Setoguchi returning to Bay Area


Setoguchi returning to Bay Area

Although it appears Ryane Clowe wont be playing for the San Francisco Bulls any time soon, there will still be a couple of NHLers skating this weekend at the Cow Palace, including one who is very familiar to the Bay Area.

Devin Setoguchi made his debut with the ECHLs Ontario Reign on Wednesday at home against San Francisco, recording a pair of assists in a 3-1 win. The teams meet again on Saturday.

The former Sharks forwards debut was delayed a bit as he had to clear up some issues with his work visa, but hes now a full-time member of the Reign. He spoke with the San Bernardino Sun earlier this week about his decision, and his reasons for playing essentially mirror what Clowe told on Thursday.

"It's nice to get in here and get in full practices, get the good sweat on, a good workout, get back to being involved in certain situations that you wouldn't be in your normal day skates, Setoguchi said.

Like Clowe, Setoguchi was hoping that the NHL season would have started by now.

"I didn't want to have to come here. Don't take that the wrong way, but I never wanted to have to do that. We (the NHL Players' Association) wanted to stick together and hopefully have it resolved sooner rather than later. Right now it's later rather than sooner."

The NHL and NHLPA were meeting for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, although reports suggest there hasn't been a whole lot of progress.

Besides Clowe, the Bulls have signed Edmonton Oilers defenseman Theo Peckham, who has 154 games of NHL experience. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder has four goals and 13 assists for 17 points in his pro career, along with a whopping 382 penalty minutes. He made his Bulls debut on Wednesday in Ontario.

The 24-year-old Peckham and Clowe have a bit of a history, having dropped the gloves during a game on Jan. 13, 2011, according to (Clowe was adjudged the winner of the fight by 85 percent of that sites users, although play-by-play man Randy Hahn referred to it as more of a wrestling match).

The Bulls host the Stockton Thunder on Friday before Ontario visits on Saturday. Both games begin at 7:15 p.m. Giants playoff hero Sergio Romo will drop the ceremonial first puck on Friday.

Winchester finds a home

Brad Winchester, who almost certainly wont be back with the Sharks next season, has found a home for the lockout (and perhaps beyond).

According to a report, Winchester will join the Finnish team TuTo in the second tier Mestis league. Thats the same league where forward Tommy Wingels is currently plying his trade for KooKoo.

The pair could get a chance to catch up when TuTo and KooKoo meet on Dec. 12 (say that three times fast).

Winchester, 31, signed a one-year deal with the Sharks just prior to last season after a preseason tryout. Hes an unrestricted free agent after putting up 10 points (6g, 4a) in 67 games with San Jose in 2011-12.

Young Sharks fitting in, not neccessarily standing out


Young Sharks fitting in, not neccessarily standing out


The message for the San Jose Sharks’ prospects was quite clear this offseason.

After general manager opted not to re-sign Patrick Marleau, or sign any free agents of consequence, it was readily apparent the Sharks would need to rely on their young players to fill any holes.

Before the quarter mark of the season, that youth movement is underway. Five first or second-year players will suit up at SAP Center Monday night against Anaheim. 

Partially, the infusion is due to injury, as Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson, and Paul Martin are all on the mend. But as the season wears on, the young players’ presence is becoming a necessity. 

Joakim Ryan looks like a natural fit alongside Brent Burns, and the Sharks are a decidedly better puck possession team with him on the ice than when he’s not. Tim Heed leads Sharks defensemen in scoring, and Danny O’Regan assisted San Jose’s lone goal in his season debut on Saturday. 

That assist set up the goal that ended Timo Meier’s drought, and he looks primed to break out: he’s third on the team in five-on-five shots despite playing the ninth-fewest five-on-five minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey.  Kevin Labanc’s cooled off since his scorching start, but is still tied for sixth on the team in scoring and skated on the top line at Monday’s morning skate, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Curtis Pashelka.

There’s still room for improvement, of course. Labanc and Meier could stand to score more, but the same can be said about most everyone else. Ryan’s made his fair share of mistakes, but Burns has struggled plenty of times alongside him, too. 

So the young players are fitting in, even if all of them aren’t necessarily standing out. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. 

Meier’s the only first-round pick of the lot, but he’s also only been able to legally buy a beer for a month. Ryan and Heed have made the best adjustment, in no small part because they’re the oldest (24 and 26, respectively) of the Barracuda call-ups, and thus have the most professional experience. 

Of course, fitting in isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is, however, far from ideal, when that’s what many other players on the roster are doing. 

Having all of their young players stand out is what will ultimately make the Sharks stand out from the rest of the pack. It hasn’t quite happened yet, and San Jose’s one of 22 teams separated by six points or fewer. 

And if it doesn’t, the middle of the pack is where the Sharks will remain.


Bad offense, not bad officiating, is main culprit for Sharks' skid

Bad offense, not bad officiating, is main culprit for Sharks' skid

For just the second time this season, the San Jose Sharks have lost consecutive games.

It’s the first time since the club opened the season 0-2, and were outscored 9-4. San Jose played much better in Thursday’s loss to Florida and Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Boston than they did to start the campaign, but have now been on the wrong side of four goal reviews.

The Sharks have lost each of the last two games by two goals, so there’s an understandable temptation to chalk these losses up to questionable officiating. Yet even if you disregard the notion that the officials got each call right (which they did), it’s one that must be resisted.

Their actual lack of offense, not a perceived lack of good officiating, is the main culprit behind the losing streak.

Timo Meier’s goal on Saturday stands as San Jose’s lone tally on this three-game homestand. It’s not for a lack of trying: The Sharks pumped 72 shots on net in the last two games, but could not solve Roberto Luongo or Anton Khudobin.

You can blame the officiating in San Jose’s last two losses all you want, but a good offensive team would have converted subsequent chances to make up for the goals taken off the board. The Sharks have not been a good offensive team this season, and could not make up for it.

San Jose’s inability to finish chances has been their main weakness all season, but they were still able to win games thanks to their defense and goaltending. The latter’s lapsed at times over the last two games, and the former let them down on Saturday when Aaron Dell allowed three goals on only 20 shots.

But that, as well as the discussion around the recent officiating, only serves to mask the Sharks’ real issue. San Jose just simply cannot score.

They’ve only scored on 7.41 percent of their shots this season, according to Natural Stat Trick, which is the third-worst rate in the league. There’s too much talent on the roster to expect that to continue all season, but the Sharks faltered offensively down the stretch last season, too.

Plus, they’re relying significantly on players on the wrong side of 30. Brent Burns, 32, hasn’t scored a goal, and Joe Pavelski, 33, is on pace to score fewer than 20 goals.

He hasn’t failed to reach that mark in a decade. At some point, it must be asked: are the Sharks just unlucky, or is age catching up to their star players?

The answer is probably a bit of both. How much of a role either factor has played is up for debate, but that either has led to San Jose’s failure to score goals is not.

Poor officiating is easier to diagnose than a poor offense, but it’s the latter, not the former, that’s responsible for the Sharks’ most recent skid.