Tag:San Jose Sharks
Posted on: April 9, 2011 1:23 am
Edited on: April 9, 2011 1:30 am

Joe Thornton earns 1,000th career point

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton deflected the puck past Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for his 1,000th career point midway through the third period of Friday’s game. The goal was part of a late rally by the Sharks that fell short as the Coyotes won, 4-3, to secure a playoff spot.

Thornton is the 78th player in NHL history to record at least 1,000 points and he joins Vincent Damphousse as the only players to reach the milestone while in a Sharks uniform. 

“A thousand points is a thousand points,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told reporters after the game when asked if the loss dampened the accomplishment. “You’ll take it any way you can get it. It’s something he should be extremely proud of and our organization should be proud to have a player of that caliber playing as long as he has here in San Jose. We are all very proud of him.”

The first 421 career NHL points came as a member of the Boston Bruins before he was traded during the 2005-06 season to San Jose. Thornton has more points of any player since the start of the 1997-98 season and currently ranks ninth in points among active players. He has 69 points (21 goals and 48 assists) this season. 

The Sharks had to scramble a bit Friday after forward Devin Setoguchi was injured during warm-ups. McLellan said that Setoguchi “cramped up” and he was hopeful he’d be ready to go as the home-and-home series shifts to San Jose on Saturday. The Sharks were also again without forward Ryane Clowe, who is out with a lower-body injury. 

But one thing that didn't change was Thornton's absence in the faceoff circle. For the fourth consecutive game he did not take a single draw. As is per usual this time of year, the Sharks have been mum on if an injury has caused Thornton to lay off the faceoffs.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 4, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 4:18 pm

Joe Thornton's faceoff shift raises questions

Is there something amiss with Jumbo Joe?

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton didn’t take a single faceoff during Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Those duties went to linemate Patrick Marleau, whose been a winger the past several seasons.

Mercury News reporter David Pollack asked Thornton Monday morning if some sort of injury was reason for the switch: 

“No, just getting Patty some reps before we start because I wont’ be able to take them all the time.”

You’ll be in the lineup tonight, healthy all-around?


And taking faceoffs?

“Who knows? Depends what coach tells me to do. I do what I’m instructed to do.”

Sharks coach Todd McLellan wouldn’t commit to the same approach for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings

“Since we’ve been here, Patty’s always been the guy that’s asked to play the wing, to play out of position,” McLellan told the newspaper. “Going down the stretch here, we get an opportunity not to tinker with things, but just to try and experiment a little bit.”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 4, 2011 2:24 pm

Playoff Watch: Rangers look to add key points

WHO CAN CLINCH: The San Jose Sharks can win the Pacific Division with a victory over the Los Angeles Kings tonight. The Kings can secure a playoff spot with a victory. 

ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Washington.     

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Boston Bruins (44-23-11) at New York Rangers (42-32-5), 7:30 p.m. ET (Versus)

The Rangers were kept out of the playoff via a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on the final day of the season a year ago. The Rangers still have a few games left, but their victory in the same manner in Philly on Sunday was nearly as crucial. Eighth-place New York enters tonight’s action with a two-point edge on the Carolina Hurricanes. Each team has three games remaining on the schedule. 

New York is 9-3-1 in their last 13 contests, although it lost back to back games before Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Wells Fargo Center. The Rangers improved to 28-0 when leading after two periods. The Rangers have won two of the first three meetings between these two clubs. 

The Bruins enter with a 5-1-1 mark over their last seven games and they’re fairly healthy, although they will likely be out Shawn Thornton. The Masterton Trophy (NHL’s version of the comeback player of the year) nominee has been out two games since he suffered a cut above his right eye from a skate. The Boston Globe reports he skated with a shield on in practice on Monday. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Los Angeles (45-27-6) at San Jose Sharks (46-23-9), 10 p.m. ET

A victory by the Kings will not only clinch a playoff spot for the back to back seasons for the first time in a decade, but they could also inch closer to their first division crown since 1990-91, when the Smythe Division still existed. The Kings would be three points back of the Sharks with a regulation victory tonight.  Los Angeles has won three of the first five meetings.

