San Jose Sharks: First Goal of the Year Was Vintage Ryane Clowe

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IOctober 31, 2009

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Ryane Clowe #29 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after scoring a goal on Craig Anderson #41 of the Colorado Avalanche during the second period of their game at the HP Pavilion on October 30, 2009 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When Ryane Clowe gave the San Jose Sharks a 1-0 lead with six seconds remaining in the second period on Friday, it was only fitting that he scored on his back-hand, on a rebound and from right beside the net.

That type of score is exactly what fans have come to expect from No. 29, and his first marker of the season was simply Clowe doing what Clowe does best, attacking the net.

And where was Clowe all game long? Consistently around the crease, searching for rebounds, wreaking havoc in front of Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson and being a physical menace for Colorado defenders.

But when I speak of this type of play being "vintage" Ryane Clowe, I'm not talking about his "breakout" season from last year which saw the Sharks forward reach career highs with 22 goals and 30 assists. 

Last year's apparent "breakout" was what faithful Sharks followers were expecting a season earlier where Clowe was coming off his real "breakout" season.

In 2006-07, Clowe posted 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points in 58 games, including four goals and two assists in 11 playoff games that season.

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Unfortunately for Clowe, his 2007-2008 season saw him manage just three goals and five assists because a knee injury limited him to 15 regular season games.

But playing in such few games during the season didn't bother Clowe, who once again stepped up big time in the playoffs, recording five goals and nine points in 13 games.

With the determination and sheer willpower to get back to the ice after a catastrophic knee injury cost him six months of his season, Clowe proved to fans his work ethic and his talent level during the playoffs.

It was only a matter of health before Clowe would put together the type of season he did last year.

Finally healed and with a set roster spot, Clowe dominated in the 71 games he played last season, putting up the career marks mentioned above.

However, it is not the results that make Clowe the player he is but by the way he scores his goals.

Even in his early-season slump, the 27-year-old was making things happen with his physical presence along the boards and his ability to always get to the net and provide a screen.

If Clowe is doing these little things night in and night out, any slump he may be going through is soon to end. Playing the way he does, it is only a matter of time before the puck starts to go in the net.

But Clowe provides much more than just scoring. His size, strength and tenacity also make the winger a tough guy to drop the gloves against and when he wants to go, he's hard to beat.

More often than not, Clowe will clearly get the decision in his fights, which adds to the pile of reasons why Sharks fans wish Jody Shelley would be cut. But let's just leave that story for another day.

Essentially, Ryane Clowe provides everything Patrick Marleau can't. He can fight, make room for himself along the boards, and can withstand immense punishment in front of the net.

That isn't saying Patrick Marleau is bad. Far from it, the former Sharks captain is arguably the fastest player in the NHL and his ability to score on the rush and score simply based on his cannon of a shot are things Clowe simply can't do.

When the team gets fully healthy again, don't be surprised to see these two back on the same line together alongside Joe Pavelski. The combined skills of Clowe and Marleau is a combination that will give opposing defenses fits.

Now that Clowe is officially off the schneid, look for goals to start to come in bunches. And look for most of those goals to come in similar fashion to the way he scored his first against Colorado on Friday night.

Rebound goals from right in front of the net are just what Clowe does; they are vintage Ryane Clowe.