On some nights, you grind it out to victory, and the San Jose Sharks did just that against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. Sharks Hockey really had to earn it against a Devils team that just wouldn’t go away. It was a special night for a variety of reasons.
While the score was a tight 2-1 favoring the home team, setting things up for a monumentally challenging week against Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Anaheim, I’d like to offer a tip of the hat to a couple of future Hall of Famers who showed their stuff at SAP Center this past Saturday:
We’ve taken players like Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr for granted, because they’ve been so good for so long and it’s almost considered as constant as the sun rising each morning that we’ll see them on a National Hockey League team, plying their trade with top-level excellence. On Saturday, fans were entertained with another solid performance from these two players, who have 2,647 games of experience between them. They continue to defy the march of time, so let us count the ways:
- Jagr had a quieter night with 0 shots on goal, but he had two opportunities toward the net, one of which was blocked and the other which missed the net. He played 19:54, and certainly was noticeable every time he was on the ice. By my memory, he wasn’t on the ice for any significant period against Tomas Hertl, and that was the only thing that was mildly disappointing about the evening.
- Earlier in the week, Jagr had just scored his 690th career goal in Los Angeles. That tied his former linemate and mentor Mario Lemieux for 9th all-time. The goal was his 121st game-winner, which tied Gordie Howe for 1st all-time. So, kudos to the Sharks defense for working well against JJ in this game.
- Jagr has 2 Stanley Cup championships, 5 Art Ross Trophies, and 1 Hart Trophy to his credit. He’s tied for 8th all-time with 1706 points.
- The game featured three of top four active Czech-born scorers: Jagr, Patrick Elias, and Martin Havlat. Elias was blaming himself when a bobbled play gave Havlat a chance to assist on Tyler Kennedy’s game-winning goal, but the second most prolific Czech scorer of all-time picked up his 941st career point when he scored on the power play in the third period. That made a game of it.
- Brodeur absolutely robbed Logan Couture with a tremendous second-period glove save that makes us all think that he still has several years to go in his Hall of Fame career.
- Brodeur has more games played (1233) and more wins (676) and shutouts (123) than anyone. He’s one of only 6 goalies to play more than 900 games (Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Ed Belfour,Curtis Joseph, and Glenn Hall). He has 4 Vezina Trophies, 3 Stanley Cups, 3 goals, 42 assists, and at 41 years of age, most recently had consecutive shutouts at Philadelphia and at home against Nashville.
- Incredibly, Brodeur has played in more Stanley Cup playoff games (205) than the Sharks (174) have. That includes 24 games in 2012, when the Devils made it to the Final and lost to the Kings. San Jose hopes to catch up over the next two postseasons, but Brodeur will do his best to stay ahead.
- It was heartwarming to hear the crowd really applaud Brodeur when he was named one of the stars of the evening. As always, Sharks fans show their class.
Meanwhile, the “showcase” segment of the season is now over and the Sharks are moving into “the grind,” which is the way that we describe Games 20-50. The grind begins this week, with an incredible set of challenging games within a very short span of time: Los Angeles on Wednesday, St. Louis on Friday afternoon, and Anaheim on Saturday night. Three games in four days. Oh, yes, there is a lot for a hockey fan to be thankful for. I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com