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Game Notes #17: Jones Pulled, Wild Pummel Sharks 6-2



Credit: Sheng Peng

First Period

First shift, not sure why Balcers’s stick isn’t down to receive that Meier breakout pass. Details…

Burns for the Hart just based on his highlights against Minnesota this year. But seriously, great freelance decision from Burns. This is the flip side: Burns draws a lot of guff for his poor offense-leaning defensive decisions. But you want an elite talent like Burns to trust his instincts. Good or bad, it should mostly be good, and has been for most of last six years. Brodin, an elite shutdown defenseman, had no idea what was coming at him.

Knyzhov can be a special defender if his hockey brain matches his physical tools. His size and strength allow him to take on the big kids, but he’s able to stick with the small guys with his feet, just saw a little bit of that against Zuccarello, 4 minutes in.

8 minutes in, Burns leads rush, that’s OK, but Balcers can’t do anything with it. But then calamity: After Balcers turnover, Burns knocks down Kaprizov on backcheck (not a bad thing) – but Kaprizov’s prone body basically interferes with Balcers and Burns inadvertently picks Hertl.

Bad luck on Zuccarello goal, but following shift, inexcusable. Ineffectual forecheck from Balcers and Meier, Hertl chases at center ice, out of nowhere, Wild have 3-on-2, Kaprizov gimme. Looked almost like a set play. Once again, San Jose Sharks’ response to a goal against is to give up another goal against.

First 37 seconds of that San Jose Sharks power play, their second one, a study in lack of execution. Nice work by the second unit to execute, have puck poise, connect on passes, teach first unit a lesson there.

In training camp, who would’ve guessed it would be Nikolai Knyzhov with San Jose’s first fighting major this year? He takes on the tough Marcus Foligno.

Knyzhov should take protection lessons from Kurtis Gabriel.

I’ve been hard on Hertl line so far, to their credit, last shift of first period and another shift earlier in the period, they were doing a good job on cycle. Balcers fought through check to keep puck alive. Need more of that.

Second Period

End of Sharks PK, Marleau too tired, can’t get puck to Couture coming out of box. Young Marleau maybe? But San Jose did nice job on that PK denying zone entries.

But good PK goes for naught, as Wild score another too-easy goal. Think Gregor’s stick has to stop that Hartman to Cole pass through middle. Detail plays that make Gambrell more reliable to coaching staff at center.

That was a Parise cross bar I think. Should’ve been 4-1 there, Sharks inexplicably left the 400-goal scorer with all of slot to himself.

After Jones pulled, Meier plays an inspired shift, just powerful down low. He needs to bottle that up.

The following up that shift, great work by Kane to shed Eriksson Ek. He’s been San Jose’s best player recently.

Sorensen taking faceoffs on PK. Was a pretty good kill but looks like Brodin shot might have deflected or fluttered? Either way, last two goals against not a good look for San Jose Sharks goalies.

2 minutes left, Balcers does nice job outmuscling Hartman to puck, establishing body position, but can’t do much with it. But worth watching little things with him, see if he can make a legit NHL impact. That was good work.

Third Period

Sharks start out third period on power play with Couture, Kane, Meier, Leonard, and Burns. Hertl and Labanc on bench for it.

3 minutes in, nice backcheck by Hertl to get puck back, then Meier makes a beauty pass to Balcers.

5 minutes in, Burns coming down wall to get puck, can’t power through 6-foot-6 Greenway. Greenway gotta be one of the few guys in league who can stop Burns in his tracks like that.

Not sure how that’s not a trip on Vlasic (on Kaprizov). Wild bench howling, no pun intended. Terrible telegraphed pass by Balcers; granted, Vlasic can do a better job of moving his feet to be available. 8 minutes to go.

6 minutes left, now Gregor just tosses it up middle on breakout, turnover. I guess you can just chalk up to youngsters trying to make something happen in lost game, so we needn’t be too hard on them. But rout like this is somewhere that young players can get valuable time and experience too, show they’ve got “it”.

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