Kukla's Korner Hockey
from David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News,
Long-simmering issues between Sharks general manager Doug Wilson and veteran center Joe Thornton boiled to the surface Friday when Thornton had a direct response to Wilson's latest explanation of why the 'C' was removed from his jersey.
"I think Doug just needs to shut his mouth," Thornton said after his team's morning practice. "I think that's the bottom line."
Thornton added: "All I've got to say is I've been here every day working hard. I haven't taken a sabbatical. He just needs to stop lying, shut his mouth."
In a Thursday night meeting with about 350 season-ticket holders, Wilson was asked again about the decision to strip Thornton of the captaincy. The Sharks have gone with four alternate captains this season and Thornton has that leadership role instead.
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
One thing he made clear: February was a disaster with eight consecutive home losses and a 3-8-2 overall record.
“I would much rather be sitting here without having gone through February. The one game that pissed me off — and it epitomized our team — was the Detroit game. Detroit has a young team that’s transitioning like we are….. We dominate for the first period and then we went 30 minutes with one shot. That to me was kind of like hitting rock bottom.”
Q: Patrick Marleau is my favorite Shark and I think it’s wrong the way he’s being blamed when things aren’t going well.
First, Wilson rattled off Marleau’s career accomplishments and noted “he deserves a level of respect for that.”
Then he continued:
“I also understand though when you earn big contracts and you’ve got a high profile, you’ve got to take the bullet and Patty would be the first to say he’s never been minus-15 before and that’s a struggle. You own that, admit that. But Patty Marleau, when we talked this summer, wants to be part of it. This transition hopefully will be a quick transition....
“He cares. When you set expectations for a player like that, you see the lofty numbers that he’s had, with that comes criticism. You’ve got to get thick skin, you’ve got to deal with it. And all you can really do is go on the ice and play. I expect him to play his ass off the last 15 games.”
from David Pollak of the Mercury News
Conventional wisdom says the trades you don't make often are the ones that work out best. If the Sharks do make the playoffs this season, they may point to goaltender Antti Niemi as the latest example of that.
Niemi's name was circulating as one of several pending unrestricted free agents that Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was open to trading before the March 2 deadline. For whatever reason — maybe the return would not have been high enough, maybe Niemi was taken off the market — that did not happen.
Now, after his 39-save performance in San Jose's 2-1 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Niemi acknowledged Tuesday that there may have been a minor change in his mindset once the deadline passed.
"It's hard to try not to think about it," said Niemi, who stopped seven of eight Pittsburgh shots in the shootout as well. "You still hear, especially from you guys (media), you hear the rumors. I don't think I thought about it too much, but of course it's gone now, so there's nothing to think about anymore."
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
The Sharks (32-26-8, 72 points) remain four points behind Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division and an automatic playoff berth, and six behind the second-place Canucks. The Kings are in fourth with 75 points, and each of those division rivals has a game in hand on San Jose, which fell to just 15-15-5 at home.
It’s not looking good.
“It’s painful because it’s a team we’re chasing in the standings,” Wingels said. “These opportunities, there’s not too many more of these. They slip away.”
Joe Pavelski said: “It was our biggest game to date. We got the start we want and we get the lead, and we give it away slowly. We can be better than that.”
Watch the game highlights below...
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
Call it a players-only meeting or players-only lunch, but the guys who wear the uniform decided Sunday that what the Sharks needed most was time together on their own.
One day before the NHL trade deadline and reeling after on 0-6-2 record on home ice for February, the Sharks asked coach Todd McLellan if they could forsake their scheduled practice for a chance to air things out privately.
"We spoke last night and a couple players wanted a day where they could gather and get the group together," Mclellan said. "We came in, we did some gym work, we did some freshening up of legs and that type of stuff, and now they're going on their own and they're going to go deal with some things. It's a good thing."
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
The Sharks have won just three of their last 12 games, but there have been specific moments of mental weakness during the run of futility that are perhaps even more concerning than the record.
Take the last two losses. Against the Kings outdoors on Saturday, most of the Sharks seemed to disregard the pregame warning that they would have to play a simplified game on bad ice. They managed to do it in a strong second period, but after Marian Gaborik’s third period goal gave the Kings a 2-1 lead after a misread by Brent Burns, the team sagged emotionally and didn’t generate much of anything until the final minute with the goalie pulled.
Against the Red Wings on Thursday, the start of the game was the best they’ve had in weeks. Instead of maintaining that level of play that earned them a 1-0 lead after the first intermission, though, they were outclassed by Detroit the rest of the way in a 3-2 defeat, their seventh straight on home ice. There were warnings from the coaching staff that the Red Wings were going to regroup, but Luke Glendening's game-winner late in regulation occurred after back-to-back unforced turnovers by Burns and Joe Pavelski.
After the game, coach Todd McLellan didn’t seem to disagree that his team is a fragile one. “The belief system is not as high as it needs to be,” he said.
from Curtis Pashelka and David Pollak of the Mercury News,
The Sharks (30-23-8), with just two wins in their last eight games, stand fifth in the Pacific Division and 10th in the Western Conference with 68 points, two spots out of the playoffs. Monday, the website sportsclubstats.com, which projects a team's finish based on schedule and past performance, gave San Jose only a 33 percent chance of reaching the postseason. The website calculated that the Sharks will need to reach 94 points -- over a point per game the rest of the way -- to increase their chances beyond 50 percent.
The last time the Sharks missed the playoffs was in 2002-03, the season that cost Darryl Sutter his job as coach.
McLellan, who has one more season remaining on his contract, knows the deal.
"When it comes to wins and losses, our record isn't where it needs to be, and I understand how the business works," he said. "People will make decisions as we go forward."
The Sharks, who had Monday off and return to practice Tuesday, play seven of their next eight games at SAP Center, starting Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. That stretch will go a long way to determine if the Sharks make the postseason, because 10 of the final 13 games are on the road.
For now, McLellan is keeping it simple.
"We show up tomorrow," he said. "We get prepared for a game Thursday against a really good hockey club, and that's all we can do."
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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