On Feb 9th 2015 the Sharks will host The Calgary Flames and your pal Ian is going to be Breaking It Down! This is your semi regular officially unofficial game preview post that gives you some quick numbers and my opinions on not only our Sharks but their opponent of the night.
Know Your Team - The San Jose Sharks
Current Record (W-L-OTL): 28-19-7, 63 Points and 2nd in the Pacific Division
Last 10 Games: 5-3-2
Power Play: 20.9% (8th.)
Penalty Kill: 81.9% (14th.)
Current Streak: Lost their last game
Notes: Evgeni Nabokov still holds the Sharks franchise goaltending records for games played, wins, shutouts and saves.
Know Your Enemy - The Calgary Flames
Current Record: (W-L-OTL): 29-21-3, 61 Points and 4th in the Pacific Division
Last 10 Games: 7-3-0
Power Play: 17.0% (23rd.)
Penalty Kill: 78.4% (25th.)
Current Streak: Lost Their Last Game
Notes: Calgary will win the season series as they have already taken 3 of the first 4 encounters with the Sharks.
Ian Breaks Down The Flames: Of all the potential playoff opponents for the Sharks to play in the first round this one probably would worry me the most aside from drawing the Kings. While I don't put a ton of stock in the season series when the playoff puck drops it is important to note that regardless of the outcome tonight in their final meeting of the series the flames already won the season series. There has been two differences between the two teams so far and that has been effort and quality of goaltending. The flames have for the most part pushed the play and have gotten better goaltending including from rookie Ortio than the Sharks have gotten from Niemi or Stalock and the Flames have arguably outworked the Sharks on both nights. Being the 3rd meeting between these teams in less than a month there isn't much more I can tell you about the flames that I have not wrote before. Jonas Hiller will start for the flames, he is coming off a rough game against the Penguins.
Ian Breaks Down The Sharks: The Sharks continue to stumble through their post all star game stretch having just dropped a game to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes who in fairness have been on a decent run of late. The Sharks are going to play another game without stud defenseman Marc Edouard Vlasic meaning another heavy minute night for Brent Burns who logged almost 27 minutes last game and as much as I hate the idea of it Scott Hannan. I really hope this Vlasic thing is temporary. Daniil Tarasov also added his name to the IR with at last I checked an undisclosed injury. It's not all bad news though as Tommy Wingels returns to the lineup and this is a player that in my opinion the Sharks have missed a ton. DeMelo has been re-called from the Woo but I think he is going to be a healthy scratch and is in San Jose in case another defenceman goes down. Hopefully the Sharks can get healthy as the playoffs approach. In off-ice news the Sharks traded for franchise record holder Nabokov who most expect to announce his retirement on Wednesday as a member of the team. This is a classy move by both organizations, I'm not sure who is picking up the tab cap hit wise for the remainder of the year but if it's the Sharks I think it further proves that DW has no big plans going into the trade deadline. Nabokov will carry a 1.55 Million dollar cap hit even if he retires on Wednesday because it was signed after Nabokov turned 35 years of age.
Q: Ian, It seems like the Sharks have trouble against teams that slow down the tempo. Is this part of why they lose to low ranked teams? How can they fix this tendancy?
A: Great Question, The honest answer is I don't know for sure. I will however speculate and we call all decide if I'm a moron in the comments. My best guess would be because teams that slow down the play don't really play into Todd Mclellans system. The Sharks play an up tempo system that relies on being able to break out of our zone either by skating or with a good first pass but a lot of the lower tempo teams force you to try and skate it out of the zone and then kill you with double coverage making our passes more dangerous and turnovers far more likely. The drawback to these low tempo systems is they don't always breed a ton of offence aside from trying to take advantage of the turnovers. You see crappy teams do this because frankly it's an easier system to play if you're not exactly loaded with talent. How do you combat it? Outworking your opponent exposing holes in coverage and making the most of your opportunities. It might sound cliché but it's the best answer I got. This is one of the few places where you never played the game at a high enough level comes into play because while I feel I can make good observations some of the finer points I may not quite have a great grasp on.
I hope I didn't let you down and thanks for the question.
My Prediction: Nabokov runs on the ice and hits Hiller with a steel chair while the ref is not looking and Joe Thornton pins him to win the world championship belt while the tank faithful goes out of their minds.
Remember if you have a question you would like me to answer in the Breaking It Down blog please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will never include your name unless specifically asked to do so and no question is "too dumb".
If you want to read previous blogs please check out http://ianblogssharks.blogspot.ca
What are your thoughts on tonight's game?