Schaefer Suffers 1st Loss & Bernier Makes His SJ Debut
/ San Jose Sharks
The game appeared to be going as scripted. San Jose would pull another rabbit out of the hat at the last moment and rally from a third period deficit. This time however, when San Jose pulled Nolan Schaefer for an extra attacker, Minnesota added an empty netter to complete the 3-1 victory.
The contest marked the first NHL loss for the rookie netminder, but he did play well again, stopping 22 of 24 shots. He only allowed a single power play goal and was beat on a two-on-one on which he had no chance.
“The team played excellent,” said Schaefer. “Roloson played great at the other end and when they had a couple of good opportunities, I couldn’t shut the door.”
While the win would have been the obvious preference, Schaefer know that the game provided some positives.
“I felt confident out there and the upside was I played the puck better, but you want to get the win,” said Schaefer.
Schaefer’s 5-0-0 start fell short of the 1983 NHL record of 8-0-0 set by Bob Froese of Philadelphia. Second place is held by a familiar name – Sharks Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas. He started his NHL career with a 7-0-0 mark playing for the Montreal Canadiens in 1973.
GOC AGAIN For the second consecutive contest, Marcel Goc scored the lone goal for San Jose and he now has a three-game goal scoring streak. This should not be a surprise considering that Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson said Goc was the best player on the ice against Nashville.
Goc may have had some playoff success two seasons ago, but this is his first extended stretch in the NHL and he is finding his way very quickly.
“I don’t do as much running around as I did earlier,” said Goc of his improved play.
Like his countryman Marco Sturm, Goc has been strong defensively since his arrival, but the other side is now starting to flourish.
“He’s very good defensively, but I’m glad he is contributing offensively,” said Ron Wilson. “He’s always right around the puck.”
Part of Goc’s success has come since he was paired with Josh Langfeld. Langfeld may not be a rookie, but he is new to the Sharks regular lineup as well.
“It’s worked out well for us and we’ve been pretty good on the penalty kill,” said Langfeld. “He has good hockey sense and I can seem to find where he is. He gets to the right place at the right time. Obviously we didn’t know each other at all, but it is just one of those things that works.”
Langfeld was expected to be a Sharks regular, but injuries limited him in the early season and he then had to wait for an opportunity to crack the lineup.
“It was tough in the beginning,” said Langfeld. “The first six games, I didn’t play. I’ve been a little snake bit scoring, but I’m working hard to keep in the lineup. Tonight if the puck is an inch the other way, I would have had an empty net. It is one of those things. I may have to start looking for the clown shoes.”
It is believed that the clown shoes that helped Wayne Primeau and Alyn McCauley score now rest with rookie right wing Steve Bernier.
BERNIER’S DEBUT Bernier made his HP Pavilion debut and played 12:36, mostly with Marco Sturm and Alyn McCauley, and demonstrated the skill that made him a first round pick. The Quebec native posted three shots and a team high three hits.
And he was a bounce away from his first NHL goal. Carrying the puck on a two-on-one, the defender covered the pass and Bernier rang one off the post.
“My first idea was to pass to Marco, but the defenseman slid down, so I shot it just like in practice,” said Bernier. “It was a bit of an unlucky bounce.”
Bernier was a little awed with the sold out HP Pavilion crowd of 17,496.
“I was very impressed,” said Bernier. “The crowd was unbelievable. They give you a lot of energy and they help us out.” Bernier’s coach has been impressed with what he’s seen from the rookie.
“He played well,” said Wilson. “He goes to the net and he is going to be a great player for a long time. He deserved the promotion and he deserves a long look.”
POWER PLAY MISFIRES The Sharks power play, which was excelling during the seven-game power play scoring streak, was held off the board on eight occasions Saturday night.
San Jose controlled the puck during the advantages, but Roloson had lady luck on his side.
“We just need to get an ugly one,” said Goc. “Once a couple of those go in, maybe we will get one on a nice play. Tonight the puck was not bouncing our way.”