SAN JOSE SHARKS GOALTENDER #20 EVGENI NABOKOV 2008 WCQF GAME 7 VS CALGARY
- Yahoo's Puck Daddy Russian correspondent Dmitry Chesnokov and Sovetsky Sport's San Jose reporter Mikhail Bykov combined for an in-depth interview with San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov: Puck Daddy chats with Evgeni Nabokov about Sharks' Cup chances, awards snubs and (allegedly) kicking Corey Perry
[Q] The playoffs are almost here, so let's hit the obvious question: Tell us why the San Jose Sharks will not be "chokers" in the playoffs this year?
[EN] Well, I actually don't want to guess the future, because in the playoffs every game means something. It is just very difficult to predict any results. That's why I, just like any other athlete, do not want to make predictions. Will there be a failure? Won't there be one? I don't know. But we will give it all to get the right result this time.
[Q] Does carrying that weight of past failures, as a franchise, add additional pressure when the playoffs start?
[EN] Without a doubt. I think that the playoffs always equal pressure. There is pressure in any professional sport. There is no such thing as "lack of pressure." You always want to win. It's just the nature of the sport. It is normal. I think every player is used to it now. We have this adrenaline pumping through our bodies. We are just used to it.
[Q] The Sharks' record without you starting is much poorer than when you play. That's MVP material. So why aren't you talked about more for the MVP?
[EN] Maybe because I don't want to speak to the media more often? [Laughing] But to be serious, I just don't know. I cannot answer this question. I just try to do my job on the ice. And whatever happens off the ice doesn't depend on me. I don't know.
[Q] Your name also doesn't seem to come up as much as players like Roberto Luongo, Steve Mason and Tim Thomas when it comes to the Vezina Trophy. What kind of bias is there against you in the media and the hockey world?
[EN] Once again, I just don't know. I do try not to focus my attention on it. For me, the most important thing is to have the respect of the guys on my team and of our organization. And all the rest is just secondary.
Fair or not, the Sharks are carrying a Buffalo Bills like reputation into the postseason for many hockey fans and members of the media. General manager Doug Wilson targeted the major problem in the offseason, bringing in a trio of veteran defenseman with Stanley Cup experience to address it. Future Hall of Famer Rob Blake, 2008-09 NHL Allstar and Norris Trophy candidate Dan Boyle, and 2-time Cup winner Brad Lukowich. The Sharks also added a dose of mean with the acquisition of Travis Moen and Kent Huskins at the trade deadline. The playoff tools for rookie head coach Todd McLellan are there for him to take advantage of in the playoffs, the tools just need to be healthy.
As to why Evgeni Nabokov is not mentioned more in MVP or Vezina discussion this season, there are a number of contributing factors. The lack of consistent media attention on the West Coast plays a part, a numbers game of quality candidates will make a Vezina campaign more difficult, and inconsistent play will make an MVP bid unlikely. It is hard to argue with Nabokov's assertion that the most important stat for a goaltender is wins, but after a close second place Vezina finish last year one could argue NHL general managers may place a higher focus on save percentage or reputation.
Nabokov also answers questions about his pre-game and offday routines, his rivalry or non-rivalry with former teammate Miikka Kiprusoff, who he believes is the best goaltender in the game (Brodeur), his thoughts about NHL players participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and what he enjoys most about playing hockey.
- The Sharks 3-2 loss
to Nashville Thursday night at the Sommet Center was another case of one step forward, two steps back. Captain Patrick Marleau returned after a brief 1-game absense due to the birth of his second son Brody Marleau, but right wing Jonathan Cheechoo joined the ranks of the walking wounded with a undisclosed lower body injury suffered against Chicago.
Nashville has been on fire with their penalty kill at home. They had shut down the opposition power play in 12 straight games dating back to a 4-3 shootout win over St Louis on February 12th, killing 34 straight. On their first power play opportunity of the game the Sharks attacked the Preds zone with speed. Dan Boyle sprinted through the neutral zone before stopping at the blueline and dropping the puck back to Milan Michalek in stride. Michalek hit Devin Setoguchi along the boards, and Setoguchi dished the puck to Christian Ehrhoff on the opposite point. Ehrhoff slid a short pass to Joe Pavelski, who released a quick wrist shot before defenseman Dan Hamius or goaltender Pekka Rinne could react.
San Jose scored on their second power play opportunity early in the second period. After a faceoff win by Joe Pavelski in the Predators zone, a series of quick passes on the point opened up room for a Dan Boyle wrist shot with an unchecked Milan Michalek on the doorstep. Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski pounced on the rebound, and it was Devin Setoguchi registering his 30th goal of the season to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.
