2007 NHL Entry Draft Monthly

A 2007 NHL Entry Draft prospect report:

1. F Jakub Voracek (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL) - The way Voracek carries the puck to the net is reminiscent of Marian Hossa. He is not an explosive skater but has tremendous puck protection, and is equally impressive creating scoring chances. Voracek does not play on the perimeter, and he has made as clean a transition to the North American game.
2. F Angelo Esposito (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL) Esposito's speed is at an elite level. He cradles the puck effortlessly, and is an exceptional play maker. Finishing touch is still coming a long, but a playmaking centerman with speed is a great asset to any team. The Chicago Blackhawks have shown the most interest in Angelo early on.
3. F Sam Gagner (London Knights, OHL) - Gagner's hockey sense and vision are top notch. Sam Gagner makes the players around him better. His hands are soft as butter and he is a fine player away from the puck as well. Safe pick.
4. F Kyle Turris (Burnaby, BCHL) - Turris was offensively dominant at the World Junior A Challenge. He is thin, but his offensive instincts and abilities are phenomenal. Turris has a little bit of Joe Sakic to him in the way he can finish, create, and be a one-on-one threat all while being the smartest player on the ice.
5. F James Van Riemsdyk (USNTDP) - Van Riemsdyk matured into his prodigious frame and became a top notch power forward prospect as a result. His puck skills are exceptional, and his one-on-one ability is as good as anyone's in this draft. Possesses an accurate wrist shot that has heavy velocity. Tons of untapped upside from this New Hampshire recruit.
6. D Karl Alzner (Calgary Hitmen, WHL) - Reminds me a little bit of Ty Wishart, but is even more dominant at both ends. Has ice water in his veins and his hockey sense is off the charts. Not a flashy defenseman, but makes all the solid plays you want a defenseman to. He's a big kid with superb mobility and distributes the puck well. His defenisve positioning suffocates the opposition.
7. F Sergei Korostin (Russia) - The fact that Korostin is from Russia will scare teams off until the NHL gets a deal done, but you can not deny his talents. Korostin is a swift skater with amazing one-on-one skill, and he's not your typical Russian. He can distribute the puck better than he finishes. Reminds me of a young Alexander Radulov.
8. D Nick Petrecki (Omaha Knights, USHL) - A tantalizing combination of size, strength, and a take no prisoners physical game> A powerful first step makes me believe he can be a dominant shut down defenseman in the NHL.
9. D Keaton Ellerby (Kamloops Blazers, WHL) - As one NHL scout said "He looks a lot like Dion Phaneuf did in his draft year". Ellerby is a swift skating big man who has a mean streak. He also has a booming slap shot he is just learning to use.
10. F Aaron Palushaj (Des Moines, USHL) - Palushaj is a dominating, creative play maker, and a lethal finisher. He makes all the plays right around the net, and his puck protection, and patience are NHL caliber. Similar offensive threat to Steve Bernier without Bernier's one-handed, 360 spin-o-rama move.
11. F Colton Gillies (Saskatoon Blades, WHL) - Despite only having 3 goals in 19 games, Gillies has to much raw ability to be far away from the top 10. Every time I see him, Gillies impresses me with his natural ability. He has a tremendous frame, Mike Modano like skating ability, and a gritty game away from the puck.
12. F Logan Couture (Ottawa 67s, OHL) - Sick with mono and coming off a knee injury has limited Couture's speed, which appears suspect at this point. He needs a big end to his season to save a spot in the top 10. As of right now, Couture looks like a safe pick, but his upside is lacking. He may just end up being a play making, two way second line centerman.
13. F Oscar Moller (Chilliwack, WHL) - Moller is an in your face kind of a player who can also finish with the best of them. His hands are silky soft too. Skating is just average however, but he is the top player from Sweden for the moment.
14. F Patrick Kane (London Knights, OHL) - Kane is tiny, and almost invisible away from the puck, but he is a dynamic player with it. He's very slippery one-on-one, and can dangle his way out of most situations. Kane is a better finisher than teammate Gagner, but he is a much higher draft risk. A big U-20 WJC's would help him get a spot in the top 10.
15. F Luca Cunti (Switzerland) - Was impressive last year at the Viking Cup, but his real coming out party was in Sweden this year when was the most impressive player at the U-18 tournament. Cunti's strength is magnetic hands that may be unrivaled in this draft. He is a deadly finisher, and is by far the most talented offensive player to come from Sweden in a long time. Could be this years Kopitar.
16. D Nick Ross (Regina, WHL) - Full of raw upside. Ross plays on the power play but it is his knack for landing the bone rattling open ice hit that has most intrigued. His mobility is fine, and he is a smart player can dominate at both ends when he is on his game. Has a little bit of Brad Stuart to him.
17. F Billy Sweatt (Colorado College, NCAA)- As one NHL scout said "His stride is dynamic, and speed kills" the rest of his game is just above average. Sweatt's averaging a point a game in the NCAA.
18. F Michael Repik (Vancouver Giants, WHL) - An offensive dynamo, plain and simple. One of the best stickhandlers in the draft with magnificent skating ability. Repik can set up his man, but his bread and butter is making people miss one-on-one, then releasing his devastating shot.
19. F Joshua Turnbull (Waterloo Blackhawks, USHL) - Turnbull goes to the net as hard as anyone. I would draft him for his competitiveness and hockey sense alone. It is his natural finishing touch, and tricky stickhandling that makes him worth a late first round selection.
20. D Mark Katic (Sarnia Sting, OHL) - Katic will be a second pairing defenseman who leads your power play. He is possibly the best skater in the draft and is also a gifted passer. Katic fought once this year which bodes well for his character. ALthough even in the new NHL you can't help but wonder how his 5'9 frame will hold up.
21. D Jonathan Blum (Vancouver Giants, WHL) - The American born defenseman has a lot of offensive talent thanks to his instinctive style and splendid mobility. Offensive defenseman are at a premium and he will likely rise.
22. D Kevin Shattenkirk (USNTD) - A bit small but he makes up for that with always being in position and making the smart play. Has a nice point shot but it's his ability handle the puck with his velvet hands then make a creative pass that really stood out. His mobility is above average.
23. F Patrick White (Tri-City, USHL) - His hand skill and patience with the puck make him worth of a late first round selection. White is a natural offensive player who can create and finish equally as well.
24. F Ryan Hayes (USNTDP) - It appears scouts have underrated his offensive upside at first glance according to an Eastern conference scout "I saw him last year at the U-17's and I just thought he was a grinder, but his speed and shot have really blossomed this season". His hand skill is amazing as he can really dangle, and he has a deadly wrist shot, but he's limited as a play maker.
25. D Jaraj Valach (Tri-City Americans, WHL) - One NHL scout had this to say about the Slovakian import "He's good, but not great at both ends of the ice, but when you add in the fact that he's a 6-6 Slovakian, you have a first rounder in sight". I don't have confirmation on this, but imagine the Tampa Bay Lightning are hot on his trail as they love guys like him.
26. D Thomas Hickey (Seattle, WHL) - Some scouts see him as a top 10 pick and the top defenseman in the draft as one NHL scout said "He's a top, top defenseman, he's a dominant player at both ends on a poor team, he's the real deal". Another scout questioned his hockey sense "His game won't work in the NHL and I won't preach for him in the first round unless his hockey sense comes a long".
27. F James O'Brien (Minnesota Gophers, NCAA) - Has had a slow start but exploded with a 2 goal, 1 assist night vs. Michigan. He's big and gritty with soft hands, and a play makers touch.
28. D Brendan Smith (OPJHL) - This University of Wisconsin recruit may ultimately end up being the next Scott Hannan. He has a very strong 6-1 205 frame, and his decision making on the ice is exceptional. Hockey sense, defensive positioning, gap control, puck movement, are all top notch. He's not an offensive defenseman but he's a steady two way player. Not flashy.
29. F Olivier Fortier (Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL) - He's on the rise according to a scout from the QMJHL "He's a quick, quick player as he thinks the game well, handles the puck well, and his speed is pro caliber already".
30. D David Stich (Saint Johns, QMJHL) - Not your typical Czech defenseman, he isn't as mature overall in his game at the same stage, but he's similar to a Ladislav Smid. Stich is a composed, two way defenseman who makes the smart, although not flashy play.
31. F Zach Hammil (Everett Silvertips, WHL) - Quick, skilled, and smart. He's a more skilled, less gritty version of Mike Richards.
32. D Jens Hellgren (Sweden)- He has done a remarkable job in each major international event he has played at this year. He's a tall defenseman with fine foot work and does a admirable job distributing the puck.
33. G Kent Patterson (Cedar Rapids, USHL) - Reminds me of a young Ryan Miller. One day too old of being eligible for the 2008 draft, Patterson's abilities are amazing for a player of his age. Patterson's really flawless and I think he's the best goalie available this year. Consistency is the only issue, but that will come with maturity.
34. F Mike Hoeffel USNTDP - One scout describes him as "A John Leclair type, he always makes the play as physical as possible". Hoeffel has a power forwards upside and he can finish too. A strong finish could make him a top 20 selection.
35. F Brandon Sutter (Red Deer, WHL) - A physical, two way player with adequate skating ability and an above average finishing touch. Sutter has rebounded after a slow start and has come on as of late on a high scoring Red Deer club.
36. D Teddy Ruth (USNTDP) - Ruth is a team player. His hockey sense is average but he's mobile, physical, competitive, and can do a little bit of everything for a team.
37. F Jean-Simon Allard (St.Johns, QMJHL) - Reminded me of a poor mans Vincent Lecavalier with a great U-17's and hasn't disappointed this season.
38. F Keven Veilleux (Victorialle, QMJHL)- He's a giant with a howitzer shot and plays like a physical beast. Has a little Brian Boyle in him.
39. D Alex Plante (Calgary Hitmen, WHL)- Towering pivot with a reliable defensive game.
40. F Max Gratchev (Rimouski, QMJHL) - Once thought as a Russian Phenom, he saw his stock drop last year but it's regaining again this season. He's a slippery, skilled offensive dynamo.
41. D Colbey Cohen (Lincoln, USHL) - Left the USNTDP early in the season and has dominated the USHL offensively. Blessed with good size, however it's his puck movement and cannon point shot that have stood out most.
42. D John Negrin (Kootenay, WHL)- Some love him, don't see it. I personally believe he has some upside on the offensive end but haven't seen enough to make a final judgement.
43. D Eric Doyle (Everett, WHL) - He's a mature two way defenseman with some intriguing upside as a puck moving defenseman with good size.
44. F Yuri Cherepanov (Russia)- Tall, lanky, with supple hands, Cerepanov hasn't blossomed at any international event yet, but scouts who've traveled to Russia this year are saying he's a poor mans Evgeni Malkin.
45. F Lars Eller (Sweden) - He's a smooth skater, who has subtle skill that doesn't jump out at you, but after repeated viewings you learn to really like him.
46. F Craig Smith (Waterloo, USHL) - He's a hidden gem, diamond in the rough. He has an elegant, powerful stride with great hockey sense, a play makers touch, and a gym rats work ethic.
47. G Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver)- He outplayed Slade this year, and will be the starter for the Memorial Cup hosting Giants. He's an athletic goalie with a lot of raw upside.

A fan video of Jakub Voracek scoring for the Halifax Mooseheads against the PEI Rockets in exhibition play on Youtube is available here.

[Update] The latest prospect report from November 28th is available in a Microsoft Word format from SJsharks.com here.

Sharks forward prospect Jay Barriball (9G, 8A, 15GP) at the University of Minnesota (WCHA) was names the CSTV Rookie of the Month for October. Sharks prospects Torrey Mitchell (5G, 13A, 18PTS) and Mike Morris (6G, 7A, 13PTS) each lead their team in points, at the Univeristy of Vermont and Northeastern University respectively.

[Update2] OHL tops Russia in tight affair at the Canada-Russia Challenge - Hockeys Future.

[Update3] Wisconsin native Joe Pavelski takes center stage in San Jose - USAhockey.com.

Winning and San Jose Sharks rookie forward Joe Pavelski (Plover, Wis.) go together like a hockey rink and a Zamboni.

More on Sharks rookie forward Joe Pavelski from the Mercury News: Rookie on center stage is making it look easy.

The NHLPA posted a two part feature on San Jose rookie defenseman Matt Carle here and here. The USA Today also published a feature on a San Jose rookie blueliner, Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Sharks rookie Vlasic, 19, a quick study - USA Today.


Forbes annual list of NHL franchise valuations


1. Toronto Maple Leafs $332,000,000 (+18%)
2. New York Rangers $306,000,000 (+9%)
3. Detroit Red Wings $258,000,000 (+4%)
20. San Jose Sharks $145,000,000 (-2%)
28. Pittsburgh Penguins $133,000,000 (+31%)
29. Atlanta Thrashers $128,000,000 (+21%)
30. Washington Capitals $127,000,000 (+10%)

Source: Forbes

Forbes released their annual list of NHL franchise valuation estimates in the November 27th issue. Forbes writers Michael K. Ozanian and Kurt Badenhausen report that the ratio of player salary to overall revenue has declined from 66% to 54%, that the average NHL team is now worth $180 million, and the average operating profit is $4.2 million.

The top and bottom three teams were listed above, with the San Jose franchise included at #20. The percentage change figures are for a 2-year period. The chart notes that the San Jose Sharks franchise was purchased by an ownership group including Kevin Compton and Gregory Reyes in 2002, that the Sharks $145 million valuation is down 2% over a 2-year period, and that estimated revenues of $69 million leave the franchise with an operating income of $1.8 million (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).

