Five Thoughts: Breaking down some goodies from Canucks-Sharks Game 1

Now that we’ve got one game of each series under our belts it’s high time we overanalyzed what we saw for both games and panic about what we saw for both losers… Right? OK so we’re not about to do that, but we do have some thoughts about last night.

1. It was quite the juxtaposition for both Vancouver and San Jose last night. One team was overly rested up while the other was still working off the hangover of a grueling seven game series. The game played out pretty much the way you’d figure. Both teams came out cautious but full of energy but as the game wore down, the Sharks got tired and Vancouver took over. I doubt the rest of the series will play out similarly but this first game was one that Vancouver had to lock down in retrospect. Not beating San Jose while they were gassed would’ve been a very bad omen for Vancouver.

Instead, Vancouver gets their “gimmie” game and in comeback manner too. San Jose will be thankful to get the extra day off between Games 1 and 2 and they’ll be better prepared in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

2. Seeing the Sedin twins get things going in Game 1 was a great sign for Vancouver and very much expected to see. While San Jose is a great team, they’re not as defensively dedicated as the Nashville Predators were. The Preds made it their mission to shutdown the twins and they followed through with that with such zeal it’s a point of pride for them. San Jose isn’t going to lock in on them the same way, however.

I know that sounds like the Sharks will have problems with Henrik and Daniel if they do things that way, but the Sharks have their own sets of scorers and playmakers the Canucks will have to deal with as well. Everyone is going to get their opportunities to swing the series and it’s just a matter of cashing in on them. It just turned out that everyone we pointed to that had something to prove in these finals all came through in Game 1.

3. I’m sure we were all a bit relieved to see Maxim Lapierre get busted for diving late in the third period while trying to sell a Dan Boyle holding penalty. Vancouver’s been guilty of diving more than a few times throughout the playoffs and got away with it. Lapierre’s over-exaggerated sell job on a hold was both egregious and embarrassing. After all, if you’re being held, you don’t pirouette and fall to the ice.

It’s worth watching to see how both teams do with the diving as we’ve seen the Sharks pull off some fakery of their own throughout the playoffs. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into an Italian soccer game with flops all over the ice to draw a call. This is one time where we’re OK with Colin Campbell flexing his authority if need be.

4. One thing the Sharks should be concerned about is that sagging third period. Sure, they came into last night’s game off a brutal series with Detroit and had just a couple days to prep for Vancouver, but this was their fourth straight bad third period effort going back to Game 5 against Detroit. It’s more than a trend right now for the Sharks and that slow, plodding effort has to change or else Vancouver is going to roll them out of the playoffs. Early intensity is great and putting opponents in that uncomfortable spot of having to fight back in games is good, but getting blitzed like that in the third period is no good.

5. If there was a team that has more questions to answer after their Game 1 loss it’s the Boston Bruins. While both the Bruins and Sharks showed some signs of things that could be worries further on in the playoffs, the way the Bruins were disposed of in Game 1 gives us more reason to be concerned for them. While its admirable that Claude Julien wanted to stick to his gameplan through Game 1, not adjusting to what Tampa Bay was throwing at them was the wrong call to make.

Yes, that three goal attack in the first period put them on their heels and changed the complexion of the game, but the Bruins didn’t generate anything else the rest of the way outside of what Tyler Seguin helped them do in his limited time on the ice. The Bruins will be better prepared tomorrow night in Game 2, but if Tampa Bay throws them any more curveballs, we worry that the Bruins will be stuck scrambling the rest of the series.

Anderson, Cogliano, Ryan named 2017 Masterton nominees

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The PHWA announced the three finalists for the NHL’s 2017 Bill Masterton Trophy: Craig Anderson, Andrew Cogliano and Derek Ryan.

As a reminder, the award is for “the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

Ryan distinguished himself as a 29-year-old who battled his way to time in the NHL, managing a goal in his debut game with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Cogliano stands out as one of the “iron men” of the NHL for the Anaheim Ducks. The PHWA notes that he’s never missed a game in his career, managing a streak of 779 games.

Finally, there’s Anderson, who managed an impressive season in net for the Ottawa Senators while his wife Nicholle battles a rare form of throat cancer. That emotional story continued after Anderson backstopped the Senators in beating the Boston Bruins in the first round.

Marleau says he wants to return to Sharks, but it might not be so easy

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It seemed strangely fitting that Patrick Marleau scored the final goal of the San Jose Sharks’ season as the Edmonton Oilers eliminated them in Game 6.

