Sharks Spotlight: Dan Boyle


Sharks Spotlight: Dan Boyle

Editor's note: Over the next month, Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz and Postgame Live reporter Brodie Brazil will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Sharks spotlight -- the seriesSharks spotlight: Dan BoyleAge: 35 DIn his fourth season with the Sharks, defenseman Dan Boylehad nine goals and 39 assists for 48 points and 57 penalty minutes. He waseighth in the league in scoring among defensemen, and second in shots (252).Boyle led the Sharks in ice time, at more than 25 minutes per game. In fiveplayoff games, Boyle was scoreless with two assists and two penalty minutes.Kurz says: Boyle may be on the down slope of his career, buthe was still arguably the Sharks best defenseman again this season. It was aninauspicious start for the veteran this year, when he struggled mightily forthe first month-and-a-half, but he later revealed he was playing through abroken foot. After recovering, Boyle regained his foot speed and skatingability and resembled the player Sharks fans were used to seeing since he wasacquired from Tampa Bay before the 2008-09 season. Boyle is still a key memberon the Sharks power play, too, finishing with 17 points on that second-rankedunit.SLIDESHOW: Grading the Sharks
Brodie says: Throughthe first 27 games of the season, Boyle had only a single goal. At one point, I even found him shortening allof his sticks an inch, because he had unknowingly been playing with a newerbatch that was mistakenly longer. Thatcould have been what was ailing Boyle or maybe, it was his broken foot!! Yeah, Boyle played through that broken foot for asignificant early portion of the season.I dont think he intended to ever let the information go public, butaccidentally let it slip on a postgame radio interview with Jamie Baker. The bottom line, it goes to show that forsomething you know, there is always something else you may not.Boyle was a longtime partner with Douglas Murray in the lastfew seasons but skated alongside Marc Edouard Vlasic from mid-December throughthe rest of the campaign. No doubt this was San Joses top defensive pair whenthe season mattered most: Boyle with the offensive mindset, and Vlasic enjoyingone of his best defensive seasons yet. 2012-13 expectationsKurz says: Boyle is one of several players considered to bein the Sharks aging core group, and may also be the most tradable. Accordingto, Boyle has a limited no-trade clause that expires on July 1,when he can name 10 teams that he would not play for. While Boyle would bringback a decent return, as defensemen of his caliber and skill set are hard tofind and there is a limited free agent market, losing him would leave a gapinghole on the San Jose blue line.If Boyle returns, he should still have plenty of gas left inthe tank to be an effective player for at least another couple seasons. If hedoesnt, the Sharks had better find a top-notch talent to replace him, as theydont have the body or bodies to fill that void internally.RELATED: Boyle stats splits game logs
Brodie says: Boyle will be 36 when next season starts,and although there is an inevitable decline in potential with age: I just dontthink he is there yet. Boyle may not bethe fastest skater or have the strongest blast from the point, but counters itby playing a smart and responsible game.The one concern regarding Boyle, might be his minutes. Last season he again led San Jose, and was 7thamong ALL NHL players at 25:34 TOIgame.That is 2:25 more than the next closest teammate (Vlasic). The Sharks certainly benefited from Danscontributions and often needed him for large portions of games. It is not at all to suggest 1-2 minutes beshaved off that average as a demotion.Instead, a curiosity if you would actually get even more from Boyle inthe long term by keeping him just slightly fresher. On a personal note, Dan is one of the best sources when I amtrying to get a feel of the player perspective on topics. Sharks fans that watch enough interviews knowthat Boyle is refreshingly open and honest in front of a microphone. As a Stanley Cup winner and Olympic Goldmedalist, he has credentials that come with great insights: and is one ofseveral Sharks I could consider for best interview on the team. Up next: Michal Handzus

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Saturday’s loss to the New York Islanders is one with which Sharks fans have become all too familiar.

The Sharks held a decided 41-23 edge on the shot count, but trailed 3-1 on the scoreboard. Since 2005, no team in the league has lost more games (59) in which they shot 35 or more times, and held their opponent to 25 or fewer shots.

No, your instincts haven’t deceived you over the Joe Thornton era: San Jose has lost a lot of games where they’ve otherwise outplayed their opponent. Of course, they’ve won plenty of those games too. More often than not, in fact, winning 72 of 131 times under those circumstances.

