at Levi’s Stadium on February 21, 2015.  (Arguably the worst kept secret since the schedule was announced.)

The other humorous news is the ALS Ice Bucket challenge has hit the Sharks (and former Sharks) with Finz (Worcester Mascot), Sharkie, Burns, Couture, Demers, Grosenick, Nieto, Sheppard, Zettler, Acolaste, and Stalock responding to the challenge (as of Saturday evening).

NBC/PHT had their focus on the Sharks this past week.

Summer doldrums (TWTW)

And the most exciting thing of the past week was that the NBC Sports national games were announced.  Sharks will be on NBC (once!) and NBCSN (12) for a total of 13 games.  (Max number of “national exclusive” games is 11, but not clear, right now, how many of those will be on CSNCA also.)

The other to minor things that happened this past week was that draftee Julius Bergman signed with the OHL team that drafted him in the CHL import draft.  (Transfer from Sweden not expected to be a problem.)  Which means he’ll be in North America playing, either for OHL London or the NHL Sharks (probably the former).

Logan Couture was also in the news, guesting at Smashfest, former Shark Dominic Moore’s ping pong charity tournament.  They raised $140,000 this year, benefitting his deceased wife’s memorial Katie Moore Foundation (rare cancer research) and his brother Steve Moore Foundation (concussion research).

Nothing on the schedule for the upcoming week.  So it could be on the quiet side (with folks packing up for the August “holidays”).  (Maybe an announcement of the outdoor game?)

Truth is stranger than fiction

You attend a hockey game.  You expect that the game will start on time. You expect that all the action will be on the ice. And that’s the norm.

But occasionally, VERY infrequently, unusual things happen. (And often challenge the trivia quotient of fans.)

And the Sharks have been involved in a few of those games including:

March 10, 1995

First ever NHL “rained out” game; during the lockout shortened season.  The Guadalupe River, hundreds of feet from the San Jose Arena, reached flood stage, some local underpasses were flooded.

(Game was rescheduled for April 5. Flaherty was the goaltender of record in 3-5 loss.)

December 29, 1996

Snow delay in Vancouver. Rescheduled for January 20, 1997.

(Sharks lost 1-6 behind Hrudey.)

March 12, 1999

Sharks are hosting the Red Wings.  Game delayed 25 minutes with SJ Sharkie tangled up (great video and raw footage from event) as he attempted to rappel from roof.  Sharks won 2-0 with Shields in net.

Guess Sharkie scared them as he was hanging over their net.

March 10, 2002

During the waning seconds of the game, the Sharks are on a power play in Vancouver. But the Canucks are behind by two goals and pull their goalie.  So, Nabokov gathers up the puck, lofts it down the ice, straight in the goal and becomes the first NHL goalie to score a power play goal, and the first European NHL goalie to score a goal. Sharks win 7-4.

March 19, 2003

Snow delay in Colorado. Flying to Colorado 3/18, they couldn’t even land in Denver, but had to divert to Colorado Springs and stay there overnight.  Game rescheduled for March 20, 2003, after the Sharks’ players (union members) had to vote to play on that day as it resulted in the team playing three games in three days (March 20 in Colorado; March 21 hosting Boston; March 22 hosting Anaheim), something prohibited in NHL CBA (and still is).  (But it was preferred to traveling home to SJ and make another trip to Colorado to play the game.)

The Sharks  lost to Colorado 0-2 and Kipper left game in 3rd for the season with knee strain, Toskala came in relief (surprising the coach who didn’t realize there had been a goalie change). As for the other two games: Toskala won against Boston 3-2, and Nabokov lost in OT to Anaheim 2-3.

October 13, 2007

Home opener against Boston after major refurbishment of HP Pavilion.  During warmups, power outage occurs.  Game start is delayed about half an hour to get the lights and things fixed.  (Audio was out for all of the first period.)

Sharks lost 1-2 with Nabokov in nets, backed up by Patzold.

April 17, 2014

Division semi-final Playoffs Game 1 against the Kings, warmups delayed 15 minutes after a five minute power outage. But after the lessons learned seven years earlier, the emergency lights came on immediately. Things were pretty much able to go “on time” as this was a “15 minutes after the hour” national game.

Sharks won 6-3 with Niemi in nets.