POSTED ON Friday, 06.29.2012 / 9:05 AM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp
They came from different countries, and different ways of life, but they were blessed with the love of the game of hockey and the desire to be the very best. They weren’t playing for the Stanley Cup, or for the IIHF World Championship, but were instead competing for the joy of achievement and for the pride of their country. It could be said that they represented opposing ways of life.

Forty years ago, a team of legends from the USSR and another from Canada caused the hockey world to stop, stare, and shake its collective head in awe. There was nothing routine about it, from the fact that it was an eight-game series instead of a best-of-seven, to that it was played in September instead of May and June, and that it marked the first time that the Soviet and Canadian hockey cultures had ever collided at the very top level.

On Wednesday evening, some of the Russian legends came to Sharks Ice at San Jose to begin a commemorative tour of California with their former teammates, holding a clinic with some lucky young hockey players, and playing in an exhibition against a few former Sharks and Jr. Sharks coaches in a fundraiser for the Jr. Sharks Scholarship Fund.

The appearance of the Russians brought back all of the memories of that 1972 Summit Series, which was ironically called the “Friendship Series,” a name that was soon forgotten alongside the détente that inspired it. It was a series for the ages, and one that changed professional hockey forever.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 06.21.2012 / 2:03 PM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

So, the Stanley Cup Champion has been decided, the Awards Show has just ended in Las Vegas, the draft and free agency are coming up, and baseball, soccer, and motor racing seasons are in full swing. What’s a hockey fan to do when he has a few minutes of free time from armchair GM’ing?

As they say in Quebec, “Mesdames et Messieurs, le calendrier est arrivé.”

It’s an annual rite of passage that has traditionally occurred in July. But on the second day of summer, the 2012-13 National Hockey League schedule has arrived, and all across the continent, fans, executives, players, coaches, and broadcasters are all in full analysis mode.

First things first: the season is scheduled to start on October 12th, which is nearly a week later than this past campaign. It begins with a quick foray into Southern California, but into Orange County and Duck Hockey. There are only eight games in October, which is a lower number than usual, but that includes a marquee Opening Night against the New York Rangers on October 15th at HP Pavilion. That’s very exciting.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 10:34 AM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

When NHL clubs gather at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 22nd and 23rd, the future stars of the world’s fastest game will undoubtedly be selected in the NHL Entry Draft. While it is a time of great excitement for everyone involved, it is also a time when some of the most important work is done by each organization.

For families of prospective draftees, it is a time when many years of hard work and dedication are validated by being selected, whether it is in the first or seventh round. It is a time of reward for all of the hard work that the teams’ scouting staffs have placed into pounding the pavements of the hockey world to find the next great member of one’s organization.

It’s a fun time for fans, too, who pack the arena where the draft is located, have “draft parties” in their respective communities, and who handicap the results by doing a little armchair GM’ing of their own. There are often trades executed, which happen right before everyone’s eyes, and there are lots of wheeling and dealing moments to watch.

QUALITY OF DRAFTS

Normally, everyone wants to know whether the upcoming prospect pool is deep enough to call the draft a “good” or “deep” one. My view of it is that every draft is a good draft, and it is a fact that every draft produces outstanding NHL players.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 9:00 AM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp


There are all sorts of storylines bouncing around the web, the printed page, and the airwaves as professional hockey’s marquee event gets underway on Wednesday at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The teams have been set, the battle lines have been drawn, and all that is left is for the Stanley Cup Final series to get started between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils.

Both teams have been to the Stanley Cup Final before. The Kings are here for the second time in their 45 years of history, and the Devils are here for the fifth time in their 38 years of existence as an NHL team. The Devils have three Stanley Cup championships so far, and the Kings have yet to sip champagne instead of beer after the Final series concludes. Both teams are playing an aggressive, hard-skating, well-defended style of hockey with a level of consistency that is certainly envied in other cities.

There are ironies and interesting side stories in this series, as is the case every year. For instance, the last time that the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2003, they also faced a team from California in the Anaheim Ducks, and it took them a full seven games to bring the trophy to the Garden State.

Anaheim’s leading scorer in that playoff run was Adam Oates, who has changed coasts to become a valued member of the New Jersey coaching staff. Oates, the Sir Stanley Matthews of hockey, took a page out of that great soccer player’s playbook by making others around him better throughout his 19 NHL seasons, and he’s doing the same thing today from his spot behind the bench.

New Jersey’s assistant coach Larry Robinson, one of the great defensemen of his era, is primarily known for his Stanley Cup winning years with the Montreal Canadiens, but his last three NHL seasons were spent with the Kings in Los Angeles. Robinson joined the Devils as assistant coach after his playing career ended, but became the Kings head coach for four seasons before rejoining New Jersey in 1999.

Robinson took over the head job late that season and promptly directed the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000 and a trip to the Final in 2001. Since then, he has been on and off the Devils coaching staff and has had an integral role in working with the Devils defense.

