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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 4:15 PM
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 / 2:20 PM
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 / 4:15 PM
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 / 10:15 AM
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 / 3:50 PM
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 / 11:28 AM
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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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:09 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp


When you go on a long road trip, there are lots of stories surrounding planes, trains, and automobiles, but there are lots of hockey stories, too, usually told during games, but sometimes, around locker rooms.

Monday’s game in Washington provided a few examples. Following a late-night flight from St. Louis after a disappointing loss to the Blues, the men in Teal woke up the next morning and bussed straight to the Verizon Center, home of the Washington Capitals, for a meeting and optional skate.

It was an exciting, yet bittersweet day for right winger Tommy Wingels. He was excited to be back in the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. But he was going to be stepping on the Verizon Center ice surface for the first time since 2009, when he did so as a member of the Miami University team in the NCAA Championship game.

On that particular day, Miami had a 3-1 lead with one minute to play. But Boston University scored twice in the final minute to force overtime, then shocked the Red Hawks with an overtime winner for the national title.

That’s a story in itself for Wingels, but guess who his roommate was in our nation’s capital? That’s right: John McCarthy, co-captain of the Boston University team that won on that fateful day.

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POSTED ON Monday, 02.06.2012 / 3:32 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

I always enjoy reading, hearing, and talking about old hockey stories, and when a modern day event converges on history, it’s always an interesting exercise to look back at similar events that shaped the NHL game and weave them all together into a interesting tapestry.

It happened again this past week, as Edmonton’s Sam Gagner lit up the Chicago Blackhawks with four goals and four assists in a season where scoring goals is becoming an increasingly difficult thing to accomplish.

In the current age of neutral zone traps, big guys with great range and speed, and outstanding defense, it was incredible to see Gagner become the first player to record eight points in a game since Mario Lemieux did it for the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 31, 1988, a little over 23 years earlier. It was also great to note that in the official scoresheet, Gagner is the only star mentioned in the three stars section, since he was the first, second, and third stars of the game with that performance.

Gagner didn’t have his big night against an undermanned, last place club, either. He did it against the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the top teams in the League. While it wasn’t the most points ever recorded by a player in a game (Darryl Sittler of Toronto scored 6 goals and 4 assists in a memorable night against Boston on February 7, 1976), it equaled a mark originally set by Maurice “Rocket” Richard on December 28, 1944, when the hockey legend scored five goals and three assists against a Detroit Red Wings sextet at the Forum.

All of this discussion of Lemieux and Richard brought me into the tapestry weaving business. So, without further ado, let’s start weaving:

The Canadiens’ media guide, also known as the “Guide de Presse,” does not mention this game in the “en un coup d’oeil” section, also known as the “at a glance” area in the 1943-44 season summary. It does mention, however, that the Rocket wound up becoming the first-ever 50 goal scorer in an NHL season, notching his 50th on the final night of the season, in the Canadiens’ 50th game. Thus, the legend of “50 goals in 50 games” was born, and it wouldn’t have happened had the Rocket not had this memorable night, which was unprecedented in the NHL at the time.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 3:05 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp


WHAT HATH A SHOOTOUT WIN WROUGHT?

Following a thrilling 2-1 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames on January 17th, the prevailing attitude overcoming the HP Pavilion crowd was one of relief. Yes, the Sharks should have won the game at 3:55 of overtime when a Justin Braun goal was incorrectly disallowed, but all’s well that ends well, right?

What if I told you that the difference between an overtime win and a shootout win is more than one less goal for Braun, one less assist for Joe Thornton and Tommy Wingels, and one less goal against for Miikka Kiprusoff? What if the difference between an overtime win and a shootout win could amount to millions of dollars for a franchise’s bottom line?

I’m sure that I have your attention now, but let’s review the entire situation before we get to the unintended consequences of the ruling. Under Rule 69.1, contact by an opposing player is what would constitute a referee’s decision to disallow the goal, and it is very specifically noted that such a decision is not reviewable by video replay, either on site or in the NHL War Room in Toronto.

The ruling was that in driving the net, Wingels made contact with Kiprusoff, but an overhead camera showed that the contact was with Calgary’s Olli Jokinen on the play. Jokinen was not directed by Wingels into Kiprusoff, although that may have been what the officials decided. In my own humble opinion, the wrong decision was unfortunately made, and there was no way to reverse it by video review.

Now, the Sharks did win the shootout, and they did get a win and two points in the standings. Calgary got an OT and one point, just as if they would have had the game been decided by Braun’s goal in overtime. So, where do the unintended consequences and millions of dollars come in?

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 4:00 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

The Winter Classic is not only a classic, it is a gem of a game, and a tremendous way for hockey to trumpet its virtues, return to its roots, and introduce itself to new customers. Along with the HBO “24/7” series as a terrific buildup, it has become a real tradition for the sport.

This year, the Winter Classic got all of those things and more in one afternoon in front of 46,967 fans at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and an NBC/CBC television audience. In one write-up of the game, Larry Brooks of the New York Post called it the “Greatest Spectacle on Ice,” and I think that’s a great name, given its reference to another event that I particularly enjoy: the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500.

There was no snowstorm this year, but there were plenty of fireworks on the ice between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers that threw everything that was compelling about hockey into the extravaganza. Oh, yes, in this day and age of “3-2 Hockey,” we got a 3-2 final in regulation favoring the visitors from Madison Square Garden.

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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 35 22 8 5 101 96 49
2 CHI 34 23 9 2 106 67 48
3 STL 33 21 9 3 100 81 45
4 NSH 31 21 8 2 87 64 44
5 SJS 34 19 11 4 97 87 42
6 WPG 34 17 10 7 83 80 41
7 VAN 32 19 11 2 92 90 40
8 LAK 34 17 11 6 94 84 40
9 CGY 35 17 15 3 100 95 37
10 MIN 31 16 12 3 91 84 35
11 DAL 32 14 13 5 95 109 33
12 COL 33 12 13 8 85 101 32
13 ARI 32 11 17 4 74 104 26
14 EDM 34 7 20 7 74 116 21

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Couture 34 13 16 4 29
J. Thornton 34 8 21 2 29
J. Pavelski 34 15 13 5 28
P. Marleau 34 7 20 -1 27
B. Burns 34 10 16 -2 26
T. Wingels 34 9 14 1 23
T. Hertl 34 7 7 -3 14
J. Braun 34 1 12 7 13
M. Vlasic 33 4 6 12 10
J. Sheppard 28 4 6 0 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 4 3 1 .926 2.12
A. Niemi 14 7 3 .917 2.42
Image Map