Frustration under those circumstances became readily apparent in the second period on Saturday, when Joe Pavelski broke his stick over Thomas Greiss’ net. The captain had plenty of reason to be unhappy, as his goalless drought to start the season has mirrored his team’s inability to finish at even strength.

So far this season, only Dallas and Montreal have scored on a lower percentage of their shots at even strength than San Jose, according to Natural Stat Trick. Both the Stars and Canadiens, unsurprisingly, are seventh in their respective divisions. The Sharks are sixth in the Pacific, thanks only to the still-winless Coyotes.

This early in the season, bad results can mask a strong process. They can’t finish, but the Sharks have been, statistically, one of the league’s best puck possession teams at even strength. That can happen over such a short stretch, but that’s easy to lose sight of when the team’s sitting in the division’s basement.

Right now, the Sharks just aren’t scoring enough at even strength, even as they’re playing well elsewhere. The power play’s begun to find an identity, particularly on the Kevin Labanc-led second unit. The penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal since allowing three in the season opener, and have climbed all the way to 13th in the league.

If the Sharks continue to play this way, the goals, and wins, should come. They may not, of course, especially if Peter DeBoer struggles to find combinations that click for more than a game at a time. But eventually, the results should align with the process.

Saturday night was “one of those games” that have been surprisingly common in recent Sharks history, but it shouldn’t be chalked up as anything more than an amusing anomaly. Sometimes, one team is better, and still finds a way to lose.  

Sometimes, it truly is that simple.

Greiss strong in net as Islanders hand loss to Sharks


Greiss strong in net as Islanders hand loss to Sharks


SAN JOSE -- Thomas Greiss guided the New York Islanders on a night when they played it a little bit too safe.

Greiss stopped 40 shots, Brock Nelson scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the New York Islanders rallied to beat the slumping San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Saturday.

The Islanders improved to 1-1 on their three-game, five-day West Coast trip. The Sharks are 1-3 on their season-opening five-game homestand.

Nelson made it 2-1 at 13:33 of the second period, capitalizing on an open look in front of the goal after Joshua Ho-Sang's pass from behind the net.

"After we got the lead we just kind of held on, we bent but we didn't break and we needed some big saves from Thomas," Islanders coach Doug Weight said.

"These teams, when they're down, they're gonna push. ... You don't want to sit back but I think it's human nature. We have to get it out of our heads. We want to play aggressive and we want to put the puck in good spots. We started making some shoddy decisions, our feet stopped moving for a while, but give (the Sharks) credit, they made a good push. Tommy was great."

The Sharks led after Kevin Labanc's power-play goal at 4:16 of the first. Labanc was in the left circle when he rebounded a deflection and fired a wrist shot that slipped through Greiss' pads.

The Islanders tied it when Anders Lee tipped one in at 17:02 of the first.

Cal Clutterbuck scored an empty-net goal at with 1:10 left in the game.

"It's nice, first road win of the year, a good bounce back," Nelson said, referencing a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

"I thought we did some good things in Anaheim and weren't rewarded. It's nice to come out on top here."

The Islanders failed to score on three power plays. The Sharks penalty killing unit hasn't allowed a power-play goal in 12 chances over its last three games.

The Sharks had a short-handed scoring chance after Joakim Ryan was called for holding at 14:33 in the third period, when Greiss turned away Chris Tierney's shot in front of the goal.

Greiss survived relentless pressure in a third period in which the Sharks had 15 shots on goal.

"It felt like it was going to break, it just never did," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "A little bit of credit to Greisser over there, but with us, we've got to keep pushing and find a way.

"I thought we were going to tie it, but encouraging to see the way guys played for a second straight game here. Wanted a better result, for sure, but guys played hard."

NOTES: Islanders C Alan Quine (wrist) is with the team on its West Coast trip and has been practicing. He'll likely go to Bridgeport of the AHL on a conditioning assignment if he's ready when the team returns home on Monday. ... RW Clutterbuck (hip) was in Saturday's lineup after missing the last three games and C Jordan Eberle was on the ice a day after missing Friday's practice with an injury he suffered in practice the previous day. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. Coach Pete DeBoer said the injury is day-to-day.


Islanders: At the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.

Sharks: Host the Montreal Canadians on Tuesday night.