Sharks should worry about defense, not Nabokov

Blake.jpgLast night, Joe Yerdon wrote about Evgeni Nabokov’s struggles of
late,
that has corresponded with the Sharks’ frustrating play since the
Olympic break. His March numbers were certainly pedestrian and not up to
the standard we’re used to seeing him play at, but I contend that
Evgeni Nabokov is the least of the San Jose Sharks’ worries.

I’d
be more concerned about the defense than anything else.

The San
Jose Sharks recently overcame a six-game losing streak with four
straight wins, and looked as though they had corrected the woes that had
plagued them. They were once again hungry for the puck, took advantage
of their opportunities and Evgeni Nabokov played well overall.

Last
night against the Dallas Stars, their issues reappeared and now the
team is faced with the same the same questioned that plagued them just
nine days ago.

The defense was discombobulated, and were turned
around time and again by the Dallas Stars forwards. More alarmingly,
they were consistently beaten to the puck and to the net and allowed too
many plays to get behind them. Dan Boyle acknowledges that things just
weren’t clicking very well:

“We were giving up tons of
two-on-ones, three-on-twos,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. “Defensively, we
were not on the same page — who’s got who, what’s going on, not knowing
what we were doing. At game 77, you’ve got to know what’s going on.”

And
Boyle is right. Forget about the lack of effort or hunger for the
Sharks; this is a team whose defense and goaltending is supposed its
strength and just when as the playoffs approach it’s starting to fall
apart.

So Sharks fans can certainly be concerned about Evgeni
Nabokov — there’s no doubt he’s not playing at the same level he was
just a few months ago. But to my eye, none of the five goals allowed
last night could be faulted to the goaltender and it’s the defense that
is most concerning at a time when teams are hoping to be playing their
best.

The Sharks aren’t just any team, either, that can say
they’ll turn it on for the playoffs and everyone will be fine with it.
The Sharks have taken the “play great in the regular season and fold in
the first round” meme and perfected it.

They’ve yet to show
anything late in the season to prove anything different.

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    Leafs’ Corrado returns to Vancouver with a chip on his shoulder

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    Just as the Vancouver Canucks are once again struggling through injuries and with their depth on defense a constant question mark, Frank Corrado returns to town with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    It’s a quick visit. The Leafs and Canucks do battle on Saturday, with the hosts wearing their famous ‘Flying Skate’ logo from the 1990s.

    But the return of Corrado with a different team provides a juicy storyline in Vancouver.

    The Canucks waived the 22-year-old defenseman in October.

    He was claimed by the Leafs, which ended his time in Vancouver when it previously started with promise and optimism.

    He quickly ascended as a prospect after being selected in the fifth round five years ago. But when training camp rolled around this season, Canucks GM Jim Benning was of the belief that Corrado had been passed in the depth chart by a few other defensemen in the system.

    The move has been criticized in Vancouver because the Canucks lost an asset — a 22-year-old right-shooting defenseman with potential — for nothing.

    Corrado had some interesting things to say about how his time in Vancouver eventually played out, as per Josh Clipperton of the Canadian Press.

    Two examples:

    Corrado has played 10 games for the Leafs this season, with three assists. He made his Leafs debut more than two months after being claimed.

    Video: Gaborik (lower-body) not expected to return after awkward collision

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    The L.A. Kings are expected to be without forward Marian Gaborik for the remainder of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers.

    Gaborik was involved in a collision with Dominic Moore at the Kings’ blue line late in the first period, and L.A. up 2-1.

    Gaborik, 33, hobbled off the ice, favoring his left leg. In 53 games this season, Gaborik has 11 goals and 21 points.

     

    Video: Bergeron questionable versus Wild; could that be the result of his latest fight?

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    The Boston Bruins could be without Patrice Bergeron for Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

    He’s currently listed as questionable, according to the Bruins. The details are sketchy right now, however Bergeron was involved in a fight with former teammate Blake Wheeler during Thursday’s game against the Jets, and didn’t play much in the third period — only four shifts and 3:15 of ice time.

    (Granted, he did score in the third period, giving him 21 goals on the season.)

    Why Bergeron was fighting is also worth debating.

    Replays show Bergeron and Wheeler caught each other with a healthy slash in the neutral zone during the second period. A few minutes later, they squared up at center ice, with Wheeler landing a few heavy punches and a hard takedown.

    “You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, as per the Boston Herald.

    “From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

    The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division.

    But with such a tight Eastern Conference playoff race, Boston needs Bergeron — considered one of the best two-way centers in the world — on the ice and in the lineup rather than dropping the gloves, which is something he doesn’t do often.

    Bergeron has four career fights.

    A potential loss for the Bruins could be a potential gain for the Wild.

    Minnesota’s free fall continues. The Wild has won once in its last 10 games, and currently sits two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West.

     

    Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

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    1The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

    There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

    Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

    The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

    The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

    “There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

    “In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

    In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

    Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

    Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”