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Shark attack in Boston

Tuesday, 02.10.2009 / 7:00 PM / Blog Central

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

TUESDAY

FINAL ANALYSIS

My stories are filed and I am ready to head back to the hotel. I have an early wake-up call tomorrow to catch an 8:20 a.m. train back to New York. I should be back in the office by 1:30.

However, I couldn't just leave this blog hanging.

Here is some more analysis:

* Todd McLellan said it wasn't the Bruins forecheck that was hurting the Sharks in the first period, it was their transition game. It also didn't help that the Sharks were dumping the puck right at Tim Thomas instead of into the corners. When they started to be smarter with the puck they started to play much better and took control of the game.

* The Sharks PK was superb, especially in the third period when after taking a 4-2 lead they had to kill two more penalties. They did and made it look easy. Then again, the Bs PP is really struggling now. It's just 2 for 30 in the last six games.

* McLellan gave a lot of credit to Lucic, saying he is as tough to defend as Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe because of his size, but also mentioned how both of Lucic's goals in the first were off of turnovers. When the Sharks started to get smarter with the puck, Lucic lost some of his effectiveness.

* On why no penalty was called on Boyle with 26.4 seconds left, Julien said, "The explanation is nobody saw it and they felt that, they thought it was a puck that hit him in the eye. That's the explanation I got." It was tough to tell on the replay and I didn't see it again, so I can't weigh in one way or the other. A power play bridging the first and second would have helped the Bs, but they were also 0-for-5 with the advantage, so maybe not. What it would have done was keep the Sharks on their heals a bit longer. Instead, San Jose played on its toes in the second and that led to a strong third.

* Faceoffs were a major difference and McLellan mentioned it, too. The Sharks won 33 and lost only 15. That gave them the puck a lot of the time and they were able to execute some nice rushes as a result.

* Thornton said winning in his old building as the opponent wasn't any more special than winning anywhere else. For some reason, I don't believe him. Nobody does.

* Does this mean that if San Jose and Boston were to meet in the Stanley Cup Final that the Sharks would win? I don't think we can come to that assumption, but you have to give the Sharks the edge right now. Than again, Boston was playing without Michael Ryder and Petteri Nokelainen was gone for the final two periods. They were shorthanded, but so were the Sharks, who lost Marcel Goc early in the game. San Jose has to be confident they can beat the Bruins if the two were to meet again because this was a great road win. That's about all we can say for now.

* Thanks to the live running blog, my two stories, and now this quick recap I can't think of anything else to say about this game. So, I'm out.

THIRD PERIOD

Final, Sharks 5, Boston 2

An empty netter by Grier will cap it with 28.6 seconds left.

San Jose definitely withstood Boston's early charge, but the Sharks figured out how to play the Bruins in the second and used that knowledge in the third to take the game.

More later....

18:52

The Sharks have killed Boyle's penalty. The Bruins are running out of time and they need two goals.

The clock is under 2 minutes now and ticking. San Jose is still playing chip and chase, but when they get the chance they are pushing it.

Boston has not been given a chance to be as physical in the second and especially the third periods. Thomas is out of the net now. He left with about 1:25 to play, I think.

Nabby gobbles up another shot for his 26th save of the night. With 1:08 left, it's going to be difficult for Boston. The Bs have called a timeout.

16:54

The power play is on. The Bs are already 0-for-4 tonight with the advantage, but boy do they need to be 1-for-5 soon.

They need a goal. The place is really loud now. Welcome to the Jungle is playing. The scoreboard is urging the fans to get louder. They are listening.

Boyle got a holding penalty on Wheeler.

Sharks get the puck deep to kill some more time off the penalty and the game clock. Both are meaningful now.

Wideman broke his stick as he tried to wrist a shot from the point. It allowed the Sharks to clear it down again.

Bergeron shot from the top gets through, but Nabby gobbles it up with 3:06 to play.

15:36

McGinn's ice time is being limited now. Clowe was double shifting with Thornton. The two played with Lemieux.

Great chance in front by Kessel, but he missed the net as he was falling down. That was with about 5:40 left.

The Sharks are playing the dump and chase game now. They love it when the game is wide open, but dump and chase works for them.

Wheeler just whipped a shot at Nabby while falling to the icer and slidig to the boards. The Bruins will go on the PP as a result of the takedown by Boyle with 4:24 remaining.

Should be interesting.

