With each game played for San Jose, Evgeni Nabokov keeps climbing the charts of NHL netminders who have played their entire career with one team. Of goalies who have donned just one uniform, Nabokov’s 465 contests place him behind only three others – Martin Brodeur (978 games with New Jersey), Mike Richter (666 games with the New York Rangers) and Turk Broda (629 games with Toronto).
Currently Nabokov is posting another strong campaign as his 26 wins, good for second in the NHL, are another example of how he just keeps getting results.
Nabokov’s tenure in teal is a tribute to his team’s belief in him and his belief in the Sharks.
“It’s a compliment to him and the team,” said Sharks Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas. “At this point, he has a trust in the management and we have a trust in him.”
“I enjoy being here with the way the organization has been to me,” said Nabokov.
Part of Nabokov’s comfort level with San Jose can be traced back to his early days under the tutelage of the late Warren Strelow. Nabokov was just 22 years old when he reported to Kentucky of the American Hockey League. Fortunately, former Sharks Goaltending Coach Warren Strelow was there to pave the way.
“I think it’s really important to have the type of relationships I’ve had here,” said Nabokov, speaking of Strelow and Thomas. “The drills are the same we’ve being working for 10 years. Wayne is a big part of the whole process.”
Blueliner Rob Blake has had to face Nabokov for the netminder’s entire career and knows his value to Team Teal.
“It’s hard to get a top goaltender, especially from within,” said Blake. “Franchises know the importance of a goalie and if you have one, you keep him. Having a top goalie is very important.”
“Look at his work ethic,” said Sharks center Jeremy Roenick. “His competitive level is as high as any goaltender and he’s got some sanity.”
Roenick noted how Nabokov is crucial to the Sharks success at crunch time.
“As a teammate, you can depend on him when you need a big save,” said Roenick.
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan probably put it best.
“He’s someone you can build a team around,” said McLellan.
Nabokov was a bit of a secret to some of his newer teammates who came from the East, but they know what they have now.
“The east and the west are like two different leagues,” said Thornton. “Since I got here, I’ve seen he’s one of the best. He should have won a Vezina.”
What keeps Nabokov at the top of the wins category is the characteristic that all top athletes have.
“He never gives up on a play,” said Thornton. “He’s competitive and he has the ability to scramble.”
Nabokov himself is not one to focus on individual numbers.
“I always say it about individual records, you don’t sit down and appreciate it until you’re done,” said Nabokov.
Rob Blake was wearing a new plastic faceguard following practice on Wednesday, but noted the shield was not a big factor in his return to action.
“Once I started playing, I forgot about it,” said Blake, noting he’ll wear the guard from four to six weeks.
The face cover was easy compared to trying to eat a decent diet while only using a glass. He had to get creative the first few days.
“Mac and cheese and it was awful,” said Blake of the odd version of a milkshake. “Now I can eat mac and cheese normally.”
Another oddity from the blender?
“A chicken, rice and broccoli shake,” said Blake.
BOYLE GAME TIME DECISIONDan Boyle
missed the Colorado contest and could return Thursday from his upper-body injury, but then again, he could miss another contest.
“He skated today and it’s a great sign,” said McLellan. “He’ll be a game time decision. In the ideal world, he would get five to six days off, but it’s not the ideal world.”
Boyle did not hurt himself in the All-Star game, but much earlier.
“I did not get hurt in the All-Star game,” said Boyle. “It’s been going on and I’ve been playing through it. It happened a couple of weeks ago and it’s been progressively getting worse. It’s nothing serious, but it’s painful. Rest will help it heal.”
The All-Star game was not a game Boyle feared playing in.
“Had the All-Star game been a regular season game, I would not have played,” said Boyle referring to the lack of contact in the skill event.
If Boyle can’t go, McLellan noted he would likely use the same lineup that shutout Colorado.
During the All-Star break, Joe Pavelski
returned to Waterloo, Iowa to have his jersey retired by his old USHL club.
“It was really good,” said Pavelski. “They did a great job with it. The building was sold out and the crowd was like when we won the championship. I’m really glad I went.”
There was a better portion of the event as Pavelski’s family was able to get together. The night was even sweeter as “Little Joe’s” little brother Scott plays for Waterloo.
“My family was there and my littler brother is playing there,” said Pavelski.
BIG TRAVELSMike Moore
did not get to play in his first NHL game against Colorado, but he has enjoyed his stay with the big club.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Moore. “It’s good to get in the room with the guys and get into a routine. I was watching Blake and how he keeps it simple.”
The rookie blueliner was enjoying the AHL All-Star break in Maine and had to change his course of action.
“I borrowed Dakers truck to get back from Maine to Worcester,” said Moore. “I needed the help of my teammates just to get here.”
San Jose will host Phoenix on Thursday night at HP Pavilion and the game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or at www.ticketmaster.com.