Kukla's Korner Hockey
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."
from Rory Boylen of Sportsnet,
The NHL’s Stadium Series swung through California for the second time, with the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks facing off in what was the most important outdoor game yet. This one had very real playoff implications, with both teams hanging on the playoff bubble.
And just like the first outdoor California game, the second one was a huge success. The 70,205 in attendance made up the third-largest crowd for an NHL outdoor game. Here are some of the best photos from the 2-1 Los Angeles victory.
continue for some great pictures from the outdoor game
Here are the game highlights...
from Dan Robson of Sportsnet,
The part that’s hard to let go of, though—the thing that hurts much more than the loss of a letter—is his team’s chronic disappointment in the playoffs. The constant feeling that the team is good enough to get there but just can’t find its way. “It doesn’t matter if it’s five years ago or this year,” Thornton says and sighs. “They all sting the same.” Those who have seen how the losses wear on Thornton aren’t fooled by the smiling front he tends to put on. Chris Bailey, a police officer in London, Ont., played novice hockey with Thornton in St. Thomas and the pair have been close friends since. He’s never seen Thornton go easy on the idea of winning. “Everything he does is game seven to him,” says Bailey. “Whether we’re playing golf, cards or rock, paper, scissors—he wants to win. That’s the only time he shows his emotion.”
As the trade deadline nears, Thornton’s name is bound to hit the headlines again. There are several teams that would happily add him to their roster in exchange for some fresh talent to bolster a Sharks core built around young stars Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. The speculation that Thornton would agree to waive his no-trade clause is just too juicy to ignore. But he insists it won’t happen: “I don’t know how many years I can play, but I want to retire as a Shark,” he says. Thornton still believes that this team—his team—is his best chance at breaking a playoff curse that’s followed him through nearly two decades and finally getting to raise the Cup. But anything less, and it’s one more season of scapegoating Joe.
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
An NHL idea that may have seemed like a gimmick when it was launched in 2003 has turned into a special event. Nearly three-fourths of a million people have turned out for 14 similar games in the United States and Canada.
"I can't say we would have predicted it," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, "but we were confident it would be well-received by our fans."
Daly thinks of it as an opportunity for fans to celebrate hockey on a grander scale, "in an environment that is really, in some respects, endemic to the sport."
Yet it goes beyond a chance to see the game in an updated, high-tech version of where it all began.
There's something about outdoor hockey that gets to the romanticized character of the relationship between the game and the frigid climate of Canada where it became popular before spreading south into the U.S.
NEW YORK (February 18, 2015) – On Saturday, Feb. 21, the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ outdoor matchup between the host San Jose Sharks® against the Los Angeles Kings® at Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. will feature a pre-game celebration of the growth of hockey in the Bay Area and throughout California and a salute to Sharks alumni. The outdoor game also will feature performances by rock legend and Bay Area native John Fogerty, Grammy Award-winning artist Melissa Etheridge, singer-songwriter Kris Allen, and Symphony Silicon Valley. The game and performances will be broadcast live nationally on NBCSN in the U.S., and on CBC and TVA2 in Canada at 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET, with pre-game coverage set for 6:30 p.m. PT. SiriusXM Satellite Radio will provide radio coverage.
San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan joined Hockey Central at Noon to talk about his team’s missing identity, improved leadership, and ugly loss to the league-leading Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Sharks got crushed 5-1 in Nashville on Tuesday night, and they are lucky the score wasn't worse. It was men against boys.
The Sharks have won only twice in nine games in February (2-5-2) and are very much opening the door for the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars to catch them for the last wild-card spot in the West. San Jose (66 points) has played three more games than the red-hot Kings (64 points) and Wild (63 points) and two more games than the Stars (62 points), who picked up a huge win at St. Louis on Tuesday.
The Sharks, who have gotten younger over the past two years while GM Doug Wilson tries to rebuild on the fly without bottoming out, just don't look like a playoff team right now. They have not missed the postseason since Wilson took over as general manager in May 2003, an impressive run, but it feels like the streak might be ending.
read on for more hockey talk from the ESPN hockey writers...
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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