In 2002, the Sharks were listed at 12th in the league by Forbes, with an estimated franshise value of $158 million.

Prior to the NHL lockout in 2004-05, Andrew's Starspage took a look at the differences between figures detailed in the Levitt Report and the Forbes estimates. The difference in NHL operating income between the two was $124 million.

The top 2006 Forbes valuation for the NFL was the Washington Redskins at $1.7 billion, up 13% from last year, with player expenses of $92 million just in front of gate receipts of $85 million. The New York Yankees are expectedly at the top of the MLB, with a valuation of just over $1 billion. The $223 million doled out in player salaries may have had a factor in the estimated $50 million loss in operating income. The New York Knicks are the highest rated NBA franchise, with an estimated value of over $500 million.

In a companion article on Paychex founder and Buffalo Sabres owner Thomas Goliasano, Mary Ellen Egan examines how the team was turned around into a profitable and elite NHL franchise. Goliasano was described as a hard working businessman who purchased the team from the NHL in 2003 after previous owner John Rigas was implicated in an embezzling scheme at Adelphia. Goliasano wanted to keep the team in the Buffalo community, and he lowered ticket prices, brought back former President Lawrence Quinn as a managing partner, improved commmunication, and adjusted his roster to the new style of play to make it happen.

Sharp Sabres - Forbes.

With a 11--1 record the Sabres are a favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season. The team leads the league with 58 goals scored. "Offensively they're head and shoulders above the rest of the league," says Adam Proteau, an NHL Web columnist for Hockey News.

It is an amazing feat considering the Sabres finished last in the NHL's Northeast Division just three years ago, when they also had an operating loss (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $5.3 million on revenues of $50 million. By last season the team had made it to the playoffs, posting a profit of $4.6 million on revenues of $70 million. FORBES values the team at $149 million, 17th on our list and 45% more than two years ago when the Sabres ranked a sorry 28th.

[Update] Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis disputed some of the Forbes findings in a Washington Time article published earlier this month, Caps not profiting. Thom Loverro reports that the Forbes valuations were a "glowing endorsement" of the new NHL, but the statement that the Sabres, Penguins, Sharks, and Capitals only made money with revenue sharing last season was disputed by Leonsis.

The Washington Capitals owner claimed that the team was going to lose money this season, not run a $4.6 million operating profit as detailed by Forbes. Leonsis also estimates his franchise value at around $180 million, as opposed to the Forbes figure of $127 million. One of the authors of the Forbes article, Kurt Badenhausen, responded that the earnings listed for the Capitals was a figure taken "before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization".

[Update] Leafs again NHL's richest club, Lower player salaries drive up franchise values - Toronto Star.

All that money, however, does not help the Leafs be more competitive on the ice since one of the results of the 2004-05 lockout was a salary cap that, this year, limits teams to spending $44 million on player salaries.

Richard Peddie, the president of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, was not immediately available for comment on the Forbes numbers but he has denounced them in the past, noting that the magazine does not have access to MLSE's numbers or the financial reports of other organizations.

[Update2] Hockey News Bucks N Pucks issue - Sharkspage.

[Update3] Meanwhile, doing better in the ledger, Not there yet, But Sharks say profits are nearer - San Jose Mercury News.

David Pollak reported in this October 24th column that the Sharks were one of 11 NHL teams to accept revenue sharing, Sharks CEO Greg Jamison projects the team will lose $4 million this season (up from a $7+ million loss last year), and season ticket renewals and suite sales are up but corporate sponsorship has not followed suit.


Big Freeze Stanford vs Cal takes place Thursday and Friday

Cal Berkeley Hockey
Stanford Hockey

A pair of big games kick off this week with Cal vs Stanford at Berkeley on Thursday night, and both teams at Stanford on Friday night.

Expect a large crowd, possibly a band, and a huge Cal flag at Berkeley Iceland. Not sure what to expect at the Ice Oasis in Redwood City for Stanford's home game.

Berkeley is 2-10 this season, with a 1-8 Pac-8 conference record. Forward Steve Polchinski leads the Bears with 9 goals and 20 assists in 13 games played. Stanford is 1-6 on the season, losing its two most recent games to Oregon by a large margin on the road. The Pac-8 championships will be held February 9-10th at UCLA.

An email with a few notes and photos will be sent to the Stanford Daily, Palo Alto Daily, and the Daily Californian. Contact all three and ask them to cover the games.

[Update] Blues offense draws a blank - St Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Blues had hopes of working on their power play Tuesday night against San Jose but received only three opportunities — one in the second period and two in the third.

If you witnessed those efforts, you won't want to hear about the 54 other minutes.

[Update2] Sharks post shutout for 2nd game in row, Toskala's 29 saves pace win over Blues - San Jose Mercury News.

[Update3] The Rest of the League Is Going To Need a Bigger Boat - New York Sun.


Sharks defeat New Jersey Devils 2-0 with strong defensive performance

San Jose Sharks New Jersey Devils
San Jose Sharks New Jersey Devils
San Jose Sharks New Jersey Devils

The San Jose Sharks had an opportunity to check themselves against one of the top defensive teams in the NHL on Saturday night. The New Jersey Devils have allowed the 3rd fewest shots against, and are in the top 10 for fewest goals allowed in the NHL. Goaltender Martin Brodeur, earning his 458th win a week earlier against Toronto, is the only player in NHL history with five 40-win seasons.

A brief recap of the game:

First impression of the New Jersey Devils is that they are a tremendous forechecking team. They pressure forwards to create turnovers, cycle the puck down low, and keep it in their offensive zone. Devils right wing Brian Gionta took a defenseman with him as he crashed hard into Evgeni Nabokov. A point shot by San Jose's Christian Ehrhoff deflected off the post for the best scoring chance of the period.

Noticed the Devils were dropping three players back in their defensive zone, with two forwards on the puck. 5-foot-7, 175 pound Gionta got into a tussle with 6-foot-2, 220 pound Sharks captain Patrick Marleau. Kept an eye on Gionta, and each subsequent shift he was either on the distributing or receiving end of tough physical play.

No goals for the Sharks after two periods, with Evgeni Nabokov registering 14 saves on all 14 shots he faced. The New Jersey radio broadcasters mentioned an interesting stat, in 10 games for Evgeni Nabokov, the Sharks have scored 24 goals. Nabokov is 5-5 during that span. In 13 starts for co-#1 Vesa Toskala, the Sharks have scored 54 goals. Toskala is 11-2 in that span. There are other factors, but goal support from the team is an issue when Nabokov is in net.

San Jose is dominating the faceoff circle for the game, at close to a 70% ratio to start the third period. After a Brad Lukowich turnover, Joe Thornton skated past the blueline and fired a shot that beat goaltender Martin Brodeur for his 7th goal of the year. Mike Grier added an empty net goal to seal the 2-0 victory.

Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves to earn his third shutout of the season, and improve his record to 6-5. New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur made 25 saves in a losing effort. The Sharks outshot the Devils 27-24. Left wing Jonathan Cheechoo (left leg), and right wing Milan Michalek (right arm) were out of the lineup with injuries.

Sharks Edge The Devils, Nabokov shuts out Devils while Thornton, Grier score in 2-0 win. - SF Chronicle.

"When you play teams like the Devils and Minnesota, you have to be very patient," coach Ron Wilson said. "We played smart, good dump-ins, not very many turnovers, we moved pucks quickly and when we had opportunities, we attacked hard."

Sharks Notebook, After healthy quarter, injury bug arrives - SF Chronicle.

The Devils turn 25 - NorthJersey.com.

As they celebrate their 25th anniversary season, the Devils are known as consistent winners with three Stanley Cups, four Finals appearances and six division titles on their resume.

[Update] A few notes from Battle of California, the Devils are in the midst of a difficult West Coast road trip with 4 games in 6 nights. New Jersey has lost the first three games to Phoenix, Anaheim and San Jose, each by a 2-goal margin. They face the Kings for the final game tonight live on Versus at 7PM.

[Update2] Nabokov Earns Third Shutout, Sharks Blank Devils 2-0 - SJsharks.com.

[Update3] Devils at San Jose highlights are available on YouTube here.


Alaska downs Stockton 3-2 in overtime shootout, Thunder tied for 1st place in the ECHL

Stockton Thunder ECHL Alaska Aces
Stockton Thunder ECHL Alaska Aces
Stockton Thunder ECHL Alaska Aces

The second year Stockton Thunder were coming off a 6-5 win over the West Division leading Idaho Steelheads on Thursday, when the defending 2006 ECHL Kelly Cup Champion Alaska Aces came to town on Friday night.

Stephen Slonina cashed in on a Thunder power play at 4:04 in the first period, on assists by right wing Stephane Goulet and defenseman Tim O'Connell. While the shot totals were close after two periods [Stockton-22, Alaska-20], the Thunder forced Alaska to take most of them from the perimeter.

Stockton was looking to play a solid defensive period in the third, and earn its second win in a stretch of 3 home games in 3 days. Alaska Aces forward Kevin Croxton tipped a shot past goaltender Devan Dubnyk 1:59 into the final period to tie the game. Mike Lalonde started the next scoring sequence for Stockton by wristing a low shot that bounced to the right off Ace's goaltender Issac Reichmuth. Center Brendon Hodge fired the puck home to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead with a little over 5 minutes to play in the game.

Alaska's Kimbi Daniels froze many a fan trying to get a head start on traffic by lighting the lamp with 47 seconds left in the third. Both teams skated to a scoreless tie after regulation, and were unable to put up a goal in overtime. The second Stockton Thunder home game (the first was a 13 round affair here) of the year for Sharkspage, the second overtime shootout in a row.

A brief overtime shootout recap:

The first Alaska Ace to take an overtime shootout attempt was unsuccessful, and center Brendan Hodge converted to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead after one round. Both teams missed with their second opportunity, and Alaska center Olivier Filion snapped a shot which initially appeared as a save by Dubnyk. The puck slow motion dribbled past the line to tie the shootout at 1-1 after 3 rounds. After another round of unsuccessful attempts, Ace's left wing Barret Heisten fired one home for a 2-1 advantage. The game was on the line for Stockton's fiery left wing Tim Sestito. He made a deke, and then moved the puck on his forehand to Isaac Reichmuth's right. There was a small opening, but Reichmuth was in position to make the save, and give the Alaska Aces a 3-2 overtime win.

Grin and Barrett, Alaska takes the win, Thunder takes the top perch - Stockton Thunder.

Arena streak ends with shootout loss - Stockton Record.

A photo gallery from the game is available here.

[Update] Notes and photos from the New Jersey Devils vs San Jose Sharks game will be posted later tonight.


Hockey Notes - November 24th

- San Jose's 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday turned on the first intermission.

After former Shark Scott Thornton scored his third goal of the season, and rookie Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the equalizer on the PP, play began to deteriorate for San Jose. Nearing the end of the first period, the Sharks turned the puck over 3 times and could not punch through the neutral zone. A battle for the puck in the Los Angeles defensive zone was quickly won by the Kings, turned up ice, and ended in a quality scoring chance on Vesa Toskala.

The buzzer mercifully rang on the period, and San Jose came out in the second on a mission. Three goals were scored in the first 3 minutes (Bernier, Thornton, Marleau), and Marcel Goc added a fourth to give the Sharks a 5-1 lead after two periods. This leads to a simple question, what was said during the first intermission?

- NHL Video posted highlights from San Jose vs Los Angeles on Youtube.

The Toronto Star recently published a column by Rick Westhead that was somewhat critical of the NHL-Youtube deal.

The videos would be posted at least a full day after a game's completion. Brad Pelletier, an executive with the Canadian unit of sports consultancy I.M.G., said the league was probably considering a move to offer "raw, uncut and behind-the-scenes footage" that may not have aired during conventional broadcasts.

Even so, it's doubtful the NHL would generate significant revenue through the initiative, said several Internet marketing experts.

"It's pure PR," said Steve Safran, a Boston-based Internet consultant. "It's encouraging people to share clips from hockey games, which is something they really don't do right now."

Read this post: Boost in hockey video streaming mirrors boom in emerging video technologies. There is a sea change underway in American television, with almost every major network streaming partial or full programs online.

The public is turning to short clips and amateur footage in unprecedented numbers. Ratings for the NBA, for the World Series and Nascar have all dropped recently. The NHL has been bludgeoned in the past with regards to its television ratings. An NHL/YouTube deal may not deliver hundreds of thousands of viewers, but it is a sign that the league is adapting to a new entertainment landscape.

"Still, Schaeffler said, "how the NHL monetizes this remains the big question."

One looming obstacle that YouTube has been trying to navigate is the complaints raised by TV networks, sports leagues and others who have cried foul when copyrighted content has been posted to the Website.

An easy answer is to make a clear distinction between the Google Video and Youtube offerings. Allow short clips, behind the scenes footage, and fan videos on Youtube. Increase the brand recognition and collect advertising revenue. Post full games on Google Video for a fee. Although a select few games each month should be aired for free and publicized to draw in users to the service.

Copyright issues are a huge concern, more information on intellectual property and fair use can be found here. But media companies whose life is at stake in a changing environment need to work with Google and Youtube as much as they need to work with them. Content partnerships and new technologies offer a solution, and recent legal judgements may be limiting the liabilities of user-posted content.