The Predators came storming back with 3 goals in less than 3 minutes. Radek Bonk (PP), Martin Erat, and Greg Zannon scored in quick succession as Nashville was driving the net and the Sharks were mostly standing around and watching instead of clearing bodies. Bonk's power play goal was sparked when 4 Sharks penalty killers were frozen watching the puck on the blueline with Erat, Bonk and Weber driving the zone. Then Steve "Lazarus" Sullivan beat Dan Boyle to a stretch pass along the boards. Sullivan pulled up behind the net as Boyle and Lukowich overplayed the far side. Erat posted up along the near post and tapped in an easy goal. The third strike for San Jose came will 5 players coasting as Radek Bonk and Jordan Tootoo drove deep. Greg Zannon took a tipped pass from Smithson on the point, and snapped a seeing eye shot through traffic to give Nashville a 3-2 lead.
The Sharks could not score another goal on 2 more power plays, nor could they score on several opportunities 5-on-5. "We didn't score a goal 5-on-5, and that's obviously been one of the big problems the last few months," defenseman Dan Boyle told the Associated Press. "There's not much time left to fine tune this thing," he added. In March the Sharks have scored only 18 even strengthed goals 5-on-5, 11 goals came on the power play, 2 via an empty net, with Ehrhoff scoring the lone 4-on-4 goal in overtime against Minnesota. San Jose has played 13 of 15 games scheduled in March. In February the Sharks scored 21 even strength 5-on-5 goals in 13 games played, 14 power play goals, 2 short handed goals, and 1 empty net goal. The pace for even strength 5-on-5 goals over the last 2 months is 1.5 per game.
The Sharks are still tied with Detroit atop the Western Conference and the NHL with 107 points
, but they did not take advantage of the game in hand and Detroit holds the tie breaking edge if both teams remained tied. A first round matchup is not going to be a given, but the Calgary Flames loom large in the second round for the team that loses out on the top seed. Nashville is currently tied with Anaheim for the 7th and 8th spot with 80 points, but Edmonton, St Louis and Minnesota are bunched up within 2 points. Nashville has 4 franchise playoff appearances, 2 first round exits against San Jose in 5 games, and 2 first round exits against Detroit in 6 games. If they make the playoffs in 2008-09, they will have a shot against... Detroit or San Jose.
- The prelude to the Sharks-Nashville game last night featured discussion about Brad Staubitz's fight with Jordan Tootoo in the previous meeting
March 19th at HP Pavilion. Staubitz blitzed Tootoo landing 18 punches in quick succession. The fallout
according to John Glennon of the Nashville Tennessean came from Tootoo, general manager David Poile and even NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.
Campbell told Glennon in an email "A player can leave his glove on to fight if he wants, so if he was hitting him with a piece of equipment that was worn legally there is no rule in place for that. If he hit him with an elbow instead of a fist there is no rule to prevent that at the moment." It may not specifically be in the rule book, but it may be added in the offseason. The only problem is that the video does not show Staubitz using an elbow "in mixed martial-arts fashion" to strike Tootoo. It shows him throwing a series of left hands where elbows may be hitting him on the follow through, before he switches to his right for several more punches, finishing with an uppercut.
There may be a different in-house camera angle shown during the event with a clearer display of the action, but if this is a test case for banning elbows it is not a good one. More discussion
from James Mirtle.
- The Forechecker's Dirk Hoag posted a Predators update
today, and recapped the 3-2 Predators win here
. Dirk also has a differing opinion
on the Staubitz-Tootoo fight.
- Sharks get mauled by Predators
- Ryan Leong for SFexaminer.com.
If last night's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was a disappointment, blowing a two goal lead to the Nashville Predators is simply a failure. Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi scored first period power play goals but the Predators scored three goals in under three minutes and held on for a 3-2 win.
“They were a tired team after a long game in Chicago,” Nashville forward Steve Sullivan said. “So we took it to them early and often in the first period, and carried the momentum well into the second period. Even though they had the 2-0 lead, we thought we were the fresher team and if we kept on going after them good things would happen.”
- San Jose Sharks playoff tickets for Games 'A' and 'B' will go on sale to the public Saturday, March 28th at 10AM (PT). Visit SJsharks.com
for more information.
HOW INJURIES AFFECT POINTS EARNED - JAMES MIRTLE
- Another pair of excellent posts by James Mirtle examine how injuries affect performance
in the NHL, and chart each team's man games lost to injury
Mirtle published the chart above from Ohio State University mathematics graduate student Kyle Joecken showing that on average 100 man games lost to injury equals 10 points lost in the standings or "Basically, you lose one point for every 20 man-games lost." The conclusion is based on data from the 2005-06 season to 2007-08.
The March 18th post chronicling each team's man games lost to injury charts totals from the last 3 seasons as well as a projected total for 2008-09. The Sharks are conspicuous for their relatively injury-free seasons in 05-06 and 06-07, with 123 and 159 man games lost respectively. In 2007-08 the Sharks lost 200 games due to injury, and they are projected to lose 202 games to injury this season. The total over 4 years for San Jose is projected to be 684 games lost, for a 171/year average (22nd in the NHL). The New York Islanders rank 1st overall this season (566 projected games lost), and 1st overall in the projected 4 year total (1567 games lost), with an average of 392 games lost per season during that span.
