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Rookies Lead The Way Over Edmonton

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
 
Heading into the home stretch of the season, the Sharks are in need of some secondary scoring to accompany the play of Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo, Nils Ekman and Patrick Marleau. They got that Thursday night from 2003 first round draft picks Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier.
 
The linemates flanked the Captain on the second line and accounted for four of the team’s five goals in the contest. Bernier led the way with two goals and an assist, Michalek followed with a goal and two assists, while Marleau finished with a goal and an assist.
 
The rookie’s exceptional play is just what the doctor ordered for Team Teal.
 
“It’s been my goal to get used to the League quickly,” said Bernier. “After you play some games you get a feeling for what level the League is at. I’m happy with where I’m at, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
 
The size of the Michalek-Marleau-Bernier line is something that works in their favor. Not only are they all quick on the ice and skilled with the puck, but their 220-pound plus frames allows them to thrive on physical play.
 
“He’s a big man,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson of Bernier. “When he’s finishing checks he opens up the ice. I think the most important thing about Stevie is he’s getting comfortable with the pace and the speed of the NHL which is totally different from the AHL and juniors. It takes time to adjust, but it looks like he’s getting comfortable with the pace.”
 
The same can be said for Michalek. After the setbacks with his knee in 2003-04, the rookie has spent the majority of the season playing on the same line as Marleau.
 
“Milan’s playing really well,” said Wilson. “He’s gotten himself more involved physically. There’s another big body that helps. If you have size you have to use it to your advantage, and those two young guys are doing a great job at that.”
 
“It was a fun night,” said Michalek. “I finally got some points and we played real good. Our line, with Patty and Bernie did a good job and I hope we can continue like that.”
 
The more games that he gets under his belt, the more comfortable Bernier gets on the home ice at HP Pavilion. Securing the Sharks victory with the final two goals of the contest, Bernier reflects on his time in San Jose:


“When you get called up from Cleveland it’s obviously a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to play with two really good players, Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek. So far I’ve enjoyed myself a lot and hopefully it’s going to keep going like that. All my teammates have been helping me out. I’m very thankful for that. I’m a rookie here and guys like Patty and McLaren have helped me out a lot on the ice. They tell me to just play my game and don’t be nervous on the ice.”
 
CHEECHOO SETS NEW POWER PLAY GOAL RECORD
With his second period tally in the Sharks 5-4 overtime loss in Anaheim Tuesday, Jonathan Cheechoo set an all-time franchise mark with 19 power play goals this season.

The right winger, who’s enjoying a breakout season, has caught fire since the acquisition of Joe Thornton, connecting for 30 goals since Dec. 1. It seems as if Cheechoo has virtually all those goals against Anaheim alone, as the Moose Factory native has posted two of his three hat tricks this season against the division rivals.
 
“I’m not doing anything different in particular,” said Cheechoo of playing well against Anaheim. “I’ve been lucky and getting shots off. I don’t know what it’s, I just seem to be able to score against these guys.”
 
Cheechoo’s 19th power play goal topped Owen Nolan’s former mark of 18 that he recorded in the 1999-00 season.
 
When asked his feelings about the new record he just set, Cheechoo was caught off guard.
 
“Oh really?” said Cheechoo when he was told he had the new record. “That’s pretty cool! It’s pretty nice whenever you can get a franchise record, that’s something special.”
 
FOUR PLAYERS CONSIDERED “CLUTCH”
Recently, usatoday.com ranked the NHL’s most clutch scorers and goalies for the month of February. In truly impressive fashion, the Sharks had four players, Joe Thornton (first), Jonathan Cheechoo (seconds), Patrick Marleau (third) and Nils Ekman (seventh), break the top ten among all NHL scorers.
 
“It was pretty interesting to see that, I don’t know the formula for how they determine that, but it’s cool to see we have four guys up there,” said Marleau.
 
The formula is as follows:
 
Formula for scorers:
• Go-ahead goal: 100. Assist: 60.
• First goal of the game: 75. Assist: 40.
If first goal occurs after first period, then 100 and 60
• Tying goal: 75: Assist: 40
• Two goals ahead (excluding empty netters): 50. Assist: 30
• Pull team within one: 25. Assist: 15
• Shootout goal: 50 points
Time bonuses
For go-ahead or first goal
• First half of third period: 25. Assist: 15
• Second half of third period: 50. Assist: 30
• Overtime: 100. Assist: 60
For two goals ahead
• First half of third period: 20. Assist: 10
• Second half of third period: 40. Assist: 20
For tying goal
• First half of third period: 10. Assist: 5
• Second half of third period: 20. Assist: 10
Maximum points for a goal is 200 for an overtime goal.
 
The top seven clutch scorers are:
 
1. Joe Thornton, 980
2. Jonathan Cheechoo, 655
3. Jaromir Jagr, 625
4. Patrick Marleau, 605
5. Maxim Afinogenov, 590
6. Alexei Kovalev, 575
7. Nils Ekman, 570
 
“I think it’s cool,” said Cheechoo. “Anytime you can put four guys in the top 10 of anything in the League it’s good. We’ve all come through with some clutch goals.”
 
In addition to the four scores, Sharks goalie Vesa Toskala (141 points) was ranked the second most clutch goalie of February behind Cristobal Huet (47 points).
 
Formula for goaltenders:
Goalies are ranked (in order) in goals-against average, save percentage, power-play kills per game, saves per game, percentage of time they play shutout hockey, percentage of time they play when the score is tied and winning percentage. Final total is the sum of the weighted rankings. Then two points are subtracted for every shootout save and one added for every shootout goal allowed. The lower the number the better. Minimum 200 minutes.
 
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