Sharks hockey hits the road today for an important four-game trip, with stops in Columbus, Detroit, Dallas, and Phoenix. It’s a well thought out trip, as the team has the flight all the way East on the first day, and works its way back to a shorter return trip home at the end of the excursion.
While the 7-game winning streak came to an end with the shootout loss against Dallas, the Sharks still are 9-0-4 in their last 13 games at HP Pavilion, and at 14-1-5, they possess the NHL’s top home record as of this writing. Now it’s time to beef up the road record, which is currently 6-10-2.
I thought I’d share a couple of thoughts that came out of the Dallas game, some of which made the radio airwaves, and some which did not:
Antti Niemi picked up an assist on the second Sharks goal that was scored by Brent Burns. It was his fourth career assist, and only his second as a Shark. His first Sharks assist came in the very first game that he played in a San Jose uniform, on October 8, 2010, at Columbus. A further check of the schedule reminds us that the word “at” really applied to both teams, as Niemi made his Sharks debut against the Blue Jackets at Ericsson Globen Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
It’s too bad that Stars winger Lane MacDermid didn’t suit up against the Sharks, because I would have been able to note that he scored his first goal on April 3 in Anaheim. Exactly 31 years earlier, on April 3, 1982, his father Paul MacDermid scored his first NHL goal.
Well, a father and a son scoring their first NHL goal on the same day is a pretty neat nugget, but how about this? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a father and a son had already picked up their first NHL goals on the same day once before! On November 3, 1972, Gerry O’Flaherty, now a scout, picked up his first goal while playing for the Vancouver Canucks. His father, John “Peanuts” O’Flaherty, notched his first NHL goal on November 3, 1940, while playing for the New York Americans.
Now, that’s one of the great nicknames in hockey history, and it isn’t because Peanuts was 5-7 and 145, which would certainly be diminutive today. Apparently, he got the nickname because he earned extra cash by selling peanuts at Maple Leaf Gardens!
The nickname also one-ups his other son, Bill “Flapper” O’Flaherty, who was a very successful coach at Clarkson University and later, director of player personnel for the Los Angeles Kings. I always thought that Billy received his nickname due to the way that he waved his arms in the direction of the officials when disputing calls from the Tech bench. One thing is for certain: the O’Flahertys are another example of a solid hockey family.
By the way, “Peanuts” O’Flaherty only played in 21 NHL games, scoring just 5 goals and 1 assist, all with the Americans. He played for Eddie Shore’s Springfield Indians for a couple of years, but settled in with the Pittsburgh Hornets for seven more seasons.
Anyway, it’s off to the road for the San Jose Sharks, and we’re looking forward to bringing you all the action on the radio. See you there!
Trying to predict the outcome of NHL games is difficult/ridiculous proposition. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to do it anyway.
When you examined the Sharks current seven game home stand before it began it looked like it was going to be tough. Certainly the first five games against Anaheim, Detroit, Phoenix, Vancouver and Minnesota were going to be difficult matchups. Now that the Sharks have won all five of those games, it’s natural to look ahead.
Can the Sharks beat Calgary tonight and Dallas on Sunday and sweep all seven games? On paper the chances look good. The Flames have traded the face of their franchise, Jarome Iginla along with minute munching defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and they got spanked against Edmonton two nights ago by an 8-2 score. Dallas also traded their captain Brendan Morrow and then moved future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr on trade deadline day. And just like the Flames, Dallas has lost 3 games in a row and doesn’t look like a playoff team. On paper it looks good for a Sharks sweep.
But games are played on the ice and once the puck is dropped all bets are off. Pride and professionalism run deep in the organizational DNA’s of most teams in the league and in Calgary and Dallas, where Stanley Cup banners fly, those traits are absolutely expected. Injuries, fatigue, mistakes, officiating, luck and a lot of other factors contribute to the outcome of every game in the NHL. On paper, should the Sharks complete their home-stand sweep and beat Calgary and Dallas? Probably. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little aren’t we?
As a friend of mine used to say, “Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, just win tonight!”
I’m Randy Hahn
What a week ....
Doug Wilson made some tough decisions in the past week trading away popular (in the dressing rooms and with the fans) players Murray and Clowe who were drafted and developed in the Sharks organization. They are both pending unrestricted free agents, as is Michael Handzus, so Wilson traded these players to acquire draft picks to help position the Sharks for the future.
