Sharks lose most boring game of the year, must rebound quickly against the Blackhawks

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4:00 PST

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15-10-1, 31 points 17-8-4, 38 points
8th in Western Conference 2nd in Western Conference
Television
NHLN-CA
CSN-CA (HD)
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
Second City Hockey
Hockee Night

Huh, um, er, what? I’m sorry, did I fall asleep? My bad. In my defense, I only got 12 hours of sleep and only drank one cup of coffee before the game. You can’t expect me to be able to stay awake through Saturday night’s game on that.

The game between the Sharks and Blues has to be one of the most uneventful sports contests this season. Both Antti Niemi and Brian Elliot played well, although neither was tested all that much; there were only 43 shots on goal total, with many coming while Niemi was pulled for an extra skater. Both teams played well defensively, with most if not all of the scoring chances failing to generate the second or third chances that goals tend to come from.

This was a game that put the "special" back into "special teams" – there were eleven penalties called, and only one goal scored. The 30th ranked St. Louis Blues power play battled the 30th ranked San Jose Sharks penalty kill, and although the Sharks managed to kill 4 of 5 penalties, the one failed kill turned out to win the war. Todd McLellan had a big hand in one of the kills. Initially, it looked as though the Blues scored while on the 5-on-3, meaning the Sharks still had the remaining of their second penalty to kill. McLellan successfully argued that the Blues scored after that penalty expired, making it a 5-on-4 goal and wiping out that extra penalty time.

But the story of the night – if you could call it that – was the Sharks’ absolutely horrid power play. After not registering a shot during the 1:50 5-on-3 against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, the Sharks managed to only get one shot total on their six power plays, a Patrick Marleau shot on the fourth power play of the night. The first three power plays, the Blues actually generated better scoring chances than the Sharks did. Perhaps the only thing more pathetic than San Jose's power play was the Blues' attempts at an empty net goal, but it was close.

The one positive from the game is that the Sharks managed to improve their penalty kill from the 30th-ranked 73.9% to 28th-ranked 74.4%.

It was an utterly boring game. And, as my notes on the game mainly consisted of, "Sharks penalty. Penalty killed. Blues penalty. Penalty killed..." and so on, I reached out to twitter via the hashtag #thingsmoreexcitingthantheSharksBluesgame. Best ones below:

Playing tag by yourself - @idunno723
The Giants' offense - @mymclife
Watching Burns pick up Kangaroo Poo - @SHARXGIRL
Twili... nope. - @nikhurbockerz
My collection of staplers - @Kir_D
That part in every episode of Family Guy where they just leave that long pause for 20 seconds. - @jwizzle241
WNBA - @zano4sharks
Gigli - @chrissampang
BONUS! From the Dallas Stars' perspective:
I'll file #thingsmoreexcitingthanadallasstarspowerplay under that too. - @uscgbiscuit

Unfortunately for insomniacs – but fortunately for the rest of us – today’s game is against the Chicago Blackhawks, a traditionally up-tempo team that the Sharks always seem to get up to play against (barring the 2009 Thanksgiving Eve massacre). While the animosity that sprung up between the teams after the 2010 Western Conference Finals has died down a bit, a battle between two of the top tier teams in the West is always a game to mark on the calendar.

The last time these two teams met, the Sharks had just re-tooled their penalty kill into the 1-3 system that they currently use. While the results have been better, it still hasn't moved the Sharks out of the bottom tier of penalty kills. Sharks fans should take heart in the fact that the Blackhawks seem to be struggling as much as the Sharks do. The Blackhawks' penalty kil is 27th in the league, killing 76.9% of the time and ranking just higher than the Sharks' own kill. Their home PK also mirrors the Sharks; it is worse than their overall PK percentage, killing the penalty 73.8% of the time, good for 29th in the league, but still 4% better than the Sharks' own home penalty kill unit.

While the Blackhawks' power play clocks in at 19.4%, good for 9th in the league, their home PP converts at 13.5%, dropping them down to 25th in the league. The Sharks' overall PP, meanwhile, has managed to stay in the top half of the league, converting 17.9% of the time for the 14th overall ranking. Their road PP percentage dips to 13.6% and 21st overall. Purely based on percentages, the special teams are fairly evenly matched.

With the dismal penalty kills by both squads, there's a strong likelihood of goals being scored with the man advantage. That is, if the Sharks' power play gets more than one shot in 10 minutes and 39 seconds of power play time.

Prediction: Sharks win 11-10 in overtime on goals by McGinn, Pavelski, Havlat X3, Burns, Greiss, Couture, Petrecki, Thornton, and Winchester. None of them come on the power play, which goes 0-for-7. The game spawns the hashtag #thingslessexcitingthantheSharksBlackhawksgame.

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