13:09

Phihal had a chance to clear it up the boards but chose not to. The Bruins kept it in and got a shot on, but Nabby was up to the task and the Sharks cleared it down.

The power play is over now and 6:51 remain in the game. The Bruins will be getting desperate soon.

11:57

Boston is going on the power play again. Cheechoo is going into the box for hooking at 10:55.

The Bruins have Savard with Axelsson and Wheeler, Bergeron and Chara. They need a goal. They are 0-for-3 on the power play tonight.

Sharks clear and change. A nice whip of the puck down the ice by Pavelski to kill some clock.

9:48, San Jose scores again, now up 4-2

Another goal by San Jose. This one will go to the video replay booth because it went in off of Thornton's foot.

It's a goal at 9:48.

Marleau whiffed on a shot down low, but Seto won the puck and took it around the back of the goal. He fed the front, where there were three Bruins, but Thornton, who was cutting in, got the goal as the puck went off of his left skate. He did not kick it in.

It is Thornton's first goal in Boston as an opponent and his 13th of the season.

A tale of three periods for San Jose? So far, I'm dead on.

Let's see how Boston responds. They need to get back to playing a physical brand of hockey, but now they have to take some chances in the process.

7:28, Sharks take 3-2 lead

San Jose rushes down the ice and GOAL!!!!!

Great play by Boyle doing what he does best. He took the puck just inside the red line and carried it all the way into the circle before dropping it back to Michalek, who wristed a beautiful, unsavable shot over Thomas' left shoulder into the top right corner. Thomas definitely thought he was going stick side.

The goal was at 7:28 and the Sharks now lead 3-2. Clowe had the second assist for his third of the game.

6:41

We've got a TV timeout now. I have to say this game is living up to the hype. It's 2-2 with 13:19 to play.

Should be a fantastic finish. Buckle in.

3:32, San Jose ties it at 2-2

San Jose is possessing the puck again and GOAL!

Clowe won the battle for the puck in the corner and played it up the half wall to Ehrhoff. He shot it from the point and Marleau, who just came onto the ice, was there to clean up the rebound. Pavelski was in front as well. The goal is Marleau's 27th of the season and 3:32.

I'm beginning to wonder if this is going to be a tale of three periods for the Sharks. Bad in the first, better in the second, won the game in the third?

We'll see.

2:06


Tonight's attendance is 17,565, a sellout.

Play is underway in the third period. Anybody else think Joe Thornton has been a non-factor so far tonight? I do.

Pavelski came in alone on Thomas from the right wing. He cut to the middle but lost the puck and flew over the crease. The puck went through the crease. A great opportunity missed by the Sharks.

0:00

I just figured out why Marleau and Thornton were going back and forth double shifting on the fourth line. Marcel Goc is out with a lower body injury. He suffered it early in the first period on a Lucic hit and hasn't returned. When you live blog a game, you miss a thing or two. I missed that one.

Plihal has moved up to the third line to center Cheechoo and Grier. Lemieux and McGinn remain fourth-liners and Marleau and Thornton are going back and forth with double shifts. Goc will not return to the game.

End of second, Boston still leads, 2-1

Thomas comes way out to stop Marleau on a rebound attempt off of Blake's shot from the blue line just before the intermission. Could we almost have had a little Mark Johnson circa 1980 Miracle on Ice game there?

Close, but the period is over and the score is still 2-1 in favor of the Bruins.

San Jose was much better that period, but it wasn't like Boston relented at all. The Bruins were still physical, but the Sharks were able to move the puck a little quicker and crisper and that took away some of the Bs physicality. They couldn't just go around running guys because the result would not have been pretty. The Sharks also established their forecheck, which was key and lacking in the first.

The Sharks had 13 shots on goal that period vs. the Bruins 10. That is a sign that they were able to hold the puck more and create chances. It also is a sign they were forechecking and keeping the puck away from Thomas.

The Bruins still had their fair share of chances and something to watch this period, especially late if it remains a one-goal lead for Boston, is how far deep the Sharks' D-men pinch. They went in a couple of times in the second and nearly got burned. The Bruins were able to turn around and get some odd-man rushes. If the Sharks need a goal at the end, expect a lot of pinching.

18:32

Lucic just buried Cheechoo in the corner. I mean buried, and he got a big ovation for it.

18:00


The Sharks are focing some turnovers now with their strong forecheck. It's helping them play a puck possession game, their style.

