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Sharks Looking To Take Advantage of the Flames

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks

One of the many concerns the Calgary Flames will have when playing the San Jose Sharks tonight is stopping their power play.

The Sharks have scored with the man-advantage in five straight games, three shy of the franchise record last established during the 1993-94 season. Over this stretch, San Jose is 5-for-22 on the power play, converting on nearly 23 percent of their chances.

And since Dec. 28, the Sharks are second among National Hockey League teams on the power play as they’ve been successful on 26 percent of their opportunities.

San Jose’s prosperity could continue against the Flames. Entering tonight’s game, Calgary ranks amongst the National Hockey League’s bottom 15 in the penalty kill (19th overall and 24th on the road).

“We’re getting more shots from the point on the net,” center Jeremy Roenick said when asked about the team’s recent success on the power play. “Earlier this season, we were trying to make the pretty pass too often. Lately, we’ve been back to the basics. We make a couple of passes, get it to the right guy and get it on net.

“That’s the recipe for a good power play,” he added. “Keep it simple and get dirty goals.”

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff agreed with Roenick. “We’re shooting the puck more,” Ehrhoff said. “We’re using the points better and that makes the other team worry about those shots and opens up play down low for the forwards.”

That’s a common refrain from people when buying or investing in real estate.

That same phrase can be used when describing Jonathan Cheechoo’s recent play.

He recorded his ninth hat trick in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Nashville. That gives him nine goals in his last 10 games. Cheechoo’s four-point game against the Predators also tied a career high.

Most of Cheechoo’s goals won’t make the top-10 of the NHL Network’s “On The Fly Final” or any sports highlight show. But what he does to get open on the ice is enough to make his coaches and teammates smile. More often than not, Cheechoo has a knack of finding open ice, getting in scoring position and being ready to score.

“I know the players I’m playing with (Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek) are good passers,” Cheechoo said. “I have to constantly work on being open, being ready to shoot and try to have my eye on the puck at all times.”

Cheechoo missed seven games in December with a groin strain. In his first 28 games before his time on Injured Reserve, he had just four goals. But in his last 20, Cheechoo’s got 10.

“Since December, I’ve been feeling pretty good overall,” he said. “It’s frustrating when it’s not coming (scoring goals) obviously, but when you keep working, it’s going to come.”

“He’s one guy who’s a key for our club,” Roenick said. “He works as hard as anybody. He’s a leader, he’s a proud person and one of the hardest working guys I’ve played with. It’s nice to see him have some productivity and have the puck go in the net for him. He works too hard not to get rewarded for it.”

“It’s good for him that he’s finally getting some of those to go in the net,” Ehrhoff said. “Hopefully, he can keep it going.”

While the power play and Cheechoo’s increased offensive output has received attention, there’s one other stat that deserves note: San Jose is 3-1 on their current six-game home stand.

San Jose is now 14-12-4 at HP Pavilion.

Since the beginning of 2008, the Sharks have won eight of their 12 home games.

“Home ice is a big advantage for us,” Cheechoo said. “We want our fans to be into it when we’re at home. We’re starting to simplify our game.”

Roenick thinks the Sharks can play even better. A closer look at the home games since January shows that out of the eight home wins, six have been by one goal.

“We’ve been able to win some games mainly because of our goaltender (Evgeni Nabokov) and the power play,” Roenick said. “As a team, I think we’re underachieving in terms of how we approach the game in terms of communication and execution. Until we get that down pat, we’re going to struggle in this building.”

“We have to focus on our last two home games (Calgary tonight and Edmonton on Thursday) before we go on the road,” Ehrhoff said. “We haven’t played great at times and we have to bring our best effort for 60 minutes.”

After this morning’s skate, Coach Ron Wilson said he wasn’t sure if center Patrick Marleau was going to play in tonight’s game against Calgary.

“I don’t know yet,” said Wilson. “He’ll continue treatment and we’ll find out at game time.”

Marleau, who participated in the morning skate, injured his groin in the first period of Saturday’s match vs. Nashville. The injury occurred when he was attempting a shot on the net. Marleau’s playing time was limited to just 4:43.

Center Joe Thornton, who like Marleau missed Monday’s practice but was on the ice for Tuesday’s pregame skate, is feeling better after his rare day off.

“Just battling a little flu,” Thornton said. “I’ll be ready to go tonight.”

The Sharks continue their season-high, six-game home stand on Tuesday night, hosting the Calgary Flames at HP Pavilion at San Jose. The game is set for 7:30 PM (Pacific) and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in HD, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and

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