Tag:Patrick Marleau
Posted on: March 9, 2012 9:37 am
Edited on: March 9, 2012 9:48 am
  •  
 

Pregame Skate: Southeast slug race crawls on

Florida just looked behind and saw the rest of the division on its heels. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Pregame Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

7 ET, Florida at Pittsburgh

The Panthers continue to go back and forth. One day you are thinking they are pretty secure in their playoff chances, the next they are getting blown out 5-0 on the road in Philadelphia as they were on Thursday.

As a matter of fact, this first-place team in the Southeast Division (really) has lost its last two road games by a combined score 0f 12-0. So really, the last thing they want to see on the schedule is the second half of a back-to-back being on the road at the Penguins. They're only 22-8-2 at home and have won seven straight, nothing too impressive.

Florida still does have the benefit of games in hand -- although they lose that tonight in their battle with the Capitals -- but their grip on the Southeast is no stranglehold. The Caps and Jets are just two behind them and the Lightning are five back with a home-heavy stretch to come.

You'd think they would have to start playing better beginning in Pittsburgh, but in all honesty they might not have to in the Southeast. A .500 finish could get them in and they have an even home/road split to the finish. But it certainly would behoove them to play better, that's for sure.

They have handled injuries all season in Florida, but the most recent one seems to hurt more than most have as leading scorer Kris Versteeg remains out with a hip injury.

9 ET, Winnipeg at Calgary

Two Canadian bubble teams, doesn't get a whole lot better in March than that.

The Jets are going to have to prove they can pick up points on the road if they are going to make the playoffs this season. After failing to do so on Thursday night in Vancouver, they have a bit better of a shot on Friday at the Flames. As mentioned above, they have a struggling division leader only two points ahead of them and others champing at the bit behind.

But the Flames are in a similar situation. They have the same point total at this point as the Jets but the race for eighth in the West is slightly better. Hey, I said slightly. Whereas the Jets are tied in points for that last spot, the Flames are three back. They also have two teams in between them and the Sharks.

This certainly isn't a loser-leave-town match (or in this case leave the playoff race) but it's a big opportunity for each to get points against beatable opponents. How else would you describe bubble teams this season?

7:30 ET, Los Angeles at Detroit

The L.A. Kings; the latest victims of the streaking Blue Jackets. Poor Jeff Carter just can't win when he's in Columbus.

If that challenge was tough, wait to see what the schedule has in store for them on Friday night: a trip to Hockeytown, USA and a date with the Red Wings. You wouldn't think that an optimal destination to pick up points in the race for eighth out West.

L.A. has seen a bit of an uptick in scoring recently but it is still mostly feast or famine for them. In the last seven games they have four wins and three losses. In each of the three losses they scored one goal, in each of the four wins they scored at least four. There's not a whole lot of middle ground there.

However, a win not only puts Los Angeles ahead of San Jose and into a playoff spot for the moment, it would actually pull the Kings even with the Coyotes at the same time in points and games. So not even a loss to Columbus could dash their hopes.

Others worth watching

8:30 ET, Rangers at Chicago: Here's the question I have: Can the Penguins actually catch the Rangers? By night's end Pittsburgh could be only four points back of New York. The Blackhawks will try to help revive the Atlantic race.

Your promised miscellany

  • Thursday's Winners & Losers
  • Speaking of those streaking Blue Jackets, coach Todd Richards sounds like he's enjoying the Jack Johnson-Jeff Carter swap. (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Jeremy Roenick remains not a big fan of Patrick Marleau's abilities with his old team in San Jose. (CSN Bay Area
  • Wait, now Don Cherry might be silenced by the NHL? Boy, the next Coach's Corner is going to be good. (Toronto Sun)
  • With this empty-netter last night, Max Pacioretty became the first American to score 30 in a season for the Canadiens. He's turned into quite a player.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:07 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 5:15 pm
 

Nash Dash: How would Nash fit with Sharks?

What Nash would look like in San Jose. 

By Brian Stubits

In the days leading up to the trade deadline (Monday, Feb. 27) we're going to keep tabs on the biggest name on the block, Columbus Blue Jackets star and captain Rick Nash.

The list of teams rumored to be in on Nash isn't incredibly long and it's the usual suspects that you'd expect to be in on a big-name, high-priced star like Nash. His wish list -- put into song so wonderfully -- was supposedly five teams long with possible Wild cards in the mix too.

