Sometimes the plus/minus stat can be a bit misleading. For instance, if the best player in the NHL is on the worst team, they can still have a minus rating for the season. Normally, a player’s value will fall within the range of his own team.
In the case of defenseman Douglass Murray, he if off the charts with a +15. Joe Thornton
is the next closest Shark with a +7, followed by Devin Setoguchi with a +6. The next closest defenseman is Kyle McLaren with a +3.
Murray's +10 over the last three games and his +11 over the last four games are both franchise marks for three and four game stretches and his current pace would shatter the Sharks single season record of +31 set by Joe Thornton
Whatever Murray is doing, he is doing right. While enjoying the individual statistic, he is having more fun playing regularly and winning. The native of Sweden is in his third season with Team Teal, but his games played total from the past two campaigns would not equal a full NHL season.
“We’re winning and anytime you’re winning, you’re happy,” said Murray. “Obviously, it’s better when you’re winning and you’re helping the team win. You want to be a part of it.”
It’s not as if Murray is simply getting easy assignments against fourth liners.
“Everyone on our team, I expect them to know what to do in all situations,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson. “We don’t hide him. The last three to four games, he has played 18-19 minutes.”
Murray has played in 75 percent of the Sharks contests this season and shows every sign of that increasing.
“I’m more confident now and getting more confident,” said Murray. “That makes it easier to play.”
Unlike the past two seasons, Murray does not feel the pressure to make the spectacular open-ice hit every night.
“I let the game come to me instead of looking to force things,” said Murray. “Sometimes in the past I would get caught running around.”
“A big hit makes the fans go nuts,” said Wilson. “Teammate like them too. A coach is looking to see if you’re out of position or if it’s the right time of the game. His first 25 games (in the NHL), Murray was a surprise (to other teams). Teams in the Pacific know to look for that. He’s finding the fine line.”
Murray used the best tool available to find his way.
“At the end of the day, it’s called experience,” said Wilson. “You can’t buy it and I can’t sell it.”
Playing a bit more regularly has assisted in Murray’s progress as well.
“It’s hard to know your role when you’re in and out of the lineup,” said Murray. “Sometimes you get a little overaggressive.”
Most of Murray’s success has come while playing with defensive stalwart Kyle McLaren.
“He’s a great partner and we play really well together,” said Murray, noting the big blue liners have similar styles. “He get’s open for the pass.”
Murray is simply looking forward to continued success for himself and the Sharks.
The Sharks have now won four in a row and the club found its confidence.
“When you win, you’re up,” said Thornton. “Everyone is happy. When you lose, everyone is Grumpy. Winning gives you confidence and that’s the name of the game.”
But how hard is it to gain the confidence?
‘It’s a fine line,” said Thornton. “When you have it, you feel invincible.”
It was not as if one contest turned things around.
“Confidence comes from practicing the little things,” said Wilson. “Tiger Woods practices mundane things every day.”
DOWN TWO AND STREAKING
The Sharks are riding their four-game winning streak minus Milan Michalek (elbow, day-to-day) and Ryane Clowe
(knee), both of whom play a lot on the first line.
“We’ve got good depth,” said Marleau. “The guys have been moving all year and can play different positions.
RIVET THE COACH
Fans paying close attention to the Sharks 6-0 route in Phoenix may have noticed an extra blue liner on the bench, only he wasn’t dressed. Wilson used the opportunity to have Craig Rivet stand behind the bench as a coach would.
“He dealt with the defensemen more, so I didn’t notice him that much,” said Marleau. “Some guys said he had his arms folded like a coach and was biting his lip.”
Wilson has made the move with veteran players in the past.
“I’ve put leaders on the bench before,” said Wilson. “In Washington, we did it with Dale Hunter, Mark Tinordi and Adam Oates. Here, we had Ricci on the bench. When you’re standing back, it gives you a different perspective. It humanizes what we do.”
One person who especially enjoyed the three games in four nights with Phoenix was the Sharks Milan Michalek, as the contests allowed him to spend some quality time with his brother Zbynek.
“He slept over at my house and we had dinner,” said Michalek. “We called my parents to say we’re together and they were excited we’d be together a couple of days.”
MASS. HALL OF FAME
San Jose Sharks Professional Scout Cap Raeder was inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame. Raeder was one of nine inducted into the 2007 class of the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame at the Hall of Fame Dinner and Awards Night held at Lombardo’s in Randolph, Massachusetts on Nov. 14.
A veteran World Hockey Association player and National Hockey League Coach, Raeder enters his 11th season with the San Jose Sharks, his ninth as a professional scout. A native of Needham, Massachusetts, Cap played two seasons with the New England Whalers (1975-76 and 1976-77) and compiled a 12-11-1 record. Raeder also represented Team USA at the 1976 Canada Cup and earned All-America goaltender honors at the University of New Hampshire. He also won two championships with Needham High as a player.
Raeder has served as head coach of Clarkson University and assistant coach at UNH before spending seven seasons behind the Los Angeles Kings bench as an assistant coach, including serving behind the bench under Barry Melrose for their 1993 Stanley Cup Finals team. Cap was also an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins (1995-97) and the San Jose Sharks (2001). Raeder primarily concentrates on scouting the NHL and the American Hockey League for San Jose, in addition to scouting other professional leagues. He also works with the goaltenders in the Sharks organization.
The Sharks will host Anaheim Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and a limited number of tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office. The contest will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.