Rink Notes: Sharks’ Power Play has Bite
Last night the power play accounted for San Jose’s entire attack as the Sharks went 5-for-13 with the man advantage, tying a club record for PPG in a game, to whip the Wings 5-1.
The Wings are off to a sluggish start (3-3-1), and you can point to their penalty kill woes — they’ve given up eight power play goals in the past two games, and that just won’t get it done in this era of special teams.
Chris Osgood was the victim last night, and his performance didn’t exactly do much to help him win more time away from Dominik Hasek. In fact, after surrendering three goals on just seven shots in the first period, Osgood had to be pulled in favour of Joey MacDonald, who made his NHL debut. MacDonald wasn’t much better, giving up another pair of goals on 15 shots.
Milan Michalek continued his phenomenal start for the Sharks with a goal and two assists. He’s scored six times with four assists in seven games and is +4 with four PPG. Michalek is currently seventh in the NHL in goals.
San Jose’s power play surge jacked its success rate up to 27.5 per cent for the season — good for fifth in the league.
Patrick Marleau scored his first two PPG last night and he’s already got nine points, including six assists (four on the PP). Other Sharks who are seeing plenty of power play time and make excellent fantasy options include Jonathan Cheechoo (7-4-5-9, three PPG and three PPA); Christian Ehrhoff (five points, two PPG); Joe Thornton, who has yet to bulge the twine but is racking up the assists with nine — seven on the PP; and Steve Bernier, with a goal and six assists — five on them on the PP.
The Flyers took another beating last night, dropping a 4-1 decision in Tampa Bay for their fourth straight loss.
Tampa Bay’s been struggling itself, losing four of its past five heading in, so Philly coming to town was just the tonic the Lightning needed. Tampa Bay continued its absolute domination of the Flyers, beating them for the ninth straight time, outscoring them 43-16 over that stretch.
If you’re a Flyer fan like me, it’s just about paper bag on the head time, isn’t it?
Notes from the game:
- Andreas Karlsson returned to action for the Lightning after missing five games with a strained groin. He only played 6:30 and does not look like he’ll be any bigger a factor in Tampa Bay than he was in Atlanta.
- Marc Denis played well for the Lightning, saving 34 and coming within four minutes and change of his first shutout of the season and 16th career. He’s off to a great start, sporting a 2.11 GAA with a .910 save percentage.
- Mike Rathje returned to the Flyers’ lineup. He had missed five games with a back injury, and took a -1 in his return. Rathje is completely unsuited to excel in the new NHL. On the plus side, he fits in well with Philadelphia’s defense corps.
- Tampa Bay put things away with two goals in the second and made it academic with another two in the third. The second period is killing the Flyers. They’ve been outscored 15-6 in the middle stanza so far this season. What’s that about?
- Ryan Craig opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season. He scored 15 as a rookie last season, but has definitely stepped up this year. And apparently he loves playing against Philly (who doesn’t these days?). That’s four goals in three career games against the Flyers for Craig. It might have been more had he not had to come out early when he suffered a right knee injury in the second period. Craig will be re-evaluated today, but it would be a shame if he were out for a while as the Lightning needs this kid and he’s enjoying a nice breakout. Check the wires for his status for next week.
- Brad Richards had just two assists in his first six games, but recorded another pair last night. He still hasn’t scored, but at least he’s showing signs of life with three points in the past three games. Last season, November was Richards’ second-highest scoring month of the season, so don’t panic yet.
- The house cleaning has begun in Philly. On Wednesday, in the wake of the 9-1 pounding they took at the hands of the Sabres, the Flyers waived Petr Nedved, Nolan Baumgartner and Niko Dimitrakos. Yesterday, Nedved and Dimitrakos were assigned to the Phantoms of the AHL. Nedved was (truly) pointless in six games with Philly; Baumgartner had one assist in six games and was actually even plus/minus (a rarity for the Flyers right now), plus led the team with 21 PM; Dimitrakos had only played a couple of games and had no points.
- As if things aren’t bad enough for the Flyers, now it looks like they’ll be without Peter Forsberg for a week, perhaps longer. He suffered a sprained wrist and had to leave the game. X-rays were negative, but he’s going to be examined today by a specialist. The team doesn’t think Forsberg’s wrist is broken, but the Flyers can ill afford to be without their star for any length of time, especially now when they seem in complete disarray. Keep Forsberg on your bench next week and check the wire for reports on his condition tomorrow.