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Three D-men Rank Among Top Four in NHL

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
Much has been made of the Sharks propensity for shooting the puck, but that would be like a tree falling in the woods if the scoring results weren’t there . . . nobody would know about it and it wouldn’t do much good.


For San Jose, the results are clear as they lead the National Hockey League in goals with 80 and their three most offensive defensemen are a major reason why. In addition to the overall goal lead, the Sharks are now fifth in power play efficiency (21.7 percent).

The talk all summer was on the offensive improvement San Jose made on defense, but few predicted the offensive output to date. An amazing three Sharks blueliners rank in the NHL’s top four in defensemen scoring.

“It’s great to look and see three guys in the top four,” said Dan Boyle, one of the offseason acquisitions.

Boyle is second overall with 18 points. Rob Blake is third with 17 and Christian Ehrhoff is tied for fourth with 16. Only Nashville’s Shea Weber is ahead of the Sharks trio with 21.

One wonders what the individual output would be if two of the three were partnered together. Boyle is with Brad Lukowich. Blake is paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Ehrhoff skates with Douglas Murray. That’s not important to them. What’s important is maximizing their efforts for more important things.

“The last few years, I played five, six, seven minutes more a game, but that’s not always better, especially later on in the season,” Boyle said. “We hope with fewer minutes we’ll be fresher in the playoffs.”

The NHL’s quarter poll is a good indication of how the Sharks are doing and what they hope to accomplish, but the current standings and point rankings are far from a completed season.

“We’re not there yet,” Boyle said.

One has to wonder how much verbal jabbing there would be in the Sharks locker room if the race is this tight among the three as the regular season winds down.

“If it comes down to the last game, yeah, maybe there will be some talk,” Boyle said with a grin.

Boyle’s numbers were expected, but some people questioned if Blake could return to his All-Star form. The 38-year-old had 31 points with the Kings last season – his fewest in eight years.

“He’s playing less minutes and he’s fresher,” Boyle said. “And he has that big shot.”

Boyle’s also had the chance to see Ehrhoff, one of San Jose’s fastest skaters. Boyle hasn’t seen much of Ehrhoff because he played in the Eastern Conference with Tampa Bay for the last six years.

“I didn’t know much about him, but you could see in training camp that he skated as well as the forwards,” Boyle said.

Head Coach Todd McLellan feels the group has set the bar where it needs to be and it’s up to them to continue the pace.

“The way we play, the defense is involved,” McLellan said. “The players set the standard and they have to live up to it.”

To get a historical Sharks perspective on the blueliner attack, Sandis Ozolinsh is the single season points leader by a blueliner with 64, which ranked 11th in the NHL in 1993-94. The next two highest outputs are by Tom Preissing (43, 2005-06) and Matt Carle (42, 2006-07).

Currently, Boyle is on pace for 70 points, Blake for 66 and Ehrhoff for 63. Those numbers rank as the best ever for Boyle and Ehrhoff and Blake only topped 66 points back in 1993-94 with 68 for Los Angeles.

AHL SIGNING
Several media outlets have incorrectly reported today that former NHL player Claude Lemieux has signed a tryout contract with the San Jose Sharks.

Lemieux has actually signed an American Hockey League contract with the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s top development affiliate. Assuming he clears the 72-hour AHL waiver process, Lemieux is expected to be available to play for Worcester on Nov. 29.

“Claude called and inquired about resuming his hockey career and we have given him an opportunity to pursue it with Worcester,” Worcester Sharks General Manager Wayne Thomas said. “He is here to help this team win games.”

KNBR AUCTION
It’s that time again to donate to Bay Area youth sports programs again as the 9th Annual KNBR Sports Auction to benefit the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame and its grants to youth sports programs will take place on Dec. 3 at the ACME Chophouse at AT&T Park in San Francisco from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.

KNBR will host the auction all day live from the Chophouse and will feature a Sports Fantasy Experience package from the Sharks -- four seats “On the Glass” to the Feb. 5 game vs. the Carolina Hurricanes, two Zamboni rides during the first intermission, a parking pass, one guest pass to sit with Sharks Radio Play-By-Play Announcer Dan Rusanowsky in the broadcast pit for the second or third period, one team-signed hockey stick, an opportunity to watch the pregame warm-ups from behind a goal at ice level and a $150 shopping spree at the Sharks Store during the visit to HP Pavilion.

Along with the Sharks package, similar packages from the 49ers, Warriors, Giants, Raiders, A’s, SaberCats and Infineon Raceway will be auctioned off. Bids for the Sports Fantasy Experience packages will only be accepted on Dec. 3 and can be made by phone at (415) 995-6868.

There will also be a silent auction of autographed memorabilia which will be displayed at the Chophouse. Bids for the items can be made at the Chophouse or online at KNBR’s website. All bidding will end at 6 p.m.

For any questions, visit http://www.knbr.com/sportsAuction/index2007.html

NEXT GAME
The Sharks will play hosts to Chicago at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at HP Pavilion and the contest will be aired on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com Tickets are still available at www.ticketmaster.com or at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.


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