Byron Bitz, playing with Bergeron and Axelsson, tried to dangle the puck through his legs. It didn't quite work out.

Boyle's shot from the right point got through, but Thomas makes a save. Again, good forecheck by the Sharks and they are able to hold the puck in the zone. This is what they want to do. I can't stress that enough. Let's see if they can capitalize.

Well, with their D-men pinching it ended up being an odd man rush the other way. Vlasic blocked Lucic's shot to keep the score at 2-1. If he wasn't there, Nabby probably would have been, but it would have been a great opportunity nonetheless.

Noke will not return to this game. They just announced that. Has to be something with his face. It looked like he took Boyle's stick right above his eye with 26.4 seconds left in the first period, but Boyle did not serve a penalty.

Lots of great, non-stop action going on right now.

Bitz crushes Murray at the half wall. Murray staggered a bit, but he was just fine as he made it to the Sharks bench.

Finally a whistle with 2 minutes left.

12:15


Seto (Setoguchi) fails on a shot attempt and Bergeron got a rush going the other way. It turned into a 2-on-1 with Axelsson, but nothing doing. The puck did get through the crease at one point, bringing the crowd out of their chairs.

Great opportunity for Savard, but Nabby made a wonderful save with his pads stacked. Some rough stuff happened after that between the two squads, all 10 skaters, at the Sharks blue line. What a save by Nabby!

Grier got in on Thomas, but never could get a clean shot off and Thomas made a sliding save anyway. That was about 11:50 into the period.

10:01

How often do you see a D-man acting as a center on the rush? We just did. Pavelski was trailing and Boyle was streaking up the ice with Clowe and Michalek. Man, Boyle is fast.

Right now it looks as though the Sharks have been able to control the Bruins physical play by moving the puck quicker this period.

Joe Thornton is double shifting on the Sharks fourth line now. The shots are 7-7 in this period at the 10-minute mark.

7:28

Strong hit by Wheeler on Murray in the corner. The Bs are strill working those corners.

Boyle got the puck in deep, way into the left circle, but Thomas made a save on his shot. Boyle did get back. He's been doing that all season. Going in very deep in the offensive zone, but he's quick enough to get back to his position.

San Jose is controlling the puck now. That's what they want to do and something they haven't done all game.

Setoguchi got in alone on Thomas after knifing between two Bs defenders, but Thomas made a nice save. That was at about the 6:30 mark.

Constant action now. Up and down with chances on both sides. This is good hockey. I bet Versus would love a whistle now. Can you say advertising?

Here is a whistle, 7:28 into the period.

3:49

Nabby (Nabokov) made a save with Lucic right in front of him. After the ensuing faceoff, the Sharks cleared the puck and Setoguchi came out of the box. The 5-on-3 didn't burn them.

Boston has it set up now. Kessel shot saved by Habby. Ference shot from point goes wide and Murray clears puck  up the ice, but here comes Lucic on another rush. Great backcheck by Michalek to take the puck away from Axelsson.

Sixteen seconds left on Boyle's penalty. The Sharks may find themselves out of these rough waters.

They do as Boyle is now out of the box, but he turned the puck over at the wall. It gave Boston another rush, but Nabby made a save and held on.

 
 


1:39

Clear by Douglas Murray 30 seconds into the Bruins penalty. Savard whiffed on a shot from the right circle. He had an opening after a nice pass from Bergeron.

Uh oh, the Sharks are going to be two-men down now as Boyle will go to the box for tripping Kobasew. This one was definitely a penalty. He got his stick between Kobasew's skates as the Bruin was playing the puck near the half-wall.

0:28

Setoguchi tried to start the physical play by attempting a big hit on Kobasew (I think). He missed and then got a penalty for interference 28 seconds in. Boston is going on the PP.

FIRST PERIOD

End of first, Bruins 2, Sharks 1

Dominated is a strong word, but I would go as far as saying the Bruins did just that in the first period. They were all over San Jose with a strong forecheck. The result was a pair of goals for Lucic, both a result of the Bruins beating the Sharks to pucks.

Boston owns a 13-6 advantage in shots. Somehow San Jose was credited with 14 hits to Boston's 6, but Boston's 6 hurt a heck of a lot more than San Jose's 14. The Sharks also won 13 of the 16 faceoffs according to the stat sheet, but they didn't do anything with it.

