| Odds and ends
Trade or not, on the road and goaltending bumps
2/7/11 - By Mike Lee
Just spewing on whatever comes
to mind this week. The trade deadline is a mere three weeks away. So there's
plenty to ponder there. Well, except for the fact that the Sharks are unlikely
to do much. The fact is, Doug Wilson thinks he has the roster that can win a
Cup. Has their recent 7-0-1 run validated Wilson's thinking? If it hasn't,
Wilson would be best served to say that he's standing pat.
announce to opposing general managers that he's desperate to fill a need.
Hasn't he played that card already? If he is going to deal, Wilson needs to
hold those cards close.
The reality is, the cap space situation
doesn't provide a lot of room to maneuver, so don't expect someone like Jerome
Iginla to wearing teal this spring. The fact that Calgary is starting to pick
up the pace will rule that out anyway, buy you get the point.
somewhere last week that Dustin Byfuglien is the piece that's missing. Hate to
break it to you, but Byfuglien also won't be donning a Shark on his sweater
this spring either. His salary won't allow it, and Atlanta has a marketing
center piece in the burly defenseman.
His scoring this season also
makes him immovable for a team that can't get it forwards to score, much less
the blueliners. Wilson should have pushed to make that deal happen last summer
when Chicago had their backs against the wall.
Considering the first
three months of the season, it's hard to believe that the roster is
championship caliber. Additions like Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood don't exactly
sound like those pieces that are going to get you over the hump, but guys like
that can turn out to be exactly that.
Eager isn't an offensive
juggernaut, but he is that chuck of grit that San Jose seems to lack every
season. He didn't score a single point against the Sharks in the Conference
Finals last season, but he was that in-your-face guy that was there to disrupt
the Sharks top line guys.
If he's disrupting Vancouver, Detroit or
Dallas' scoring in the playoffs, the Sharks have something that's really been
absent since guys like Mike Ricci played for San Jose.
still an unknown in terms of the role he'll fill. So far, he's been matched up
with Eager, which is a strange combination, given the role he played for
Vancouver. Will he expected to pick up the scoring slack or serve as a checking
His goal against Ilya Bryzgalov in Phoenix last week showed
off his hands. Wellwood deflected a puck out of the air into Bryzgalov's glove,
and when the Phoenix netminder juggled it back into air, Wellwood swatted the
floater into the Coyotes net.
Jose will square off with the Washington Capitals twice in the next nine days.
San Jose plays the Capitals in D.C. on Tuesday, then face off against the
Eastern Conference's 5th seeded team at HP Pavilion on February 17th.
Washington will be without high scoring defenseman Mike Green, who is out after
suffering a concussion. Alexander Semin is also on the shelf, but Washington is
coming off a big win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
San Jose has handled
Washington pretty handily the last few years, primarily because they could
always roll multiple lines at the Caps. With Green and Semin out, that becomes
a bit easier for San Jose.
With Green out, former Sharks Scott Hannan has been
forced to pick up the load, along with fellow blueliner John Carlson. Hannan
and Carlson combined for almost 53 minutes of ice time in Washington's 3-0 win
over the Penguins.
Goaltending Injury Report
Stalock's injury last week was an unfortunate setback for the Sharks prospect,
but it was unlikely that the goaltender was going to see much time with the big
club anyway, With Antero Niittymaki's hamstring improving, Stalock was destined
Niittymaki's injury was actually one of those deals
that may turn out to be a vital part of longer term success for the Sharks. The
platoon isn't something you want to head into a playoff run with. Playing
regularly allows Antti Niemi to get into a groove.
It also allows him
to think less about having to beat out Niittymaki, and more about stopping
opposing forwards. With Niittymaki out, there is no question who is going to
get the majority of time between the pipes.
Getting more pucks on
Niemi is a good thing between now and April.
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