It took an amazing effort by Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Antti Niemi in the shootout but the Sharks managed to win 3-2 in Colorado on Tuesday night and string together consecutive victories.
Talk about a frustrating night! The Sharks carried over what they established in the Anaheim win and absolutely dominated the Avalanche in the first period outshooting them 23-8. But thanks to a goal post, a crossbar and that guy named Semyon Varlamov, San Jose only had a 1-0 lead. When Alex Tanguay tied it shorthanded in the second period that sinking feeling set in just a little. How many times over the years have we seen a team dominate but not get rewarded around the net and ultimately lose? And when Gabriel Landeskog beat Niemi with a shot from the wing it felt like a rerun of heartbreaking losses from the past.
But it would be different this time. Right after Jamie Baker noted on the broadcast that Justin Braun expects to grow his game even more this year, including offensively, Braun hit the post with a booming shot and Logan Couture scored on the rebound. And then Niemi made the critical save of regulation when he robbed Ryan O’Reilly with what might very well have been the “dagger in the heart” winner had it gone in.
The shootout belonged to the Sharks thanks to the sniper like accuracy of Marleau and Pavelski and the “shut the door” goaltending of Niemi who absolutely deserved his first star of the game honors despite Varlamov’s 49 save night.
It’s still early but it’s another brick in the foundation of a long season. The Sharks proved that the Anaheim game wasn’t a one and done. They built on it. That’s a good thing.
I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com
Now that the Sharks first lengthy road trip (5 games) is over, what have we learned?
This year’s team is capable of beating top-notch opponents. The New York Islanders are a good hockey team and the New Jersey Devils won’t miss the playoffs this year. Those were solid road wins.
Logan Couture can still score. He might have failed to light the lamp in the first four games of the season but once Couture broke the seal in New Jersey he was on his way to a 5-point roadie.
The Sharks goaltending is solid. Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock are both playing well right now. Stalock might want a goal or two back from the New York Ranger tilt but stuff happens. The whole team was off their game that day.
Adjusting to the NHL at the age of 19 is tough. Mirco Mueller and Chris Tierney both spent part of the trip watching from the press box. It’s a big jump from junior to “the show”. It’s much better to be patient with young players and give them an opportunity to succeed than to thrown them to the wolves.
We learned that the New York Islanders are legit. They will be a tough team in the east all season.
We learned that Henrik Lundqvist is a really good goalie. But then we already knew that.
And we learned that while a 2-2-1 Sharks road trip (.500) is OK, there is still plenty of room for improvement
Most of all it’s great to be back in the rhythm of the regular season.
It’s a small world isn’t it?
On March 28, 1989 Bernadette Devorski was a nurse working at the maternity ward of the main hospital in Guelph, Ontario. That day an expectant mother came into the hospital to give birth. Her doctor was summoned but didn’t arrive in time. Nurse Devorski delivered the baby. That child was Logan Couture. Thursday night on Long Island, Couture will line up at center for the San Jose Sharks. Also lining up and wearing stripes as one of the referee’s for the game will be 25 year NHL veteran official Paul Devorski. Bernadette is his mother. Chet Couture, Logan’s father, who lives in Southern Ontario will also be there to watch his son. He’s never met Paul Devorski but perhaps that will happen after the game. Devorski lives in Hershey, New York but his wife…is originally from San Jose.
It’s a small word.
I’m often asked what the best part of my job as a Sharks broadcaster is. My answer is always the same. I love the unpredictability. Every time I step into the broadcast booth I’m never sure what I’m going to see. It could be a thrilling game or a dud. I might see something I’ve never seen before or it could just be one game among many that is soon forgotten. This season is only 3 games old and I’ve already witnessed an NHL first. The back-to-back shutouts by Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock to start the season had never been done before in the 97-year history of the league. On Tuesday night in Washington it was jaw-dropping time again. Todd McLellan decided to shake up the defence a little bit by replacing rookie Mirco Mueller with Matt Irwin. Irwin then not only scores the first goal of the game but he scores the second one too. This is a guy who scored only twice all of last season in 62 games. And Irwin made franchise history scoring those two goals in the first 4:26 of the game. No Sharks player has ever done that before. And then there’s John Scott. Going into the Washington game he had scored 2 goals in his 236 game career with Minnesota, Chicago, the Rangers and Buffalo. With Mike Brown down with an injury, McLellan opted to give Scott the nod to make his Sharks debut. Scott proceeded to score a beauty of a goal on one of his first few shifts! You just can’t make this stuff up.
The best part of my job? I never know what’s going to happen next!
Many fine players have passed through the San Jose Sharks dressing room over the past two plus decades. Igor Larionov was the first former Shark to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and Ed Belfour later joined him. Mike Vernon and Bernie Nicholls still have a solid case to get in. Joe Thornton will certainly be a HOFer some day and Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov will no doubt get consideration too. But in my view there has never been as iconic of a player in the history of the franchise as Teemu Selanne.
