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Penguins vs. Sharks Scouting Report

Wednesday, 11.2.2011 / 7:00 PM ET / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Sharks Scouting Report
Pittsburgh Penguins
Home: 4-2-1-9
Road: 4-1-1-9

WHEN: Nov. 3, 2011 - 10:30 pm   |   WHERE: HP Pavilion
ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins 24/7 Radio, 105.9 FM
San Jose Sharks
Home: 1-2-0-2

  Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks 






Joe Pavelski
RW  -  #8
  8 Goals
  5 Assists
  13 Points
• Clutch goal scorer always seems to elevate his game during the playoffs, posting a combined 14 goals and 27 points in back-to-back Western Conference Finals runs.

• Posted personal bests in points (66), assists (46), shots (228) and plus-minus rating (10) in 2010-11 – including a career-high 10-game point streak (6G-13A) from March 14-April 4.

• The Sharks’ seventh-round pick (205th overall) back in the 2003 NHL Draft has three goals and an assist in five career games against Pittsburgh.
Logan Couture
C  -  #39
  4 Goals
  3 Assists
  7 Points
• Was a Calder Memorial Trophy finalist for the NHL’s top rookie last season after posting 32 goals, finishing second to Carolina’s Jeff Skinner in the closest voting since 2003.

• Set an NHL record for most game-winning road goals by a rookie last season, while his 22 road goals were fourth in the League and second-most in Sharks franchise history.

• Had a point in six of seven Western Conference semifinal games vs. Detroit last season (four goals, three assists) as the Sharks rallied from a 3-0 series deficit, including a goal in Game 7.
Brent Burns
D  -  #88
  3 Goals
  2 Assists
  5 Points
• Inked a five-year contract extension before making his Sharks debut after San Jose acquired him and a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft on June 24 in exchange for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round selection in the 2011 NHL Draft.

• Departed Minnesota the franchise leader in overtime goals (five) and amongst Wild all-time D- men in goals (55), game-winning goals (13) and points (183)

Had two injury-shortened campaigns from 2008-10 – playing a combined 106 games in those two seasons – before rebounding with 17 goals and 46 points in 2010-11.
Thursday marks San Jose’s first game back in front of their home crowd since Oct. 17, as the Sharks recently finished a grueling six-game, 13-day road swing. And after a bit of a shaky start to the season (losing three straight after winning their season opener), the Sharks certainly found a groove on their trip as they won five of six in their opponents’ arenas.

The Sharks have some potent firepower in their top two lines and those trios haven’t disappointed, with their first line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski being especially productive. Pavelski, 27, had a monster trip for his team by recording six goals and five assists in that six-game span. Overall, the clutch forward – who has been thriving on the right wing despite being a natural center – has a team-leading eight goals and 13 points through 10 games. Left wing Marleau – who’s posted 30-plus goals five of his last six campaigns – and center Thornton have been productive as well, combining for 14 points on their road stretch.

Their second line of Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture and Martin Havlat has been clicking as well: Clowe, a heart-and-soul forward who was of three NHL players to have 60-plus points and 100-plus PIM last season, has eight points so far; Couture, who scored 32 goals and was a Calder Trophy finalist last season, posted four goals and six points during the six-game road trip; and the speedy Havlat, acquired in the offseason from Minnesota, notched five assists in that same stretch after missing the first four games of the season – joining only Thornton to begin his career as a Shark with an assist streak of four or more games.

Not only do the Sharks have a scary deep forward lineup, but they also boast one of the grittiest blue lines in the league headlined by alternate captain Dan Boyle – who’s recorded 50-plus points each of the last three seasons and averages over 25 minutes a night while quarterbacking the team’s power play. Douglas Murray, who provides a physical presence (27 hits through 10 games) and willingness to block shots, joins him on the top pairing. Sharks GM Doug Wilson also added a big boost to his defensive corps when he acquired Brent Burns from Minnesota, as the big (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and skilled defenseman already has three goals through 10 games, including an overtime game winner on Oct. 29 vs. NY Islanders.

Goaltender Antti Niemi heated up over the second half of last season, starting 34 consecutive games from Jan. 15 to April 4 and going 25-4-4 with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage over that span. Niemi, who won the 2010 Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks as a rookie, has gotten the 2011-12 campaign off to a decent start, earning a 4-2 record through six games.
  • The Penguins continue their three-game road stretch by visiting the San Jose Sharks in the two teams' only meeting this season at HP Pavilion. Pittsburgh began this stretch with a 4-3 loss to Toronto on Oct. 29 and will conclude it with a visit to Los Angeles on Nov. 5.
  • The Penguins are hoping to end a seven-game losing streak to the Sharks in San Jose dating back to a 1-1 tie on Oct. 30, 1999.
  • Pittsburgh is 0-8-1 overall since their last win in San Jose, 5-2, on Oct. 22, 1997. Ron Francis (1G-1A) and Jaromir Jagr (1G-2A) paced the Penguins that night, while Tom Barrasso earned the win by stopping 20 of 22 shots. San Jose’s lineup that night included current Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato (who had one assist) and a then-rookie Patrick Marleau.
  • With a win Thursday against the Sharks, head coach Dan Bylsma will have beaten each of the 29 other NHL teams at least once during his coaching career.
  • San Jose skated away with a 3-2 overtime victory in the only meeting between the two teams last season on Feb. 23, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center. The Sharks Patrick Marleau scored the game-winning goal with just four seconds remaining in overtime. Tyler Kennedy scored twice for Pittsburgh with Matt Cooke collecting a pair of assists. Marleau finished with two goals for the Sharks and Logan Couture tallied two points (1G-1A).
  • The Sharks' power play has been absolutely dangerous on home ice, as they've converted five of 14 opportunities through four games for an NHL-leading 35.7-percent success rate. Overall, San Jose has the league's seventh-ranked PP (22.2 percent) – just above Pittsburgh at No. 8 (21.8 percent).
  • While the Sharks' power play is doing well, their PK isn't. It's the fifth-worst in the league, surrending 10 goals in 38 shorthanded situations (73.7 percent).
  • The Penguins are 3-0-1 this season against the Western Conference. Dating back to a 2-1 overtime win against Los Angeles on Feb. 10 of last season the Penguins are unbeaten in their last 10 games against Western Conference teams (7-0-3).
  • James Neal and Matt Niskanen made their Pittsburgh debuts after being acquired from Dallas two days prior. Neal finished with two shots, three hits and a plus-1 rating in 20:48 minutes. Niskanen skated 19:33 minutes and recorded three shots and blocked three shots while finishing even.




2010-11 STAT CHART

F Sidney Crosby, concussion
F Tyler Kennedy, concussion
D Zbynek Michalek, broken finger
F Jordan Staal, lower-body
D Brian Strait, hyper-extended elbow
Neal (9) Pavelski (8)
Letang (10) Thornton/Marleau (6)
Neal/Letang (11)
Pavelski (13)
Malkin (12) Desjardins (21)
Letang (5) Vlasic (7)
Neal (3) Pavelski (3)
Three tied with (1)
Couture (1)
Fleury (7-2-0)
Niemi (4-2-0)
Fleury (1.86) Niemi (2.65)
Fleury (.934) Niemi (.902)

G Antero Niittymaki, lower-body





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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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