One Sharkspage reader noted that most of the Sharks injuries came after January 1st. Prior to San Jose's game with Dallas on Saturday the Sharks had 107 man games lost to injury after January 1st, as well as 41 games where players did not dress. A handful of DND's were healthy scratches (Alexei Semenov, Jody Shelley), but many were injuries not officially recorded in the NHL stats (Blake, Ehrhoff, Boyle, Shelley). That means that either 107 or somewhere near 140 of the Sharks projected 202 man games lost to injury total for 2008-09 will have come after January 1st. Add in recent injuries to Ryane Clowe, Tomas Plihal, Jonathan Cheechoo, Marcel Goc, Rob Blake, Jonathan Cheechoo, Claude Lemieux, Mike Grier, recently acquired Kent Huskins, and a season long injury to Torrey Mitchell and the Sharks are going to almost certainly exceed that projected amount.
- On a lighter note, professional poker players Maria Ho, Tiffany Michelle
, Layne Flack and Rick Fuller recently attended the Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings game on March 14th while in town for the WPT Shooting Stars event at Bay 101. Tiffany Michelle posted a youtube clip of here and Maria scalping tickets and watching the game here
. Steve Brecher won the 2009 Bay 101 Shooting Star
WPT event this year.
Former Predators blogger and Bluff Magazine writer Jason Kirk turned me on to this WPT event a few years ago. Besides seeing Jennifer Tilly and Shannon Elizabeth play live, one of the best moments was watching one of the tables along with a former WSOP champion. Kirk told me a moving story about professional poker players rallying around a sick blogger that covered them.
- Two new websites added to the blog role under NHL media and media blogs, Maxhockey.com
and Taking Note
- Prior to the NHL lockout, then San Jose mayor Ron Gonzales sent a letter
to the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Executive Director Robert W. Goodenow, Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison, and forwarded it to the mayors of 29 other NHL cities. In the letter Gonzales cited the impact NHL teams have on communities from local services to downtown business. The number mentioned most often was that the Sharks could have a $100+ million a year impact on downtown San Jose.
There was an interesting study recently released taking a look at HP Pavilion's impact after 15 years of operation in San Jose. The City of San Jose commissioned the "Economic & Fiscal Impact Analysis" study prepared by the market research firm SportsEconomics.
According to SJsharks.com
, since opening in September 1993 HP Pavilion has seen 20 million visitors attend over 2,600 events generating a $1.7 billion economic impact and creating an estimated 5,000 jobs.
According to the Economic & Fiscal Impact Analysis, the level of activity has resulted in an annual fiscal impact of $2.4 million for a Sharks season and $3 million for high-end entertainment acts.
“Approximately $92 million per year is spent outside of HP Pavilion on businesses located in San Jose by visitors coming to the City specifically to watch, or participate in, events at the facility. This spending benefits the owners and employees of those downtown establishments thereby creating a positive direct impact,” said Dr. Daniel Rascher, president, SportsEconomics. “The venue’s proximity to the overall Downtown San Jose ecosystem ensures that this positive economic impact is happening at nearby hotels, restaurants, clubs and retail outlets,” said Rascher.
The impact would most certainly be larger if BART service was extended
to San Jose. The HP Pavilion economic report is available in PDF form at sjeconomy.com
. The Sports Economics research firm website is available at sportseconomics.com
, and San Jose's official website is available at sanjoseca.gov
. Sharkspage's lighthearted 2004 interview with former mayor and brief president of the Calgary Flames fan club Ron Gonzales is available here
- Other Sharks reading you might have missed: the Hockey News published a feature
on Rob Blake and how he is fitting into the San Jose franchise, Yahoo's Puck Daddy linked to a new fashion trend
hitting the Sharks locker room (this time inspired by Joe Thornton and not Jeremy Roenick)... yoga underwear
, and one of the most bizarre headlines of the year by the Mercury News; McNealy's hockey dome 'visual blight'?
. Can't a man have a hockey dome in peace?
[Update] Northwest: Nolan lives by his own code
Back in his days in San Jose, Owen Nolan was known for his steely glare, his at-best standoff-ish approach with local reporters, and his nickname, "Buster." Some of the writers, in fact, referred to him from time to time as "Buster Crab."
Now a 37-year-old with the Minnesota Wild, it turns out Nolan's persona hasn't changed much. He's still the power forward with the hard edge and the smile that only comes out on special occasions. But if the Wild scrape their way into the playoffs, Nolan is going to deserve a good deal of the credit...
Just as in San Jose, Nolan is an imposing figure in Minnesota. The Wild impose a dress code on the road, but Nolan doesn't adhere to it, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. According to the paper, he showed up for a recent trip "looking like the bad guy in a Clint Eastwood western, with his blue jeans, gray stubble and gunmetal glare."
[Update2] Predators have the West just where they want it
- Nashville Tennessean.