Sharks Gameday: Shadow People



5:30 PST
19-13-5, 43 points 20-15-3, 43 points
6th in Western Conference
7th in Western Conference
98.5 KFOX,
Second City Hockey
Hockee Night

It's the right night for the wrong company, and there ain't nothing round here to look at.

Move along.

San Jose goes on to blow yet another third period lead last night against Minnesota, this time giving up three goals in the final frame to lose 5-3. Perhaps the most frustrating part of it all was the fact that the Sharks had played a great game for the first forty minutes, controlling the play for the large part outside of a few hiccups that lead to goals (Heatley's casual crease clear on Mikko Koivu's goal being the obvious example). They looked like a team that had put the disaster against Los Angeles on Monday behind them, used the loss as a rallying point to move forward, and set out to pick up where they left off going into the Christmas break.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what has plagued the Sharks in the third period this season-- Comcast Sports Net California has been consistently tracking San Jose's GF/GA by period over the course of the year, and the current differential shows that the Sharks are an atrocious -13 heading into tonight's game against Chicago. The fact remains that the amount of blown leads this year to teams like Nashville, Dallas, Colorado, and Minnesota in an ever-tight Western Conference are ones that are inexcusable. You just can't bleed away points like that in the final frame and expect to be a team that has legitimate Stanley Cup hopes.

The Sharks currently shoulder a 78.9 winning percentage when leading after two periods, good for 24th in the League. In the two previous seasons under Head Coach Todd McLellan the Sharks put up an 87.8 winning percentage (11th) in 09-10, and an 86.8 winning percentage (13th) in 08-09.

I wanna know where all the shadow people go.

Maybe the wind will blow them the right way in Chicago.

After the Los Angeles game I pondered when Logan Couture would start seeing top pairings and checking lines considering he and Ryane Clowe have been the most consistent Sharks line this season. As it turns out, all it took was former Sharks coach Todd Richards to recognize that and take advantage of the last change at home. Richards split his top defensive defenseman Greg Zanon up between Thornton and Couture all night, tasking him against both lines at a fairly even split. His second best stopper, Nick Schultz, saw the vast majority of his ice time against Couture and company. Although Richards didn't coach Couture at the NHL level, his familiarity with the organization obviously contributed to his decision.

Times are a changin' in San Jose, and it will be interesting to see what Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville does tonight. If McLellan goes back to HTML at even strength I'm sure you'll see Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook gets the nod against them, but if Marleau remains on the third line, I think there's a good chance Couture seems some of that ice time. Quenneville is a notorious matchup coach, much like Mike Babcock, and that comes with paying careful attention to trends and game tape. If Couture sees some healthy time against Keith-Seabrook, it's safe to say the kid has legitimately arrived (even if it's pretty clear he already has).

Jonathan Toews is out tonight for the Hawks, same goes with Fernando Pisani. I only mention Pisani because of those old Knob Hockey videos-- he was featured in the first edition of them ("EY PISANI! BADA BING BADA BOOM, TONY SOPRANO!!!"), before they added the announcers (a real hit and miss affair, that second run), but for the life of me I can't find the video online. Youtube has them removed, online links are dead, and a part of my soul has gone with it. If you find a working link, pass it along and I'll be forever grateful. Drinks are on me before the next home game kind of grateful.

Prediction: Sharks lose 3-2. Goals by McGinn and Wingels. A two goal blown lead in the third causes Tommy to have nightmares for the second straight night in a row.