Monday presented questions about what that goal means.

For one thing, it definitely doesn’t sound like Marleau expects that to be his final goal in the NHL, as he believes he has “at least five good years in me, or maybe more,” according to NBC Sports California’s Kevin Kurz.

“I still think I can contribute and play,” Marleau said. “Until I think I can’t do that anymore, I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

The 37-year-old made a strong argument that he can still light up the lamp in 2016-17. He scored 27 goals and 46 points during the regular season and ended his playoff run with three goals and an assist (all in the final three contests vs. Edmonton).

Marleau was especially effective once the new year rolled around, collecting 29 points in his last 41 games.

Before we get to the more unpleasant stuff, let’s watch that last goal:

So … yeah, that’s a pretty convincing case that he can at least still play now.

The bigger question is: if Marleau really wants term, are the Sharks willing to give him what he’s looking for?

Marleau admitted that discussions on an extension haven’t even happened yet. When you consider the upcoming challenges for San Jose, you wonder if this is it for a player who’s suited up for a whopping 1,493 regular season games with the franchise (even after there were significant trade rumors over the years).

Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s outstanding value $4.25 million cap hit evaporates after 2017-18, and the same can be said for Martin Jones‘ $3 million mark. One could imagine the Sharks approaching Marleau with a very appealing one-year offer, but it would be a big leap to imagine the franchise going for a guy who’s approaching 40 instead of a solid starting goalie and one of the best pure defensemen in the NHL.

So, really, the question isn’t “Will Marleau really play for five more years?” Instead, it might be “Does Marleau value playing for the Sharks enough to take a shorter deal or does he want that term right now?”

What is Alex Galchenyuk’s future in Montreal?

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Alex Galchenyuk is already a good player.

The question for the Montreal Canadiens is, can he be great?

Galchenyuk, the third overall draft pick in 2012, is coming off a decent regular season with 17 goals and 27 assists in 61 games. However, it wasn’t as good as last year’s 30-goal campaign, and he didn’t score a single goal in the playoffs.

“Hopefully he took a step back this year so he can take two forward next year,” GM Marc Bergevin said Monday at the Canadiens’ season-ending press conference.

Three assists were all Galchenyuk could manage in six games against the Rangers. More importantly, after more than 300 NHL games of experience, the 23-year-old is still not an everyday center, on a team where center depth is by far the biggest concern.

Habs defenseman Shea Weber thinks Galchenyuk still has a ton of potential.

“I think we’ve seen glimpses of it,” Weber said, per NHL.com’s Arpon Basu, “but I don’t think he’s tapped into how good he can be. One day he’s going to realize it, like all young guys do, he’s going to get it.”

Of course, not all young guys do get it. And at times, there have been questions about Galchenyuk’s competitiveness.

To play center in the NHL, you have to compete all over the ice.

“Ideally, we would love to have him play center,” head coach Claude Julien said. “But I think he realizes the same thing we realize right now. As a centerman, it’s one of the toughest jobs there is because you have to be all over the ice, and you’ve got to be able to skate. As a centerman, you have to be good at both ends of the ice, and you have to be responsible. Right now, he’s not at that stage.”

The kicker in all this is that Galchenyuk can become a restricted free agent this summer. He’s already signed one bridge deal, and he’s at the age now where many young stars sign for big money and a long term.

So, does he want to sign long term in Montreal?

He ducked the question today.

“My season just ended a couple of days ago,” Galchenyuk told reporters. “I honestly didn’t give it too much of a thought yet.”

Kunitz cleared for contact, available for start of Caps series

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The Pens may get back one of their most veteran skaters for their second-round series against Washington.

Chris Kunitz, who missed the last five regular season games and all of Pittsburgh’s Round 1 win over Columbus, has been cleared for contact (per the Tribune-Review) and could return from his lower-body ailment for Thursday’s opener at Verizon.

Kunitz, 37, finished the year with nine goals and 29 points in 71 games, averaging 15:31 TOI per night. It was a down season offensively, but the Pens are hopeful he can reclaim some of the form shown last spring, when he racked up 12 points in 24 games en route to the title.

A three-time Cup winner, Kunitz skated on the fourth line at today’s practice with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl.

In other health news, the Pens also declared d-man Chad Ruhwedel a game-time decision for Thursday, after he was sidelined with an upper-body injury. Carl Hagelin, out with a lower-body ailment, has continued skating and head coach Mike Sullivan said the team is hopeful Hagelin can play at some point against Washington.