San Jose Sharks finish preseason with 2-1 win over Calgary Flames
EVGENI NABOKOV #20 AND ROB DAVISON #5 CORRAL THE PUCK
CALGARY FLAMES CAPTAIN #12 JAROME IGINLA
SAN JOSE SHARKS CAPTAIN #12 PATRICK MARLEAU
The San Jose Sharks held off a late charge by the Calgary Flames to earn a 2-1 win at HP Pavilion on Saturday night. The Sharks finished the preseason undefeated in regulation (5-0-2) and will travel to Edmonton to open the 2007-08 NHL regular season on Thursday.
Ryane Clowe opened the scoring for San Jose 16:11 into the first period, and Joe Pavelski earned his 9th point of the preseason with an assist. Pavelski gathered a bouncing puck that eluded Rhett Warrener, and fed Clowe for a shot which beat Calgary Flames goaltender Curtis McElhinney over the shoulder. The Sharks "Murderer's Row" line of captain Patrick Marleau, former NHL MVP Joe Thornton, and former Rocket Richard winner Jonathan Cheechoo struck next for San Jose in the second period. Patrick Marleau snapped home a rebound from very sharp angle to make the score 2-0 Sharks after two periods. Veteran center Craig Conroy beat two Sharks defenseman for a goal 4:27 into the third period to set the stage for a very close finish. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov made several sprawling saves on Iginla, Tanguay, and Nilson in the waning minutes to lock down the win.
The Flames should have been hindered more towards the end of the game by the borderline reckless play of star defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf tried to ratchet up the pressure on the Sharks down the stretch, several times hitting players well after the play had passed by. The NHL's hacking and obstruction laws appear to be adjudicated differently for Phaneuf, he was only called for 1 interference penalty early in the 3rd period.
Notes from the game: The Marleau/Thornton/Cheechoo power play unit was stunningly good in the first period. On one cycle in the corner, Marleau and Thornton each compeleted a behind the back pass that had the defender skating in the wrong direction. Lots of movement from all 5 players, but the shot still came from 10 feet out. The Sharks have new HD video equipment to film rinkside and post-game interviews, which should be a regular staple of the San Jose section on NHL.tv. Former Sharks center Mark Smith signed a 1-year $487,500 contract Saturday with Calgary after being released earlier in the week by the New York Rangers. Owen Nolan also was a scratch for the Flames.
A photo gallery from the Sharks 2-1 win over Calgary is available here.
Line combinations and defensive pairings:
Post game comments from San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson:
[Q] One of the preseason goals is to make it through without injuries. It was a physical game tonight, did you guys make it through without injuries?
[RW] Yes, I belive so. They have not had a pretty good preseason. They brought in their full lineup in what I think was their 4th game in 5 days. I think Mike Keenan obviously brought out the sandpaper to try to irritate a few people. They turned it into kind of an ugly game. I think mentally we were dealing with it as the last exhibition game, where you want to come out of it and survive, and get ready for Thursday's game with Edmonton.
[Q] What is the process between now and Thursday, getting the roster down to 23?
[RW] I don't know. The coach doesn't do this, the general manager does. I am part of the process, but I don't know the rule for it. We will talk to a few people tonight and go from there.
[Q] How would you describe the play of Davison and Murray tonight?
[RW] I think they both can play better, and they have to if they want to play regularly on our team. They have to be more physical, and in general play better. They both had their ups and downs in camp, and we have some decisions we have to make on the back end.
Post game comments from Calgary Flames head coach Mike Keenan:
We had a real strong effort overall, particularly in the third period. They showed signs and I think we can build on the way we finished this particular game. We saw some progress, and that’s what we’re looking for.
We're trying to evaluate players [in the preseason], and we've had a lot of young players in the line-up. We're looking at a lot of players over the course of this time, which is particularly important when you have a new coach. You get to see more players and evaluate the system.
Post game comments from defenseman Douglas Murray:
[Q] How would you describe your game tonight, how do you come away from the preseason thinking about your chances?
[DM] Whatever happens in the preseason, you try to be successful all year. Whatever happens in game 1, I am still going to have to prove myself every day. I am fairly happy with the preseason. I feel I did some good things today, but there are still mistakes that need to be eliminated from my game for me to be in the lineup, and for me to play a lot.
Post game comments from defenseman Rob Davison:
[Q] How did you prepare for the preseason?
[RD] I tried to address some of the issues, maybe some of my faults from last season. Tried to improve. It will be a coaches decision.
[Q] The fact that your scored on a penalty shot against Vancouver can't hurt?
[RD] You know, I don't think that has anything to do with it because I doubt I will be taking regular season penalty shots. But you never know.
[Q] Were you expecting such a physical game from Calgary tonight?
[RD] Calgary, always. That is what they are known for, grinding it out. I think they got away from that a little bit, and the players they brought in this season addressed that. That toughness, or that physical factor they are known for.
[Q] Was it unusual to see Mark Smith in there for Calgary?
[RD] You know it is always unusual to see your ex-teammate in another jersey, but you put that out of your mind in warmups. He is just another player now.
After the game Sharks defenseman Rob Davison was asked about the play of Dion Phaneuf, about what it was in Phaneuf's game that elicited so much controversy. Davison said it was Phaneuf's hits from behind. He mentioned that if Phaneuf hit someone face to face he would not have a problem with it. After a report of a RBK jersey malfunction during a recent fight, possibly causing an injury, and another writer claiming it was easier to be "jerseyed" with the tighter uniform, defenseman Douglas Murray was asked if he could see an increase in either occuring with the new jersey. He mentioned being caught with the jersey pulled over his head in his last fight with Vancouver's Pierre-Cedric Labrie, but that he did not notice a significant difference between the two jerseys when physical play occurred.
[Update] The Sharks assigned 3 players to the Worcester Sharks of the AHL; right wing Graham Mink, left wing Lukas Kaspar, and goaltender Thomas Greiss. The current roster of 26 players will need to be trimmed by 3 more prior to Thursday's season opening game in Edmonton.
[Update2] Sharks look ready after final tuneup, but exhibition wins don't mean too much - San Jose Mercury News.