What a surprise. It came down to the last period of play Saturday night when the Sharks faced Minnesota at HP Pavilion. Unlike their pervious five games, however, late game heroics were not in the cards.
The Sharks are currently in a three-way tie for second with Dallas and Anaheim, three points behind Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles. Despite their five-game winning streak which saw rookie Nolan Schaefer win a franchise-record five consecutive games, including his first NHL shutout, the Sharks have mixed and matched linemates and power play combinations. No matter the result of their last game, Team Teal feels they’re on the right track.
“The game plan has been there throughout the whole season,” said defenseman Kyle McLaren. “We know what we want to do. Different teams tendencies change things up, but I don’t think we need to change much.”
One area the Sharks have been lacking overall has been in the power play department. Currently ranked No. 25 in the League with a 14.9 conversion rate, San Jose was 0-for-8 Saturday against the Wild.
“Offensively we got a lot of opportunities, we just have to bear down and bury them when we’re all over them and change the outlook of the game from the start,” said defenseman Scott Hannan. “Give Minnesota credit though, they play a lot of games like that. Our power play could have been more effective, but those guys have the top penalty kill in the League. We just have to come out next game and work to score when we get our chances and stick with it the whole game.”
Power play goals will not come any easier in Colorado on Tuesday, as the Avalanche boast the NHL’s fifth-best penalty kill unit.
“Saturday we did everything but score,” said Head Coach Ron Wilson. “Had we managed to score a goal earlier in the game I think it would have freed us up a little bit. But the longer it went and especially with the fact that it was our third game in four nights with some travel in there, we just ran out of energy in the third period. It was really evident in our power play. But we’ll continue to work on it, and with a few changes here and there and recharged batteries, we’ll be fine.”
BERNIER IMPRESSES Last weekend, Steve Bernier got his first taste of NHL action. A former first round draft pick of the Sharks (16th overall in 2003), Bernier came to camp in September hoping to earn a roster spot. Unfortunately with a huge number of returnees from the previous season, Bernier was left off the opening night roster. But injuries over the last few weeks, coupled with his solid play in Cleveland, have led to the Quebec City, Quebec native’s recall.
“Being able to be here is a dream come true,” said Bernier. “Each day is new and fun. The adjustment from the AHL to the NHL is huge. Everything is a lot quicker, but it’s a lot of fun, I’m just happy to be here.”
Bernier missed his first career NHL goal by inches Saturday night when he wristed a shot on goal, but was denied by the right goal post. He accumulated more than 10 minutes of ice time, had three hits and impressed the Sharks coaches.
“He’s been good, said Wilson. “He takes the puck to the net, is diligent on the puck and finishes his check. We’re really happy with the progress he’s made and he’ll continue to play.”
HOLDEN EARNS PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS Cleveland Barons rookie goaltender Jamie Holden has been named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week. In three games for the Barons, Holden was 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage, stopping 100-of -105 shots to earn his first three career AHL victories.
A native of Terrace, British Columbia, the 24-year-old Holden spent the last four seasons at Quinnipac University in Hamden, Connecticut where he led the Bobcats to the 2004-05 Atlantic Hockey Conference regular season title.
EX-SHARK TO HELP COACH U.S. NATIONAL SELECT TEAM Former Sharks center Darren Turcotte, who played with the Sharks from 1995-97, will serve as an assistant coach for the 2005 U.S. Men’s National Select Team. The team includes American players from the American Hockey League and several international leagues.
ESPN AND NHL REACH AGREEMENT ESPN has announced they will provide NHL fans coverage of the League across a wide-range of its media assets as part of an agreement which includes rights for new media platforms, including highlights for Mobile ESPN, data rights, the re-airing of recent and archival games on ESPN Classic and more.