GOLF WATCH: The Toronto Maple Leafs will be eliminated with a Rangers victory. Atlanta, New Jersey, Minnesota Columbus, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated.  

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 1, 2011 2:46 am
Edited on: April 1, 2011 12:48 pm

Morning Skate: Can Canucks shun Prez Trophy jinx?

The Vancouver Canucks won their first Presidents' Trophy Thursday, an award for the league's best record that comes with a banner but not much else in recent seasons.

The previous two winners, the San Jose Sharks (2009) and Washington Capitals (2010), failed to make it out of the first round. Only one team over the last seven seasons -- the 2008 Detroit Red Wings -- has won the Presidents' Trophy and then the Stanley Cup. 

No team that has won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time has clinched a title the same season.

"I don't believe there is a Presidents' Trophy jinx," Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told The Vancouver Sun this week.   

Line Changes

Introduced coincidently the same year as New Coke, this award was first handed out during the 1985-86 season -- and the trophy has been about as well-received by some as the ill-fated soft drink. It’s the kind of award franchises don't tend to celebrate unless they don't have anything else to raise to the rafters come their home opener the next season.

One of the Sedin twins told The Vancouver Sun after Thursday’s 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings what it meant to him: 

“Nothing,” Daniel Sedin said after pushing closer to matching brother Henrik's Hart Trophy-Art Ross double by scoring one Vancouver goal and setting up another. “Ninety-five per cent of this team has been through playoff failure and we don't want to be part of that anymore. I don't think it's about learning anymore; we've learned enough.
“We're focused every game on playing the right way, and that can't change in the playoffs. That's the mindset we have to have. We don't need to do anything extra, just go out there and take care of business."

The “jinx” may have started at the beginning. The Edmonton Oilers had won back-to-back titles before they became the first recipient of the Presidents’ Trophy. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Co. went on to lose in the second round to the Calgary Flames. The Oilers won the Presidents’ again a season later en route to the Stanley Cup title, the first of another back-to-back run. 

Of the first 24 teams to win the Presidents’ Trophy, seven teams (29%) won the Stanley Cup the same season. This comes despite having home-ice advantage, the one tangible reward for the trophy. That could prove huge for the Canucks, who have a league-best home record (26-8-5). 

Vancouver may not be plagued by any curse this postseason. It could just come down to injuries. 

Center Manny Malhotra, whose value in the locker room could be just as key as his prowess in the faceoff circle, is out for the season with an eye injury that required a second surgery this week. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis suffered his second concussion in less than two months on Sunday and is out indefinitely. Forward Mikael Samuelsson missed his fifth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. Winger Tanner Glass has been out now nine games in a row with an undisclosed injury. 

But the Canucks still have plenty of pieces left, including the matching Swedish ones. Daniel Sedin leads the league with 100 points (41 goals, 59 assists), while brother Henrick has 91 points (19 goals, 72 assists.) Goalie Roberto Luongo its tops in the league in wins (37) and he's third in save percentage (.927) and goals-against average (2.14). Center Ryan Kesler has 37 goals, good enough for fourth in the NHL. 

The Canucks, a franchise celebrating their 40th anniversary, has also set new marks for wins (52), points (113) and road victories (26). 

Of course, not much of this will be looked upon to fondly if the Canucks follow the path of the 2009 Sharks, 2010 Capitals or the other 15 Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams that fell short of getting their names etched on the Cup. 

Atlanta 1, Philadelphia 0
NY Islanders 6, NY Rangers 2
Washington 4, Columbus 3 (OT)
Toronto 4, Boston 3 (SO)
Ottawa 4, Florida 1
Tampa Bay 2, Pittsburgh 1
Minnesota 4, Edmonton 2
Nashville 3, Colorado 2
Vancouver 3, Los Angeles 1
San Jose 6,  Dallas 0  
-- A.J Perez

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: March 29, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 3:41 pm

Should the NHL finally make visors mandatory?

