When it comes to bad bounces, they are a fact of life in the NHL. At the forefront of Sharks fans minds these days is the Doug Weight goal that sent the Anaheim contest Sunday night to overtime. On the play, Weight fired a wrister towards Alexei Semenov who was standing in front of the net. The puck caromed off Semenov’s leg and into the goal.
This game-tying goal stands out because it was scored with 27 seconds left. However, similar goals routinely happen almost nightly around the league. Usually it involves additional traffic around the goalie as well.
“This is a game of bad bounces,” said Jeremy Roenick. “It is not a round ball. The puck bounces in a weird way. I’ve seen it come from behind the net, hit the defenseman in the back of the foot and go in.”
“I’ve seen quite a few like that (Sunday night’s),” said Sandis Ozolinsh.
Defensemen are particularly vulnerable as they are often situated in front attempting of the net as they defend opposing forwards.
“They all seem to hurt,” said Craig Rivet of the game-tying goal. “It may or may not be the defenders fault, but in the end, they were the last player to touch a goal against.”
“You try to forget about it right away,” said Douglas Murray
. “You’ve got to move on.”
Since the NHL returned from the 2004-05 lockout, rule change to increase scoring have made life difficult for defensemen.
“With the old rules, you could box someone out,” said Murray. “Now we’re standing in the shooting lanes and making sure we block shots.”
If the shot is only partially blocked, either by a defender or the attacking team, it can end up right in the net.
The fact of the matter is, simply throwing the puck toward the net is an old NHL strategy.
“There’s a reason we do it,” said Roenick. “The puck will bounce in weird ways. You can lose sight of it.”
“You just throw it at the net even if you know the shot won’t go in,” said Ozolinsh. “You know it will hit someone or the goalie pads. Now it’s a reaction to find the puck. As soon as the puck starts bouncing, that’s when mistakes happen.”
So why not work the puck around the perimeter more and find the cleaner angle?
“If you work the puck on the outside the whole time, it may look pretty, but it’s not as effective,” said Ozolinsh. “As soon as there is a shot, there is a bit of chaos.”
For Semenov, he knows what happened on the play and has to deal with it.
“It will happen,” said Semenov. “You have to shake it off. You can’t always control it. Sometimes you’re trying to block a shot and it’s just a bad bounce. If the puck hits you 100 times, it might go in. It’s a hockey thing.”
Sharks Assistant Coach and former NHL defenseman Rob Zettler, knows the routine as well as anybody and can relate to Semenov’s situation.
“He feels bad, but we move on,” said Zettler. “It’s unfortunate. I told him to just keep working. Mistakes are a little more magnified (by defensemen). If it’s a defenseman’s mistake, there’s a chance it’s in the net. If it’s a goalie, it’s most definitely in the net.”
Others know how he feels.
“It happens an awful lot,” said Ozolinsh. “You can’t focus on it. You just have to go back and do your job.”
As the old saying goes, “Good things happen when you put the puck on the net.” And that works both ways.
Defenseman Kyle McLaren, already on Injured Reserve, had minor knee surgery on Monday.
“They just cleaned it out,” said Coach Ron Wilson. “He’s had it done a couple of times since we’ve had him.”
McLaren is not supposed to miss significant time.
Defenseman Matt Carle also missed practice on Wednesday, but was under the weather and should return on Thursday.
Left Wing Ryane Clowe
, who has been out since October following major knee surgery, isn’t ready to return yet.
“He won’t be ready until March at the earliest,” said Wilson. “We’re not rushing him. We could definitely use him, but we’ve been getting by without him.”
The Sharks will play hosts to Dallas at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at HP Pavilion and limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be aired on FSN in High Defintion, 98.5 KFOX and SJSHARKS.com.