I was a little bit worried about the Sharks having kind of a comedown after the game against the Ducks the night before where they played hard and went to SO and it was a really thrilling victory, then had to fly back to San Jose and play the next day, especially with Calgary having lost their last game and probably wanting to just get the one win to tie up the spot, but I was thinking that the bizarre tendency of the Sharks to play better on the second night of back to backs (10-2 now?) might be the bigger factor.
The Flames actually looked good, but until they called their timeout, I thought that they lacked some confidence offensively. On their power plays, guys would receive pucks in good shooting position, and instead of getting off a one-timer or quick wrist shot, they would move around a little bit, looking for a better position or someone to pass too, or hesitate before the shot. They kept doing that or I thought they could have scored in the first period.
Turning point for the Sharks was when Joe got angry, I think. This might have been when both Phaneuf and Clowe went to the box? but Joe just yelled at a ref for like a minute straight, then afterwards played like a demon until the Sharks went up 2-0. Then the Flames called a timeout and he simmered down. But it really is weird how if you make him mad, he really does transform into this big green hulking--oh wait, got confused there.
The crowd was pretty amazing last night too. Everyone was cheering their heads off for every good shift or PK and of course the most for the goals. Lots and lots of love for Mike Grier when they showed a montage of his goals on the jumbotron, and of course much love for Joe for the consecutive 90-assist seasons.
Thanks very much to tersa for the ticket, and for the team poster!!! *squeaks*
Also, a wonderful (if horrifyingly titled) article on Vlasic. :)
'Pickles' comes out of the jar tasting just right
Vlasic among NHL's best freshmen talent
Friday, April 06, 2007
SAN JOSE - From across his cluttered desk, Doug Wilson scrunches up his tanned face.
Not a little bit, either. This is the full lemon-suck wince.
Which is the reaction of the San Jose Sharks' general manager when he hears the names of Miikka Kiprusoff and Marc-Edouard Vlasic used in the same sentence.
As in, "Vlasic, the guy the Sharks got for Kiprusoff . . . ."
"Marc-Edouard should be judged and viewed on his own two feet," says Wilson, who used the return from Kiprusoff in November 2003 -- a second-round pick in 2005 -- to pluck Vlasic, 35th overall, out of the Quebec Major Hockey Junior League.
Excuse Wilson's sensitivity on the matter.
Since shucking teal, all Kiprusoff has done is nail down a National Hockey League modern-era record and earn a Vezina Trophy.
But Vlasic, who turned 20 last week, has gone swiftly -- and legitimately -- from Trivial Pursuit answer to Calder Trophy candidate.
Indeed, the player known as Pickles is turning out to be the real dill, uh, deal.
"If you analyze what he's done, on his own merit, he belongs at the top of that (rookie) list," says Wilson. "If you watch what he's accomplished in all areas of the game, I think he's been as impactful as any rookie in the league. Of course, I'm biased -- I've watched him the last couple years and now I watch him on a daily basis -- but I would put him at the top of the list, and that's with great respect to all the other guys."
Defensively sound, Vlasic has chalked up 26 points.
In the past 19 games alone, the rearguard is plus-15.
"At first, I didn't think I'd be here," Vlasic was saying before Thursday's date against the Calgary Flames. "But as the season went on, my confidence grew. I have surprised myself -- but it's nothing that I couldn't do."
In the Sharks' biggest showdown -- Wednesday at Anaheim, with the Pacific Division pennant still up for grabs -- Vlasic worked a team-high 25:47 as his employers prevailed in a shootout.
On a roster studded with stars, only Scott Hannan averages more ice time than Vlasic.
And zero NHL rookies play more than the Beaconsfield, Que., native.
"There's a lot of games in a season, but the best time is about to come and I have to be ready for that," says Vlasic. "The team's counting on me, even if I am a young guy. There are two games left. I'll finish strong and continue that into the playoffs."
The load is not common for youngsters.
Generally, first-year regulars fizzle.
But pointing to Vlasic's portfolio last season -- 66 regular-season dates for Quebec, 23 playoff matches, four more at the Memorial Cup -- Wilson knew the lad could hang tough.
"Not everybody is the same -- you've got to understand where people come from," says Wilson. "(Sharks rookies) Matt Carle and Joe Pavelski, they hadn't been conditioned to play a hundred games, so we handled them a little bit differently. Marc-Edouard is a very efficient player, very detailed in his game, and he has already gone through the physical and mental journey of a hundred games . . . so this wasn't anything that was going to be overly burdensome to him."