San Jose Sharks searching for answers


The San Jose Sharks look like a team that is completely lost and
struggling to find some way, any way out of their funk.

They also
sound like a team that is just searching blindly for answers, as they
get ready for a practice today to attempt and find some semblance of
cohesiveness to build on and get out of a disastrous five game losing

David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News caught up with
Evgeni Nabokov and coach Todd McLellan;
they were less than happy.

I talked with Evgeni Nabokov about rebound control.

“It depends on the situation. When it’s a slap shot or a one-timer,
it’s not that easy,” he said.  “But if, like that second goal, those
types of rebounds should be controlled.

“We talk all the time about making the save and let the other guys
clear the rebound, but I wish I could have controlled it and put it in
the corner,” he said. “But it doesn’t happen all the time.”

I’m just going to say that the San Jose Sharks have much bigger
issues than rebound control. Nabokov is certainly playing less than
stellar, but the team as a whole is just skating in circles and going
through the motions. In the past weeks, they’ve allowed the Edmonton
Oilers and Dallas Stars to do their best Capitals-offense impression on
what is normally an air-tight defense.

So…get those rebounds under control for certain. But let’s just
work on the basics, first. Pollack does mention that Nabokov mentioned
he would have liked to have some practice time earlier in the week, but
coach McLellan gave the team an off day instead.

Speaking of whom, McLellan was asked about possibly cutting down Joe
Thornton’s minutes.

“Are we going to put that type of player on the bench and sit him
there for a game? It’s probably not going to happen. They’re too
valuable,” he said.

“And let’s face it, we’re going to win or lose with these guys and we
have to get through this with them. We can’t take them out of the group
and say, ‘You sit and watch. Let’s let the rest of them find their way
out.’  That’s not how it happens. They have to lead the way out.”

Unfortunately, there’s just too many players on the Sharks that need
their minutes cut down. There wouldn’t be enough players to go around.

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…