San Jose was slumping coming into this game and now you have to wonder if it is still ongoing. I suspect Todd McLellan is letting his team have it in the locker room right now. They did not play a smart period and they got out-physicaled (is that a word, and if so is it spelled right?) by the Bruins despite the difference in hits. That may be the story of the night. Who knows? Forty minutes still to go, but the Sharks have to play stronger in the corners and against the wall.

If you think I'm being too hard on the Sharks, perhaps, but I also think the Bruins toughness took them by surprise a bit.

Still, it could all change in the second.

19:34

The Bruins should be going back on the PP as a result of a high stick by Boyle. He got it up on Noke, who had to get taken off the ice. Not sure if he was bleeding, though. It looked inadvertant at best, but still it should be a penalty for sure. The officials discussed it and called it, but Boyle has not gone to the box yet. The door remains open.

Now it closes and nobody is in the box.

OK, apparently there will not be a penalty. I don't know what the explanation is, but the crowd doesn't like it. They are chanting, well, I think you know the word they are chanting.

18:54

Boston is going on the power play as a result of a hooking penalty on Michalek at 16:15. If the Bruins score again before the period ends, the Sharks, who already have plenty to think about, will really be hurting.

The Bruins have Kessel, Krejci, Lucic, Wideman and Ference out there vs. Mike Grier, Marleau, Vlasic and Blake.

Boston just changed and Savard, Kobasew and Axelsson came out. Chara and Wideman are the D. They set it up, but not much doing.

Great pass by Savard to a cutting Kobasew, who whiffed on the shot. Another great pass to the crease by Savard to Axelsson, who also couldn't get a stick on it.

The passing lanes are wide open for the Bruins. The Sharks need to tighten that up even though they are one man short right now.

Pavelski won a defensive zone faceoff with 13 seconds left on the PP to kill the rest of the time off.

Play is still going on.

15:29, 2-1 Bruins

Ference had a long talk during the TV timeout with Van Massenhoven and Rooney, the refs. I wonder what they were talking about? Seriously, I don't know.

Almost a too-many men on the ice penalty for the Sharks, but they got off just in time as Thornton played the puck as soon as he came over the boards.

I notice that early on the Sharks are turning the puck over too much in their own zone and the Bruins are not afraid at all to shoot from the points. Advantage Bruins in that respect.

They just changed the San Jose goal to what I thought it would be. Blake now has credit for his 8th of the season and Vlasic and Clowe got the assists. Where they got Pavelski from I have no idea.

Steal along the neutral zone boards by Lucic on a bad turnover by Blake and GOAL!!!!

Blake tried to play the puck up the boards, but Lucic stole it right in front of the Sharks bench. He fed Noke, who shot the puck. Nabokov made a kick save, but the rebound came right out to Lucic who put it right back in at 14:54.

For Lucic, second of the game and 13th of the season.

Blake is going to want that one back. I don't know if the puck didn't go off his stick right, but he tried to play it off the boards and it just didn't work. Lucic was in the right place. He's been there all night for the Bruins.

12:18

Savard came in for Nokelainen to take a defensive zone faceoff. He won it and now he's playing center with Krejci and Wheeler on his wings. We'll see if Savard double shifts more often.

Noke (that's what I'm calling him for the rest of the blog) is back on the ice for Savard now. I don't anticipate much double shifting from either side, not this early in the game.

That being said, Marleau is out with the Sharks fourth liners, Claude Lemieux and Jamie McGinn, now. McGinn was called up from Worcester yesterday and is playing tonight. I should have noted that earlier.

TV timeout.

10:32

It's the Bs fourth line vs. the Sharks top line now. I thought Julien would want to avoid this matchup, but he can't get away from it as I type this.

No damage was done and we've hit a TV timeout.

7:18, Sharks tie it 1-1

Patrice Bergeron goes in the box for tripping at 5:31 and the Sharks get the first power play of the game.

They have Thornton, Marleau, Setoguchi, Christian Ehrhoff and Dan Boyle on the ice vs. Krejci, Wheeler, Ward and Chara.

The Bruins have done a nice job so far with two clears. No shots yet for the Sharks and we're a minute in.

They changed them up to bring out Clowe, Pavelski, Michalek, Blake and Vlasic. Savard had a nice steal inside the Sharks zone to keep the puck there for a while. Turnover by Blake at the point. Krejci knocks it out.

Right now the Sharks haven't set up anything, but GOAL!!!!