Selanne played his last NHL game last week when Anaheim was eliminated from the playoffs by Los Angeles. His career was outstanding. Selanne broke into the league with the Winnipeg Jets and shocked the world with a record 76-goal rookie season. It’s a record that still stands today and it earned him the Calder Trophy. After that all he did was consistently produce. Over his 21-year career Selanne scored 684 goals and recorded 1457 points. His 255 power play goals are the third most ever. His 110 game winning goals are the third most ever. He had 22 hat tricks.
Has any former Shark received more accolades than Teemu Selanne? Along with his Calder award he also won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy for leading the NHL in goals. He went to the All Star Game 10 times, captured four Olympic Medals for his native Finland and then capped it all with a Stanley Cup championship in Anaheim in 2007.
Regrettably Selanne’s time in San Jose was short. He played 176 games over parts of three seasons scoring 64 goals and 131 points. In his 18-playoff games in teal he had five goals and 10 points. But Selanne had knee trouble before and during his time as a Shark and he was never really the electrifying player that he was in other places.
But make no mistake that Selanne was a special player and person with the Sharks. On the ice he was a top scorer and playmaker. Off the ice he was a tremendous citizen who connected with the fans and touched many lives in San Jose and the Bay Area through the charitable work that he and his wife Sirpa always made a priority. And what an inspiration he has always been. The only time I’ve ever seen Selanne without a smile on his face was after losing a game.
Teemu Selanne is a bona fide, slam-dunk, no doubt about it, first ballot Hockey Hall of Famer. We were blessed to have him in San Jose for those three years and it will be a long time before we ever see a player of his caliber. Congratulations to “The Finnish Flash” on a remarkable career!
The greatest day of the season has arrived for Sharks fans. It’s the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!
I was fortunate enough to have been around when the 1993-94 Sharks shocked the hockey world by qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in only their third season and then stunned the hockey world by knocking off Detroit in game 7.
Bob Errey, now a successful television broadcaster with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was the captain of that 1993-94 Sharks squad. Before game 1 of that series, Errey posted his now famous “16 Points for Playoff Success” on the bulletin board in the Sharks dressing room. It’s been somewhat of a tradition to re-post Errey’s list. So in keeping with Sharks tradition, here it is.
1. It takes 16 Wins to Win the Stanley Cup.
2. 4 Wins per series.
3. Never dwell on the past (Good, Bad, Win, Lose).
4. Never take anything for granted.
5. One shift is as important as 20.
9. Throw statistics out the window.
11. Play bigger.
12. Never Retaliate.
13. Get pucks out, get pucks deep.
14. You’re never out of a game (major penalty for high-sticking = 5 min. PP)
15. Have fun.
16. Heart is more important than skill.
Here’s to hoping for a long ride and lot’s of fun.
I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com
The Stanley Cup Playoffs don’t start for another week but the San Jose Sharks still have at least one “biggest game of the season, so far” left on the schedule. Wednesday night, the Sharks will visit the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim leads the Pacific Division with 110 points, three more than the second place Sharks. Both teams have three games left to play. Do the math. If Anaheim wins the game in any fashion Wednesday, the best that San Jose would be able to do is tie Anaheim by winning the last two games against Colorado and Phoenix while hoping the Ducks lose in regulation to the Kings and Avalanche in their last two games. And that would only result in a tie, and a tie at the end of the season does the Sharks no good. Anaheim holds the tiebreakers. So Wednesday is a must win. Period.
Back in mid-January, the Sharks trailed Anaheim by as many as 13 points in the standings. The last time they played one another on March 20 at SAP Center, the Sharks won 3-2 and temporarily overtook the Ducks for first place. But the Sharks were unable to hold on to the division lead. Since that win San Jose’s record is 3-3-2. The Ducks, on the other hand, have gone 5-2-1 down the stretch, allowing them to retake the lead.
The scenario going forward is taking shape. The team that wins the Pacific will probably host the Minnesota Wild in the opening round. (Unless the Blues three game stumble continues). The runner up would take on the Kings. Pick your poison. LA is two years removed from a championship and Jonathan Quick has the ability to steal a series by himself. Meanwhile the Wild are getting hot down the stretch led by a diverse scoring attack and a suddenly stingy Ilya Bryzgalov in the net.
However it shakes out you have to like the fact that the Sharks still have important games left to play this final week. It starts Wednesday against the Ducks on NBC Sports Network at 7:30pm PDT.
I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com
My friend and colleague Jamie Baker knows a thing or two about getting to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “Bakes” is best know for scoring the biggest Sharks goal ever when he netted the winner in the teams’ Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings back in the spring of 1994. By the way the 20th anniversary of that seminal moment in franchise history is a month away. But Baker also scored both goals in a 2-1 Sharks win at Los Angeles on April 5th of that year. That victory put the Sharks in the post season for the first time ever.
Monday night in Calgary the Sharks earned a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Flames. That point gave them 101 on the season and sent them to the playoffs for the 17th time. It’s also the 10th year in a row that the Sharks will get a shot at playing for glory. Only the Detroit Red Wings, with 22 straight trips to the post season, have a longer streak in the NHL. It remains to be seen if the Wings can make it 23 in a row as they are still battling in the Eastern Conference race.
