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Vesa Toskala Looks For A Franchise Record

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, Vesa Toskala will look to set a Sharks franchise record for most consecutive wins by a netminder.  Due to the Sharks successful rotating goaltender situation, Toskala has not recorded wins in seven consecutive games, but nonetheless, a win tomorrow night would break him free of a logjam of Sharks netminders who have posted seven consecutive victories.
Fan favorite Arturs Irbe was the first to accomplish the feat back in 1994 when he posted his seventh straight victory, a memorable 2-1 win in Los Angeles that clinched the Sharks first-ever playoff appearance. 
Toskala’s netminding counterpart Evgeni Nabokov reached the mark on Feb. 28, 2002 via a 5-2 victory against a Ron Wilson-coached Washington Capitals club.
Then Toskala tied the record by running off wins in his final seven starts of 2005-06 with a 6-3 win against Anaheim the record-tying contest.  Toskala did win his first five starts of the 2006-07 campaign to run the overall mark to 12, but that was over two seasons.
During Toskala’s current stretch, he hasn’t allowed more than two goals during a game.  Overall, he is 7-0-0 with a .936 save percentage and a 1.62 goals against average. 
“He’s been playing really well,” said Jonathan Cheechoo.  “Anytime you’ve got a guy playing like that, it gives you a chance to win.”
It also forces players to be even more defensive in their thinking.
“It gives you confidence when they are playing so well, but you don’t want to mess it up, so you up the defensive support,” said Cheechoo.
Nabokov might be riding a similar streak except his has just missed on a little goal support.  In his three most recent losses, most by one goal, Nabokov has goal support of 1.33 per game. 
“We just haven’t given him the support the past few times,” said Cheechoo.  “They are both playing great.”
The Sharks are not only getting solid netminding at the NHL level, but also in the AHL with Worcester.
Both Thomas Greiss and Dimitri Patzold have been playing particularly well and continue to impress with their development.
“In the last nine games, we’ve gone 6-3-0 and the goalies have been a star in five of the six wins,” said Sharks goaltending coach Warren Strelow.  “Greiss and Patzold are excellent prospects.  (Greiss) is very patient and strong mentally and physically.  He reads plays well.  (Patzold) has great size and excellent agility.  He is learning patience.”
“I think it is good if they see a lot of shots,” said Strelow.  “It is good for their development.”
Meanwhile, Nolan Schaefer has been assigned to the Hershey Bears of the AHL.  The move allows Schaefer to play more and won’t stifle the development of the two rising prospects.
“It is very difficult with three goalies,” said Strelow.  “Nolan had to play and it gives everyone more time in net. 
The Sharks were fogged in Vancouver following the Canucks game and landed in Silicon Valley Tuesday afternoon and immediately headed to HP Pavilion for an afternoon skate.  The club didn’t do much with their extra time in Vancouver.
“We got a meal at the hotel,” said Cheechoo.  “We didn’t feel like doing much.”
The Sharks have had weather related travel with Vancouver in the past.  Once Team Teal was fogged out of Vancouver and was forced to remain in Calgary.  Another time, the team made it to the Canucks home town, only to have the game snowed out.
In the scope of difficult travel, Cheechoo said that being fogged into a city is better than traveling in the AHL when the Sharks minor league affiliate was located in Cleveland.
“It was a bus ride,” said Cheechoo.  “We were driving in the snow and saw three tow trucks in the ditch.  We just kept on going.”
The Sharks will host Pacific Division rival Dallas Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.  There are limited tickets available for the 7:30 p.m. faceoff at the HP Pavilion Box Office and at  FSN Bay Area in HD, 98.5 KFOX and will all carry the game.
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