SAN JOSE 4
The result of tonight's game is quite frustrating; with the first reason being that we lost to a team that essentially only had 4 defencemen. It's rather inexcusable that we weren't even able to outshoot SJ tonight. We should have been able to run them into the ground in the offensive zone.
We were of course shorthanded in our own way; without Ales Hemsky and against a decent team we simply had to lean way too hard on one line. More on that in the player reports section.
One positive thing we did tonight was activate the defencemen into the cycle. Too bad we don't really score off the cycle.
I will re-iterate my yearly prediction that SJ won't wind up accomplishing anything this season. They are simply too thin and even in their areas of strength are improperly constructed to win a championship. Their chances increased slightly now that they changed goaltenders, but elsewhere they are still lacking. Their D is the most obvious weakness, and I don't see them addressing that in a major way. They will also have to lean far too hard on Thornton, Heatley and Marleau who have all shown their inability to lead these guys to the promised land. They should have totally reloaded several years ago and have not. Good luck with the insanity SJ!
I have a feeling that many regulars were missing tonight's game to partake in Grey Cup related festivities...the crowd was a very strange one and didn't follow the usual course.
Gerber starting tonight would have been interesting for me. I'd really like to see what he could do if he settled into a bit of a groove. I know why this won't happen, but that doesn't make it the right decision. On to PLAYER REPORTS
- A fairly weak game from him tonight. Whether Pavelski whiffed on his shot or not, Dubnyk's got to have that one and looked totally handcuffed. He also handled the puck badly tonight, resulting in a couple chances and seemed to be a little lost in his crease. I'm not sure how Heatley's first beat him so badly either. There were some bad rebounds to boot. He needs to be better than this. He didn't face a ton of quality chances and sure faced fewer shots than he's used to.
- A weaker night from these two than their last couple efforts. It was Smid rather than Whitney who was carrying the puck in his own zone tonight which is kind of strange. Whitney got out of position a number of times and wasn't very physical. He did jump into the offence, which was a plus. Kind of a blah game all around from these guys.
- No massive hits from Theo tonight, which isn't really a big deal but you now notice when he doesn't land a big one. With the puck he was just okay. Decent defensive positioning though. Gilbert carried the puck better in the neutral zone and was okay in the offensive zone, but gave it away in his own zone due to iffy passes and panicky play a few times. Not exactly progress. Every time he tries to hit, he gets out of position; he needs to stop that and just play his game.
- Kind of a strange game from these guys by my eye. They looked really scary (in the BAD way) on the ice for much of tonight but never really had it bite them. Foster took some hard shots but really needs to do some accuracy work. He should be scoring on several of them and is either missing the net or hitting the goalie square. It's too bad he isn't better at hitting forwards' sticks. Vandermeer took a decently timed shot that ricocheted of an SJ forward for his goal; which I'm sure he'll take. He actually looked like a decent skater at times tonight which helped defensively.
- They had 2 fairly effective shifts in the game with sustained offensive pressure, but unfortunately none of them are able to make a strong enough play on the puck that this matters. Stortini managed to skate himself into a couple shooting situations in the second period which was good to see. He needs to do more of that. I have no real interest in the other 2. One lands one large hit that borders on a charge each game and the other just sorta does nothing.
- Nothing at all like their last effort. While Penner had a fairly strong game and ragged the puck by himself on several occasions to generate chances, he had absolutely no help in the offensive zone and minimal help (mostly from Cogliano) in the defensive zone. He needed a Hemsky or Gagner playing with him tonight and he probably would have had a couple more points. Oh well...Cogliano didn't go to the scoring areas during any point of the game tonight and returned to being a perimeter guy; something he's terrible at doing. I will give him credit for some attempted physical play. On a night like tonight with SJ's D short, Cogliano and Brule could've been a holy terror for SJ to deal with and were not effective at all. Penner made a great little play to Gagner for his goal. Beauty read.
- Penner should have replaced Jones in the second half of the third. While I appreciate the effort Jones gave (he won a lot of races, drove the net and made some intelligent choices), he wasn't enough to make this an effective second scoring unit. It's really too bad he's not a better shooter because he makes the most of his skating and takes excellent lines to the puck. Gagner played a pretty solid game. He fought hard to get the first goal after first being rejected on a nice backhand that required a lot of patience to begin with, helped (along with Magnus) to screen on the third goal, and generally worked very hard in the offensive zone. While he was provided marginal support by his linemates, he like Penner was capable of more tonight. Magnus showed glimpses of his skating speed again, and had a fabulous chance to tie the game late but missed a clean wrister wide-left. Too bad because it would've been pretty.
- These guys carried the offensive ball tonight and nearly got it over the goal line. Eberle made two bad mistakes (1 SH turnover in the second that resulted in the Heatley goal and a similar turnover 5-on-5 in the third that didn't cost us, and was more out of trying to hard than making a mistake) but was fabulous in the offensive zone. He owned the corners, retrieved a ton of pucks and made some excellent passes. After watching Horcoff shoot to the wrong spot on an odd man rush with Eberle, he went over and said something to him; the next rush Eberle led, took a very intelligent shot and the rebound went right to Horcoff for his goal. Beauty. He even got Horcoff a chance late on a pass I have no idea how he got through. Hall showed a lot of promise tonight, carrying the puck aggressively into tough areas and often coming out with it. While his shots from the wing still sailed wide, he nearly tied it in the third on a pure wrister from the slot. It was impressive that shot nearly went in because it was so plain. Horcoff had a mostly strong game and certainly worked his tail off; though I would like to point out that he too made a mistake in the third that cost a should have been goal; he got his first shot attempt muffled in the slot, then the puck came back to him. Rather than take one step to his left, which would have afforded him a wide open shot at a wide open net (Antero had slid the other way), Horcoff simply hacked away and didn't score. Very disappointing. Kind of surprising he didn't score on the chance he had in close in the first after a nifty little play was made at the blue to get him the puck (by either Eberle or Hall). Horcoff got his chances tonight.
When you only have one effective offensive line, this stuff happens. With that said, we had our chances. Definitely a winnable game as that was NOT an 'A' effort from SJ.
*NOTE* I will be missing the next 2 home games on a trip to Las Vegas to run in a half marathon, so no game reports for those. Sorry guys!