Monday, January 19, 2004

Sharks 2, Wings 1

In what was the first of a 5 game West coast trip that will take the Wings to San Jose, Anaheim, LA, Phoenix, and Dallas, the Wings seemed to be suffering from jet lag tonight in the 2-1 loss to the Sharks. The Wings got to San Jose yesterday to try to limit the strain of cross-country travel. Sure, they generated offense that is reflected by their 35 shots to San Jose's 24, but they were unable to get rebounds off of Evgeni Nabokov, who swallowed up most of the Wings' shots. In stark contrast, the Sharks got fewer shots, but they were far more quality scoring chances. Their first two shots on Joseph were excellent scoring chances, ones that you only get a few times in a regular game. The Wings fell asleep at times, and the Sharks capitalized on these opportunities in the form of two goals. In the first period, it was an offensively-open period, with breaks either way. San Jose really took it to Cujo though, taking high quality shots and busting in on the doorway and crashing the net. Cujo stood on his head at times, and I'd say he kept the Wings in the game, as this was the Shark's strongest period. But Cujo finally let one in at 17:48 when Todd Harvey made an extended wrap-around goal by circling the net and coming to the center 6 feet out before beating Cujo in traffic. 1-0 Sharks. Shots in the period were 14-13 in San Jose's advantage. In the second period, the Shark's offensive attack of the first period was slowed by solid Wings defense. Niko Dimitrakos scored at 15:04 on a slapshot, with the Wings forechecking efforts and defense pretty nonchalant. The Wings definitely fell asleep and let the Sharks pass it around and get the goal. 2-0 Sharks. Shots in the period were 8-4 in Detroit's advantage. In the third period, the Wings mounted a solid comeback. They took it to the Sharks with 14 shots to their 6. Steve Yzerman scored at the 10 minute mark of the third, assisted by Ray Whitney and Tomas Holmstrom. It put the Captain at a tie for sixth place with ailing Mario Lemieux on the NHL's career point list. The goal resulted from a good pass from Whitney to the slot, finding Yzerman open. 2-1 Sharks. In the final three minutes, the Wings got close to beating Nabokov, but it just wasn't our night. Hull extended his scoreless streak to 19 games (since Dec. 8), but got some decent chances. He just hasn't been able to get as many clean shots. This quarter-of-a-season slump is pretty awful. Putting it into perspective, Pat Verbeek, an ex-Wing who was the color commentator tonight on FSN, said that his longest goal-less streak was 16 games. I have all the respect for Verbeek, but he was never a top goal scorer in the NHL. I realize that Hull is doing tons of other things out there during this streak, including assists and scoring chances, but we didn't sign him to pass the puck. I do appreciate that his goal-less streak is in this fashion of still plugging on and helping the team, rather than pulling a "Lucky" Luc Robitaille and fade into the ice in these difficult times. Keep it going, Hullie!! Tonight is one of those fortunate nights for Wings fans to see the ugliest player in the NHL, Mike Ricci. FSN caught him helmet-less going towards the Shark's bench after a shift, and that just reminded me of the hideousness. His black hair wildly hanging down to his shoulders, looking like a total goon. It was nice to see Schneider back on the ice after the 9-day layoff (two game suspension) following an accidental high stick that the league busted him for. What is peculiar is that Jeremy Roenick only got a one game suspension for throwing a water bottle in the direction of the refs following an uncalled high stick that left Roenick's mouth bloodied. Maybe the NHL saw that Roenick was right for being frustrated with dangerous high sticks not being called, but the league has a precedent of busting players with more than a one game suspension for going after refs in such a manner. Jason Woolley had an absolutely awful shift near the end of the first period. He got on the ice, almost turned the puck over on a routine cross-ice pass to his defensive partner, and then had more trouble getting the puck to his teammates. The Sharks ended up getting control of the puck, and the Woolley gaffe-athon continued when he was called for 2 minutes for holding the stick on Scott Thornton at 19:27, a call that usually reflects a player being out of position or lazy. Don't want to be too tough on Woolley for one bad shift, but that one was pretty darn bad. He's had a solid season thusfar, coming from being scratched early in the season to being a regular defenseman. That shift was a fluke. Hopefully the Wings can turn things around Wednesday at Anaheim, a 10:30 EST start. It will be an interesting game for the Wings, as they have played Sergei at the Joe but never in his new Pond home. Then the Wings will play the next night at LA, another 10:30 EST start. It will certainly be a test of fanship for Wings fans to stay up in the wee hours of the night to support their team.


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