Manny Malhotra may not have had to travel across the continent to see a surgeon in New York had the Vancouver Canucks center used one piece of equipment. 

A visor. 

The thin piece of shatterproof plastic likely would have absorbed the errant puck that struck his left eye in a game two weeks ago. The injury ended his season and could very well endanger his career --- not to mention his enjoyment of life after hockey. 

Unlike helmets that became mandatory more than 30 years ago, visors are an option in the NHL. It doesn’t help when wearing a visor is seen as a less macho in a sport that’s all about toughness. That stigma has waned in recent years, but there may be a good portion who still thinks like CBC commentator Don Cherry. He infamously said during a broadcast seven years ago that “most of the guys that wear them are Europeans or French guys."

Fortunately, a survey conducted last season by The Hockey News shows the younger players get it. The review found 65% of players 30 and younger wear a visor. It also showed that only 45% of players 30 and older do. 

“It’s tough to see the injuries like the one to Manny Malhotra,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson, one of the last players to play minus a helmet, told CBSSports.com in a Q&A. ”We recommend and encourage our players to wear shields. I wish they all would. All parties involved should be looking out for the players’ best interests.”  

Visors are already mandatory in the American Hockey League and in international play. Is it time the NHL follows suit? Or will this be another missed opportunity -- like when Bryan Berard had his career altered by a stick to the eye in 2000 -- to keep another player from suffering the same scary operation similar to the one Mahlotra underwent today?

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 28, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 5:45 pm

Pavelski clinches Bracket Challenge among NHLers

Like a good chunk of the nation, none of the four NHL players who participated in CBSSports.com’s Bracket Challenge  have a team left in contention. 

That means Sharks center Joe Pavelski (37 correct, 59 points) earns the bragging rights no matter what happens later this week in Houston. He finished eighth among the 35 celebrity participants through the second weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. 

Teammate Dany Heatley (34 correct, 55 points) in 12th overall and Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is 30th (32 correct, 43 points). Columbus Blue Jackets winger R.J. Umberger (29 correct, 39 points) dropped a spot and is officially in the basement. 

None of the 35 celebrity participants have the champion they selected left in the tournament. 

NCIS:Los Angeles actor Eric Christian Olsen is in the lead with 39 games picked correctly and 69 points, four points ahead of second-place President Obama. 

The top athlete is Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander with 38 right and 60 points. 
Posted on: March 28, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 3:24 pm

Exclusive Q&A: Sharks GM Doug Wilson

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson performs his daily duties just as he did during his 16-season NHL career. He doesn’t wear a helmet. Just like those days on the blue line with the Chicago Blackhawks and Sharks, that’s not always a good thing. The Sharks had been the trendy pick the last few seasons to win the Stanley Cup, although the franchise has been hammered for their shortcomings come playoff time. The Sharks, who went to the Western Conference finals for the second time in franchise history a season ago, are surging of late and begin the week atop of the Pacific Division by four points over the Phoenix Coyotes. Wilson spoke with CBSSports.com’s A.J. Perez about visors, possibly the toughest division in hockey and the headshot rule that led to the suspension of two of his star players. 

Q: The Dallas Stars (currently two points out of eighth place) are the only Pacific Division team without a playoff spot. Do you think the Pacific -- which has a shot to become the first division to get all of its teams into the postseason -- is the toughest in hockey?

Wilson: “Points are tough to get, for sure. There are no easy games in the division or the Western Conference. That includes Edmonton, which has a lot of good young players. The Pacific is arguably the most competitive in the league. We knew that coming into the year that it would be difficult and it’d be hard to win as many games as we wanted to.”

Q: With so many teams having a shot at the playoffs this late in the season, how much is that a nod to the salary cap?