Blake's shot from the right point looked like it deflected off of Wheeler's stick and the bounced off of Wideman's left skate and went right into the waning net. Bad luck by the Bs, who were having a great kill.

The goal was credited to Pavelski. I'll have to see another replay. Remember, my TV is not working here.

3:58, 1-0 Bruins

Phil Kessel gets game's first shot. Rebound in front, but it looked like Savard who sent it through the crease, missing Lucic, who as usual was by the net.

The Bruins first line of Savard with Kessel and Lucic is out against the Sharks second line of Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Milan Michalek.

Good forechecking pressure by the Bruins early on. They nearly forced a turnover deep in the Sharks zone about 2:30 into the game.

Joe Thornton's line was out against the Bs fourth line of Shawn Thornton, Stephane Yelle and Byron Bitz, but only for a few seconds. Not enough time to generate much, but if that happens again for a longer period of time beware. Yes, that is a matchup Claude Julien wants to avoid.

The Bs have had some great rushes so far and GOAL!!!!

Dennis Wideman stepped up to gather a loose puck between the hash marks. His shot was stopped, but Lucic was right at the right post to put in the loose puck. Savard got a stick on it, too, so he and Wideman got the assists. 1-0 Bruins at 3:58.

For Lucic it was his 12th goal. Savard got his 42nd assist and Wideman his 26th.

0:00

The TV that I'm near does not work. Wonderful.

Puck is dropped.

LIVE GAME BLOG

Final pre-game update

As they showed the injury updates on the scoreboard they played the theme song from ER. I love it.

The Sharks will start their top line of Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi with Rob Blake and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on defense. Evgeni Nabokov will be in net. Thornton got a pretty decent ovation when his name was announced as a starter.

The Bruins are countering with their checking line of P.J. Axelsson-Patrice Bergeron-Chuck Kobasew with Aaron Ward and Zdeno Chara on defense and Tim Thomas in net for his 200th NHL game. As I suspected, Hunwick is not in the lineup.

The lights are out in the arena and the Bruins opening video is playing now. There is Terry O'Reilly going into the stands. Never gonna get enough of seeing that.

The place is filling up. I hope this game is going to match its hype. I know they are not supposed to show fighting in these opening videos, but just about every team does, especially Philadelphia. Their whole theme is based around toughness and fighting.

The Sharks are on the ice now. Here come the Bruins. This place is loud, crazy. Everyone is standing. Is this the playoffs? I'm confused. It feels like it is. The Bruins came onto the ice to another AC/DC classic, Thunderstruck.

The Bruins starting lineups are being announced to the crowd now. Thomas got the biggest ovation.  He deserves it. The starters are standing at their respective blue lines. The anthem is being performed by Julie Thomas, who is from the Boston Conservatory.

Let's play some hockey!

Warmups, part deux


If I counted right, there were 19 Bruins skaters on the ice for warmups. That means one will not be playing tonight. It is likely to be Matt Hunwick since there were seven D-men out there and he's been a healthy scratch of late. I could be wrong. Math was never my strong suit. I'll let you know shortly.

Warmups


It's 6:30 and the Sharks just came out on the ice to a chorus of boos for their warmups. The Bruins are out now with the sounds of AC/DC's Back in Black blaring.

Even though it's loud, I can still hear the sweet sounds of pucks banging off the boards and hitting sticks. Could it be? I think so. We're going to have a hockey game here in Boston tonight.

After three days of hype it's finally here. And, we're only talking about a regular season game.

Interesting sight right behind the Sharks bench. There are at least 10 fans wearing Sharks jerseys and a host of others cheering for San Jose. I'll have to double check, but it must be a fan road trip sort of thing. The Sharks came here from Columbus and still hit up Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New Jersey before returning home.

Joe Thornton is doing a TV interview by the bench. Tim Thomas is standing in the left circle waiting for all the pucks to be cleared from the goal so he can go in and face some shots. The Garden is fillling up. It'll be a sellout tonight.

Bet you didn't know..., 5:30 p.m.

Here are some quick hits before the puck drops:

* Tonight's referees are Chris Rooney (5) and Don Van Massenhoven (21). Rooney was the ref that issued the game misconduct penalty to Joe Thornton in his initial return to Boston on Jan. 10, 2006. Rooney gave him the hook 5:13 into the game as a result of a hit from behind on Hal Gill, one that Thornton this morning called, "a love tap."

* Bruins wing Chuck Kobasew has goals in the last two games and 9 points in the last 14.