We're going to take a look at each of the rumored wish-list teams and how Nash would fit, looking today at the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks were on Rick Nash's rumored wish list from the moment it was first reported and speaking only for myself here, I didn't anticipate they'd be in the conversation much. It was holding true with most all of the talk surrounding the Rangers and Kings.

Then TSN's Darren Dreger reported not only that the Sharks were definitely in the conversation, they were making a push.

At the heart of the matter, one of the driving forces in the connection of Nash and San Jose is his relationship with Joe Thornton. Nash and Jumbo Joe are good friends. Not to mention they'd make a pretty damn good pairing on the top line. Remember, Thornton helped Jonathan Cheechoo to some ridiculous numbers in San Jose, imagine what he could do for Nash.

The Sharks are still in first in the Pacific, but it's not unfair to say they could withstand for some reinforcements. They are now tied with the surging Coyotes and are only three points up on the offensively inept Kings. With the Canucks and Red Wings pulling away from the pack atop the West, the Sharks are going to need to find a way to go toe to toe if they want to get back to the Western Conference finals and go further.

What it would do is give the Sharks another left winger, a position where Patrick Marleau resides. But that's not a problem, no team will ever complain about having too many left wingers who could play on the top line. As I touched on yesterday, the Kings would love to have that problem.

As is the question with every team that could potentially land Nash, though, is what would it take to get him? Dreger reported the Jackets asked for Logan Couture but were immediately rebuked by the Sharks on that request. Hey, no harm in asking if you're Scott Howson.

It was speculated from Andy Strickland at True Hockey that they could ask for Joe Pavelski too. I said yesterday that I'm not sure even straight up that would be worth it for San Jose, so let me explain a little more here.

NHL Trade Deadline
More NHL coverage

I'm a big Pavelski fan. I really like his game and he's taking it to a new level this season, already at his career high in goals for one season. He is excellent in the face-off circle. Digging into the advanced stats, Pavelski is second among Sharks forward in Relative Corsi behind only Thornton. He's a valuable player. That's not to say all 30 GMs wouldn't pull the trigger on a Pavelski-for-Nash swap, it's just that I was saying you're already starting at a very high price with Pavelski and we aren't talking about a slouch here.

Purely speculation on my end here, I haven't seen this even rumored, but you'd have to wonder if Thomas Greiss would be in the conversation. The Sharks obviously would like to have a good young goaltender around for many years, but Antti Niemi is their No. 1, the guy they have invested in and he's not necessarily an old guy at 28.

Not that there would be any concerns with how Nash would fit with any team, but it's hard to imagine a better fit than with San Jose considering the relationship with Thornton. The question is do the Sharks have the prospects and gumption to pull it off.

One thing that is important to remember in all of this is that Nash will have a serious decision to make. This is a matter of moving to a new home for many years, it's not something you decide on a whim (most of the time). And San Jose has prided itself in being a good home for hockey players. It's little wonder why not many guys seem to leave San Jose.

Here is what Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area.

“First of all, I didn’t read that story, I haven’t gotten into my clips yet. We don’t talk about other team’s players, and any conversation I do have with a fellow GM would be kept in confidence. Historically, though, one of the most important things we do is make this be a place where players do want to play, and make it an attractive destination for players.”

I've grown skeptical that any team will be able to pull the trigger on a deal before the deadline on Monday and this will drag into the summer. Either way, San Jose sure seems like it could fit well.

More from Eye on Hockey

How would Nash fit with Kings?
How would Nash fit with Blueshirts?
San Jose stepping into Nash talks?
Update on Nash, other rumors
Nash down to five teams?
Nash not untouchable for Columbus

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 16, 2012 11:32 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 3:29 pm
 

How would Seattle fare as a hockey market?

An old Seattle Thunderbirds sweater. (Seattlehockey.net)

By Brian Stubits

With the news coming out of a plan in the works to build a new, state-of-the-art arena in Seattle, the conversation that was just talking for talking's sake about the NHL in Seattle has become a lot more real. All of a sudden it looks like an NHL-viable city.

I get the sense from reading my Twitter timeline, talking to other media members and seeing fan comments that the majority of people are excited about hockey moving to Seattle, that it'd be a fantastic place for the NHL.

However there are skeptics. The hockey community seems excited at the idea of Seattle having a team, but is Seattle excited? The apple of its eye with the new arena is getting the NBA's SuperSonics back. That's priority Nos. 1, 2 and 3.