The Sharks then acquired Scott Hannan who started his career with the Sharks and is a good depth defenseman who lays it on the line and is comfortable playing against top players in a shut down role. The Sharks also acquired Raffi Torres, and the math is real simple here, you'd rather have him on your team than have to play against him.
As one hockey writer said, Doug Wilson did some "savvy maneuvering" that was very beneficial to the Sharks both in the present and for the future.
Meanwhile, the Sharks have been savvy maneuvering their way up the standings with a 6 game winning streak and playing the best hockey since the start of the season. In the 6 games the Sharks have:
- beaten Anaheim, Anaheim, Detroit, Phoenix, Vancouver, and Minnesota
- given up 9 goals
- only put the other team on the power play 7 times
- out-skated and out-played the opposition in each of the games with a balanced 4 line attack, solid defensive play from the D-corps and great goaltending.
The San Jose Sharks have acquired Scott Hannan from the Nashville Predators and Raffi Torres from the Phoenix Coyotes today in two important trades that help the team and have a “full circle” feeling to them.
Let me explain. Hearing those names today takes me back to one date in San Jose Sharks history. It was May 8, 2006, and HP Pavilion was rocking with Game Two of the Western Conference Semi-final round between the Sharks and the Edmonton Oilers. San Jose had the 1-0 lead in the best of seven series, and it was another tight checking, hard hitting game between two teams with little love lost on each side.
Late in the first period, the crowd was so loud that LW Nils Ekman didn’t hear the officials blow the play dead. He shot the puck into an empty net, and was promptly nailed by both Torres and goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Roloson got a penalty. Torres got nothing.
At 4:53 of the second period, a series-changing moment occurred, when Torres blasted San Jose LW Milan Michalek with a legal body check that re-taught Michalek the value of not skating through the neutral zone with one’s head down. It was the end of Michalek for the next three games, and it was a moment that allowed the Oilers to maintain a swagger.
Later in the second stanza, Patrick Rissmiller and Josh Gorges took penalties just 19 seconds apart, giving the Oilers a 5-on-3 skating advantage. During that situation, San Jose put Mark Smith, Kyle McLaren, and Scott Hannan on the ice. The Oilers put the pressure on. Two players broke their sticks. McLaren ended up with the only stick.
Hannan capped the sequence by batting the puck out of the zone with his glove, and HP Pavilion’s decibel count raised to one of its highest levels in history.
You can hear the KFOX/Sharks Radio Network call of the action here.
What have the Sharks picked up today? All you have to do to find out is go back to May 8, 2006. You’ll find a physical winger that gets under the skin of his opponents and can make series-changing plays. You’ll also find a veteran defenseman that figures out a way to keep the puck away from his goaltender, often under the highest level of pressure.
That pretty much sums things up on this Trade Deadline Day. See you on the radio!
Watching Ryane Clowe with the media over the last week has been quite riveting.
First there is the vulture hockey media looming over the man.
OK David Pollack and Kevin Kurz aren't vultures but when the Canadian media swarmed on Ryane Clowe yesterday it was disturbing to us who have watched Ryane all these seasons.
However Ryane handled the questions about his play and his future with dignity and maturity and without bitterness.
If your looking for what it means to be a Shark. Look no further than a guy who grew up in this organization. Ryane has grown as a player, as a professional, and more importantly a person.
That was on display yesterday and he showed that being a Shark is more than scoring goals.
Has the job of NHL General Manager ever been more challenging than it is this week? The trade deadline is Noon Pacific time Wednesday. Between now and the deadline there will be 16 games played, 9 tonight and 7 more tomorrow. As of today there are 11 teams not in a playoff spot that are only 4 or fewer points away from getting in. What to do?
There’s so much to take into consideration. If you’re close to making the playoffs do you add to your team in the hopes of getting in? Or even if you think you can get into the playoffs do you really believe your team has a chance of going deep or will it be a one and done? Are you a buyer? Are you a seller? Do you stand pat and put your faith in the group you already have? Are you sending your team a negative message if you don’t add to the roster or if you subtract from the roster?