Baker pointed out in his Great White Bite blog yesterday (is it wrong to blog about a blog?) that a decade of playoff hockey is the envy of a lot of organizations. He’s right. We all tend to take it for granted that the Sharks are going to be a playoff team every year. Many tend to measure the success of the franchise by how far they go in the playoffs. Fair enough, but first you have to maneuver through a treacherous and grueling schedule and get to the playoffs before you can seek the Promised Land. To be a consistent playoff team takes the commitment of ownership, the wisdom of the general manager and the skill of his scouts, the acumen of the coaching staff and the talent of the players. It also takes the support of the fans, sponsors and broadcast partners that help pay the bills. The Sharks are blessed to have enjoyed plenty of the above.
Detroit’s 22 year playoff run is tops in all of professional sports in the US and Canada. The San Antonio Spurs of the NBA are next at 16 straight. The San Jose Sharks are now in elite company with 10 straight playoff seasons, tied with another basketball team the Denver Nuggets.
The best is yet to come. The Sharks will battle for the Pacific Division title and perhaps even the Presidents Trophy over their final 9 games. And after that the best hockey tournament in the world will start. But before all of that, take a moment to appreciate another trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 14 teams won’t be going this year. Those teams will be envious.
I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com
As they get ready to begin a three game home stand against Florida, Anaheim and Washington, the San Jose Sharks are the best home ice team in the National Hockey League with a record of 25-4-4. That domination at SAP Center this season is a big reason why the team is tied for the Pacific Division lead and has a shot at the Presidents Trophy down the stretch. But if you look a little deeper there’s another reason the team is so well positioned. The Sharks were excellent on the road against the Eastern Conference.
With an unbalanced schedule and a work stoppage or two, it had been a long time since the Sharks visited every road team out east in the same season. But this year the NHL schedule maker finally got it right and Team Teal made an appearance in every Eastern Conference rink. With Sunday’s 1-0 shutout victory at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, the Sharks have now completed their road schedule against the east.
So how did they do? As my colleague Jamie Baker would say, “Let’s run the numbers!” The Sharks finished with a 12-4 record on the road against the East. That’s good. That’s very good actually when you consider that this season the Sharks will have traveled more miles (57,612) than any other club in the league. The only losses came in Boston, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Buffalo. A few of my personal favorite wins include the wild 5-4 victory at Tampa when Martin St. Louis scored all 4 goals for the lightning but Joe Pavelski scored the last 3 goals of the game for his first NHL hat trick. Or how about the 3-0 win at Florida when Alex Stalock recorded his first career shutout? And it’s tough to top the 1-0 win over the Rangers highlighted by Antti Niemi’s brilliance in the net and Logan Couture’s remarkable shorthanded game winning goal.
Niemi went 7-3 on the road out East with three shutouts. Stalock was 4-1 with the perfect game against the Panthers. Patrick Marleau led the Sharks with 16 road points against the East. Joe Pavelski was tops with 8 goals, 6 of those coming in hat tricks at Tampa and Philadelphia. Jason Demers had 9 points to lead the Sharks defense. Five of Matt Nieto’s 10 goals so far this season have come on the road in the east. The Sharks were also perfect in shootouts with wins at Detroit, Washington and Columbus.
It was fun visiting all of the Eastern Conference arenas again. It was even more fun watching the Sharks dominate.
I’m Randy Hahn
The San Jose Sharks have a wonderful opportunity Tuesday against Toronto.
Thanks to the Maple Leafs 3-1 win in Anaheim Monday, the Sharks are now within 4 points of the Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division. For the first time in a long time Anaheim has to be feeling some heat.
Back on January 15th Ducks had a 13-point lead on the second place Sharks. They looked uncatchable for the division title. At that point Anaheim had an incredible 20-0-2 record on home ice. But since then they’ve won only 4 out of 12 home games. The Sharks on the other hand have kept their collective noses to the grindstone and amassed a 12-5-1 record since January 15th, and that leads us to the opportunity.
Since last weeks trade deadline passed, the Sharks have played two of their better games of the season against Pittsburgh and Toronto. They’ve closed the gap on Anaheim and now they have a chance to turn up the temperature on their Orange County rivals.
So why is it so important to catch Anaheim for the division? Well first of all the Sharks could avoid a first round match-up with Los Angeles. The Kings appear to have returned to form and will be an extremely tough out in the opening round of the playoffs no matter who they go up against. And if the Sharks want to make a long run and get to the finals it figures they’ll probably have to go through some combination of LA, Anaheim, St. Louis, Colorado and or Chicago regardless of where they finish in the standings. Any preferable match-up you can get in the opening round and any additional home ice advantage you can grab would be for the best.
So Tuesday night the Sharks have an opportunity to build on what has been a good post Olympic run. They will face a team that played a difficult game Monday and they will face a backup goaltender. The opportunity is there. Will they make the best of that opportunity or will it be an opportunity missed? Find out tonight on Comcast Sportsnet California and on KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network with the pregame coverage beginning at 7PM PDT.
I’m Randy Hahn