| Extended roadies could benefit
Big blocks of games before and after Olympic
break await San Jose
1/10/10 - By Mike Lee
Having just passed the halfway mark on the regular season schedule, the
remaining schedule can be bucketed into two groups. Theres the
pre-Olympic run, which includes the next 17 games, and the post-Olympic rush
leading up to the playoffs, which will consume all of March and the first two
weeks of April.
That second half group of games is comprised of 20
games, including a six-game road trip that will take them to four of the five
cities that comprise the NHLs Northwest Division.
pre-Olympic segment also finishes with a six-game road trip that will take San
Jose through four of the five Central Division cities and a quick jaunt threw
Buffalo and Toronto .
Two long road trips are tough, especially in the
second half of the season, but they can benefit a team like San Jose . One of
the things head coach Todd McLellan has criticized his team for during their
two losses on their recent four-game home stand is his teams tendency to try
and get too fancy in front of home fans.
Teams tend not to worry about
pleasing fans on the road, so some of the simple errors that have been plaguing
the Sharks the past week on home ice, may not be something McLellan and San
Jose fans need to worry about while the Sharks trek across the Midwest next
Theres also something to be said about confining 25
professional athletes to hotels, airplanes, busses and road practice rinks.
Theyll have two two-week stints to focus on hockey and nothing but
No wives, girlfriends, children, and friends to distract them.
The younger players will get a chance to really settle in as professional
players. Camaraderie isnt something to be ignored. Heading into the
NHLs second season, teams that trust each other are teams that will play
deeper into the run for a Stanley Cup.
While the NHL schedule makers
were probably trying to accommodate the need to bundle road games in order to
cut down on travel costs and the amount of miles that these teams are forced to
cover, they also provide these clubs with this opportunity to have players
become a team.
One downside to the schedule is that the first long
road trip ends right before the Olympic break. Whatever benefit the Sharks
establish from that trip, the players wont be able to carry that over
into games right away. A third of the Sharks will be in Vancouver , playing for
multiple teams, while the other two-thirds will be back in the Bay Area.
The Sharks havent announced practice schedules during the break,
but players are expected to be given some time off, especially given the
rigorous run that awaits them after the break.
San Jose will play 15
games in March alone, which equates to a game every other day. That will carry
over to April for 10 days, when the Sharks close out the regular season with 5
The fun starts Monday night in Los Angeles , where the Sharks
will have a chance to avenge a 6-2 thrashing that the Kings handed out in San
Jose last week. The division game makes things all the more interesting. Los
Angeles is on the brink of dropping out a playoff spot after being one of the
first half surprises this season, so they have more motivation than simply
beating a division foe.
The Sharks spent Sunday afternoon practice focusing on
the mental side of their game. In their last four games, San Jose has committed
an astounding 73 giveaways, including 20 in each of their last two games.
Giving up 10 goals in losses to the Kings and Red Wings last week can be
attributed to a lack of detail and sloppiness that the Sharks coaching staff
hopes to correct.
That was the message on Sunday. Having already
dropped three of four games to the Kings this season, Monday night will be a
good time to start working on cleaning up details and sloppy play.
Down on the Farm
The Worcester Sharks have vaulted themselves
into 3rd place in the AHL Atlantic Division, after a nice 9-2-0 run in their
last eleven games. The baby Sharks had a six-game winning streak snapped by the
Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday night.
Sharks prospect Logan Couture
leads Worcester in scoring, even though hes only played in 26 of their 38
games this season. Couture missed 12 games while playing for the big club in
San Jose earlier this season. He is 5th in scoring in the league with 14 goals
and 25 assists, and was named to the Canadian AHL All Star roster.
Couture will be joined in Portland , Maine for the All Star game by teammate
Danny Groulx, who will help man the back line for the Canadian roster.
Former Shark Patrick Rissmiller will be playing for the PlanetUSA AHL team,
along side former Shark prospect Graham Mink. Rissmiller has been centering a
line for the Grand Rapids Griffins, after starting the season in Hartford . He
played for the Wolf Pack last season while under contract with the New York
Mink has 10 goals and 10 assists for the Rochester Americans
this season. He played for Hershey last season and was recalled by the Capitals
for two games.
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