There are lots of questions and a myriad of answers. This is a week when the NHL’s General Managers are earning their pay and a week upon which they will be judged going forward.
I’m Randy Hahn.
Truncated - "shortened by or as if having a part cut of"
Unpredictable - "not predictable; not to be foreseen or foretold"
Uncomfortable - "causing discomfort or distress"
Sharks - "mostly marine fishes, certain species which are large, voracious and dangerous to humans"
Realization - "the making or being made real of something imagined, planned"
Home - "a house, apartment or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household"
Home - "the place in which one's domestic affections are centered"
This truncated season has been unpredictable and since the Murray trade the Sharks players have shown they are uncomfortable with the realization that home as they know it could change via a trade unless they play well at home, which they have done so far by shutting out the Ducks and Wings in back to back games.
Stay tuned hockey fans, this improbable season is just kicking into high gear and don't try and figure out what's going to happen, just enjoy the ride.
It’s always such a pleasure to call the action when the San Jose Sharks face the Detroit Red Wings. The style of hockey that is played is, all at once, fast, hard skating, thrilling, and clean. It brings back memories of some great Sharks triumphs along with some bitter Sharks disappointments, but it really sets the tone for the way that professional hockey ought to be played.
When the Sharks last faced the Red Wings in the 2011 playoffs, all of hockey got more of the same. That series was the finest of all of the series played that season, with the possible exception of the seven-game Final series between Vancouver and Boston.
Last night, at HP Pavilion, another awesome game was played between these two long-time rivals, and the Sharks captured the victory, 2-0. Antti Niemi was outstanding in net, but it took contributions from everyone working together in order to get to the desired result.
You have to tip your hat to the Red Wings for putting together a solid effort of their own that was typical of their history. In fact, one of the more spectacular individual moments in the game occurred when Pavel Datsyuk performed some magic in a one-on-one situation with Logan Couture. Check the evidence here, from the point of view of the Detroit telecast:
Logan Couture is one of the most competitive and talented players on the Sharks roster, so when you watch what Datsyuk did, you see why he has to be one of the truly best players in the game. Couture, by the way, had an excellent night in all three zones, and celebrated his 24th birthday in style with the Sharks win.
Let the homestand continue!
It is amazing what a trade can do. Even though General Manager Doug Wilson insisted that the trade of Douglas Murray was not meant to send a message to the rest of the team.
However, every trade sends a message intended or unintended.
Joe Pavelski said it best in an interview during the game in Anaheim.
"That's on us." He emphatically stated in regard to a good friend and teammate leaving the team.
He further explained that if the team and individuals had performed better then no one would have been traded.
Since the trade, the Sharks have played two games that are two of the best they have played this season. Two games where the team didn't lean on one line or a goaltender to steal the game. Two games where you can point out every player making a positive impact and competing every shift for 60 minutes.
Message or no message, the GM has certainly got the attention of his team.
It’s impossible to know what stretch of the Sharks season will end up being the most important to their playoff hopes. Maybe it was the 7 game winning streak at the beginning of the year that gave them a cushion? Or it could come down to the final two games of the season on the road in Phoenix and LA. But the next 4 home games against Anaheim, Detroit, Phoenix and Vancouver will certainly tell us a lot about where the team is heading and perhaps where some individual players are or are not heading.
The NHL trade deadline is a week from today. As of this morning the Sharks are in a playoff spot, 8th in the West. If the next 4 games go well they’ll be in good shape at the deadline. If things go sideways they could fall out of the top 8 in a hurry.
I’m not required to provide “keys to the game”. That duty is left for far more advanced hockey minds than mine. (Remenda, Baker, Hedican, Brown) But these are MY Great White Bites, so here are my keys to victory tonight against Anaheim.
Urgency and focus.
It was great that the Sharks broke out against Anaheim Monday and scored 5 goals. But it’s hardly time to start feeling comfortable. I’m guessing the Ducks are going to be in a snarly mood tonight and the Sharks have to match that with urgency from the first drop of the puck.
And then there’s the issue of focus. When things have gone bad for the Sharks it’s usually been a loss of focus/composure over a 2 or 3-minute stretch that sees the game get away from them. They overcame some adversity within that game Monday and settled down to close it out. That needs to happen again tonight.
I’m Randy Hahn.