While the man talking about building the new arena, Seattle native Chris Hansen, is focused on the NBA and has reportedly not talked to the NHL at all, that doesn't mean there isn't other interested parties who would like to work together. There's interest elsewhere according to Chris Daniels of King TV in Seattle.

So the question remains: Would Seattle be a good hockey market? 

Before I go any further I must disclose that I call the Puget Sound area home. I grew up 30 miles south of Seattle in Tacoma and know the region's sports passions and teams. I grew up a fan of the Mariners, Seahawks and Sonics.

With that out of the way, back to our regularly scheduled reading program.

The Puget Sound area, despite its proximity to Canada, is not a hockey hotbed. Although Seattle does have the distinction of being the first American city to hoist the Stanley Cup when the Seattle Metropolitans did it in 1917, it has never been home to an NHL franchise. It came close during the expansion era of the early 1990s, but obviously that didn't happen.

What it does have, though, is an appetite for hockey. Seattle has long had the Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. Tacoma has seen a couple of teams come through over the years in the WHL's Rockets and the Sabercats of the WCHL, which folded operations. Everett, to the north of Seattle, has a nice new arena that's home to the WHL's Silvertips.

Let's start with them, shall we? In the 2010-11 season, the Thunderbirds -- who now play in the suburb of Kent instead of Key Arena in Seattle -- averaged 4,096 fans per night. The Silvertips a short ways north of the city averaged 5,807 fans per game. That's a combined nearly 10,000 patrons per game for the local junior teams, assuming there's little to no overlap. That's not a bad start, especially for junior hockey, which isn't going to draw as much interest as the NHL.

Furthering the already established hockey presence in the Puget Sound area, Chris Peters of United States of Hockey mentions that the state of Washington already has a pretty strong rec hockey presence, and that's without any NHL roots. Plus, it's the 12th biggest media market in the USA.

Also, the state of Washington has more of an established hockey culture than most of the Sunbelt states the NHL expanded to in the 1990s. A lot of that is thanks to hockey’s nationwide growth in popularity over the last decade. So timing may also be in Seattle and the NHL’s favor in terms of projecting success.

There are nearly 8,000 USA Hockey registered hockey players (PDF) in Washington. It’s not a huge hockey-playing population, but it has consistently grown over the last 20 years. Since 1991, Washington’s USA Hockey player membership has grown by 234.1 percent. There has been a particular spike in growth at the 8 & Under age levels in the last five years, which mirrors what’s been happening across the country.

While the Silvertips are still new to the scene having really only Peter Mueller to speak of from the alumni list, the Thunderbirds do have some notable alumni who have gone on to the NHL. Chief among that group is San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, drafted out of Seattle with the No. 2 overall pick in 1997. He still has some impressions of playing in Seattle.

"Oh I loved it there," Marleau told CBSSports.com with a smile overtaking his face. "I think they'd probably grasp it, take it and run with it. I think they have some great fans there."

But what kind of market would it be for the NHL?

"You never really know until it happens but I think there's definitely a market there," Marleau said. "There's definitely a lot of hockey that goes on there, minor-league hockey. A lot of teams close to the Canadian border too. Everything looks like it would work."

We've seen it in action and on a one-time basis recently and that worked out well. Prior to the 2009-10 season, the Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning played an exhibition game in Everett. The arena was packed with 7,281 fans excited to see NHL hockey.

Fans take in the Coyotes and Lightning in 2009 in Everett.

Everett GM Doug Soetaert -- a former member of the New York Rangers -- has little doubt hockey's top level would go over as smooth as freshly zambonied ice in the arena.

"In the right location, in a brand-new building, it would go very well," Soetaert told the Seattle Times in 2009.

There are some hockey fans on the Sound's south side. I attended a lot of games at the Tacoma Dome watching the Sabercats, that's where I fell in love with hockey. My dad and I would always just walk up and buy tickets to the game and walk in, no problem.

I remember one day in 1998 that was a lot more difficult than normal when the lines outside the arena were into the parking lot. That night more than 14,000 fans were in attendance for live hockey in the Puget Sound area. Minor professional hockey. I didn't enjoy my normal seats a couple rows up from the ice being relocated to the upper deck, but it was an experience. And a sign, I thought, that hockey fans do exist.