Wilson: “We knew the environment we live and operate in. We’re competing at a high level of hockey. There are a lot of really good teams and each is trying to get better. It’s more competitive now than just a few years ago. I think everybody has elevated their level of play. There’s parity. You can’t look at the game schedule and assume anything. It’s quite a change and it’s been great for the fans.

“There are so many one-goal games. There is just so much talent in this league and with the rules, I think it’s pretty exciting hockey. The game is really never over. There are so many great young players that I think we sometimes forget how this good of a game this is. The (salary cap) gets dissected, but the game also hasn’t had this many talented players.”

Q: Last offseason, the league made regulation and overtime wins the first tiebreaker. (Under the old system, shootout wins were counted.) The move lessened the importance of shootout victories, although that extra point is still meaningful this time of the season. Do you like the change?

Wilson: “That’s what we all agreed upon. I would like to see more and more games decided in overtime. I think that’s something we’d all like to see. A tiebreaker for shootout wins is just not exciting for fans. This is the stretch run. I think in many cases the extra shootout point will still determine if a team makes the playoffs.”

Q: Two of your top forwards, Joe Thornton (Nov. 5) and Dany Heatley (March 16), were each suspended two games this season for blindside hits to the head of an opponent. Do you think the league’s players get the dangers of such collisions and has Rule 48 helped?

“The majority of players got it fairly quickly. What we’re trying to do is make the game as safe as possible. This is a fast game with big players and injuries are going to take place. We just have to find a balance. We aren’t going to eliminate all injuries or take away hitting, which is a big part of the game. A few players crossed the line and that had to be addressed.”

Q: You were grandfathered into the league’s helmet requirement since you were already in the league when the rule came into being in 1979. Would you wear one now even if you weren’t required?

Wilson: “I would and it would be one with a shield, too. The speed of the game has changed and everybody can shoot the puck. Player safety is concern for all of us. We want the players to play as hard as they can. At the same time, it’s tough to see the injuries like the one to (Vancouver Canucks center) Manny Malhotra. We recommend and encourage our players to wear shields. I wish they all would. All parties involved should be looking out for the players’ best interests.” 

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 4:52 pm

Playoff Watch: Bruins, Habs set for rematch

WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can clinch tonight. 

ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canuck, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Montreal Canadiens (40-27-7) at Boston Bruins (40-22-10), 7 pm ET

This game would certainly have importance even if Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s check didn’t leave Montreal Canadeins forward Max Pacioretty with a broken bone in his neck and a severe concussion the last time these two teams met. The Bruins lead the Northeast by three points over the Habs, who are 4-1-0 against Boston this season. 

The reaction (overreaction?) by Montreal fans after Chara was ejected -- but not suspended -- over the incident on March 8 has quieted some since it became known that Pacioretty could make it back for the playoffs. Then Boston forward Mark Recchi goes on a sports talk radio station this week and says the Canadiens “embellished it a little bit.”

Still, there’s not likely to be the revenge-filled fracas that was the Pittsburgh Penguins-New York Islanders game on Feb. 11, which resulted in 23 games worth of suspensions. NHL commissioners Gary Bettman already warned Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier against such an incident happening tonight, TSN.ca reports. 

“Everybody talks about revenge and what’s going to happen – and the build-up,” said Milan Lucic told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m sure they’re saying the most important thing for them is getting the two points, and I’m sure for them the most important is getting the two points because they’re right behind us in the standings.”

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Anaheim Ducks (41-27-5) at Nashville Predators (39-25-10), 8 p.m. ET

This game could mark the return of Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who missed 15 consecutive games and 17 games total with vertigo. He was activated Wednesday and backed up Ray Emery in the Ducks’ 4-3 OT victory over Dallas. Hiller was a contender for the Vezina Trophy before his bout with dizziness forced him onto the IR. The Preds will counter with Pekka Rinne, whose goals-against average (2.07) is second only to Boston’s Tim Thomas this season. 

GOLF WATCH: The Ottawa Senators will need a victory to avoid elimination. The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers are already mathematically eliminated. 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com