Friday, October 4, 2013
The Sharks Be Nuckin' on Vancouver's Door
The Canucks are now operating with John Tortorella, their new head coach, replacing Alain Vigneault, who was fired shortly after being swept by the Sharks in the first round of the playoff series last year. (Interestingly enough, John Tortorella was fired by the New York Rangers in the same fashion last year, and was replaced by none other than Alain Vigneault.) With Tortorella at the helm of the Canucks' bench, they are likely going to go through some growing pains, and the Sharks may have some interesting games against the Canucks this year as the team adopts to their new head coach's style.
While most NHL teams have had some major transformations, the Sharks' bench has remained relatively familiar, with the notable additions of Tyler Kennedy (previously of the Pittsburgh Penguins) and rookie Tomas Hertl. Most impressive about the Sharks' return is in addition to seeing the familiar aggressive style, it is great to see players normally hesitant to shoot to start getting the pucks to the net. Infamously, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns are both known for their penchant to either hold on to the puck or pass to a teammate rather than shoot the puck when their opportunities to score arise. Burns put his bad habit to rest when he buried the Sharks' first goal of the season with a laser wrist shot zooming past goaltender Roberto Luongo. This was followed up with a wrist shot from the point by Justin Braun, who notched his first of the year as well.
Despite the Sharks turning it up in the latter half of the game, scoring all of their goals on even strength play, they were 0 for 8 on the power play, including failing to score on a two minute 5 on 3 power play, only getting off a few shots, with most turned away or blocked by the Canucks' well-placed defenders. Although it is early in the season, the Sharks must step up their special teams (e.g. power play 'man advantage' strategy) play by improving the ability to shoot the puck quickly and effectively. Any viewer can see the passes are fast and accurate, but shooting the puck may still be a problem. (I understand it is easy for me to say, but look at many other effective power play teams, where team snipers - those who are known primarily for their shooting ability - are placed in lethal scoring positions.)
Overall, the fans got what they came for: a win, exciting play, and the typical chippiness (i.e. lots of penalties) expected when the Sharks play the Canucks.
While many fans have complained about the lack of moves made by the Sharks in the off-season, it is evident the skill and ability to take it all the way is still there. The leadership and support is also still there.
It is also easy to see, once our boys get scoring, the momentum the SAP Center provides is there in full force.
Goals for the Sharks were scored by Brent Burns, Justin Braun, Patrick Marleau, and Tommy Wingels. Great to see our boys back!