* Boston defenseman Mark Stuart snapped a nine-game scoreless streak with two assists Sunday against Philadelphia. He's an offensive machine, folks.

* Bruins goalie Tim Thomas will be playing in his 200th NHL regular-season game tonight. He is 97-67-25 with a .917 save percentage and 2.67 GAA.

* Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov will play his 10th straight game. He has played in 20 of the last 21.

* Sharks center Joe Pavelski has 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in the last 11 games.

* Claude Lemieux is still searching for his first point in his comeback. Tonight will be his 7th game.

* The Bruins are 19-3-4 at home and the Sharks are 13-5-4 on the road.

* Neither team has lost in regulation when leading after the second period.

Seating chart tells the story, 4:55 p.m.


The walk from the Marriott Long Wharf to the TD Banknorth Garden is like old hat at this point. I've done it twice today and once on the return trip. It's fairly easy, a straight shot. I have found my hotel in Boston. It's a great walk and it's a great location. I already knew this was a wonderful walking city as I have been here many times before, but the weather has cooperated for this trip making it all the better.

Now I can eat my chowder and know I'm working it off.

Anyway, I'm in the pressroom again, ready for tonight's game. Just as a reminder I will be live blogging, so keep hitting refresh and you'll get my updates and analysis, hopefully on a whistle-by-whistle basis.

Evidence that this isn't just another run-of-the-mill regular season game can be found on the press seating chart. I'm told it has been getting bigger since Jan. 1, but this is the biggest it has been by far. All the regulars are here, including three each from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. However, I see the New York Times, ESPN the Magazine, two from NBC Sports and, of course, me. Hey, we don't regularly staff these games. I count, don't I?

Scouts from 10 different teams are here as well, including two from Pittsburgh, the Sharks opponent tomorrow night.

I will be live blogging tonight, 3:30 p.m.

I don't think I have mentioned it yet, but I will be live blogging the game tonight. So, stop by here all night long to get in-game updates and analysis. I'm not going to provide you with a play-by-play because you can get that anywhere. My goal is to provide my thoughts on what is happening on the ice.

I want to post after each whistle. It's pretty lofty, but I think I can do it.

Keep hitting refresh.

Keys to the game, 3:10 p.m.

The morning skates are over and I have sent my stories. Quick update: Michael Ryder is out for two to three weeks, the Sharks know the Bruins better, Peter Chiarelli thinks his team may need to get bigger before the trade deadline and Joe Thornton doesn't know what to expect from the crowd tonight.

You can read all of that on NHL.com already, though.

With the faceoff roughly four hours away, I figured it's time to give you my keys to the game.

1. Boston's special teams

Of course, the team that wins the battle of special teams usually wins the game. That much we already know. However, I mention this singularly for the Bruins because of a few factors. First of all, the Sharks power play operates at a 23.2-percent success rate and it is controlled by some of the best blueliners in the business. Secondly, the Sharks have scored a power-play goal in each of their last seven games. They have 16 in their last 12 games. Thirdly, their penalty kill is perfect in five of the last six games and is 85.4 percent for the season. Overcoming these factors shouldn't be too great a concern for the Bs. After all, their power play is a tenth of a percentage point better than San Jose's (23.3 percent) and their PK is 82.4 percent, which is tied for 10th in the NHL. However, they have been sluggish in both departments recently. Tonight, they have to pick it up because, as I already said, the team that wins the special teams battle usually wins the game.

2. Second lines

The first lines are pretty much set in stone. It's Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi for the Sharks countered by Marc Savard, Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic for the Bruins. It's the second lines where things get interesting. The Sharks trio is set with Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski and Milan Michalek. However, with Michael Ryder out, Petteri Nokelainen could move up from the fourth line to start the game with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci, who have each been slumping lately. You need to watch Pavelski, who Rob Blake told me yesterday reminds him of a young Chris Drury. Clowe is a straight-line, go to the net guy. Michalek has some creativity in his game, but he's also a big guy. I'm curious to see how Wheeler and Krejci respond in a big game setting. They are both 22 years old. Clowe, Pavelski and Michalek have more experience, but they're also young.

