“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!
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!