Friday's Baker's Dozen - 3/16/2012
Time for my weekly Baker’s Dozen.
- Speaking of Logan Couture... Congrats on back-to-back 30-goal seasons, in your first two full seasons in the NHL, a first in Sharks franchise history.
- Speaking of 'The Kid'... It’s great for Pittsburgh, the NHL and the game of hockey to have Sid the Kid back playing. I just hope he stays healthy for the rest of the regular and postseason.
One of the reasons Pittsburgh has reeled off 10 straight wins is the play of MVP candidate Evgeni Malkin, who had this to say after his team recently beat Boston: "I not think about my points now, the season continues and playoffs come soon."
- Speaking of Boston... The Bruins are struggling as they are 2-6-0 in their last eight games, 3-8-0 in March after a very mediocre 5-7-1 record in February. As a matter of fact, the four teams who made it to the Conference Finals last year haven’t exactly fared well in March. Vancouver is 2-4-0, Tampa Bay is 3-3-1 and San Jose is 2-3-3. The four teams combined records for March is 10-16-4.
- Speaking of scoring while your team struggles... Since the beginning of February the Sharks have scored 54 goals. Joe Thornton has 26 points so he has been in on 48.1% of the Sharks goals in the last 6 weeks.
Thornton had multi-point efforts in three games of the recent four-game road trip with three assists in Dallas, a goal and assist in Edmonton and a pair of assists in Calgary. The Sharks captain has been in on eight of the nine goals over the past five games.
- Speaking of Edmonton... This is what Tom Renney had to say after his Oiler team lost to the Sharks: "It doesn't take many players with the wrong attitude to make its way through your dressing room. It doesn't take many guys at all. We have a few people who need to look in the mirror here, because this is unacceptable. You're the Edmonton Oilers. You're a millionaire. You have an opportunity to play the game. Suck it up and play hockey."
- Speaking of playing hockey... The Sharks beat Nashville in the shootout on Thursday and have Detroit in town on Saturday. Both those teams have visions of winning the Stanley Cup. Problem is, it looks like these two potential Cup contenders will square off in the first round of the playoffs, meaning one of their seasons will be deemed very unfulfilling.
- This week BakesTakes13 looks at the ‘Ringette’ line that Scotty Bowman thinks should be added to the ice surface (see above). This line would be in each defensive zone between the blueline and the top of the circle. The purpose is players cannot make a pass to a player on the other side of the center red line until they have crossed this new line.
It eliminates players from passing the puck from their own corner or below the goal line to a stretch player who just deflects the puck into the opposing zone, which eliminates an icing. See photo for an idea of how it would look:
- Speaking of adjustment mode... Quote of the week goes to Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan when analyzing his team earlier this week: "We’re in repair mode, when we’d like to be in adjustment mode. We’re fighting our way through it and we’re going to get there.”
- Speaking of goaltenders... This past week Martin Brodeur got his 650th victory after his Devils beat the Flyers. This is what he had to say after the win: "It means a lot. It means I've been winning a lot of games."
To put it in perspective, former Sharks goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov has 309 wins (22nd all-time) and Miikka Kiprusoff has 307 wins (23rd all-time), which combined is still 34 wins short of Brodeur’s total.
- Speaking of Kiprusoff... What a great week for some of the top Finnish players in the NHL:
• Saku Koivu became the 5th Finnish player in NHL history to play in 1,000 NHL games.
• Miikka Kiprusoff passed Billy Smith and moved into 23rd spot with his 306th career victory. He also has 30+ wins in 7 consecutive seasons.
• Teemu Selanne passed his boyhood idol, Jari Kurri, on the all-time points list with his 1,399th point. Selanne is now the all-time points leader for a Finnish born player and is 19th all-time in NHL history. Selanne went on to get his 1,400th point vs Detroit on Wed night.
- Speaking of Accomplishments... Joe Thornton has now played 533 games with the Sharks, one more than he did with the Bruins. Thornton had 454 points in 532 games with Boston and currently has 613 points in 533 games with the Sharks. Here are more of Thornton’s career stats/accomplishments:
• 78th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points
• ranks 41st on all-time assist list with 744
• ranks T-61st on the all-time points list with 1,065
• Has more points than nay player since his NHL debut in 1997 with 1065
- Speaking of stats... The Sharks are tied in the 7th spot with Pittsburgh at 1.10 for best 5-on-5 GF/GA differential in the NHL. Detroit leads with a 1.51 differential, St. Louis in 2nd at 1.44.
- Speaking of differentials... As soon as I saw the schedule I knew the stretch right after the nine-game, 16-day road trip was going to be tough. That’s when guys are banged up, tired and yet there is no rest because they played eight games in 15 days. Not to mention, the team went on another seven-day road trip meaning the players have been on the road 24 of the last 32 days before coming home to play Nashville.
The second half of this season has been the toughest travel schedule I have seen since being involved with the Sharks as a player or broadcaster. It’s the type of schedule that if you lose your confidence and struggle, you can get mired in a lengthy slump that is tough to turn around. That being said, the schedule moving forward, while still busy, is easier now because five of the next six games are at home and the travel schedule is light with trips only to Pacific Division teams.
In other words, the worst is behind this team and now is the perfect opportunity to get hot, get on a roll and enter the playoffs playing the best hockey of the season. Once you’re in the party, anything can happen. Anything!!