Peter DeBoer, the head coach of the Devils, must be really enjoying himself this season after a couple of tough years in Florida out of the playoffs. His Devils defeated the Panthers in the first round, then notched revenge for 1994 in defeating the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. On the ice, he’s coaching some familiar faces: David Clarkson of New Jersey and Mike Richards of Los Angeles were integral pieces of his 2003 Memorial Cup championship club in Kitchener.

On the other side of the ice, it certainly has been interesting to see the Dean Lombardi-Darryl Sutter partnership working well at the right time. The Kings and their fans have been through lots of agony since that 1993 trip to the Final against Montreal, missing the playoffs in 11 of 15 years from 1994 to 2009. They have a very dedicated fan base in Los Angeles, and they have had a tremendous run to this point.

The Lombardi-Sutter axis brings the Sharks into the mix, of course, because of the many years that each of them bled Teal. But in terms of the players themselves, the only Sharks connections are on the Devils side: right wing Steve Bernier has played in 22 playoff games wearing a San Jose uniform, and backup goaltender Johan Hedberg was a member of the Sharks Organization from 1999 to 2001.

Overall, I really like the way that both of these teams are playing. They have a combination of great goaltending, solid defensive team play, opportunistic scoring, and special teams that are working when it matters most.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 1:15 PM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

The NHL’s conference final round is underway, and in both the Western and Eastern regions, the series got off with a bang.

In both series, it is instructive to note the emphasis on (a) doing everything at full speed and (b) emphasizing the will factor over the to-be-expected skill.

The Rangers – Devils series is simply a classic Eastern Conference battle, with both teams possessing goaltenders (Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur) at the top of their respective games and two well-balanced teams in front of them. But for me, the play of Rangers defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi has been a real eye-opener.

Between them, the two blocked eight shots in Game One. Girardi got the all-important first goal. McDonagh’s skating ability rose to the top when he was able to catch Zach Parise on a breakaway and force Ilya Kovalchuk to a backhand chance on another break that made things easier for Lundqvist to stop the puck.

Of course, Lundqvist did enough of that on his own, especially with a rapid-fire, three-stop strategy (excuse my Formula One reference there) on Parise in the second period that had everybody at Madison Square Garden gawking.

In the Western Conference, Los Angeles has been acting like the team to beat. They fully outplayed the Phoenix Coyotes in Game One and that was not only accentuated by the 4-2 score but by Coyotes coach Dave Tippett’s analysis after the game. The Kings have been getting lots of great play from top guys like Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar but they are also really benefitting from the likes of Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, who are really making a difference by filling their assigned roles.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 11:20 AM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp


It was all over, on a Saturday night in St. Louis, and it wasn’t in the script that the San Jose Sharks had written for themselves. They were shaking hands with the St. Louis Blues, after losing the Western Conference Quarterfinal round to the team that had nearly captured the Presidents’ Trophy during the regular season.

It was all over in a blink of an eye, a five-sentence paragraph that ended with an empty-net exclamation point from Andy McDonald, the speedy forward who was such a dominant thorn in the side of the San Jose Sharks for an entire playoff series. A second exclamation point was added by the subsequent explosion of the capacity crowd at Scottrade Center and so ended the San Jose’s quest for the 2012 Stanley Cup championship.

Without question, the early playoff exit brings back the memory of the spring of 2009 when San Jose was eliminated in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks in six games. Let’s not forget that after reevaluating that disappointment, the Sharks made two long runs to the Western Conference Final and were definitive Stanley Cup challengers.

After the too-quick ending this spring, the team will evaluate and will take a positive step forward again, with only the Stanley Cup on their minds. This condition is not unique to the Sharks. It is also happening in cities like Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, and depending on how Game Seven turns out in New York and in Boston, more cities could be added to the list.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 1:15 PM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp


As the San Jose Sharks get set to begin their Stanley Cup playoff journey with Game One in St. Louis on Thursday, the National Hockey League is getting the best radio and television broadcast coverage in history.

Each and every San Jose Sharks Stanley Cup playoff game will be airing on Classic Rock KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network affiliate stations nearest you. Jamie Baker and I have always appreciated your loyal listenership, and we look forward to bringing you every minute of every game that the Sharks play.

Because of the Sharks Radio Network affiliate station group, and now because of satellite and digital radio platforms, our radio audience has continued to find more listeners. In fact, because of SiriusXM and internet streaming radio, a larger and larger audience of hockey fans beyond the range of KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network has been able to listen to every minute of every Stanley Cup playoff game for years.

Well, this season, the television world is catching up to their radio brethren. Because of the NHL’s years of work with NBC and Versus, the League has been a major beneficiary of the merger between NBC Universal and Comcast, the owners of the League’s two television partners. With a new 10-year deal in place, fans across the United States will now have unprecedented television access to every Stanley Cup playoff game, nationwide.

