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
The San Jose Sharks are in the midst of a most unusual stretch in their schedule. They’re playing 12 in a row against Eastern Conference opponents. It got me to thinking, has this ever happened before? The answer is no.
According to our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau, the longest streak of games ever against the East for the Sharks is seven, and it’s happened five times. In the Sharks first two seasons they were swept 7 straight during those stretches against the East and the last time it occurred, 2002, it happened twice in the same season. That year the Sharks picked up points in 4 and 5 of those games respectively.
Let’s do the math this season. Through 4 games the Sharks have wins over Columbus, Philadelphia and New Jersey and they lost in regulation in Buffalo. The remaining opponents during this unique stretch are Carolina, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Toronto, Columbus again, the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Florida.
The Western Conference has been the dominant of the two this year and the Sharks have a formidable 15-6-2 record against Eastern teams. If they are going to make a serious run at catching the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division title the Sharks are going to have to win their remaining 2 games against Anaheim and go on a winning run against the upcoming eastern opponents beginning with the 4 game home stand that starts against the Hurricanes.
It’ll be fun finding out if the Sharks can be “Beasts Against The East” over the next 2 weeks.
I’m Randy Hahn for SJSHARKS.com
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Every NHL season is a rollercoaster ride wrapped up in a soap opera.
How do you figure the Sharks playing one of their best games on home ice all year last Saturday against Chicago followed by Monday night’s clunker against Philadelphia?
And the Sharks aren’t alone. Not long ago visiting teams feared the Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose road swing. Somebody called it the West Coast version of the Bermuda Triangle. Now the landscape has shifted a little bit. Remember when the Ducks were almost unbeatable on home ice? They went 20-0-2 before losing in regulation at Honda Center. Now all of the sudden they’ve lost three of their last five home contests and all of them in regulation. Up the freeway in Los Angeles the Kings have hit an even worse stretch. They’ve lost eight of the last nine games and a stunning 15 of 20.
The Sharks aren’t struggling anywhere near as bad as that. Shortly after losing Logan Couture they went on a six game winning streak fueled by a red-hot Joe Pavelski. But the Sharks have dropped four of their last five games and are having trouble putting the puck in the net and keeping it out of their own. And they’ve lost home games this year to Buffalo, the New York Islanders and most recently the Flyers. It figured that losing Couture along with Tomas Hertl and the rest of the injured forwards would catch up to the Sharks and it seems that it has.
But the key is keeping it in perspective. The Sharks are still solidly in a playoff spot in the Pacific Division and they’ll be rested after the Olympic break and will also be getting back Couture, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish .
There’s still plenty of hockey to be played before the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s too early to panic and too early to plan the parade. Just keeping on riding the roller coaster, with all its thrills and occasional spills.
I’m Randy Hahn
With the Sharks winning streak now over at 6 games it’s worth noting just how impressive their run was.
In victories over Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay, Calgary, Winnipeg and Minnesota the Sharks managed to win 3 times on the road and 3 times at SAP Center. Four of the wins were by a single goal, the victory over the Capitals came in a shootout and they blanked the Panthers 3-0 while also shutting out Winnipeg 1-0. And let’s not forget how they overcame Martin St. Louis 4 goal effort for the Lightning and still found a way to win. That was also the only game during the streak in which they gave up any power play goals. In the other 5 games the penalty kill was a perfect 8 for 8.
It also bodes well for the rest of the season that the Sharks performed so well considering the lineup that Todd McLellan was forced to play due to injuries. Matt Nieto, Eriah Hayes, Backen Kearns and Alex Stalock have each appeared in less than 50 NHL games in their careers. Matt Irwin and John McCarthy are both under 100 games played. In fact if you combine all of their experience in the league it totals 251 games, less than Logan Couture’s 275. That’s impressive! But it’s also expected. Every year the Sharks carefully draft and then develop players with the expectation that at some point they will be able to make a contribution at the NHL level. All those mentioned have indeed contributed and here’s hoping another long winning streak is about to start all over again.
I’m Randy Hahn
Back on January 6, the Sharks announced that Logan Couture would have surgery for an upper body injury. He would be out for at least 2-3 weeks. At the time, the Sharks were already without forwards Tomas Hertl, Martin Havlat, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish. How could the Sharks possibly have enough offense to score three goals a night, universally recognized as the “magic number” to have a legitimate chance to win? What would LWL (life without Logan) be like?
Enter The Big Pavelski!
With Couture out of the lineup, Head Coach Todd McLellan had to hope the rest of his team would collectively make up the offensive slack in the absence of one of his better scorers, and that’s been the case. But no single player has picked up that slack in a more dominant fashion than winger/center Joe Pavelski.
Since Couture’s injury the Sharks have fashioned a 5-2 record and Pavelski has been on one of the best offensive runs of his 8-year NHL career. In those seven games he has 9 goals and an assist including his first ever hat trick. Going back to January 1 when he was named to Team USA for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, Pavelski has 11 goals and two assists.
It’s been amazing to watch Pavelski this month, but should we really be all that surprised? Great players tend to be at their best when the pressure is on. Pavelski has come through in a big way and with six goals in his last 3 games he’s showing no signs of cooling off.
Joe Pavelski will never be “Little Joe” to me. He’s “The Big Pavelski” 100%, and he’s made LWL a lot easier to deal with.