3. The blue lines

The Bruins don't rely on their defensemen for offense the way the Sharks do. They are built differently, so it will be interesting to see which one wins out tonight. If the Sharks start controlling the puck early, the edge swings in their direction. If the Bruins can both play physical on the puck and get it low for a cycle, the edge swings to them. The Sharks may have a slight edge in size, but Boston has some physical, in-your-face forwards that cycle the puck very well and play strong along the walls. The Bruins are not used to playing a team that likes to push the puck the way the Sharks do. The Sharks attack with four and sometimes five guys, and the East doesn't have too many defenses that do that. The Sharks, on the other hand, are not as used to playing a physical defense like the Bruins. Argue if you want to, but there are more finesse defenses in the West, save maybe for Anaheim, who has a combination of both with Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. It will be speed vs. power.

4. Joe Thornton

Yes, simple as that. You all have to watch him and I don't doubt that you will. All eyes will be focused on the big center at least in the early stages before the rhythm of the game takes over. I suspect the reaction to Thornton will be mixed with some cheers and some boos.

From the Garden pressroom, 10:25 a.m.

After watching the rest of the Beanpot Final and seeing BU score two shorties on the same Northeastern power play, I turned the TV off and went to bed. Good thing, too, because I woke up this morning as spry as can be, ready for a big day of hockey in this hub.

Boston vs. San Jose. East vs. West. No. 1 vs. No. 2 live on Versus at 7 ET.

The walk from my hotel to the Garden took about 15 minutes with a stop at Dunkin Donuts along the way. Of course, in Boston, you can pretty much get a Dunkin Donuts on about every street corner. I'm in the Garden's press room now and, actually, as I type this blog I am waiting for the internet service to kick on.

The Bruins are scheduled to skate in about 15 minutes with the Sharks to follow. I walked into the building right behind Jeremy Roenick, but I wasn't able to speed up in time to catch him before he made his way to the locker room. Roenick will not be playing tonight.

Again, I'll stress how curious I am about the Joe Thornton buzz this morning. The press room is filling up and you can bet that no one is leaving before the Sharks skate. It was just announced that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli will be addressing the media at 10:35 a.m. He'll give an update on Ryder's status.

The internet is working. That's a good thing.

I'll use it to post this blog now and I'll be back on later to go through what I learned from each skate.

More later...

MONDAY

Bleary-eyed look at the lines, 9:45 p.m.

I chose against going to the Beanpot and decided instead to hit a bar right near the hotel here, the Marriott Long Wharf, and watch the first period, When I realized my eyes were closing, I figured I better get the heck out.

So, I came back to my room, and being the hockey nut that I am, I decided to turn on NESN to catch the rest of the final between Boston University and Northeastern and write a blog.

Call me crazy. I know I am.

It's a pretty good game. BU leads 2-1 about halfway through. Colin Wilson, the Nashville Predators first-round pick this past June, has been very noticeable for BU.

I just read John McGourty's stories on Dennis Wideman and David Krejci and it got me thinking even more about tomorrow night's game at TD Banknorth Garden. I was thinking of matchups, specifically first line vs. first line and second line vs. second line. Oh, Northeastern just tied it up, 2-2....anyway, back to the matchups.

So, the Sharks top line is Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi. The Bruins top trio has Marc Savard centering Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic.

Hey, BU just took the lead again, 3-2. Great game this is....

Back to the lines. So, the top lines, I feel you have to give the slight edge to the Sharks. Thornton and Savard are a wash in my book. The difference is on the wings. Marleau is having a big season and he's got experience. Setoguchi is the young'un on the line, but very productive. Savard has been great, but Kessel hasn't scored a goal since Jan. 3. He's played in only nine games since, but all he has is four assists. He had mono, so I expect him to pick it up soon. Lucic is not going to produce as much as Setoguchi, but he brings a physical presence that is immeasurable. Marleau is the biggest difference.

As for the second lines, I think it's a bit more even. I like the Sharks trio of Joe Pavelski between Ryane Clowe and Milan Michalek, but how could you not like the way David Krejci, Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder have been playing. Now, Ryder had facial surgery today so he'll be out a while and that will take something away from the Bruins offense. He has 19 goals and 17 assists this season. Petteri Nokelainen should be taking his spot on the left wing of the second line.

With Ryder, I have to give the Bruins second line a slight edge mainly because of how Krejci has been playing this season. Without Ryder, the edge clearly goes to the Sharks.

All that being said, you have to like the Bruins third unit of Patrice Bergeron between Chuck Kobasew and P.J. Axelsson. That line has a little bit of everything. In my opinion, it has the edge over the Sharks third line of Marcel Goc centering Mike Grier and Jonathan Cheechoo. If we were talking about Cheechoo circa 2005-06 when he had 56 goals I would have a completely different opinion.

