Sharks Defence Smothers Wings

The San Jose Sharks took it to the Detroit Red Wings night in a 5-2 win, not just on the scoreboard, but in the coaching department.

The Sharks were 'outshot' 42-28 by Detroit. When I say outshot, you can assume that they were pucks that would have went in if Antti Niemi were not in net. When I say that probably half of them were shots a peewee could stop, now we're talking about 'quality shots' (which would be a neat stat to keep).

Jimmy Howard is getting blasted on certain Red Wings' fan sites, and wrongfully so. After years of blasting him as well, I saw a decent game from him, with some obvious mistakes. Miscue number one was trying to incorporate some crazy Dominik Hasek style which is not his forte. The other miscues? Letting the puck in from time to time.

While he let in four goals on 21 shots, there wasn't one that was directly his fault. Let's take a look, shall we?

Goal # 1 - Joe Pavelski - usually a shorthanded goal is the result of a lack of smarts from the powerplay team, and there was a clear lack of anyone covering Pavelski for a goal with 11 seconds left in the first period. NOT Howard's fault.

Goal # 2 - Joe Thornton - a three on one after a brutal attempt at a slap shot by Henrik Zetterberg that was easily stolen and turned the other way. Howard played three possibilities and got burned because of a bad forward decision. NOT Howard's fault.

Goal # 3 - Mar-Edouard Vlasic - 'Pickles' had a great game with a goal and three assists, and his Geno was on a wrap-around. First of all, the fact that a defenceman is that low and has a scoring chance is on defensive coverage. With traffic in front, Howard almost got there, but ultimately it's a skill play by Vlasic. PARTLY Howard's fault.

Goal # 4 - Torrey Mitchell - another giveaway+odd man rush+no defensive coverage+desperate goalie=goal. NOT Howard's fault.

The bottom line is they didn't help Howard out at all yesterday. He had many terrific stops when Detroit was dominating early after Niklas Kronwall scored for a 1-0 lead. Pavelski's goal seemed to sink the Wings.

Dan Cleary got one back in the third for a 5-2 deficit.

When describing the difference between the team defence from each team, it's night and day. Every player on the Sharks was on all cylinders and had a man every time Detroit had the puck in the zone. Detroit clearly had nothing of the sort, which lead to three Sharks goals.

The problem might be coaching. If you have 42 shots and the other goalie isn't one of the three stars, there's a problem. Mike Babcock either didn't tell his guys to stop shooting from ridiculous angles, or they didn't listen. Babcock was steamed on the bench but his players aren't responding. 

Todd McLellan was probably laughing at his old bench boss as the Wings pointlessly would cycle the puck for 60 seconds, make a dumb shot/giveaway and the Sharks came down and capitalized five times. If I'm the Sharks, I'm thinking, "Go ahead and take the boards. Shoot from 40 feet away. Tire yourselves out. I'll take that giveaway and actually do something with it."

Ty Conklin came in for the third period and immediately stunk out the joint, making HP Pavilion smell more like the old San Jose Cow Palace. He let in a garbage/horrible/brutal/insert expletive here type goal to Brad Winchester (of all people). It was on another giveaway, but Conklin just sucked. You could tell he had no idea where he was in the net and even Fabian Brunnstrom - the guy with three Wings games under his belt - looked skywards. There were also two more instances where Conklin made easy shots look like 150 MPH corner seakers.

Now Detroit gets to travel to Los Angeles to take on the red hot Kings. I can't wait...

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Kyle Busch