Sharks look crisp, polished in 5-1 preseason stomping of Anaheim Friday night at HP Pavilion

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Saturday, September 24, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks preseason Brad Winchester Sean Zimmerman
ANAHEIM D #40 ZIMMERMAN CHOPS LEGS OUT FROM UNDER LW #10 BRAD WINCHESTER IN 3RD

San Jose Sharks Anaheim Ducks preseason hockey fight Brandon Mashinter Francois Beauchemin
#72 BRANDON MASHINTER THROWS WITH #23 FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN AFTER BIG MASH HIT

San Jose Sharks preseason right wing Andrew Murray shot
RW #28 ANDREW MURRAY FINISHED WITH 1G, 4SOG, AND 15:07 TOI

The San Jose Sharks earned their second heavily lopsided preseason victory over the Anaheim Ducks in three nights, this time pulling out a 5-1 win with goals by 5 different players. Matt Irwin (PP), Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray, Torrey Mitchell (PP) and Andrew Murray (PP) scored for San Jose and goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped 13 of 14 shots against. Ryan Getzlaf scored the lone power play goal for Anaheim in the second period with help from a leaping Corey Perry screen in front.

If preseason games can be seen as a tool for teams to prepare for the regular season, they also can reflect on the state of a team’s preperation up to a point. Early in the first period it was clear the San Jose Sharks were the crisper, more energetic side. Passes were on the tape, players were moving well off the puck and getting up and down the ice. The battle for open positions on the Sharks side is intense, with several players taking every opportunity to make an impression in front the coaching staff and fans. Anaheim may treat the development aspect of preseason differently. In the second they were assessed a bench minor penalty for failing to take the ice in time to be ready for the start of the period. Last year the Ducks were outshot in every preseason game but 1 (190-163), losing 4 of 6 in the process. This year that trend has intensified with 3 straight losses and a 114-64 margin. In two back-to-back contests against the Sharks they have given up a combined 11 goals and 77 shots.

“It’s a preseason game and I think we have to take a look at the positives,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “We did a lot of good things right, but they had a quarter of their lineup out there.”

A surprisingly strong 16,541 near sellout crowd was very vocal to kick off the preseason at HP Pavilion. While they were able to see right wing Andrew Murray and defenseman Matt Irwin score their first goals as Sharks, and defenseman Brent Burns register his first point in the second period, the focus shifted more to the play of Thomas Greiss in net and the competitive play of the Sharks prospective third and fourth lines. Greiss, who should see the bulk of starts in preseason with Niemi on a short term recovery track from minor surgery and Niittymaki several months out, was in regular season form in net. Positionally, he was aggressive and crisp. Breaking up several oncoming chances with his stick, Greiss also covered the lower portion of his net well with traffic collapsing around him. On Wednesday night, a fluke deflection off the defense caught Greiss moving the wrong direction to keep him from registering a shutout against the Ducks. On home ice Friday it was the leaping screen of Corey Perry that set up Ryan Getzlaf for a power play goal. Anaheim split duty between Dan Ellis for two periods and Jeff Deslauriers for the third. Ellis gave up 4 goals on 36 shots against, Deslauriers 1 goal on 13 shots.

During the Teal and White scrimmage, and both preseason games against Anaheim, veteran winger Brad Winchester has made an impression in front of the net. On a preseason fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Andrew Murray, Winchester was a net front presence at every opportunity in his own zone. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame was an issue for both Ducks goaltenders, and he was very difficult to move from out front by the Anaheim defense. One of the players battling Winchester for the opportunity to play is hulking 6-foot-4, 235-pound Brandon Mashinter. Mashinter started the second with an impressive shift, slowly curling around the Ducks net and battling a pair of players to get off a wraparound shot. Keeping his feet moving to corral the rebound, he chopped the legs out from a Ducks player sans penalty. Later in the second defenseman Mathieu Carle tried to slow down Mashinter with a hit along the boards, but he ended up in a heap on the ice. After crunching veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin with a big hit along the end boards in the third, Mashinter got into an extended fight that saw both players bloodied. While the topic of fighting in hockey is a controversial one at the moment, the dangers of getting hurt by an irresponsible play on the ice are very real. Scoring goals and keeping opponents honest are two of Mashinter’s strengths. Brad Winchester ragdolled Mark Bell in another fight near the end of the third period.