- A fan added English captions to the SM-Liiga hockey season preview by Nelonen. It has been posted on Youtube in three parts: part1, part2, and part3. There has been a lot of post-lockout discussion of the global reach of the NHL. The Swedish, German, Finnish, and Russian hockey leagues should consider monthly highlights with english captions to gauge the interest in the opposite direction.

Stockton Thunder ECHL Alaska Aces

- I am posting this edition of hockey notes from the press box at Stockton Arena where the 10-1-1-1 Stockton Thunder are going to drop the puck shortly with the 7-6-0-0 Alaska Aces. Stockton is coming off a physical 6-5 win over the Idaho Steelheads. With one regulation loss in their first 13 games of the season, the Thunder find themselves in second place in the Pacific Division.

More notes later tonight, I am off to take a few photos. There will be a gallery and a short recap posted after the game tonight.

- Keeping both Nabokov, Toskala could hurt Sharks - Terry Frei.

"Obviously, there's a lot of speculation," Doug Wilson said. "I take every call. That's just part of the job. We're very pleased with the way [Nabokov and Toskala] have played, and the way they've both been healthy."

The GM added: "The way the game is, with the travel and competition, it's a good situation to be in. I can't speak for other teams, but you see other teams, like Anaheim and Buffalo, that are in similar situations. Carolina probably wouldn't have won the Cup without two goaltenders. We have two quality guys who have great respect for each other. They understand we're all about winning, and they help us win games."

The speculation around San Jose goaltenders has been heavy this season, with Boston, Philadelphia, and Phoenix as mentioned suitors. The bottom line is simply that the Sharks are a better team with both Toskala and Nabokov on the roster. In the past, Evgeni Nabokov lost a little of his edge in the postseason in my opinion by playing too many games under coach Darryl Sutter.

With Toskala and Nabokov, the team has a built-in insurance policy against injury, and a healthy competition for playing time. Two issues will keep the rumors alive. Financial considerations have to be taken seriously with the Sharks in the red financially for several years, and historically the Sharks have given only one goaltender the reigns during the playoffs. One issue will sink many rumors, Evgeni Nabokov's no-trade clause.

- Stockton is up 1-0 after two periods. Sharkspage favorite Steve Slonina scored in the first on assists by Tim O'Connell and Stephane Goulet. Devan Dubnyk has made 20 saves on all 20 shots he has faced. If the Stockton Thunder [10-1-1-1, 13GP, 22PTS] pick up a win and 2 points tonight, they will surpass the idle Las Vegas Wranglers [8-1-2-5, 16GP, 23PTS] for first place in the Pacific Division and the National Conference.

- After the ECHL San Diego Gulls closed up shop last season, it also brought a close to the very popular Gulls Girls cheerleaders. The Long Beach Ice Dogs picked up the slack with the Long Beach Ice Breakers, to go along with the best mascot in hockey.

Myspace takes the lead in websites using photos from this blog with 117, Facebook.com and Xanga are second and third.

- This NHL.com feature on Sharks rookie forward Joe Pavelski was perfectly timed. He scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game against Los Angeles on Wednesday. Sharkspage contributor Max Giese wrote about Pavelski here.

- The Globe and Mail's Erik Duhatschek posted an interesting piece of hockey strategy in a blog post about the Detroit Red Wings.

A PASSING FANCY: Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history and now a Red Wings' consultant, believes that one of the reasons Detroit stays competitive, year after year, is the ability of its defence corps to make a strong first pass. It was a feature of Red Wings' teams in Bowman's era and it has spilled over into today's team as well.

The value of a good first pass is a constant in hockey, but in the post-lockout NHL — with its emphasis on eliminating obstruction — it is more valuable than ever.

Time of possession is mostly a National Football League stat, but Bowman believes it is equally important in the NHL, because nowadays, if you surrender the puck, it is harder to get it back. You just can't hook, hold or otherwise try to strip it from an opponent or risk taking a penalty. By playing a puck possession game, the Red Wings have the puck more often than their opponents — and over the course of 60 minutes and beyond, that often makes the difference in the game.

In the past, NHL teams were inclined to draft size and strength on the blueline. A number of smaller, puck moving defenseman were lost in the shuffle. What the NHL is seeing a year after restructuring its play on the ice is adaptation by scouting departments to this new style of play. The Pacific Division has been ahead of the curve in this respect.

- From deadspin.com, the AD of Dartmouth College published a letter in the student newspaper apologizing for an upcoming game with the North Dakota Men's hockey team because of the Fighting Sioux mascot.

I must offer a sincere apology to the Native American community, and the Dartmouth community as a whole, for an event that will understandably offend and hurt people within our community. In late December, we will host a men's ice hockey tournament that includes the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux. UND is one of 14 colleges or universities that continue to maintain a Native American name and image to represent their athletic teams.

This has all the trappings of a manufactured controversy. The mascot and the team itself represent the native American community with honor and pride. Hockey is surprisingly a popular sport among several native American communities.

- Thanks to the BlogBurst syndication network for online media websites, KNTV channel 11 and KTVU channel 2 both used blog posts from Sharkspage this month. To see an example click here.

- Ted Leonsis takes criticism of his team, the Washington Capitals, seriously. It is hard not to be impressed with how his team competes on the ice, and how he operates his franchise in a fan-first environment.

- The Blueland Blog posted a short interview with Matt Gannon, one of the filmmakers behind the hockey documentary In the Crease.

[BB] Why did you choose to follow The Wave, and what does the success of The Wave and The Thunder mean for hockey in so-called non-traditional markets?

[Matt Gannon] For teams from non-traditional areas like California and the Southeast to make it to Nationals is a huge accomplishment. One of the main reasons I chose to follow the California Wave was to show that hockey is growing in these areas, great players are being produced, and these regions are the future of hockey. Gretzky brought hockey to California and changed the game. Now, Kovalchuk and Hossa are going to do the same thing for the Southeast.

The Blueland Blog of the Atlanta Thrashers can be found here. The official In the Crease website is here, and the movie can be pre-ordered here.

- Phoenix center Jeremy Roenick has fallen off the radar a bit after his move from the Los Angeles Kings to the Phoenix Coyotes. A press release from the NHL notes his guest appearance on the CBS program "Ghost Whisperer".

NEW YORK (November 20, 2006) – Phoenix Coyotes center Jeremy Roenick will showcase his talents beyond the rink when he guest stars as an assistant baseball coach in the November 24 episode of the hit CBS drama, "Ghost Whisperer."

In the episode "Giving Up The Ghost," Melinda (played by star Jennifer Love Hewitt) encounters the angry ghost of a former pro baseball player who died in a car accident. The ghost attempts to take over the body of Justin Cotter, a young pitcher, during a high school game. Art (played by Roenick) is preparing his team for a critical game when the powerful spirit confronts their star pitcher.

Roenick, who shot his guest-starring role during the off-season, has made acting appearances before, including performances on Disney Channel's The Jersey, HBO's Arliss and the daytime drama One Life to Live.

- VERSUS to debut high-def rail camera during Colorado vs. Dallas NHL matchup on Nov. 20 at American Airlines Center in Dallas - NHL.com.

[Update] Overheard on KLIV 1590AM:

Midnight Zamboni Run Prompts Firings - AP.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - November 25, 2006 - Two employees of the city's ice skating rink have been fired for making a midnight fast-food run in a pair of Zambonis. An anonymous tipster reported seeing the two big ice-resurfacing machines chug through a Burger King drive-through and return to the rink around 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 10. The squat, rubber-tired vehicles, which have a top speed of about 5 mph, drove 1 1/2 miles in all.

The Zamboni operators, both temporary city employees whose names and ages were not released by Parks and Recreation Department, had to negotiate at least one intersection with a traffic light on their late-night creep from Idaho Ice World. "They were fired immediately," said Parks Department Director Jim Hall. "We're pretty sure it was just the one time. When we interviewed them, they didn't seem to be too concerned about it. I don't think they understood the seriousness of it."

Hall said neither the $75,000 Zambonis nor their $10,000 blades appeared damaged, but the city could charge the employees with operating an unlicensed motor vehicle on a public street.

If I was in the PR department at Burger King, I pay their fine and have "The King" ride a Zamboni through the drive-thru in the next commercial. The Idaho Steelheads are hosting the 2007 ECHL Allstar Game this year. Another sponsorship opportunity for BK.

[Update2] Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs coverage by Eric McErlain and Ellen Blanchard is available on Offwing.com. The Maple Leafs registered an impressive 7-1 win at the Verizon Center.

[Update3] Sunday on Yahoo streaming, the Buffalo Sabres vs the New York Rangers will be online at 4PM pacific time. Versus features a double-header on Monday, with the Stars taking on the Red Wings at 4PM, and the Devils facing the Kings at 7PM.

Comcast is streaming games online free for Comcast high speed internet subscribers. Tonight the Capitals-Islanders will air at 4PM, and Sunday the Sabres-Rangers will be online at 4PM. A scheudle is available here. Unfortunately, Comcast cable subscribers do not apply.


Sharks-Ducks YouTube NHL highlights

NHL Video published this clip on YouTube from Anaheim's 5-0 win Tuesday over the San Jose Sharks.

Included in the highlights:

Evgeni Nabokov stacked his pads on a rebound attempt by Shane O'Brien in the first, a point blank Jean-Sebastien Giguere save on Milan Michalek, a turnover at center ice leading to yet another sprawling save by Nabokov on Dustin Penner, a goal from the point by Chris Pronger, a hit by Matt Carle on Corey Perry, a PP goal on a rebound by Ryan Getzlaf, a breakout rush by Andy McDonald which ended with a Teemu Selanne goal (#498), a power play deflection by Dustin Penner, and a long up ice pass by Shane O'Brien to Chris Kunitz at the blueline, who found a streaking Teemu Selanne, goal Anaheim. It was #499 for Selanne, and a 5-0 win for the Anaheim Ducks in the first of 8 meetings this season.

Ducks rout the Sharks, 5-0 - Los Angeles Times.

After some decidedly mixed efforts against a succession of losing teams on their five-game homestand, the Ducks turned their first matchup with the San Jose Sharks into a dominating 5-0 victory Tuesday night in front of an announced 15,013 at the Honda Center.

The Ducks (15-2-5) extended their lead in the Pacific Division to five points over the Sharks in a divisional battle that figures to play out all season. The decisive win also purged the memory of consecutive losses to Philadelphia and Chicago along with a less-than-impressive effort against Phoenix.

Sharks lay an egg, lose squarely to Anaheim - San Jose Mercury News.

"This was the most important game up to tonight, and tomorrow night becomes the next most important game," Joe Thornton said. "We're going to see a lot of each other in the regular season and hopefully the postseason. They took it to us tonight. It's our 22nd game of the year. We know we have a lot of work to do."

[Update] A pre-game article by Dan Wood in the Orange County Register provided a contrast in the approach to the game by San Jose Sharks coach Ron Wilson and Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle; Duel in the West: Ducks vs. Sharks, Pacific Division leaders face off tonight, the first of eight regular-season meetings..

Wilson was excited by the matchup between two Western Conference heavyweights:

"It'll be one of the biggest matchups in the league this year because of where we and they are in the standings," San Jose coach Ron Wilson told Bay Area reporters. "That's kind of neat."

Randy Carlyle seemed to play it a little more business as usual, with a twist.

While media outlets and astute fans are billing the magnitude of tonight's game as something special, each team is just past the quarter pole in an 82-game season.

"It's early in the season for those feelings," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, whose pre-game message likely will be pretty much business as usual in an attempt to keep his club from placing too much emphasis on one game.

"Players will read the newspaper clips," Carlyle said. "They don't live under rocks."

Left wing Jonathan Cheechoo (left leg) and center Mark Smith (leg) were out of the lineup with injuries. San Jose continued its recent struggle with quality play 5-on-5. Compounded by missed opportunities on the power play (including an extended 5-on-3), and giving up too many odd man rushes, the tide eventually turned on the Sharks and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.


Hockey Night in San Jose

Sharks Joe Thornton
Milan Michalek Peter Forsberg
San Jose Sharks Philadelphia Flyers
Vesa Toskala

A much maligned Philadelphia Flyers squad brought the worst record in the league to San Jose with them on Saturday night. Sitting at 5-12-2 over 19 games, only the Columbus Blue Jackets could match the Flyers for futility this season.

But there are reasons for hope. Captain Peter Forberg is back from an ankle injury, newly acquired Todd Fedoruk will add a little energy and grit when he returns to the lineup, and the Flyers solidified the role of General Manager Paul Holmgren and fast tracked John Stevens to his first NHL head coaching job.

The Flyers were on a mini-streak of late, picking up points in 3 of the last 4 games [2-1-1]. Paul Holmgren was going to use Saturday's tilt with the Sharks as a measuring stick to evaluate where his team stood against the premiere teams of the Western Conference.

The Sharks came out firing, outshooting the Flyers 19-9, and outscoring them 6-1 before the start of the third period. The frustration was evident for Philadelphia. After a Sharks goal in the first period captain Peter Forsberg yelled at a ref for failing to call a penalty. On the bench, players were shouting at each other and there was a real danger that play could devolve into something much more physical on the ice.