E-mail your thoughts to drosen@nhl.com.

Calm before the storm, 6:45 p.m.


This long, winding day that included seven different train rides is finally coming to a close. Maybe now I can get on the phone with my wife and have a real conversation.

Oh, wait, first the blog.

I have submitted my two stories that should pop up on NHL.com shortly. The first one is about the Sharks as a whole and what makes this team different from last year's squad, or really from the team they put on the ice each of the past three seasons. The second is a look at what Todd McLellan has brought to this team.

The Sharks were great to talk to today. You wouldn't know that they have lost three straight (0-1-2). The team was in good spirits after a hard workout at Agganis Arena, and I got the sense from them that they know tomorrow night's game, which can be seen live on VERSUS in the U.S. at 7 ET, isn't just the run of the mill kind.

San Jose is the top team in the West and the Bruins are the top team in the East. Right or wrong, this game is being billed as a potential preview of the Stanley Cup Final. Hey, hype is always good, even in February when it feels a bit overdone.

"It does (feel different), and I feel it in the locker room a little bit," coach Todd McLellan said. "As a staff we're not preparing any differently. We're not overpreparing. We're not going to make something out of it. We want to operate on an even keel because in Game 1 of the playoffs we want it continuing on. If we let our emotions go a little bit too high here I don't think that's the way we want to be later on."

Jeremy Roenick will not be playing tomorrow night and the outspoken vet isn't too happy about it. He's still working his way back from a shoulder surgery and hasn't played since Dec. 11, but he was really hoping to in Boston, his hometown. Roenick's father took in practice today.

"It's really hard not knowing whether this will be my last chance in this building or not," Roenick said after practice. "You never know what will happen down the road, but this is a tough one for me to miss. This is my home. I grew up watching games in the Boston Garden. Just the sound of the organ is obviously a very special sound for me.

"Oh well," he added, "maybe I'll have to play another year just so I can come back."

Joe Thornton is back for only the second time since he was traded away by the Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005. Thornton's parents and his brother were in the stands watching practice today.

The Sharks and Bs will each have morning skates at TD Banknorth Garden tomorrow and, of course, I will be there. I suspect the throng of media around Thornton to increase tomorrow. He had only four people surrounding him in the tight quarters of the Sharks' dressing room today. All the Boston writers should be there tomorrow, but I don't know what is left to say.

The guy hasn't been a Bruin in more than three years and only three of his former teammates remain with the squad.

As for me, I am not quite sure what I'm going to do with the rest of my night. I'll be honest, I want to go to the Beanpot Final over at the Garden. It starts in 80 or so minutes. However, I'm pretty darn tired. That 4 a.m. wakeup is starting to take its toll on me.

Should I suck it up and go? Probably, but we'll see.

More tomorrow...

Searching for Sharks, 11:25 a.m.

Six hours later here I am.

It's a good thing I don't do that commute daily. I wouldn't last too long, that is for sure.

Well, have arrived at Boston University's Agganis Arena and I am waiting for the Sharks to hit the ice.

Very light crowd here; but that was my expectation. I suspect there will be a bigger crowd of media at tomorrow's morning skate. They'll want to hear from Joe Thornton and, probably, Jeremy Roenick.

Also, this is a nice arena. Great-looking weight room.

Since I am blogging from my cell phone, I will keep this one short. I am here and ready to work. Let's get at it. More later when I get to my hotel room.


Riding the rails, 5 a.m. ET

Good morning hockey fans. It is 5 a.m ET and I am on a train, beginning my morning journey to Boston. The purpose of keeping this blog is to detail my trip to Beantown for Tuesday's showdown at the Garden, so you are getting the full treatment. And, yes, I am bleary-eyed typing on my cell phone.

This train I am on left from my hometown of Mahwah, N.J. at 4:55. After a switch at the Secaucus Junction station I will get to NY Penn Station (hopefully, but any commuter from this area can tell you it is no guarantee due to New Jersey Transit) just in time for my 6:20 train out of Penn Station to Boston's South Station.

From South Station, I will take the T train to Boston University, where the San Jose Sharks are scheduled for an 11 a.m. practice. I plan on getting some sleep on the train, but I don't know if I will. I am pretty jazzed up for this trip. I will touch base later.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp