Tommy Wingels scored twice, Sharks hold on for penalty filled 4-3 preseason win over Vancouver Canucks

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Monday, September 26, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

The Sharks returned to the scene of last year’s playoff exit, but there remained a considerable amount of tension bubbling just under the surface for an average preseason game. Right wing Tommy Wingels continued his solid exhibition season for San Jose with 2 goals. One on a nice off the wall feed by Joe Pavelski in the first period, the other after Cam MacIntyre and Jamie McGinn squeezed a defenseman behind the net and a puck popped out in front of the crease for a quick Wingels shot. Keeping the stick on the ice and sliding to an open area was a theme Sunday night. Andrew Desjardins labeled a shot high far side after another backhand feed off the wall by John McCarthy. Veteran winger Brad Winchester opened the scoring for San Jose, posting up at the side of the net and punching home a loose puck on the fourth whack. Alexander Sulzer, Cody Hodgson and Nolan Baumgartner (PP) scored for Vancouver. Thomas Greiss stopped 26 of 29 shots against. The 4-3 win helped San Jose tie Nashville for the high water mark in preseason with one fewer game played.

Sunday night facing a prospect heavy lineup, the Sharks were pushed on the scoreboard and on the ice. Several Canucks prospects tried to make an impression on 6-foot-3, 245-pound defenseman Douglas Murray. Battling for a position on Vancouver’s fourth line, forward Aaron Volpatti lined up Murray for a hit along the corner in the first period. Later in the game a Murray shoulder fake froze Volpatti as he tried to line up another hit. The move caused Volpatti to lose his balance and attempt an awkward back-first check. He ended up colliding into the boards and skating off the ice gingerly. Steve Pinizzotto, a minor leaguer also loooking for a spot on the fourth line, telegraphed a hit against Murray and ended up on the wrong side of the force = mass times acceleration equation. Pinizzotto did not return to the game for the second period. Defenseman Aaron Rome also suffered a broken hand for Vancouver and did not return for the third.

The bubble over occured halfway through the second period. Murray stepped up and stepped through Maxim Lapierre at the top of the offensive zone. As Lapierre is wont to do, he made a b-line straight for a smaller player, in this case Murray’s defensive partner Dan Boyle. As Murray came over to pull Lapierre off Boyle, Antoine Roussel dropped the gloves with him and ended up on the receiving end of 10 heavy punches. Lapierre took a knee while fighting Boyle, but the Sharks defenseman continued to land 5 blows despite a pair of linesman trying to pull them apart. Lapierre and Boyle received 2 minutes each for roughing, Murray and Roussel 5 minutes each for fighting. Lapierre earned an extra 2 minutes for cross-checking that was served by 2011 Danish draft pick Nicklas Jensen. Apparently Lapierre’s stint as a role model on the ice was a short one.

The battle for a shrinking number of roster spots has picked up for San Jose with only 2 preseason contests remaining against Vancouver at home on Thursday, and on the road at Phoenix on Saturday. If veterans Brad Winchester (tryout) and Andrew Murray are penciled in on the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins, as many as 5 players could be battling for one spot on the third line. All except former Princeton winger Cam MacIntyre have have NHL experience that could in part color the roster decision: Jamie McGinn (143GP), Benn Ferriero (57GP), Brandon Mashinter (13GP), and Tommy Wingels (5GP). Brad Winchester (323GP), Andrew Murray (181GP), and Ben Guite (175GP) also bring considerable NHL experience. The Sharks coaching staff are somewhat dealing with known quantities. Looking at the third and fourth line depth of the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks, 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks, and 2006-07 Detroit Red Wings, 3 of the last 5 teams to knock San Jose out of the postseason, the decision not to bring in a tested third line scoring winger is a organizational one. The Sharks are tied for first in the NHL for the average number of in-house drafted and developed players on the roster since 2005-06 (12).

Head coach Todd McLellan got to see a situational focus on penalty killing with 11 minor penalties, 1 fighting major, and two 5-on-3′s Sunday night. Andrew Murray and Benn Ferriero lead all forwards with 6:37 and 5:49 shorthanded time on ice respectively. Jamie McGinn (4:31) and Tommy Wingels (3:34) also picked up considerable shorthanded minutes. Defenseman Douglas Murray and Brent Burns also paired up on the penalty kill. Brad Winchester scored the opening goal for San Jose in the first, and created a nice give and go for Andrew Desjardins at the side of the net in the second, but he took a few questionable penalties late in the game. An uneccessary elbow up high was his first minor, but he took a boarding penalty in the second and a roughing penalty after running former Shark Niko Dimitrakos in the third. Knowing when to play physical, when to take liberties, and when to stay out of the box was a significant problem for the Sharks fourth line last year in the regular season and in the playoffs. Douglas Murray also took one of the more obvious penalties of the night, losing an assignment in the slot and racing across the ice to bear hug a forward at the same time Thornton took a roughing call.

With Desjardins in the box 9 seconds into the third period for roughing, Benn Ferriero made a pair of excellent plays shorthanded on subsequent PK shifts. On the first he made a diving clear at the top of the zone, and on the second he made a play that created a turnover and lead to another clear. After having two injured players leave the game, Nolan Baumgartner took a puck off the knee and hobbled off the ice. He would return and later score on a 5-on-3 point shot. The Canucks began their 7th power play late in the third with only 4 shots on goal with the man advantage. With Winchester in the box, Burns took a boarding call leading to 1:07 of a 5-on-3. Desjardins, Murray and Vandermeer were the PK unit on the ice. After Baumgartner scored, San Jose still had to kill 1:25 of Burns’ penalty when Wingels high sticked Hodgson. With 4 seconds left on a 5-on-3, the Sharks lost a critical d-zone faceoff and the Canucks quickly maneuvered the puck on net. Ebbett tipped a shot through traffic wide. Pulling goaltender Lack with one minute left, Douglas Murray and Brent Burns combined for late clears to ice San Jose’s fourth straight preseason win.

Former Sharks Owen Nolan and Niko Dimitrakos were released by the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night. Also put on waivers by the St. Louis Blues was former Shark Jonathan Cheechoo. The San Jose Sharks released four players to the AHL Worcester Sharks Monday afternoon, including goaltenders Thomas Heemskerk and Tyson Sexsmith, defenseman Nick Petrecki, and forward Brandon Mashinter.

[Update] Owen Nolan: Cut by Canucks, considerable class act – Yahoo’s Puck Daddy.

[Update2] Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault questioned the legitimacy of Douglas Murray’s hit on Rome in a post-game press conference Sunday night:

I think for players now, I look at tonight’s game and there is going to be an adaptation period on what referees are going to call and what they are not going to call in the interpretation.

I look at Murray’s hit on Lapierre tonight. If that is not exactly what Aaron Rome did last year, it is. It is probably .2 .3 seconds later than what Romer did on Norton. There is adaptation period that everyone is going through from the new guy in charge of discipline, to the referees on what they have been told on the ice.

It is going to be very interesting to see how everybody adapts from the players, to the referees, to the coaches cause it is a real fine line right now.

Irregardless of the fact that Murray’s hit came less than two seconds (total) after Lapierre’s pass, nowhere near Aaron Rome’s situation despite Vigneault’s statement, it was not even the most questionable late hit of the game. Maxim Lapierre hit Tommy Wingels high in the third period while he was 10 feet off the puck. Murray’s hit on Lapierre didn’t draw a penalty. Lapierre’s drew an interference call. It was a clear admonition from the referees, and reluctantly acknowledged by the Canadian announcers. The questions heading into the 2011-12 are not only about hits to the head and how players are going to adjust to the new Rule 48 guidelines, but how officials can better stamp down on dives and attempts to manufacture penalties, of which Vancouver was one of the more egregious offenders. Complaints from fans and media of one playoff opponent can be written off as sour grapes. When each opponent at every step of a Stanley Cup Final run complains of heavily exaggerated dives, it needs to be addressed by the league. This isn’t European soccer.

[Update3] The Hockey News puck panel of Edward Fraser, Ryan Kennedy and Rory Boylen evaluated the 2011-12 Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, Anaheim Ducks today.

[Update4] Was Alain Vigneault right to play the Nathan Horton card? – Yahoo Puck Daddy.

[Correction] Added note of both remaining preseason games, Vancouver @Sharks on Thursday, Sharks @Phoenix on Saturday.

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