With Jonathan Cheechoo out of the lineup with a leg injury, and center Mark Smith on injured reserve, a fourth line of Ryane Clowe, Curtis Brown, and Scott Parker made an impact and raised a few eyebrows. Although it was Sharks left wing Mark Bell who dropped the gloves twice in the game, once with left wing Ben Eager in the first period. After a Mark Bell hit up against the boards that knocked Philadelphia defenseman Alexandre Picard out of the game (concussion), left wing Boyd Kane dropped the gloves with Bell again early in the second period. According to the HockeyFights.com recap, there was no clear winner in either fight.

San Jose goaltender Vesa Toskala had to deal with long stretches of play with no shots on goal, but he maintained his focus well enough to stop 17 of 18 shots and pick up his 10th win of the season. The Sharks gained 2 points on the Western Conference leading Anaheim Ducks, who were blitzed by Philadelphia 7-4 on Wednesday. San Jose [15-6-0] trails the Ducks [13-2-5] by one point in the standings for the Pacific Division and Western Conference lead. Only the Buffalo Sabres [16-3-1] have more wins in the NHL than SJ. Eighteen shots for an entire game was the lowest shot total of the season for the Flyers this season.

A rough transcript of Sharks head coach Ron Wilson's post-game press conference:

[Q] Is the manner in which you played as important as the win considering the way you have played in recent games?

[A] Yes. We wanted to reestablish ourselves and play Sharks hockey, which is good forechecking and solid defense. When we were playing well, when you see us on video you see 5 guys in the picture. You haven't seen that a lot recently, at least on the last road trip. We had our moments, but not as consistent as we were tonight when it mattered the most.

[Q] Does different players on the score sheet suggest everyone was on the same page?

[A] Yes. It turned out to be that kind of game. When you come out 3-1, and you are hoping to get 4 or 5, it gives you a chance to use everybody and spread the ice time around. Different guys took advantage of the opportunities they were given...

[Q] Talking about big saves, Vesa had one I'm not sure if even he knows how he made it.

[A] Yes. He stuck his leg up in the air and the puck apparently hit his toe. At that point we are up 3-1 and the game was close. They had a great chance like that on Anaheim, and even with the Kings game they were behind and came back. You need saves, and that obviously was a huge one. We get out of the period up 3-1 instead of 3-2.

Flyers Take Positives from the Road, Philadelphia tries to build off wins in Anaheim and L.A - Philadelphia Flyers.

"If you finish the season and you're above .500 on the road it's a good indication," said John Stevens after Saturday's game. “When you go on the road and win two, you don't want to take that for granted. You want to put those two wins in your pocket. "We thought we got some good things accomplished in Anaheim and L.A."

If anything, the Flyers have showed that they can play with some of the top teams lately. The Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres needed overtime to beat the Flyers in the team's last home game on November 11. Pittsburgh, which beat the Flyers 8-2 earlier this season, broke a tie last Sunday with a goal late in regulation to win 3-2.

Six-Pack For The Sharks, Six different players score as SJ tops Philly at home, 6-1 - SF Chronicle.

With six different goal-scorers and 12 skaters finding a way onto the scoresheet, San Jose came out strong and never let up during a 6-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in front of a sellout crowd at HP Pavilion.

Sharks sharpen focus in victory - SJ Mercury News.

Fedoruk returns with plates in his cheeks - Philadelphia Inquirer.

A photo gallery from the San Jose Sharks 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers is available here. More photos are available on the Battle of California.

[Update] From Kukla's Korner, a contrarian view from the Courier Post's Phil Anastasia: Flyers showing life? Good, Forsberg may gain interest.

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction, especially in sports.

Action: Flyers show signs of life on West Coast. Reaction: Trade Peter Forsberg. Now.

[Update2] The Philadelphia Daily News asks what has been the impetus for recent changes: Flyers can take another big step

So what has been the core of the changes?

It might just be that the Flyers do not believe they are as bad as they seem, are sick of losing and have dug in. It might be the return of a seemingly healthier Peter Forsberg. And it might be the thought of what can happen if the skids resumes.

There have been firings and resignations and veterans placed on waivers. The only thing left are trades and more trades. One player who was held accountable early was Petr Nedved. He was sent to the minors after the Oct. 17 loss in Buffalo and has been good since being called back up.

[Update3] Ducks Match-Up a Test for Flyers, Fans - Bullies Blog.

Fedoruk was brought back to help the team with its character. In a recent interview, Ducks forward Teemu Selanne credited Fedoruk as a major force in the locker room.

Flyers General Manager referred to Fedoruk as "our ideal player."

I don't know if I'd go that far, but the Fridge is at least another player willing to do whatever it takes for the success of the team. It's not like the Flyers couldn't use more of that. As an added bonus, maybe he can start fighting for the team and keep Mike Richards on the ice.


Downtown Ice outdoor skating rink

Downtown Ice outdoor San Jose skating rink

Quick photo of the Downtown Ice outdoor skating rink in San Jose. More from the Mercury News here. Several kids were taking turns on the ice situated between the San Jose Museum of Art, the Fairmont Hotel, and the Knight Ridder building.

More information can be found at the Downtown Ice website. New photos of all the local rinks will soon be added to this hockey rinks webpage. If you have any events, photos or links you would like to be added to that page, send an email here.

Cheechoo injury not serious

Jonathan Cheechoo

It was announced this Thursday that the lower body injury Jonathan Cheechoo suffered against Colorado was deemed "not serious".

Colorado defenseman Karlis Skrastins landed on Cheechoo's left leg after a second period scrum in front of the net. The latest update from Victor Chi of the Mercury news is that Cheechoo did not practice Friday, and he is considered doubtful for Saturday's game with Philadelphia.

[Update] Thomas Greiss Recalled By San Jose, Rookie Will Be Sharks Backup Saturday - ECHL.com.

[Update2] 20 games into season, Sharks still wondering who they are - SF Chronicle.

With 20 games and one quarter of the NHL season complete -- traditionally a time teams take a hard look at themselves -- the Sharks have accomplished their goal of getting off to a good start.

Deceiving, however, is the way in which San Jose has gone about winning 14 of its first 20. The Sharks of late have been as lucky as they have been good.

[Update3] Tonight at 4:30PM on Yahoo streaming, New York Rangers at Pittsburgh. Thanks to Eric McErlain at Offwing, here is a link to the YouTube account of NHL Video (age: 89). As Eric noted, the embed features are still active. In addition to individual game highlights, there are also NHL plays of the night, and NHL plays of the week videos available.


Michalek is something special

Milan Michalek

When San Jose selected Milan Michalek 6th overall in the 2003 entry draft, it was a selection was met with some skepticism. TSN's "expert analysts" had a few problems with the selection. Bob McKenzie was shocked the Sharks did not select Ryan Suter, who went to Nashville with the next pick. McKenzie went on to say that there was a likely deal involved keeping the Sharks from taking Suter Former Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Pierre McGuire was even more harsh saying Michalek lacked any offensive upside.

Fast forward to 2006. The Sharks are stacked with young talent, with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Jonathan Cheechoo leading the way. That is a pretty impressive trio, but it is left wing Milan Michalek [8G, 14A, +11] who is 2nd on the team in goals, assist, and points. Michalek is tied for 3rd in the league in plus/minus [+11], which demonstrates his commitment to both sides of the ice.

Milan Michalek

Michalek possesses a tantalizing combination of strength and speed. He has a large frame listed at 6-2, 220 pounds, with tremendous upper body and lower body strength. His speed flat out is worth the price of admission. Michalek's top end gear is one of the best in the game, but his acceleration is up among the best in the league. That is why in the blink of an eye he can hit full speed and fly past the opposition.

Michalek has the ability to dangle around the opposition, as Mike Ricci once originally said "He can stickhandle in a phone booth". Michalek is equally as imposing as a creative play maker and dangerous finisher. Milan loves to plant himself right in front of the oppositions net, and he has the quick hands to finish.

With all of these demonstrated offensive gifts, any team in the NHL would reassess their original draft analysis. But this is only half of his game. Michalek backchecks harder and competes down low more effectively than almost any other Sharks forward. He can control the game with his puck pursuit, evidenced by the number of scoring chances he has generated disrupting the oppositions breakout. The 21 year old from Jindrichuv Hradec, Czechoslovakia displays the confidence and poise on the ice of a much older player.

If you subscribe to NHL Center Ice, this is not news to you. Away telecasts just as often start off talking about Milan Michalek as they do about to Hart Trophy winning Joe Thornton, or Rocket Richard winning Jonathan Cheechoo. If the Sharks were not playing on the West Coast, where games start after the East Coast media goes to sleep, Michalek would be more of a household name. As it is, the left wing can put up solid offensive numbers on the largest second line in the NHL, and wait for the inevitable media crush during the postseason.

[Update] Michalek, at 21, now a shooting star, Sharks left wing becoming offensive force - San Jose Mercury News.

"He's just learning to play offense," Coach Ron Wilson said. "He was one of those Czech kids who played in the 'A' league against men when he was 16, but he was stuck on the fourth line. A fourth-line left winger. What's a left winger do in the Czech system? Basically you're left-wing locking and playing defense."


5 goal third period swings game in Sharks favor

Joe Sakic

The San Jose Sharks held off a determined Colorado Avalanche squad for a 4-3 win Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche outshot the Sharks 21-7 in the second period, but goaltender Evgeni Nabokov made 21 of his 40 saves on the night to keep his team in the game.

Curtis Brown scored a shorthanded goal 1:34 into the second period to tie the game at 1-1, and set the stage for a wild third period. Antti Laaksonen put the Avalanche up early, but 4 more goals were registered in less than 5 minutes to decide the game. The Sharks capitalized on 2 power plays with deflections off bodies, and deflections off goaltenders putting the puck directly on the sticks of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. They knew what to do with the puck, and San Jose heads home with a road win against a key Western Conference rival.

Jonathan Cheechoo left the game in the second period with a leg injury after a pileup in front of the crease.

Avs vs. Sharks photo gallery November 15, 2006 - Colorado Avalanche.

The latest mailbag from Denver Post columbist Adrian Dater makes for a somewhat down read. With the exodus of talent out of Colorado, they could be labeled the Oakland Athletics of the NHL. Or the Oakland Athletics of Fremont. Dater is reticent about the recent play of Jose Theodore, details the latest on a possible return of Jordan Leopold, and dismisses a fan's suggestion to pick up 37-year old Pierre Turgeon.

The Avalanche blog In the Cheap Seats notes that all is not lost, even with Colorado dropping 4 straight games to teams they will be battling for a playoff spot. ITCS points to a lack of power play scoring (2-for-31 in last 6 games) as a major cause for concern. He also points out the return on investment for defenseman Brett Clark's offseason contract is a positive one, and that Ossi Vaananen has been a pleasant blueline surprise. He offers mixed reviews for veteran defenseman Patrice Brisebois.

Power game plays superbly for Sharks - Denver Post.

Avalanche's futility grows, Losing streak hits four with home setback to Sharks - Rocky Mountain News.

The San Jose Sharks overcame three one-goal deficits and scored two of their three third-period goals on power plays 17 seconds apart for a 4-3 victory before 18,007 at the Pepsi Center, the Avalanche's fifth sellout in 11 home games.

Pioneers to Honor Matt Carle Friday, Nov. 17, 2006 Hobey Baker Award winner returns to Denver for first time since netting college hockey's top honor - University of Denver Hockey.

DENVER - The University of Denver will honor 2006 Hobey Baker Award winner and current San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Carle with a special on-ice ceremony during the first intermission of the Pioneers' game against Michigan Tech Friday, Nov. 17. Carle returns to Denver with the Sharks this week for the first time since winning college hockey's top individual honor last April.

In 2006, Carle became the first player in DU history to capture the coveted Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's top player. The junior captain and two-time All-American also became the first player in WCHA history to earn Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season after leading all NCAA defenseman with 53 points on 11 goals and a nation-leading 42 assists. Carle also became the second Pioneer to be named USA Hockey's College Player of the Year.

San Jose Sharks rookie defenseman Matt Carle (+6, 8PIM) has 3 goals and 11 assists in 20 games played this season, and has been a solid contributor at both ends of the ice. Carle is tied with Buffalo defenseman Brian Campbell for 8th in league scoring. You can add him as a write-in candidate for the COLD-fX/NHL NHL Allstar game presented by 2K SPORTS here. Stastny, Carle Meet Again - Colorado Avalanche.

[Note] The are problems with blogger publishing today. For more information about the Andre Ward and Julio Gonzalez fight card tonight at HP Pavilion visit fightnightatthetank.com. More on the A's recent announcement of a Cisco stadium deal in Fremont soon.

[Update] Tonight on Yahoo streaming, Montreal Canadiens at Florida (4:30 PM). Tell Yahoo Sharkspage sent you.


Wall of Hockey

Wall of Hockey Videos Blinkx

Here is a small flash video widget from Blinkx. This tool posts 36 small video thumbnails in one window from hundreds of different sources. The video search topic selected was hockey.

NHL television partner Versus is using a large number of video highlights on its homepage. Last month Versus signed a deal with Blinkx to provide accurate search results for its video content.

There is a smaller version of this display code, but I can not find it at the moment. Load times for this code can be long. Original link via TechCrunch.

NHL teams up with Youtube

A press release today from the NHL: YouTube and NHL team up for strategic content and advertising partnership

SAN BRUNO, Calif. and NEW YORK -- YouTube, Inc., a consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos worldwide through a Web experience, and the National Hockey League (NHL) today announced they have formed a strategic content and advertising partnership in which the NHL will provide daily short-form video content to YouTube for the 2006-2007 season beginning this month.