On a third line with McGinn, Handzus and Mitchell, it was McGinn and Mitchell slashing through the offensive zone early in the first. A hip check by Peter Holland narrowly prevented a clean Torrey Mitchell breakaway on goal. McGinn has speed, offensive instincts, and as evidenced by the playoffs last year, he can make an impact with physical play, but in order to stick with the NHL roster for the full 82 game season he will need production. He has impressed averaging over half a season the last three years, but his best year in 2009-10 saw him register only 13 points. Last year he scored a goal and 5 assists in 49 appearances. McGinn will not only need to put numbers on the board, but he will have to give the Sharks staff confidence he can add production in the playoffs as well or EVP/GM Doug Wilson may keep an eye on trade deadline options.

A late first period penalty saw a huge momentum swing for the San Jose Sharks which never subsided. The top power play unit of Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski had the puck on a string and Anaheim chasing the play. Defenseman Brent Burns registered the play of the night with a blind, spinning keep-in at the point. A Duck beat him to the loose puck at his feet, but he dove to the ice to prevent a clear. That directly resulted in two more scoring chances down low, and repeated oohh’s and aahh’s from the crowd after several near misses. “I think there should be some enthusiasm,” San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said after the game. “If you look at the two games, we had great leadership from the veterans. We played a fast, upbeat game and we saw some of the things we wanted to implement through training camp.”

Just using the on-ice play late in the game as an example, the blueprint for the third and fourth lines may have come into a little clearer focus. On successive shifts, Brad Winchester and Michal Handzus made a b-line to set up in front of the net after faceoff wins. A faceoff loss by Marleau prevented Thornton from driving the net from the wing on a third straight shift, something he did repeatedly earlier in the game. If Marleau and Havlat are going to key a speed/netfront offensive element on the top two lines, the third and fourth line may be geared to a more grinding, physical style. Whether that remains as the preseason and regular season progresses, and which players are in place to execute that gameplan, is a good question moving forward.

Newly acquired defenseman Brent Burns lined up a huge point shot in the second, allowing Handzus to easily direct the rebound to Torrey Mitchell at the side of the net for a goal. Earlier in the second period Burns tried to split the defense but was hit simultaneously by both. Keeping his feet moving, he skated around the traffic he created and checked defenseman Bryan Rodney as he played the puck behind his own net. Burns created a turnover, allowing a Sharks forward to create a scoring chance on the far side. “That was fun. It was a great experience; obviously it was a great experience to get the nerves out,” Burns said of his first preseason game in San Jose. “Coming out of the Shark head was a little scarier than I thought it would be. I couldn’t see anything for like 15 feet.” Not being boo’d was also listed as a bonus after the game by Burns. Quite the opposite, several overly exuberant fans were screaming his name in unison as they headed out to the parking lot after the game.

One more note on the updates inside HP Pavilion. According to VP of Business Operations Rich Soleto, the new clear glass system fits into a spring loaded channel inside the boards. In addition to the flex between panels, the result will be a much safer environment for hockey players in addition to the increased visibility for fans. It is different from the hardened, no-give seamless glass several teams used to use. Other changes are the pair of electronic ad panels in the boards, and the rounded glass at either end of the player benches. In addition to new menu items coming to concession stands, there are also a series of large 12-15 foot monitors hanging above the concourse. It is now possible to walk around the concouse without missing a play on the ice. There is no need to stop and watch a play as there is a screen every 50 or so feet.

A photo gallery from the game is available here. Video highlights from the preseason game are available here.

[Update] Tempest over a T-shirt: Sharks ban Bad Boys’ logo, triggering constitutional crisis – SJ Mercury News.

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