Three Wise Men have spoken recently and their comments are very interesting.
Head Coach Todd McLellan - after his team defeated the LA Kings on April 16.
"The most important recognition of character is from within the locker room. What they think of each other and how they compete."
Assistant Coach Larry Robinson - what the team needs to improve on while having the 27th best offense and 6th best defense in the league.
"We need to tighten up defensively, especially in the defensive zone".
Assistant Coach Jim Johnson - on explaining what it means to play simple, or have a simple game.
"Take risk out of critical area decisions."
I suggest you read those again and absorb them, because they are tremendous quotes from some wise hockey men who know what they are talking about.
Brent Burns played Colin Kaepernick hockey against the Los Angeles Kings yesterday, and in a 42 second span, he scored a goal and assisted on another by TJ Galiardi. He played the point on the power play. He is, in a way, returning the era of the “rover” to today’s NHL without the too-many-men-on-the-ice call.
Raffi Torres showed a nifty move in the shootout to pick up the game-deciding goal. He provided a much-needed presence all over the ice.
Antti Niemi had a spectacular night in goal, making many spectacular saves. One of his best was against Mike Richards during a 5-on-3 penalty killing sequence that was a heart-stopping, thrilling moment.
On the other side of the ice, the Kings gave it their all as well. After Niemi’s great save on Richards and the first penalty to Galiardi ended, Jake Muzzin perfectly placed a shot from the point through traffic and got the Kings on the board. Then, on a play where a penalty was to be called against San Jose, Anze Kopitar got the shot away, and Dustin Brown was able to will the rebound into the net to tie the score.
Let’s not forget Jonathan Quick, either. He had some spectacular saves down the stretch, including an amazing span midway through the third period off Tommy Wingels and Raffi Torres following a turnover.
It was a classic regular season game, one of the better ones that we’ve seen in the past few years, and it was punctuated by the fact that the Sharks were the team that had played and traveled the night before. It makes everyone look forward to the next game, and the next one after that, and that goes for Kings fans, too, who undoubtedly have circled the season finale on April 27th at Staples Center as a rendezvous point for their return barrage.
I witnessed a very cool event last night after the Sharks beat the Coyotes 4-0. I was broadcasting the game between the benches and found the game puck on the boards as the Sharks filed off the ice. There was a handful of Sharks fans, many of them children still in the stands patting the boys on the back for a job well done.
Well I grabbed the game puck and gave it to the first young Sharks fan I saw. He was probably 8 or 9 years old and very polite thanking me for the puck.
Another much younger fan probably 5 years old asked if he could have a puck as well.
I apologized saying that was the only one I had.
The young man I gave the puck to said. " Would you like a puck? You can have this one."
The smile on the both their faces just struck me.
A simple random act of kindness can inject a little faith in a jaded heart.
“The Sharks game tonight is huge!”
Get used to hearing that a lot between now and the end on the regular season April 27th. The Sharks have seven games remaining in this shortened 48 game NHL regular season. None of their remaining opponents have clinched a playoff spot yet, and none have been eliminated from contention. And oh yes, throw the Sharks into that group as well.
Tonight the Sharks visit the Phoenix Coyotes. It’s an especially crucial game for the Desert Dogs. Phoenix has 43 points, 4 points behind the 8th place Detroit Red Wings. After tonight the Coyotes have to travel to St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit. They absolutely cannot afford to slip up at home.
The Sharks path to the playoffs is simple. They just need to get to 54 or 55 points and they’ll be in. That means they need to win 3-4 of their remaining games and the more they win against teams behind them, like Phoenix, the better. With the LA Kings already in San Jose waiting to take on the Sharks Tuesday night at HP Pavilion, a win here in the desert tonight would be a big step toward cementing their post season position.
Like I said, the Sharks game tonight is huge!
I’m Randy Hahn
Including tonight's game against Dallas, the Sharks have eight games remaining.
Here is who they play:
Dallas - 2x - have won 4 in a row and are only 2 points out of a playoff spot
Phoenix - 2x - have points in 8 of last 10 games and are 2 points out of a playoff spot
LA - 2x - Defending Champs are 1 point ahead of Sharks for 4th place
Minnesota - 1x - 3 points out of 4th and 3 points ahead of teams tied for 9th place.
Columbus - 1x - They are on a roll right now, have beaten the Sharks twice and are only 2 points out of a playoff spot
Here are two sidebars from last night’s great Sharks win against the Detroit Red Wings that continued the tremendous history in the series between the two clubs. Both have a somewhat predictive quality, and one is illustrative of what hockey is all about.
If you listen to the “Coach’s Chalkboard” segment with Todd McLellan on KFOX 98.5/102.1 and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network affiliate stations near you, you usually get a gem or two from the leader behind the bench. Here is a modest case in point from last night’s game:
McLellan was showing some concern about the previous loss in Columbus, but he saw the Detroit game as a chance to squash the poor memory of that disappointment. “Our opportunity that lies in front of us is a good one,” he said on the radio.
Three quotes for my Great White Bite and I will let you ponder the significance in relation to the race to get into the postseason.
"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will."
"There are only two options regarding commitment, you are either in or you are out. There is no such thing as life in-between."
"You've got to get over games and have the resiliency to come back"
Any regular viewer of Sharks broadcasts know that Drew Remenda and I do a brief segment that kicks off the Esurance Postgame Live (aka “The Brodie Brazil Show”) following every game. I’m not going to lie. It’s always an easier segment to do when the Sharks win, but it must be done win or lose.
Yesterday’s 4-0 loss in Columbus was tough. The Sharks never seemed to find their legs and the desperate Blue Jackets took full advantage. Drew and I never discuss ahead of time what we’re going to talk about on the post-game show. It’s a spontaneous and organic thing, like my hair.
Last night our “theme” if you want to call it that was that the Sharks have to move on. Of course there were mistakes made on the ice and the coaches will go over that and more at practice. But then it has to be over. In this crazy compressed season there’s no time to dwell on negatives or positives for that matter. The Red Wings are every bit as desperate as the Blue Jackets are and they will be a formidable opponent on Thursday at The Joe. We can moan all day about how the Sharks got it handed to them twice in Columbus this year but it won’t change the fact that preparing for Detroit is all that really matters now. Onward.
I’m Randy Hahn
The Pittsburgh Penguins have guaranteed themselves a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs and have done so for the seventh consecutive year. That's the third longest active streak for teams making it to the NHL's coveted playoffs. The top two teams are:
Detroit - Twenty one years in a row. Incredible but that amazing feat is closer than ever to ending as the Wings hang on to eighth spot by a few points over hungry teams such as Phoenix, Edmonton, Dallas and Columbus.
San Jose - Eight years in a row. And with the recent home-stand where the Sharks gained 13 of a possible 14 points it looks like their streak will continue to nine years in a row. It's a huge accomplishment and a testament to the great work that the management, hockey operations, coaches and players have put in over the years.
The Sharks meanwhile shouldn't be satisfied with just making the playoffs but trying to get enough points to be the fourth seed and home ice advantage in the first round. It is starting to look like they might play LA, Vancouver, Minnesota or St. Louis and starting at home where the Sharks are 14-1-5 would be an advantage against any of the mentioned opponents.
Hard to believe that after tonight's game in Columbus there will only be nine games left in the season. It's flying by but man is it fun.
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!