The partnership marks the first time that a professional U.S. sports league has entered into a content agreement with YouTube. The agreement will enable users to access video highlights of NHL regular season games, which will be available within 24 hours of the original broadcast, in addition to other on and off ice footage.

The partnership will allow the NHL to control the amount of its content posted on Youtube by fans, and push out highlights and "short-form entertaining clips" in an easily consumable fashion. Youtube's advanced embedding features could also make it easier for team websites, newspaper websites, and blogs to publish short clips and highlight videos.

[Update] The free 2-week Google NHL Video trial should end either yesterday or today. San Jose videos available on the archive: 11/02 Sharks vs Rangers, 10/31 Sharks @ Panthers, 10/25 Sharks @ Detroit, 10/13 Sharks @ Vancouver, and 10/07 Sharks @ Islanders.

[Update2] Tonight on Yahoo streaming: San Jose Sharks @ Colorado Avalanche live at 6PM.


Late goal sinks San Jose in 4-2 loss to Kings

Anze Kopitar

The Kings came out hard from the drop of the puck on Monday night, looking for revenge after a 7-3 loss to the Sharks at home on Thursday.

The Sharks tried to play a typical road game, get an early lead and then hang on for a win, but it was not going to happen. Los Angeles came back twice from 1-goal deficits, and San Jose could not return the favor late in the third period.

Alexander Frolov scored a goal with 41 seconds left in the first period to even out an early strike by Milan Michalek. A Lubomir Visnovsky rope up high over the pads of Vesa Toskala during a third period power play equalized a no-look goal scored by Joe Thornton. Dustin Brown put the Kings up for good with a power play conversion 16:50 into the third period. Alexander Frolov added an empty net goal, his second of the night, to seal a convincing 4-2 win.

It was not the loss in and of itself that was a concern, it was the inability of the team to rally when down in the third period. San Jose was badly outshot for the second game in a row, with the Kings putting up a 34-18 advantage. Many of the Sharks chances were from the outside, with little to no followup in front of the crease.

The defense has been consistent in their own zone, and a noticeable threat to generate scoring chances in the offensive zone. The forward corps appeared to be using concrete skates towards the end of the game. After the Dustin Brown power play goal, San Jose had 3 minutes to try to tie the game.

Abandoning the usual puck possession style of play, the Sharks opted for 4 straight dump-ins, gaining the puck briefly one time when outnumbering the opposition 3-to-1. The puck was quickly turned over, cleared up the ice, and a 2-on-1 was generated in the other direction. San Jose was unable to generate a scoring chance, or even hold the puck in the Kings zone before Frolov scored his second goal of the night to seal the win.

Coach Ron Wilson experimented with mixing up forward lines, but more is needed. There is a genuine competition for playing time in net between Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov, and on the blueline with more bodies than roster spots to fill them. One tantalizing opportunity was tried briefly when left wing Milan Michalek was added to the 1A line with Thornton and Cheechoo. Patrick Marleau is more than capable of doing for Patrick Rissmiller what he did for Michalek and Bernier last season.

Almost more important than the 3rd and 4th line chipping in the occasional goal is for one of the combinations to step up and become a shut-down option for the Sharks. San Jose has lacked a true shutdown fourth line since Matteau-Sutter-Stern under former head coach Darryl Sutter. New additions Mike Grier and Curtis Brown have logged a lot of minutes on the penalty kill, freeing up 5-on-5 ice time for other forwards, but more is needed after consecutive lackluster starts.

Ross McKeon of the SF Chronicle reported on similar sentiments raised by head coach Ron Wilson after the loss, "We've been getting outshot basically 2-to-1 and it's just a matter of time before that catches up". McKeon also notes that center Mark Smith left with an injury in the third period, and that goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has recovered from neck stiffness in time to possibly start at Colorado on Wednesday.

Kings derail Sharks' streak, San Jose outplayed thoroughly in L.A. as 4-game roll ends - San Jose Mercury News.

"When you beat a team 7-3, they're going to come out and want you bad the next night" Cheechoo said. "They did tonight. We never adjusted. We never did the right things in the neutral zone."

Chuq at Two for Elbowing noticed that the inconsistent intensity level has been plaguing this team for more than a few games.

There's a bigger problem, though. This team just isn't quite right. It's playing consistently well enough for a 64% winning percentage, but you watch this team, and it's clear it's not right. Not WRONG, but not firing on all cylinders. Goaltending is fine -- Nabokov is the best 3-4 goalie in the league (with 2 shutouts!) --= GAA of 2.14, save percentage of .914, and under .500? Toskala's numbers are slightly better (2.14, .921) -- and is 6-1. Go figure. The defense is fine, too.

But the forwards? Perimeter play, lack of intensity. Thornton and Cheechoo seem very human, it's really been the "second" line that's been supporting the team. The Sharks effectively have two first lines, and two third lines, and any of the lines can be dangerous when they're playing well. There isn't a player on the roster that the Sharks have to hide or protect. But for some reason, this team isn't playing to potential. It's merely (I almost hate to say this) MERELY pretty good.

It is something for all armchair head coaches and general managers to keep an eye on.

[Note] The Rangers defeated the Devils 3-2 earlier tonight in a televised game broadcast on Versus. The Detroit Red Wings travel to Vancouver to face off against the Canucks live at 7:30PM on Yahoo streaming.

[Update] Sharks 11/10 Chat with Vesa Toskala - SJsharks.com.

Vesa Toskala

[Update2] Goaltending mentor keeps wheels spinning - Boston Globe.

For the first time in more than three years, Strelow, the grandfather of NHL goaltending coaches, is once more able to go from rink to rink, sharing everything he knows about what it takes to play the hardest position in hockey -- and arguably the most difficult position in all sports. He is in his 10th season now as the San Jose Sharks goalie coach, and has spent most of the last month with three of the franchise's top netminding prospects who are assigned to Worcester (AHL).

Warren Strelow returned to his coaching duties after recovering from several serious illnesses. This feature by the Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont shows that Strelow never really stopped evaluating his goaltenders. Strelow also details how the Sharks as an organization treated him during his recovery.

"I work for the best organization in hockey," said Strelow. "They take care of me -- Greg Jamison [president and CEO], Doug Wilson [GM], and Wayne. They've been great about my pay, the carts... and I thought I'd never coach again. I know I am a little more maintenance than I'd like to be. They've got my loyalty forever, that's for sure."

Dupont also notes that Strelow has worked with Vezina Trophy winning Miikka Kiprusoff and Martin Brodeur, as well as a half dozen other students who have moved on to become goaltending coaches. He is labeled as a goaltending coach guru, a moniker he does not shy away from.

"That's embarrassing -- I mean, I like it," said Strelow, asked how the nickname suits him. "I just try to do my job, and a lot of the success is based on who you get to work with, and really, that's up to the scouts. We've got a guy [scouting director Tim Burke] who finds some great kids, and as the coach, you're as good as the people you get."

Much has been made on this blog of media coverage, television and video streaming, blogs, new rules etc., but equally important to the growth of the game, especially on the West Coast, is youth participation and education about the fundamentals of the game. In the future, it would be nice if someone took the opportunity to mine Warren Strelow for information and have him break down a few of the X's and O's for the goaltending position.

With three solid goaltending prospects playing for the AHL Worchester Sharks (Dimitri Patzold, Nolan Schaefer, Thomas Greiss), do not expect the rumors of a Vesa Toskala or Evgeni Nabokov trade to die down anytime soon. Everyone wants a piece of the Goaltending Factory.

[Update3] Eric McErlain posted details of a hockey fundraiser being held for The Gerard W. "Roddy" Burke Scholarship Fund. The Washingotn D.C. Police hockey team will face off against the U.S. Secret Service hockey team in a game to benefit the "Roddy" Burke Scholarship Fund. Burke was a 39-year old D.C. police sergeant who died in March while pursuing a stolen vehicle.

Houston Earthquakes/Dynamo win Major League Soccer Championship

Domini Kinnear

The Houston Dynamo captured their third MLS Championship in franchise history with a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution on Sunday. After Taylor Twellman, tied for 6th in the league in goals during the regular season, scored an OT goal for the Revolution in the 113th minute. Brian Ching put home the equalizer in the 114th minute which resulted in a 1-1 tie between the teams after 2 periods of overtime.

A recap of the overtime shootout:

- Houston and New England traded goals during the first round of shots, with Kelly Gray and Shalrie Joseph each converting on their attempt. Stuart Holden fired one past Matt Reis to put Houston up 2-1.

- New England goaltender Matt Reis steps in to take a shootout kick against former standout Earthquakes goaltender Pat Onstad. Reis hammered the ball up high to the left of a diving Onstad. No chance for him to make the save.

- Dwayne De Rosario tops a ball to his left, but he hits it with enough pace for it to dribble past Reis, just inside the post. Not sure why the announcers are jibing De Rosario, but I am sure Eric Wynalda has some convoluted point he is making.

- Pat Noonan steps in for the Revolution, takes a shot, and it glances slightly off the goaltenders glove and then deflects off of the top half of the crossbar. First miss in the overtime shootout. Houston up 3-2.

- Brad Davis fires a soft attempt for the Dynamo. The goaltender ate up the shot, and easily pushed the ball wide.

- Taylor Twellman, the only New England player to score during overtime, put a laser just under the crossbar and past a dejected Pat Onstad.

- Brian Ching, the last player to score a Major League Soccer goal in San Jose before the franchise moved to Houston, stepped up to the penalty dot. Ching scored the equalizing goal in overtime. After an akward stutter step (which should be banned from the shootout), he snapped a hard shot to the left of Revolution goaltender which went off his fingertips and into the net. Houston is up 4-3 with one attempt remaining for New England.

- The ESPN broadcast zoomed in on veteran Revolution defenseman Jay Heaps, and the pressure of the game being on the line was evident. Heaps let loose with a weak shot that Onstad came out to stop. Game over. Houston wins the 2006 MLS title with a 2-1 overtime shootout victory.

- Ching was named the Honda MVP of the game, with the game tying goal in overtime, and the game deciding goal in the OT shootout. Why was it that Ching never suited up for Team USA in the World Cup? A prodding, ineffective offense by Team USA could have used this large target in front of the box.

- The players mob Onstad and create a large celebratory pile on the field. A large, orange-clad section of Houston fans to the right of the goal is bouncing up and down. Muffled cheers, noise, and music is audible before a quick sendout by the announcers.

More championship notes are available at the official Houston Dynamo website, or the official website of Major League Soccer.

Connolly: It all comes back to Ching - MLSnet.com.

During the season, the one goal people will remember a year from now was Ching's bicycle kick against D.C. United that was recently anointed the Sierra Mist Goal of the Year.

And as for the last goal of the 2006 season? Yep, Ching.

For good measure, he also scored the last penalty kick of the year, ran off with the MLS Cup MVP trophy, sipped some champagne while holding the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy and two-stepping in Frisco, and he probably wrote the game report and sidebar for MLSnet.com late Sunday night.

The MLS's Marc Connolly left out one goal on the Ching career resume, scroll down. Blog coverage of the game is available here and here, but this blog identified more with Soccer Silicon Valley: Congratulations, H... Hou... argh!. Just call them the Houston Earthquakes.

The Houston Chronicle published wall-to-wall coverage with several articles, a recap of the first season in Houston, Brian Ching's player blog (he also posted one during the World Cup), fan blogs, photos, a podcast and more.

More belated news on San Jose and the return of the Earthquakes to the South Bay will be detailed in an upcoming post. The bottom line is that move of A's to Fremont should dovetail nicely with the return of Major League Soccer to the South Bay. In theory at least.

Brian Ching

[Update] Quakes tie Galaxy 1-1, Los Angeles advances, San Jose's MLS future uncertain - Sharkspage.

2007 NHL Allstar voting begins tomorrow

2006 NHL Allstar game Dallas

The NHL added a new wrinkle to the 2007 Allstar voting, all ballots will be collected digitally for the first time. This is the 19th season that fans will cast the deciding votes for the allstar teams, with the 2-day celebration being held on January 23rd and 24th at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Voting will be held from Nov 15th through Jan 2nd.

Four Sharks are on the ballot, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo, and Scott Hannan. The San Jose Sharks helpfully note that fans are allowed to select their own write-in candidates, such as rookie defenseman Matt Carle (3G,11A,19GP) who is tied for fifth in the NHL in scoring by a defenseman. Vesa Toskala is tied for 4th in the NHL in wins (9), 5th in goals against average (2.16), and 4th in save percentage (.926).

Vote on NHL.com here.