A huge kudos has to go to Commissioner Gary Bettman and his lieutenants for the reward that they’re getting for years and years of hard work and loyalty. It’s going to expose hockey to millions of new initiates, but more importantly, it will bring hockey to loyal fans who have never had the opportunity, at least on television, to watch the games of their choice.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 7:15 AM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp


One thing has never changed in twenty-one memorable seasons in San Jose Sharks history: there is absolutely nothing like the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Over the course of the Sharks’ timeline, there have been some remarkable games, incredible series, unforgettable moments, and extra excitement. With their qualification for Stanley Cup playoff action in 2011-12, Sharks Hockey will embarks on its 15th trip to the post-season party, and a chance to sip champagne from the most glorious trophy in professional sports.

Of course, as of this writing, the Sharks have a lot of work to do before planning the schedule for the Western Conference Quarterfinal Round. As of 9:00 AM on March 28th, they found themselves in first place in the Pacific Division, holding the third seed in the playoffs. However, what is true at 9:00 AM may not be true at 10:00 PM on the same day, because of the craziness in the playoff race.

Is this good or bad for the Sharks? Will the effort be so daunting to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs that there will be no fuel left in the proverbial tank for the actual post-season games? Well, in the past, such a notion may have been true, but it is not as absolutely true this time around, for a variety of reasons.

First, this Sharks group is battle-tested and experienced with the post-season challenge. The core group has led the way to the Conference Final round in each of the last two seasons, so the grind is a familiar one to them.

Second, this team has, knock on wood, been relatively durable during the season. Yes, there have been some injuries, and those have served as mileage restrictors for a few players who will be very important pieces of the puzzle come springtime.

Third, the depth on the roster is rounding out quite well, after some adjustments to a changing group surrounding the core of the team. It all seems to be trending in the right direction at precisely the right time of the year.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 12:50 PM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

Do you remember the way that the San Jose Sharks fought back from an 0-3 deficit in a Stanley Cup playoff series to force a decisive Game Seven?

If you check the history books, you won’t find any such series, but it actually happened, even though there is no definitive record of such an event ever taking place.

It was the spring of 2008, and the Sharks were facing elimination in the Western Conference Semifinal round against their Pacific Division rivals, the Dallas Stars. Instead of throwing in the towel, they won Game Four, 2-1, at American Airlines Center, and kept the series alive. On the glimmer of hope that they received, they captured victory in Game Five, 3-2 in overtime, on the strength of a Joe Pavelski goal in the extra session.

Heading back to Dallas for Game Six, the hope was to force a Game Seven, but the history books show that San Jose lost that contest. What is misunderstood is that the team did force a Game Seven, but that it didn’t take place at HP Pavilion, as the original schedule indicated.

Instead, Game Seven of that series happened on the very same night, May 4, 2008, at American Airlines Center in Dallas. You may remember the drill: the game was tied, 1-1, at the end of regulation time. Evgeni Nabokov made one of the greatest saves in franchise history against Brad Richards early in the first overtime, and the Sharks and Stars would play three full overtime periods, the equivalent of another full game, on that night, without a decision.

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POSTED ON Monday, 02.27.2012 / 8:28 AM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

Greetings from 30,000 feet!

I’m sending this missive from an aircraft that is jetting its way across the country from St. Paul, Minnesota, following a bizarre night against the Wild that proved to be a microcosm of a disappointing 2-6-1 road trip. Not only did coach Todd McLellan get “coco-bopped” by an accidental Marco Scandella stick that got loose around the San Jose bench, but the Sharks had a 2-0 lead, led 3-2 in the third on a Brent Burns goal, then lost the game, 4-3, after Nick Schultz ended a 100-game goalless drought and former Shark Jed Ortmeyer notched his first goal since joining the Wild.

The only thing that was missing was Devin Setoguchi scoring his 100th career goal into an empty net, which was possible, since he was out there during the time that the Sharks had an extra attacker on the ice. Fortunately, that did not happen, but it wouldn’t have mattered, given the fact that the result was the same: a Sharks loss in regulation.

Following the game, we hurried to the airport, happy to know that home was but a four hour flight away. Well, not so fast. Some aircraft trouble, our first of the season, chose this occasion to rear its ugly head, and after the players took in their post-game meal on the plane, it was determined that we would return to the hotel in St. Paul and try again in the morning.

Rolling out today, we were all glued to the NHL Network coverage before getting on the plane, and were a bit surprised to notice that the Wild were involved in two deals: former Shark Brad Staubitz was picked up on waivers by Montreal, and Schultz, he of the one-game goal scoring streak, was traded to the Edmontonians for defenseman Tom Gilbert, Joe Pavelski’s old college teammate at Wisconsin.

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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 37 33 12 70
L. Couture 82 27 40 -6 67
J. Thornton 78 16 49 -4 65
B. Burns 82 17 43 -9 60
P. Marleau 82 19 38 -17 57
T. Wingels 75 15 21 -7 36
T. Hertl 82 13 18 -5 31
M. Nieto 72 10 17 -12 27
M. Karlsson 53 13 11 -3 24
M. Vlasic 70 9 14 12 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 31 23 7 .914 2.59
A. Stalock 8 9 2 .902 2.62
Image Map