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Game Notes #23: Sharks Beat Blues 3-2 in OT, Labanc Benched



Credit: Sheng Peng

Period 1

Opening shift, Balcers does outstanding job of skating through forecheck, getting it out with possession. Beats two Blues forecheckers, then Karlsson beats his man up the ice. Husso save on Karlsson in all alone. That’s special work by Balcers.

First time this year that Dubnyk has drawn two straight starts. With the way that Jones is playing, it’s wide-open for him to take the starting job. Looks like the Mikkola goal was deflected.

10 minutes left, turnabout is fair play, Karlsson makes forechecker Kyrou look bad. Remember it was Kyrou who smoked Karlsson in St. Louis earlier this year. Karlsson has his skating “pop” once again.

6 minutes left, Balcers-Gambrell-Nieto once again doing a nice job creating offense. Gambrell keeps his cool on entry, holding puck as a couple Blues converge. Be nice for him to prove detractors, such as myself, wrong. I don’t mean this as a back-handed compliment: I think he has a Barclay Goodrow-like potential. Think he can be a real asset to a winning team’s bottom-six and PK one day. He is miscast now as a middle-six center, but that’s not his fault.

Beaut of a set-up, Nieto to Balcers. Might be best period I’ve seen Balcers play as a San Jose Sharks player.

Stop me if you’ve heard this: Sharks play well against an on-paper superior opponent, find themselves down. Per Natural Stat Trick, SJS 16-12 Corsi, 6-4 Scoring Chances at 5-on-5. Tied 3-3 High-Danger.

Period 2

Is that Leonard out with Couture and Kane? Interesting. Followed by Labanc with Marleau and Donato. Trying to spread talent, I guess, Balcers line was team’s best in opening frame. That means Blichfeld to fourth line.

4 minutes in, big save by Dubnuk on Krug tip. San Jose Sharks have puck but Leonard gets stopped on wall, Faulk pokes it up, Couture gets caught behind play.

Good on Vlasic, it was his blocked shot that started rush that would lead to his goal. Thought it would be cool stat to look up, last time Vlasic goal was assisted by Marleau, but nope. Happened in October last season.

10 minutes left, Nieto does nice job on PK closing on Tarasenko.

And there’s a stretch pass: Krug indirect to Sanford on same PP, Dubnyk stops it.

8 minutes, looks like Knyzhov doesn’t tie up Joshua stick. Karlsson switches on man behind net, Knyzhov needs to take Joshua in front with more authority.

Blues knocking on door here. Dubnyk has been good, Sharks need more offensive pushback.

Blais beats Labanc up ice there, then he takes a penalty. Not good. Walker does nice job to pull up, shake Karlsson, you kind of don’t want middle open like that if you’re Karlsson, but Labanc can’t let guy beat him up ice like that. San Jose Sharks will be lucky to come out of period tied.

5 minutes left, Nieto creates another turnover on PK, this time pursuing puck at left point.

4 minutes left, another Nieto takeaway on PK.

Another Labanc penalty. Rough game for him. Burns with a big block, minute left, but then Perron knuckles a one-timer past Dubnyk.

Tough last shift on period there for Leonard. Has to play faster, couldn’t find handle on puck there a couple times.

Sharks outshot 16-5, 12-5 at evens in this period and it felt like it. It’s a team with no answers and not a lot of time.

Period 3

Sharks power play starts Balcers-Couture-Donato-Kane-Karlsson. Second unit: Leonard-Gambrell-Marleau-Blichfeld-Burns. Absent: Labanc.

Underrated has been a healthy Karlsson’s impact on PP: A lot of puck movement and patience, creating space. He draws attention for Balcers to find Donato off to side, Donato crashes, Couture capitalizes.

9 minutes left, another good Balcers play, Gambrell gets it out, Balcers’s extra effort gets it deep, Sharks go on forecheck. Little plays like that matter a lot.

3 minutes left, Simek on attack, makes a pass to no one in slot, Blues counterattack, but Simek does nice job to hustle hard back.

2 minutes left, nice job by Gambrell to hustle back, identify open Blue, snuff it out.


Dubnyk helps with Karlsson’s pivoting problem haha. Up the ice, Kane scores.

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They don’t ask how pretty, they ask how many.
Good work throughout the game. Bummer that Labanc was benched but he earned it tonight.
Karlsson and Kane. Good combination.

Go Sharks!!


No. Labanc did not. He had a bad period. Singular as in one. One bad period. There were other players who had worse games. Let’s take Marleau and Burns as examples but focus on Burns. I hate the plus minus stat, it speaks to very very little but there was only one player that was a minus player tonight and that was Burns. He was of his angles all night, he was in panic mode on multiple occasions, he was a turnover machine, and he lost his positioning within systems all night. If Burns wasn’t benched last night, neither should… Read more »


Bob is a textbook example of what not to do as a club manager. It’s really, really frustrating to watch after having played as an elite athlete in international football. Taking one of your best forwards all season and benching him over one bad period is a quick way to not only alienate your player, but also make your younger folks to afraid to play well. You want to ensure your message never gets through entirely, do what Bob did today. That and it’s incredibly shortsighted. Older legs are going to have to gobble up those minutes and guys like… Read more »


More evidence of Labanc and his great play.


All while getting an inordinate amount of defensive zone starts.


Want to know what a good coach would do? During the period of suckiness in question, you turn to your player and quietly tell him he’s not up to your standards and why, and tell him you’re going to address it after the game. If that doesn’t motivate the player to see if he can prevent the post game meeting, I don’t know what will.

[…] San Jose took down the Blues in overtime. (San Jose Hockey Now) […]

[…] also helping bring balance to the two power play units, which was looking top-heavy without them. From the last game, after Labanc was benched: “Sharks power play starts Balcers-Couture-Donato-Kane-Karlsson. Second […]

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