2007 NHL Allstar Ballot
Eastern Conference

Maxim Afinogenov, Buffalo Sabres, Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators, Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins, Daniel Briere, Buffalo Sabres, Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes, Erik Cole, Carolina Hurricanes, Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chris Drury, Buffalo Sabres, Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils, Peter Forsberg, Philadelphia Flyers, Simon Gagne, Philadelphia Flyers, Brian Gionta, New Jersey Devils, Scott Gomez, New Jersey Devils, Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators, Marian Hossa, Atlanta Thrashers, Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers, Olli Jokinen, Florida Panthers, Saku Koivu, Montreal Canadiens, Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers, Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning, Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins, Michael Nylander, New York Rangers, Al ex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals, Brad Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning, Miroslav Satan, New York Islanders, Brendan Shanahan, New York Rangers, Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators, Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightningm Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanesm Mats Sundin, Toronto Maple Leafs

Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers, Dan Boyle, Tampa Bay Lightning, Brian Campbell, Buffalo Sabres, Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins, Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs, Bryan McCabe, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chris Phillips, Ottawa Senators, Brian Rafalski, New Jersey Devils, Wade Redden, Ottawa Senators, Sheldon Souray, Montreal Canadiens, Henrik Tallinder, Buffalo Sabresm Alexei Zhitnik, New York Islanders

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins, Olaf Kolzig, Washington Capitalsm Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta Thrashers, Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres, Andrew Raycroft, Toronto Maple Leafsm Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes

Western Conference

Jonathan Cheechoo, San Jose Sharks, Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings, Pavol Demitra, Minnesota Wild, Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes, Marian Gaborik, Minnesota Wild, Martin Havlat, Chicago Blackhawks, Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche, Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers, Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames, Paul Kariya, Nashville Predators, Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks, Andy McDonald, Anaheim Ducks, Mike Modano, Dallas Stars, Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars, Ladislav Nagy, Phoenix Coyotes, Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets, Markus Naslund, Vancouver Canucks, Brian Rolston, Minnesota Wild, Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche, Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers, Steve Sullivan, Nashville Predators, Petr Sykora, Edmonton Oilers, Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks, Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues, Doug Weight, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings, Nikolai Zherdev, Columbus Blue Jackets

Rob Blake, Los Angeles Kings, Scott Hannan, San Jose Sharks, Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings, John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche, Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks, Mattias Ohlund, Vancouver Canucks, Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames, Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks, Robyn Regehr, Calgary Flames, Mathieu Schneider, Detroit Red Wings, Lubomir Visnovsky, Los Angeles Kings, Sergei Zubov, Dallas Stars

Manny Fernandez, Minnesota Wild, J.S. Giguere, Anaheim Ducks, Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks, Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames, Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks, Dwayne Roloson, Edmonton Oilers, Marty Turco, Dallas Stars, Tomas Vokoun, Nashville Predators

Unreleased Allstar logo via sportslogos.net.

The 2007 RBK Hockey AHL Allstar game will be held January 28th and 29th at Richoh Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario (home of the Toronto Marlies). View this PDF file for more information.

The 2007 RBK Hockey ECHL Allstar game will be held on January 17th in Boise, Idaho (home of the Idaho Steelheads). Last year the ECHL Allstar Game was broadcast on the OLN (now Versus) Nework, with the AHL Allstar game streamed online via B2 Networks.

[Update] 8 goals scored in third period, National Conference downs American Conference 7-6 in 2006 ECHL Allstar Game - Sharkspage.

[Update2] Dallas Stars to host 2007 NHL All-Star game, 55th Annual All-Star Game to be Played on Jan. 24, 2007, at American Airlines Center - American Airlines Center.

The 55th NHL All-Star Game will be played at American Airlines Center on Wednesday evening, January 24, 2007. The arena will also hold the NHL SuperSkills and the YoungStars Game on Tuesday, January 23. There also will be a Monday All-Star event at American Airlines Center, with planning currently in its infancy stages. More details on the Monday event will be announced at a later date. This will mark the first non-weekend NHL All-Star events since 1989 when the 40th NHL All-Star Game was played in Edmonton on a Tuesday.


Canadian La Presse newspaper features two articles on hockey blogs

La Presse hockey blogs

Jean-Francois Begin of the French language La Presse Canadian newspaper interviewed several hockey bloggers for two articles this Monday.

In A l'heure des blogues, Begin discusses the Ted Leonsis invitation to Offwing blogger Eric McErlain for a Capitals game, how this blog was an early adopter of the technology, and Lyle Richardson's involvement (aka Spector) with a blog and a regular column on Fox Sports.

The phenomenon first gained steam in the U.S. Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley was the birthplace, as early as 1998, of one of the first hockey-devoted blogs (www.sharkspage.com) which remains today the definitive model of the genre. But since, Canadian blogs have blossomed.

Sharkspage started before Pyra Labs launched the official Blogger service in August 1999. When Blogger launched, it was a revelation for anyone running a website. It saved time on archives, allowed posting from any computer, and gave others the option of linking to an individual post.

La Presse hockey blogs

In Pour l'amour du hockey, Begin takes a tour of the hockey blogosphere. He mentioned the Battle of Alberta crew posting "without any real pretensions of objectivity", La Presse author Francois Gagnon's blog Sans Ligne Rouge (no red line), the popular Kukla's Korner, the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle (recently added to the lineup at Globe on Hockey), and mentions the dearth of Montreal Canadiens blogs in English and French. Francois Gagnon, Habs Blog, and Sisu Hockey were the ones listed.

By virtue of reading blogs, and as interesting as the aforementioned ones are, we still hear frequently about the death of conventional media, but it's not coming any time soon. Most blogs, in fact, depend on journalists, on radio and on TV for their information.

"To me, blogs are a complement to traditional media," Lyle Richardson says, a PEI-based blogger who is better known as Spector at www.spectorshockey.net. "We the bloggers often criticize the mainstream. But frankly, I get the impression that most bloggers woudn't survive life in the traditional media."

The mainstream media is adapting at a quickening pace in the face of new forms of content, new forms of delivery, the reduction of newsroom staff, and the increased pressures on the bottom line. Any blogger who has tried to arrange an interview or post on a deadline can identify with just how difficult the job of a beat reporter is. Like Lyle Richardson mentioned above, hockey blogs fill in the cracks in traditional media coverage, add a little flavor, and are becoming an entertaining way to follow teams in different cities.

One thing I would like to add, many non-blog websites also provided an inspiration and a daily resource to many fans, players, and members of the media alike. LCS Hockey (read my background post here), was the first multi-contributor "zine" that created a substantial following. David Singer's Hockeyfights.com has been mentioned by many players and coaches, and serves as valuable source of information for a large number of journalists. The Hockey Database, Hockeys Future, Hockey Photo Project, and a number of other websites have added to the game, often without a lot of support.

The original articles on La Presse are available here and here, and also with a day pass on newsroom.com. James Mirtle provided the above newspaper thumbnails, and posted about the blogger expose here. Pete Evans provided translations for both articles. Eric McErlain posted about La Presse here, and linked to a few background posts on the aforementioned invitation with Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.

[Update] The Montreal Gazette also published a photo from this blog in April. If the Montreal Canadiens or a local media outlet were going to draft a fan to blog about the team in French, Amelie Paul would have to be my first choice.

[Update2] The Big Playmaker: Joe Thornton Team - Red Fisher.

Love him or hate him, Thornton's despatch to San Jose was one of the feel-good stories of 2005-06. When he joined San Jose, it was a team in disarray with little hope of making the playoffs. With him, they finished No. 5 overall in the Western Conference and erased Nashville in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Edmonton in the conference semifinal.

Anaheim Ducks' undefeated in regulation streak ends at a record 16 games

Jean Sebastien Giguere

Sixteen games, twelve wins, zero losses in regulation. An NHL record finally came to an end Friday night as the Anahiem Ducks lost 3-0 in regulation to Calgary. After two quick goals against, Anaheim pulled Ilya Bryzgalov and replaced him with goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The Flames and Miikka Kiprusoff held on to a 2-goal lead after the first period.

Western Conference leading Anaheim put 28 shots on goal in the final 2 periods, and sent wave after wave of forwards hurtling into the crease. Kiprusoff stood tall and stopped everything thrown at him, even with the refs repeatedly pulling bodies off of him in the crease.

The Ducks streak of 16 unbeaten in regulation games was accomplished by a team that scores as a committee. Sixteen different players have lit the lamp this season. Trailing only the "Finnish Flash" Teemu Selanne (4G,11A), the defensive pair of Chris Pronger (3G,12A) and Scott Niedermayer (4G,10A) are second and third on the scoring list.

Both defenseman provide game breaking talent at each end of the ice, and they will help Giguere (9-0-4, .928SV%, 1.98GAA) look like Patrick Roy in net this season. It appears Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle has little confidence in backup goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov (3-1-0, .925SV%, 1.84GAA), pulling him early in the loss to Calgary to end the streak, and an overtime loss to Dallas in October.

The Calgary Flames 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks was available online from Yahoo streaming.

Fast start has been noticed - Los Angeles Times.

The Ducks changed their logo for the 2006-07 season but it may be time to consider wearing something else on the front of their jerseys. A bull's-eye perhaps.

That's what a franchise-best 12-1-4 start gets you. The Ducks are officially a target and have taken notice of opposing teams using the words "measuring stick" in reference to their matchups with them. It wasn't long ago when the shoe was on the other foot.

Ducks' historic run comes to an end - OC Register.

The Ducks began the year with a 12-0-4 mark and set a new NHL record for most games to start a season without a regulation loss. That was until they paid a visit to the Calgary Flames on Friday night...

The Edmonton Oilers set the previous NHL record by gathering points in their first 15 games to start the 1984-85 campaign. The Ducks are still in first place in the Pacific Division with 28 points. They currently hold a four-point edge over both Dallas and San Jose.

The Duck stops here: Flames end Anaheim's run - OC Register.

[Update] Earlier in the season, the league leading Buffalo Sabres put up a win streak of their own, Sabres' win streak ends at 10.

[Update2] Ducks Flying To Record Heights? - Eric Duhatschek.



Statue of Liberty

One last photo from New York before resuming hockey blogging. The Rangers are vying for the top spot in the Atlantic Divison in a game against Washington live on Yahoo streaming.

Veteran's Day

Peter Swenson

To honor Veteran's Day, here is a story in rememberance of my grandfather.

On Okinawa, we built our tent on the ground. Joining with a few other officers, we went down to the water front and found a Navy LST which had lumber. For 2 bottles of whiskey, we had the duck boat bring the lumber to our tent. We built a floor 2 feet from the ground, laid a wooden floor, and made steps up to the tent. It looked wonderful.

I gave the Mess Sgt. a bottle of U.S. booze and got a supply of bacon and eggs. We had a ball every night. Our poor neighbors had trouble smelling the bacon and eggs coming from our tent.

One day it was raining very hard and we took a ride in a jeep to the other parts of Okinawa. While driving down to the bottom of a hill, we noticed the U.S. Marines sleeping in the pouring rain inside their pup tents. Some of the Marines were building a ditch around the tents as we drove by. We saw rows of tents, with exposed feet sticking out. The picture of pup tents with feet sticking out impressed me. What a life the Marines had.

We flew missions every few days to keep up our flying skills. Okinawa had lots of caves and the Japanese built long tunnels in the hills where they kept their guns, firearms, food, ammunition, etc. The tunnels went deep into the hills, and were very hard to reach.

When the Japanese surrendered, the whole Island of Okinawa went wild. So many of the soldiers fired their guns into the night that it looked like a fireworks display. Everyone was happy to know that the war was over on Okinawa.

More on Okinawa is available here. A recently released movie, Flags of Our Fathers, details both flag raisings during the battle of Iwo Jima. It only offers a glimpse of a single bomber pilot during the film, but the end credits feature a very powerful collection of photographs.

Three charities can help you support recent veterans: Operation Second Chance, Operation Helmet, and Operation Give.


Washington Capitals credential blog photographer

Washington Capitals Atlanta Thrashers photo Ellen Blanchard

As noted earlier this week, the Washington Capitals granted photographer Ellen Blanchard a photo credential for the blog Offwing.com. Ellen took several photos which were posted to Eric McErlain's game recap, and a subsequent photo gallery on flickr here (also available as a slideshow).

For image editing, I highly recommended is the affordable Photoshop Elements title from Adobe which takes care of all but the most advanced editing tasks. Image software used by this blog is Photoshop, the free/paid IrfanView for viewing images, and the free Picasa for finding images taken by date using a timeline (handy when you have 200GB of photos). The two paid Photoshop filters I would recommend are Colour Science's i2e image enhancement plugin, and Picture Code's Noise Ninja for noise reduction.

I created a simple Photoshop Action to process images for a blog, either individual with the press of a button, or a batch function to take care of an entire folder. The offwing.atn file can be loaded into Photoshop, which will perform image resize to 400px, auto levels, auto contrast, auto color, unsharp mask (100%, .3), and save-for-web commands.

Visit Ellen Blanchard's photography website at EB Imagery. She notes that she will be shooting the Capitals vs Rangers game this Saturday.

[Update] NHL acquires the Denis Brodeur photo collection - NHL.com.

[Update2] San Jose Sharks/Los Angeles Kings Preview, Thursday November 9th - Yahoo Sports.

The NHL certainly gave the San Jose Sharks a favorable place to kick off their four-game road trip. The Sharks try to win in Los Angeles for the sixth time in their last seven games there when they visit the Kings on Thursday.

San Jose (11-5-0) is trying for its third three-game winning streak of the season and, considering its recent success against the Kings, that's a realistic goal. The Sharks are 15-3-1 with a tie in the last 20 matchups between the Pacific Division rivals, outscoring Los Angeles 70-42 in that span.

[Update3] HP Fan Photographer Photo of the Month Voting - SJsharks.com.

On HP Fan Appreciation Day – Saturday, April 7 versus Vancouver, each monthly contest winner will receive two (2) VIP tickets next to the glass. At this game, the six (6) monthly contest winners will be brought out onto the ice and the HP Fan Photo of the Year winner (as voted on sjsharks.com by fans) will win an 37” HP MediaSmart High Definition LCD television!

