The Sharks continued their mediocre ways this week, going 1-2. No notable injuries or major roster shake ups, but we are inching closer to the return of Logan Couture, which should help out with a severe lack of forward depth. At this point, the 4th line is pretty useless. With Couture back, the 4th line will only be slightly less useless, as the Sharks would send Bryan Lerg back down to the AHL and could rotate Ben Smith, Chris Tierney, and Barclay Goodrow between the 4th line and the Press Box as healthy scratches.
2-1 Loss to Preds
Pekka Rinne was crazy good. Everything the Sharks threw his way, with the exception of one shot, was blocked. Of course, Martin Jones played well too, but he didn’t look as invincible as the Predators’ netminder. Even though Rinne was unbeatable, the Sharks didn’t shoot as much as they should have. They ended the night with only 21 shots on goal. Now I’m not saying that they would have won had they shot more, but the lack of chances definitely hurt that ability.
3-5 Loss to Stars
Since this was game one of a double header for the Sharks this weekend, Peter DeBoer had to start his backup goalie for one of those games. So naturally he picked the one against the better offensive team. This resulted in crap from Stalock all night long. Stalock sucks, though. So I’m not sure that the Stars made him look bad so much as Stalock reminded us why he doesn’t start. The bulk of this analysis won’t be about how well the rest of the team fought to bail out future cobweb collector and career backup goalie Alex Stalock. Instead, I’m going to nitpick everything he did that led to the team losing the game.
Ever heard of Manuel Neuer? It’s the guy sliding into the play in neon yellow here:
He’s arguably the best keeper in soccer at the moment and pulls off crazy stuff like this all the time. The thing is, he’s allowed to do that because: 1. He’s good at it. 2. He doesn’t usually mess up his team when he does it.
Alex Stalock thinks he’s Manuel Neuer and plays hockey like Neuer would, except for one rather important thing: Stalock isn’t that good. So when he moves far out of his crease, he spends more time worrying about skating back than actually, you know, making saves. This has been a problem with him for as long as he’s been involved with the Sharks organization. I mean, look at all that space behind him:
You could literally drive a zamboni behind him. Seriously, the crease extends 4 feet out, plus he’s at least another 3 out from that. A Zamboni 545 is 84 inches at its widest:
I’m not very good at math, but my friends at Google tell me that’s about 7 feet:
Sure, he cuts off the available space to shoot at by coming that far out, but that only works if the shooter is coming directly at you, down the center of the ice. If he veers off towards the faceoff dots, congrats, you give him a wide open shot because you’re 8 feet away from sealing off the post.
Even when he is in position, Stalock isn’t good at saving. Most hockey goalies have 5 possible holes where shooters can score:
However, Alex Stalock has many, many more:
In any case, it is clear that Martin Jones is the starter and goalie of the future. Honestly, the best thing the Sharks can do is keep Stalock where he is, but call up AHL goalies when they actually feel like using a backup. This way, the young guys stay fresh, develop against talent they can handle, and Stalock never has to play a game at the NHL level.
4-3 Win over Avs
Ever been on a seesaw? That was the Sharks during this game. Coming back in the 1st. And losing the lead in the 2nd. And barely holding on in the 3rd. Actually, when they went up 2-1 in the 2nd was the very first time they held a lead this entire road trip. Which was cool in a not cool way. Peter DeBoer definitely had a plan for this game, and the boys did their best to execute:
Everything looked neat and wrapped up when Brent Burns scored his second of the game and Joe Pavelski hit an empty net with only 1:20 to go. But, a very Alex Stalock save from Martin Jones lead to Colorado scoring with 1:05 to go:
Notice how Jones didn’t control the rebound on the first shot? Imagine that for every shot, and that’s still only half as bad as Stalock usually plays. Luckily, the Avs couldn’t pull out another miracle from the rubble of the Sharks near-collapse. Moving forward, it’d be nice if the Sharks didn’t let things get this close. I’ll chalk it up to this incident earlier that morning:
If I can borrow another minute of your time, I’d like to praise Joel Ward for being the Sharks’ leading goal scorer thus far. And it’s due primarily to stuff like this:
Watch Ward (#42) as he fights down low, stays low as Marleau (#12) wins the puck, and then uses the low defenseman to screen and knock over Varlomov, leaving the other side of the net completely open for the easy goal. You can see he also felt the pressure of the defender coming in from center ice and hustled to get the goal before he’d have to fight through 2 defensemen, instead of 1. Smart guy. And leads the Sharks with 7 goals in 11 games. This is how other teams will see him for the foreseeable future:
The Sharks see the Jackets, Panthers, and Ducks all at home next week. They really need to get all of the points from these games before a 6 game road trip from Nov 13 to 22.