2011 Teal and White game showcases new Sharks under bright house lights, Team Teal brings the pain with 5-4 win

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

San Jose Sharks 2011-12 Teal and White game Thomas Greiss Logan Couture

San Jose Sharks 2011-12 Teal and White game Ryane Clowe Michael Sgarbossa

San Jose Sharks 2011-12 Teal and White game Tyson Sexsmith

The 7th annual Teal and White Game for San Jose Sharks season ticket holders was held on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. It was an opportunity to see several new and prospective Sharks under the bright house lights. Fans traversed an overflow parking lot and the blast furnace heat of late summer San Jose to see Brent Burns, Michal Handzus, Colin White, Jim Vandermeer, Andrew Murray and others line up alongside and against last year’s Pacific Division champions. Martin Havlat, still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, was not in the lineup.

One major offseason question has already been answered. ‘The Big Three’ this season will start with Joe Pavelski alongside Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. Pavelski adds another playmaking element to the top line and more consistent production, but he also has the net front style of a player 20 pounds above his weight. It is a scary prospect for the rest of the Western Conference to have Pavelski and Thornton looking to spring Patrick Marleau down the wing game in and game out. In the first it was a quick breakout pass by defenseman Brent Burns that launched Marleau down the ice on a breakaway. The Sharks got away from their speed game somewhat in 2010-11, but a big part of that was the lack of aggressive puck managment out of their own zone. Not only having Burns and Dan Boyle, but having them split on the top two defensive pairings will open up the Sharks offense considerably. In the first two minutes it was Thornton and Pavelski creating a defensive note with a strong forecheck. Thornton intercepted a breakout pass and wired a shot on goal, then ground in the corner with Pavelski to create a second turnover.

On Team White it was Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe and Benn Ferriero on the top line. Along with Havlat, Couture and Clowe could be considered a second ‘Big Three’. The chemistry Couture and Clowe maintained last season will be bolstered by the speed and creativity of Havlat, but it could take time for them to find a rythym. Couture scored 17 goals and registered 30 points in 40 games from Novemeber to January. He helped power the Sharks through their lowest point of the season which included a 6-game losing streak. The 22-year old Couture has also become one of the more consistent playoff scorers in two extended postseason runs. The adjustment period for Couture and Havlat could be little to non-existent to start the season. On Tuesday night’s scrimmage, Couture had the puck on his stick with his mouth wide open flying down the left wing to snap the first shot on goal.

A failed backhand clear by Team Teal’s defense lead to the first goal of the game by #56 right wing Brodie Reid. On the other side of the ice, defenseman Sena Acolatse labeled a hard slapshot high of the net. The Teal and White scrimmage was played for two 30-minute halves, with a half speed round of shootouts at the end. In goal for Team Teal was Thomas Greiss in the first, Tyson Sexsmith in the second. Harri Sateri played the first for Team White, Thomas Heemskerk in goal for the second. Griess played his way up through the Sharks organization to back up Evgeni Nabokov, but was loaned to Byrnas of the Swedish Elite League last year after the additions of Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi. With Niemi recovering from a short term injury, and Niittymaki a little futhur out with a lower body injury, Griess could be given a large workload in the interim. Solid technically with a large frame, confidence and compete level were two issues Greiss needed to improve on in order to maximize his potential. Tracking the puck through traffic was a concern for Greiss early, but he improved as the period progressed. Harri Sateri also looked very good in goal for Team White. Whether Sateri can push Greiss in the preseason to back up Niemi will be an interesting battle to monitor going forward.

After a massive collision between 5-foot-11, 170-pound left wing Michael Sgarbossa and 6-foot-3, 220-pound Brandon Mashinter, Team White was forced to kill off their predetermined 5-minute penalty. In the scrimmage, each team would have to kill off a 5 minute power play, White in the first, Teal in the second. A slashing penalty on Colin White that dropped a forward in the corner to give Team Teal a 2-minute 5-on-3. Joe Thornton slid the puck into Patrick Marleau on the doorstep. Marleau was sandwiched between two defenseman, but neither checked him off the puck. Marleau corraled the puck on his stick, then slid it back to Thornton who kept his stick on the ice. Thornton one-timed the pass back on net to score the first goal of the game for Team Teal. Offensive defenseman Justin Braun would help set up the second. Braun has a natural, quick release from the point and offensive instincts that make him a tantalizing prospect for the future. A quick Braun shot deflected off of the new endboards directly to Joe Pavelski in the slot. Pavelski buried it. Game tied 2-2.

Patrick Marleau completed the top line trifecta with a power play goal to start the second half, but Teal failed to convert on a solid breakaway opportunity and a net front Michal Handzus deflected a shot past Tyson Sexsmith. Torrey Mitchell and Colin White were credited with assists. On the other side of the ice, Thomas Heemskerk deflected a flicked shot on goal into the corner, but trying to clear the puck up ice Douglas Murray banked it off the back of the goaltender’s pads and into his own net. Thornton celebrated a little too much on the own goal, directly in front of Murray. 4-3 Teal after being down by two goals to start the game. Jamie McGinn joins Handzus and Mitchell to start the 5 minute power play in the second for Team White. After being checked hard twice in the allegedly non-checking scrimmage, Jason Demers hammers a hard, low shot on goal. Jamie McGinn, still moving, slid to the center of the slot and deflected it far side by Sexsmith. 4-4.

There seemed to be a Teal-wide effort to target Douglas Murray. After Burns and Vandermeer boxed out forwards for Sexsmith to make a save, Brent Burns bear hugged Murray and tugged at his jersey. Vandermeer and the referee were both laughing as Murray skated away. Murray was laughing too. After impressing at last year’s rookie tournament and training camp, and at this year’s rookie tournament and training camp, left wing Michael Sgarbossa dotted his t’s and crossed his i’s with the game winning goal with 43.7 seconds left. A hard backhand to forehand move saw him beat Heemskerk with a highlight reel play. Team Teal won the regulation portion of the scrimmage 5-4. Sgarbossa also scored in the shootout with quick wrist shot for Teal. Marleau, Clowe, Couture and Pavelski also scored in the SO.

The Teal and White game is a great opportunity to see the players and lines prior to the start of the preseason, but it was also an opportunity for fans to meet fellow season ticket holders, and interact with players for autographs and photos after the game. There were several booths for younger fans including face painting, balloons, photo portraits and caricatures, and an on-ice skate post-scrimmage skate. There were also several upgrades to the facilities, the details of which were not readily available. There was new glass and boards from Sport System Corp. The glass elements are larger, clearer and still have some flex. Instead of the silver sheath stanchion that slid between the old glass, the new partions are grey and white which should make for better visibility live and on broadcast. The boards are also different as evidenced by the Braun caromb that resulted in Pavelski’s goal. There may be a number of shots off the end boards in preseason as the Sharks try to fine tune the bounces. There was also word of new seats and electronic advertising, but keep an ear out for confirmation on that.

A photo gallery from the scrimmage is available here.

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