Very cool promotion. Visit the HP Digital Photography Center for a wealth of photograph tips, news, and printing information.

Nils Ekman still going strong with Pittsburgh

Nils Ekman

A fan snapped this pre-game photo of Nils Ekman prior to the Sharks 3-2 home win over the Penguins on Saturday. Pittsburgh dropped 3 straight games to San Jose, Anaheim, and Tampa Bay, and look to rebound against the Ottawa Senators at home on Friday.

Ekman has 5 goals and 5 assists in 13 games this season, and a spot on the top line along center Sidney Crosby. Nils scored a natural hat trick, 3 goals in the seoond period, during a 4-3 loss to the Lightning on Tuesday.

Nils struggled to put up more points on a top line with Thornton and Cheechoo in San Jose last season, after leading the Sharks in assists in 2003-04. The underrated part of Ekman's game was his determination to work harder in other areas when the goals were not coming. Deceptively quick, shifty with the puck, and able get his nose dirty on occasion, San Jose is still looking for player that can compliment Thornton and Cheechoo on the ice as well as Ekman.

After putting up a natural hat trick, to quote the fan with the sign, "Nils you still rock!".

Nils Ekman

[Update] Here is a photo from February, 2004 of Nils Ekman facing the Penguins that I did not get a chance to post. Back to Saturday's game, The Pens Blog breaks down the "highly anticipated battle of the inverted triangle logos".

[Update2] NHL Skinny: Shark Attack - Matt Romig.

Watching Malkin and Crosby and their tape-to-tape act – yes, cassettes went out of style long ago, but trust me, you have to see this – on Thursday in Los Angeles just wasn't enough. So I booked a flight and caught a second show in San Jose.

This one was historic, and not just because of the buzz in the building that comes only when collectively, everyone in attendance realizes they're onto something before mainstream America. It turned out to be the first goalless game in Malkin's career. And there was another slightly less historic first that leads our weekly roundup.


Around The Rinks: Prospects Watch

Scouting for McKeen's Hockey since 2003, I have been able to see most of the top NHL prospects on tape or in person. Throughout the season I will be checking in on the NHL's best prospects and future stars. There will be a monthly column on Draft Eligible prospects, a list of rankings, and a monthly report on the prospects who have already been drafted.

This report takes a look at the development of several previously drafted top prospects.


On a recent friday night in Madison, fans onhand saw the first big game of the WCHA season. The Chicago Blackhawks had two prospects play against each other when North Dakota played the Wisconsin Badgers at home. The 7th overall selection in the 2005 draft Jack Skille, was hosting the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 draft Jonathan Toews.

After getting a first impression from watching both players as freshman, this weekend reaffirmed one of my predictions. Jonathan Toews is going to be a much better professional hockey player than Jack Skille. Skille has a howitzer shot from the point, with a goal scorers release. He also has a deadly combination of speed and size, now for the "but". He lacks the hockey sense needed for this level of play.

His vision is poor on the rush, and errant passes to the opposition are a concern. Skille struggles to put enough touch on a pass to hit an open linemate. He is inconsistent shift-to-shift, and game-to-game. Once Skille makes it to the NHL his coaches will need to find ways to keep him motivated every game. Coming out of the USNTDP before the draft in 2005, scouts labeled him as the next Bill Guerin. In my opinion, he will not come near that kind of game-breaking potential in the NHL. He reminds me of a lesser physical, but a little bit faster Dustin Brown. Far from the offensive potential of Guerin.

Jonathan Toews, on the other hand, is a complete player who is silencing critics from draft day. The knock on Toews was that he could not finish, and that he lacked offensive upside. Much like San Jose's Milan Michalek, who heard similar criticism at the draft, Toews is a physical specimen who is just beginning to grow into his body. He should become a feared player in the NHL for many years.

More known for his playmaking prowess in the past, it has been Jonathan's finishing touch that has impressed me. His shot has greatly improved over the summer, and it is noticeable on the ice. Toews possesses a Sakic-like, and he catches goaltenders offguard with how quickly he gets rid of the puck. His shooting arsenal possesses deadly accuracy and an improved velocity. Add that on to his vision on the ice, and you have an Eric Staal caliber offensive threat down the road.

More to add to the profile: he is North Dakota's best defensive forward, he shows exceptional puck pursuit, back checks hard, blocks shots, and is a tireless, smart worker in his own zone. So while the Blackhawks have to be thrilled with the progress of Jonathan Toews, who will be a possible future captain and all star in this league, they have to be scratching their heads at passing up Anze Kopitar in order to take Jack Skille.

The St Louis Blues also have themselves a solid prospect in T.J. Oshie of North Dakota. People who have not seen him play should go out of their way to do so. He looks like a miniature Alexander Ovechkin when he has possession of the puck. Oshie has superb lower body strength and electrifying one-on-one moves. He is also a gifted goal scorer who possesses all the intangibles to become a sniper in the NHL.

Michigan State and the Detroit Red Wings have themselves a winner. I went to Northern Michigan to catch the N.M. Broncos host the Michigan State Spartans. The Detroit Red Wings second round pick in the 2005 draft, Justin Abdelkader, was clearly head-and-shoulders above anyone else. Abdelkader looks like the next Jeff Carter (Philadelphia Flyers). He is big, physical, and is gifted with an elegant and powerful skating stride from the center pivot. He is a dual threat to score and create scoring chances, as he is accomplished at both.

Sharks prospects in the NCAA are off to a fine start. First round pick in 2002 Mike Morris has been held scoreless so far through two games, but being back on the ice after a serious car accident last summer is an accomplishment in itself. Morris has been named team captain of the Northeastern Huskies, and should begin to put up numbers shortly.

I sat next to two of the assistant coaches for the Northeastern Huskies, Gene Reilly and his assistant Brendan Walsh. I mostly spoke with Gene Reilly on the subject of two Sharks prospects, Mike Morris and Carter Lee. When asked of Mike Morris, Reilly replied with confidence "He's cleared to play, so he should be ready to go". When asked about what he thinks of Morris, it did not take Reilly long to get his point across that Morris is the real deal, "with the new NHL obscruction standards, Morris is going to play in the NHL and flourish".

The Sharks 9th round selection in 2003, forward Carter Lee, played his first 2 seasons with the Northeastern Huskies but transferred to Lake Superior for next season. I asked Gene what that was over. "He simply wasn't good enough, couldn't cut it". So while the news on Morris was bright, the news on Carter Lee is discouraging.

Jay Barriball, the Sharks 7th round selection in the 2006 draft, is leading the star-studded group of Minnesota Gophers in goals scored as a freshman. He has five goals and two assists. Barriball has one-on-one ability to go along with terrific anticipation, and an infectious work ethic. The Sharks may just have themselves another steal from the USHL/WCHA.

Goaltender Alex Stalock has not lost in his first 3 games with the Minnesota Duluth Bull Dogs. Stalock reminds me of a young Marty Turco for his aggressive, unorthodox style. He is the kind of goalie who relies on his superb athleticism instead of solid fundamentals. Alex Stalock dances around the crease in a scramble, and he is capable of stealing a goal away from the opposition with a highlight reel save. Stalock is also possibly the best goaltending prospect the Sharks have ever had in terms of handling the puck. Much like Marty Turco, Stalock is adventurous away from the crease, and is constantly looking to push the puck forward. Having him in goal is similar to having a third defenseman on the ice. Stalock will also make an initial save and look to move the puck instantly. He does not lack confidence, but he will need to improve his rebound control. The "goaltending factory" has churned out another solid goaltending prospect.

Two future stars from the NCAA were in action at the USHL's most recent Buc-Bowl. I attended and scouted every drafted and draft-eligible player there. Two defenseman stood out in a strangely similar fashion. The Edmonton Oilers 2nd round pick in 2006 Jeff Petry was fantastic. For such a large defenseman, he is gifted with a smooth stride, and an exceptional hockey sense. I ranked him as an early second round pick last year, noting that he had to improve his physical play. Petry answered that question with an aggressive approach to his defensive game I did not see last year. He even dropped the gloves in one game. Petry is going to play for the University of Michigan next fall.

The only defenseman that gave him a run for his money as far as drafted USHL prospects was the Florida Panthers 4th round pick in 2006, Derrick LaPoint. The North Dakota recruit also possesses a fabulous frame to build into, and he can also skate like the wind. Much like Petry, it is LaPoint's hockey sense and vision up the ice that separates him from the pack. LaPoint is not as physical as Petry, so I would give Jeff the nod for potential at this point in their development. LaPoint has the higher offensive upside as he can quarterback the power play.

At the Buc-Bowl I ran into San Jose Sharks former General Manager Chuck Grillo, who is now scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Grillo is a nice, quiet man who has a passion for the game. He mentioned that his son still works for the Sharks. Grillo's son was at the Buc-Bowl too, but I did not get to meet him. He had to attend a local AHL game to scout the Iowa Stars for the San Jose Sharks.

Chuck mentioned that the Sharks fired him "for drafting all the Finns in 95, although one of them ended up winning the Vezina trophy, and Nabokov ain't bad either". I asked him about his last 1st round pick as a Sharks general manager, the only Shark 1st round selection not to play in the NHL, Finnish forward Teemu Riihijarvi. "I still like him" said Grillo. "He would have been a really good player had he not blown out his knee", Grillo admitted.

[Note] This prospect report was delayed while Jon was in NYC.

[Update] Overtime Spoils: No.2 Minnesota turns back Bulldogs 3-2 - University of Minnesota Duluth Athletics.

The Bulldogs, who had not lost in their last 11 overtime games (dating back to Feb. 4, 2005), surrendered the game winner on the first shot the Gophers threw on goal in the extra session.

Alex Stalock was credited with 26 saves while making his eighth consecutive start and allowed just two even-strength goals over the weekend. Frazee, meanwhile, finished with 18 stops for the Gophers.

[Update2] UND Men's hockey ranked fifth, sixth in today's national polls; Sioux off this weekend - University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Athletics.

Toews back in action: After missing three games, sophomore forward Jonathan Toews (Winnipeg, Manitoba) returned to the lineup Friday and registered a pair of assists. Toews has seven points (3g, 4a) in seven games this season.


Santos first South American to win New York Marathon

New York Marathon Gomes dos Santos
2006 NY Marathon

Brazilian Marilson Gomes dos Santos finished with a time of 2:09:58 to become the first South American to win the New York Marathon. Jelena Prokopcuka won her second back-to-back women's marathon with a time of 25.05. 7-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong reached his goal of finishing in under 3 hours and told reporters "That was, without a doubt, the hardest physical thing I've ever done"

[Update] Offwing arranged for photographer Ellen Blanchard to take photos during the Washington Capitals vs Atlanta Thrashers game for his blog on Friday night. The initial game recap is here. A flickr album and a slideshow are also available. More of Ellen's photography can by found at EB Imagery.

[Update2] The Sharks held Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Evgeni Malkin off the board during a 3-2 win on Saturday night. Malkin had scored a goal in his previous 6 NHL games. Talented rookie Jordan Staal and center Sidney Crosby were also kept off the scoreboard. Kyle McLaren, Matt Carle, and Mike Grier scored for San Jose, and Vesa Toskala made 25 saves to pick up his 7th win of the season.

[Update3] Young Ducks making a splash, Pittsburgh's talented youth brigade gets the accolades, but Anaheim also has a skilled group - Los Angeles Times. (Link via Kuklas Korner).

[Update4] A l'heure des blogues - La Presse.

Le phenomene a d'abord pris de l'ampleur au sud de la frontiere. Sans surprise, la region de Silicon Valley a ete le lieu de naissance, dès 1998, d'un des premiers blogues consacres au hockey, Sharkspage, qui demeure aujourd'hui un modele du genre. Mais depuis, les blogues canadiens se sont multiplies.

An english translation from Google is available here. A second article takes a look at general and Montreal hockey bloggers Pour l'amour du hockey, and Eric McErlain discusses his interview with Jean-Francois Begin of La Presse here.


Dispatch from the Media Capital

Times Square New York

Hockey coverage in San Jose has grown over the years, but it pales in comparison to the amount of print, radio, television and online media in New York. On Thursday night, a Devils-Islanders matinee followed by a Sharks-Rangers late game on the West Coast gave this blog a perfect opportunity to see how the local media covers hockey.

Walking through Times Square, past the ABC studio and the Reuters head office, and the NY Times home on a nearby sidestreet, you could find the Devils-Islanders game in the odd bar or restaurant. After walking a little further to Hells Kitchen, I got a chance to watch the Devils-Islanders, and Blackhawks-Red Wings in high definition on a beautiful flat screen plasma at the home of Ice Block and HockeyFights.com author David Singer.

The wide screen 1080-i high definition format used for the Islanders game is slightly less crisp than the smaller version used for the Wings-Blackhawks, but the clarity and amount of ice it covered was breathtaking. On a deflection for a goal past Martin Brodeur, each freeze framed still was as clear as a photograph. HDnet has a habit of zooming in and using different angles that make for a dynamic broadcast. Unfortunately, the non-HD Sharks-Rangers game on the MSG Network was cutoff a few inches at each side.

When in Rome, you do as the Romans do. When you are a Rangers fan in New York, you read Larry Brooks of the NY Post. Brooks reports in a restrained fashion that two straight wins by Rangers netminder Kevin Weeks has not created a goaltending controversy in New York, but back-to-back wins over Anaheim and San Jose will add pressure on starter Henrik Lundqvist. Although the Post's blog is dormant, the "Maven" is able to open up a little more about the Rangers resurgence on his own blog: "I told you so, Did I tell you so; or did I not tell you so?". Every blogger is allowed at least one I told you so post.

