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Game Notes #20: Blichfeld Injures MacKinnon, Avs Shut Out Sharks 4-0



Credit: Sheng Peng

Period 1

First shift, Ferraro does a nice job staying with MacKinnon. He seems to have defended MacKinnon well in this series.

Kadri got away with a trip on Knyzhov, 4 minutes in.

5 minutes in, nifty move by Leonard to escape Rantanen forecheck.

6 minutes in, Karlsson with Copperfield-worthy sleight of hand on Timmins. He looks “fresh” tonight, good sign.

7 minutes in, Meier pulls up, good vision and playmaking to hit Gambrell for tip in front. Karlsson would be proud. Meier is a better playmaker than given credit for.

Jones with a big save on Landeskog coming down slot on PK.

To clarify, rest of Sharks were down the ice. But the bench saw it. Doesn’t need to be a fight, but an authority figure needs to let O’Connor know that’s not going to fly.

Fantastic individual effort by Kane to knock puck off Girard’s stick off DZ draw. Then he’s off, near breakaway. He’s been fantastic recently. Bottle up his last 6-game-or-so performance, he’s a steal at $7 million per. Of course, we know it probably won’t last.

5 minutes left, great read by Vlasic to rush down wall, keep it in. It’s a tough place with him: It’s faint praise, but I think he’s still one of the San Jose Sharks organization’s best-six defensemen. Basically, he’s still a useful NHL player, he’s just overpaid by a mint.

3 minutes left, after nice shift, I see Donato get pat on back on jumbotron. Donato did good work to hang onto puck on carry-in.

2 minutes left, Balcers appears to make an egregious DZ turnover. Moving puck out, he tosses it softly to nobody along wall. I’ll re-watch, but stuff like that has been somewhat regular, and something he wants to clean up if he wants to be more than a skill forward on a bad team.

I thought period was more even, but Natural Stat Trick has Colorado 10-3 Scoring Chances, 7-1 High-Danger at 5-on-5. San Jose pretty perimeter, I’ll say that. But if that was the Avalanche storm after their team meeting this morning, Sharks withstood it.

For what it’s worth, SPORTLOGiQ has it Colorado 2-1 Slot Shots on Net, All Situations. That feels closer to right to me.

Period 2

Couture misses breakout pass up middle on first shift, then icing. Sloppy start.

Really, really sloppy start for San Jose Sharks. Karlsson can’t shake first forechecker this time (Bellemare), doesn’t lose it, but is pushed deeper into zone. Then Blichfeld hooking.

Ferraro just positively zeroed in and finished off Landeskog in corner on PK. MacKinnon line out there forever, he has impressive tightrope work on blueline versus Kane, beats him down slot. Then Vlasic with strong stick on high-low COL pass. Sharks kill it, but they need positive offensive momentum.

6 minutes in, ugly exit pass from Balcers, turnover. Next shift, Couture may have saved an easy backdoor goal for Avs.

Following shift, Ferraro does fantastic job to skate out Couture DZ faceoff win. Gets under Rantanen check. Slick and slippery, he’s been good tonight. Credit to he and Burns, Karlsson got all the press last game, but it was Ferraro-Burns holding off the MacKinnon line.

8 minutes in, Balcers and Meier do create first legit offensive push for San Jose Sharks. Balcers wins a 50-50 puck race behind goal line, gives it back to Meier, who finds Marleau in slot.

10 minutes left, interesting shift: Knyzhov point shot blocked, but he stays with it, doesn’t allow Donskoi to figure it out, wins puck back. Then Karlsson bobbles at blueline, think it’s Nichushkin. Karlsson chases, Donskoi picks up puck at slot, but True just outmuscles him. Study in how to recover from a mistake in hockey.

9 minutes left, MacKinnon coming down slot, Ferraro stays with him. I’ve been really impressed with Ferraro, feels like he’s arrived.

8 minutes left, Knyzhov does nice job in one-on-one situation with Saad.

Jones sucks in the rebound at opportune time again, credit where it’s due. Quietly, been backbone for a Sharks squad that has been outplayed tonight.

Can’t keep a good man down: The top line and top defensive pairing get caught on long shift, after Couture turns it over on possible exit, then Burns hard reverse rim doesn’t get far enough down the ice. Relentless work by MacKinnon and company.

Good hustle by Donato next shift, that’s a response shift, draws penalty.

Minute left, good battle between Rantanen and Ferraro. Rantanen hanging onto puck, he stops handling it for a second to just try to cold shoulder Ferraro. Honestly, haven’t seen that a lot. Seconds left, Burns hits Labanc after tiring MacKinnon line shift, Labanc fails to get it out. It’s been a rough period for him, wrong side of a lot of stuff.

Weird period: Colorado definitely had control, but San Jose seemed to keep them more to perimeter. In fact, Natural Stat Trick has San Jose up 1-0 Scoring Chances at 5-on-5, no High-Danger for either side. Rantanen chance was from some distance.

Period 3

Minute in, have actually liked Meier’s game today, but ugly, ugly turnover, bad pass from wall to center.

5 minutes in, on breakout, Labanc ambushed by Avs forecheck, rushes pass. He hasn’t been playing fast tonight. And then off draw, Girard cranks shot past Jones. Save you want, but Colorado served an OZ faceoff by a poor prior shift by San Jose Sharks.

6 minutes in, good Karlsson rush. Need more of that. Liked his first, not a great second, let’s see what he’s got for rest of game.

That’s not the impression that Blichfeld wanted to make in his San Jose Sharks debut this year:

I don’t see intent to injure, personally. Blichfeld has to be careful to not contact the head, that’s his responsibility. But MacKinnon surging forward, lower to ice. It’s a hockey play, puck is on Mac’s stick. I don’t see a suspension here, definite penalty. But I don’t always see this stuff well: Regardless, hope MacKinnon is OK.

Thinking about it, still see a gray area: MacKinnon is surging forward, lower. Your job is to stop him. Obviously, you’re not aiming for the head. Blichfeld is low too, leading with shoulder. Is that a situation to let up? If you see the head, face, maybe. Maybe that’s what guys need to learn. But if you don’t until it’s too late?

In the end, NHL will probably suspend, it’s still a head shot to an absolute superstar, but I don’t think it will get more than a game or two.

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