The New York Newsday broadsheet notes Kevin Weekes struggle with a lack of playing time this season. Newsday offered up a typically sardonic quote from San Jose head coach Ron Wilson on starting former Ranger Ville Nieminen, "We'll see who he likes or doesn't like on the Rangers from last year". Steve Zipay also contributed more notes to his Newsday Rangers blog, including a "Leetch" siting in Anaheim.

The New York Daily News column by John Dellapina reported a miscommunication by Weekes and defenseman Fedor Tyutin led to the high over the shoulder goal from Kyle McLaren which ended the shutout attempt. Earlier in the game, McLaren had one of his pattented monstrous hip-checks against Petr Prucha. Several Rangers, including Prucha himself, tried to retaliate with little success. A few minutes before the hit, I mentioned McLaren's explosive hit on Petr Cajanek. Never seen anything like that before or since, but the Prucha hit came close.

Ranger 'D' Cages Sharks, Blueshirts Win, 3-1 - New York Sports Day.

"We have some team unity," coach Tom Renney said to reporters in San Jose. "We have a clear singleness of purpose, it appears to me now. The resiliency, the resolve, the challenge of meeting certain expectations -- it's all important."

To combat the Sharks high flying offense, Renney made his team play a smart defensive game. They blocked 17 shots in front of Weekes, while only giving away the puck 11 times, as opposed to 18 for the Sharks.

The MSG Network posted an AP report from the game, How the West was won. A recent Stan Fischler collection of notes included a mention that "NHL executives are privately urging TV outlets to increase camera coverage to improve broadcasts". Read the end of this post from a Dallas-Sharks game to get broadcast notes from 3 NHL cameramen.

The MSG Network also polled 12 employees for their season predictions: Sharks Stanley Cup Champions (2), Sharks best team in the West (2), Hart Trophy - Joe Thornton (1), Alexander Ovechkin (1), Jaromir Jagr (3), Vezina - Martin Brodeur (4), Roberto Luongo (3), Henrik Lundqvist (2), Miikka Kiprusoff (1), Vesa Toskala (1), Norris Trophy - Niedermayer (4), Pronger (4), Calder - Evgeni Malkin (9), Adams - Ted Nolan (2).

The first stop on the Rangers blogosphere is Ranger Pundit, who started hitting his blogging stride at 70. RP writes that the "anticipated duel between Jagr/Shanahan and Thornton/Cheechoo never materialized". Blocking 17 shots, and shutting down the top powerplay in the NHL were two of the reasons he cites for the victory.

Hockeybird recaps the Rangers newspaper coverage, but Hockeyrodent offers a statistic heavy stream of conscious analysis that is entertaining and informative. After the Rangers-Sharks tilt, Rodent describes Prucha's ability to recover from the huge McLaren hit, discusses Larry Brooks "I told you so" moment, and breaks down several key plays of the game.

Puck support was exceptional in the Rangers' end of the ice. They routinely cleared the puck up the boards with little resistance against Shark forecheckers who attacked down the slot. At the opposite end, the Blueshirts were not afraid to abandon a broken or thwarteded attack and regroup. This was the signal to me that Brooks' "epiphany" may have occurred.

The Rangers were voluntarily turning the puck over deep to allow the Sharks to make a mistake on the breakout. That's a page out of the Devils' binder.

When you watch the tape, look at how New York evaluates an attack and when it stalls, they leave one forechecker deep to keep the enemy honest, but the remaining foursome regroup in the neutral zone to challenge the opponents as they attempt to form a rush.

Dave and Aziz Nekoukar at The Blue line on NJ.com were very impressed with the Rangers 3-1 road trip out West. They came to the conclusion that veteran goaltender Kevin Weekes needs more playing time. A conclusion I reached at the start of the season drafting him in the fantasy bloggers league, only to drop him after several weeks without a start. The brothers Nekoukar note that the visiting undefeated in regulation Sabres on Sunday will be a stern test for the blueshirts.

Outsidethegarden.com and Blueshirt Bulletin are two Rangers blogs regularly chronicling the season. The Blueshirt Bulletin is hosting a Saturday roundtable today with host Mitch Beck, Ranger great Ron Greschner, Ranger prospect Hugh Jessiman, and Ranger pundit Joe McDonald of NY Sports Day.

Kevin Weekes has one of the best player websites online, with a title flash animation and disco track that add a little flavor to his highlight reel. Drop by for photos, stats, information on his volunteer work, or to ask him a question.

The official Rangers website offers a post-game recap and video highlights here. The New York Rangers have such a large number of entities reporting on games, that the website is a little less robust than other teams around the league.

New York's 24-hr news channel NY-1 did not have a clip of the Rangers-Sharks game. The report that 7-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will compete in the marathon on Sunday was the lone sports item. Lance is speaking at a sports store and Macy's Saturday morning.

[Update] "So here is some advice I wish I got when I was your age, live every week like it's Shark Week" - Tracy Morgan.

[Update2] David Singer notes with surprise that the New York Times filed a non-wire, non-Rangers story from the Islanders-Devils game on Thursday. The Dave Caldwell report is here: Islanders Drop Their Gloves, and the Devils. Singer also noted that the Arron Asham vs Cam Jassen fight made the Islanders the last team in the NHL to pick up a fighting major.

Earlier I posted a report detailing how the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times were reducing their coverage of the NHL. The situation is fluid, and already changing significantly. The issue of sports departments using wire reports instead of beat writers will be affected by recent announcements of newsroom staffing cuts. Newspapers are also beginning to adapt and deliver new forms of content at a very fast pace, considering their past history. In the future I am going to break down some of the new offerings, and ask a few sports editors to comment on the current environment. It is more positive in my opinion than the earlier bleak assessment portrayed.

[Update3] The spicy herring and meatballs are recommended from the Smorgas Chef Swedish restaurant in the West Village. No Swedish beer on tap, only Carlsberg.


NHL scores Google as video partner

A press release yesterday from the NHL:

NHL scores Google as video partner

NEW YORK -- NHL Interactive Cyber Enterprises (ICE), the digital arm of the National Hockey League (NHL), today announced a multi-year deal to provide NHL video content to Google Video. The NHL will provide in-season full-length games on delay to Google Video at http://video.google.com/nhl.html. Google also will receive select NHL classic games.

In addition to the game content, the NHL also will work with Google to allow certain NHL themed user-generated content on http://video.google.com/nhl.html. This is the first time Google Video has worked with a major professional sports league in such a manner.

To celebrate its 89th season and this increased access to video content, the NHL will be offering its content for free -- without ads -- for the first two weeks of November.

"When web users are searching for diverse video content, Google Video is the first place they go, just as NHL.com is the first place hockey fans go when they want NHL video," said Keith Ritter, President of NHL ICE. "The combination of our content and Google's massive reach is a terrific pairing, and we're excited to add fan-generated content to the mix."

Initial reaction is that this is a great move for the NHL. Google Video has a good payment system, and many of the viral features made popular with its new acquisition YouTube will help promote the service. Google Video can be expected to keep up with the cutting edge of video and streaming technology, and it has the ability for flash video downloads, albeit of the google proprietary variety. Those will probably not be enabled for the NHL broadcasts based on past history.

Google obviously felt the footsteps of Yahoo, who has been streaming several games online for free since the beginning of the season. Google vs Yahoo is a big rivalry in Silicon Vallery, a competition between the two internet giants can only benefit hockey fans. One area that has been neglected is video streaming for a global audience. A number of questions from international fans have been asked in Paul Kukla's online forum with John Shannon, Senior VP of Broadcasting for the NHL.

Getting the games online should be a priority for the league, but alone they are not a guarantee of success. Until the services are widely publicized, live games, classic shows, and highlight programs should be mixed in free of charge on a regular basis to boost awareness. Google should also advertise the broadcast schedule on a few of the larger hockey blogs (Offwing, Kuklas Korner, LetsgoKings, James Mirtle) to promote upcoming games. This form of blog advertising is already being used effectively by television programs and movie studios.

More information on hockey and video streaming is available here: Boost in hockey video streaming mirrors boom in emerging video technologies - Sharkspage.

[Note] I am in New York City for a week for the Photoplus Expo conference. Posting will be intermittent depending on my wireless connection.

[Update] NHL, Google to show games on tape-delay - Buffalo Biz Journal.

The National Hockey League has annunced a new multi-year video content deal with Google Video making full-length games from the '06-07 season and some classic games available for online purchase on a 48-hour, tape-delay basis.

Pricing is still being finalized, but games are likely to cost $2.99 each after a free trial for the first two weeks of November. The deal arrives after a beta test on Google Video, as well as an offering last spring in which condensed NHL playoff games were sold on Apple' iTunes store.

[Update2] Reviewing October television ratings and attendance figures - Kuklas Korner.


Maine Unanimous No. 1 Selection on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

This week's USA Today/USA Hockey Men's College Poll:

Maine Unanimous No. 1 Selection on USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

This Week's Top-15 Match-Ups

Friday, Nov. 3
No. 9 Michigan @ No. 5 Michigan State

Saturday, Nov. 4
No. 5 Michigan State @ No. 9 Michigan
No. 13 Clarkson @ No. 12 Dartmouth
No. 1 Maine @ No. 8 Boston University

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The University of Maine became the first unanimous No. 1 selection on this year's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll following a home victory over the University of Massachusetts this past weekend. The Black Bears (510 points) claimed the No. 1 spot for the second consecutive week and ran their record to a perfect 6-0-0.

The University of Minnesota (470) jumped one spot to No. 2 after sweeping Colorado College, while Boston College (448) moved up two positions to the No. 3 slot after taking a pair of road games from then-No. 2 University of Wisconsin. Miami (Ohio) University (394) and Michigan State University (330) rounded out the top five.

Dartmouth College claimed a spot on the poll for the first time this season, debuting at No. 12 after wins over Harvard University and the University of Vermont. Meanwhile, Michigan Tech University made its first-ever appearance on the poll following a road sweep of Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe University of Alaska Anchorage.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #5

(first-place votes in parentheses, Last Week's Ranking, 2006-07 Record, Weeks In Top-15)

1. U. of Maine, 510 (34), 1, 6-0-0, 5
2. U. of Minnesota, 470, 3, 6-1-0, 5
3. Boston College, 448, 5, 4-1-, 5
4. Miami (Ohio) U., 394, 7, 6-2-0, 5
5. Michigan State U., 330, 10, 3-1-0, 5
6. U. of North Dakota, 320, 9, 5-3-0, 5
7. U. of Wisconsin, 300, 2, 3-3-2, 5
8. Boston U., 281, 4, 2-1-1, 5
9. U. of Michigan, 244, 6, 4-2-0, 5
10. U. of Notre Dame, 211, 11, 5-1-0, 2
11. Cornell U., 156, 15, 2-0-0, 4
12. Dartmouth College, 148, NR, 2-0-0, 1
13. Clarkson U., 74, 14, 4-1-1, 3
14. U. of New Hampshire, 71, 8, 2-2-0, 5
15. Michigan Tech U., 31, NR, 5-1-0, 1

Others receiving votes: Harvard University, 30; University of Denver, 29; St. Cloud State University, 13; University of Nebraska Omaha, 7; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 5; Northern Michigan University, 4; Colgate University, 2; University of Minnesota Duluth, 1; College of the Holy Cross, 1.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 12th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

[Update] Colorado College aims to get healthy against upstart Michigan Tech - Denver Post.

[Update2] Black Bears Again Atop USCHO.com/CSTV Poll, Notre Dame Climbs Into Top 10, Michigan Tech Debuts This Week - US College Hockey Online.

Ron Wilson needs to simplify his gameplan

San Jose returns to home ice Thursday after a grueling 5-game road trip. While their record could have been much worse, they did finish above .500 with a 3-2 record. The Sharks play left much to be desired. In fact, half way through the trip head coac Ron Wilson decided to shuffle the lines in hope of providing a spark for the team. That might have worked in the 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Sharks played a sloppy, uninspired game against the Florida Panthers and barely squeaked out a 2-1 win.

Playing at home in front of a packed crowd should help ignite a fire under the Sharks that has been missing of late. After an exceptional start to the seaon, head coach Ron Wilson needs to make more than lineup changes.

Wilson needs to go back to the original top six to re-establish chemistry that was noticeably absent against Florida. Mark Bell played his best period of the season when he was put back on the top line with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Milan Michalek's presence on the second top line with Marleau and Bernier seemed to spark that line into an impressive third period performance. The third line of Marcel Goc, Ryan Clowe, and Mike Grier should not be touched as that grinding line is provding the most consistent effort night in and night at. Ville Niemenen deserves an opportunity to create chemistry on the fourth line with Curtis Brown and Mark Smith.

Each line should take a page out of the Halloween night game with the Florida Panthers. FORECHECK! When the Sharks dominate in a way they are capable of, you see a few pretty plays evolve as a result of many hard nosed ones. The Sharks need to have all four lines winning foot races to loose pucks in the corners, and dominate down low, to give their high powered offense an opportunity to get rolling.

It would be a crime at this point to keep defenseman Doug Murray out of the lineup. He has been San Jose's most physical defenseman of late. Until Gorges proves he can add that aspect to his game, Murry should get the call.