At their peak the Sabercats averaged 4,878 fans per game but the numbers did dwindle down to below 3,000 and the team folded before some of their WCHL brethren joined the ECHL (for those who are curious, the Idaho Steelheads, Alaska Aces and Bakersfield Condors were the survivors).

In general, Seattle is a good sports town. Not a great one, but a good one. It has taken soccer and run with it, just check out a Seattle Sounders game on TV. You'll think it's an English Premier League game until you watch a couple seconds of the on-pitch action.

I know a lot of people who swore off the NBA when the Sonics left town. They began hoping for a hockey team to take hold of. Some say they'll never go back to the NBA if Stern is still around, that's how deep the hatred was over the loss of the Sonics. No matter the reason, hockey has a chance to be a rebound. Some fans are just sitting in the unmanned crease waiting for the push.

Even still, hockey would be down the list of Seattle sports. It's possible it could be the sixth or seventh most popular ticket in town with the Mariners, Seahawks, Sonics 2.0, Sounders and University of Washington's football and basketball teams.

In reality, though, I don't think that means it couldn't work. There are few if any cities in the USA where the hockey team is the most popular. It doesn't mean it's not a good market for hockey. For example: the Red Sox, Patriots and arguably Celtics are all bigger than the Bruins in Boston. But would anybody even think of saying Boston isn't a good hockey market?

As Marleau said, we'll never know how well it would take to NHL hockey unless it happens and we can see it in action.

There are probably more hoping Seattle gets a team outside of the region than in it, particularly on the left coast.

"It'd be nice to have another West Coast team," Marleau pointed out. I bet the people of Seattle would agree.

As for what to call a team in Seattle? Join the converstaion on Facebook to check out some ideas.

More from Eye on Hockey

Seattle to unveil new arena plans
Daly: Group interested in NHL in Seattle

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:22 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:33 pm
 

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

Pavelski's 22 goals are tied with Marleau, one behind Couture for the team lead. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- The San Jose Sharks are kind of like that team they got their head coach Todd McLellan from, the Detroit Red Wings. They are there every season now. The only difference -- and it's the big one -- is getting to and winning Stanley Cups.

But like the Wings, the Sharks have that whole organization stability and continuity thing down pat. They are well on their way to a playoff berth in the eighth consecutive season and 13th in the last 14 seasons. They have won the Pacific Division every season since finishing second in 2006-07.

They have franchise stalwarts, too. Everybody knows the guys like Jumbo Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and last year's rookie star (and this year's All-Star Draft Mr. Irrelevant) Logan Couture. Guys like Douglas Murray, Ryan Clowe, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and now Dan Boyle have been there some time, too.

Oh, and Joe Pavelski. You can't forget Joe Pavelski, although it seems sometimes that people do.

Heck, he was even an afterthought in the 2005 NHL Draft. It took until the 205th overall selection -- that's the seventh round, folks -- for Pavelski's name to be called. That's when the Sharks took the University of Wisconsin star despite him being a better than a point-per-game player for the Badgers.

He's only been a key piece of their puzzle in the last half-decade or so. Particularly this season.

Pavelski had himself a game on Monday night in Washington, recording four points with two goals -- including this rather remarkable tally in the first period. It brought his season totals to 22 goals and 22 assists. He's creeping up on his career high of 25 goals with a whole lot of season left to play.

"Heck of a year," McLellan said.

McLellan has a way with words and that's as succinct and appropriate a way to put it as any.

I'm not saying people in hockey don't know who Pavelski is. That'd be rude to underestimate the knowledge of hockey fans, which is know is second to none. It's more that he just doesn't seem to get his full due. He comes down the list of names mentioned when people talk about the Sharks.

But he deserves more, particularly with the increased scoring production he's showing this year. He seems to be on his way to easily eclipsing the 30-goal mark this season.

Considering there aren't a whole lot of new faces in San Jose this season -- Brent Burns on the blueline is fresh as is Martin Havlat, but he's having a down and injury-plagued season -- it has been more about getting the chance than anything else. Kind of like just getting a chance after being drafted so late.

"Last year he spent a fair amount of time on our third line just with the way our team was built," McLellan said. "On the power play this year he's benefitted by playing with some better players -- some more creative players, pardon me, not better but more creative maybe."

He's playing more this season than he ever has, averaging 20:52 of ice time per game. It's led to increased responsibilities at both ends of the ice, not just when it comes to scoring.

"Pav is a very reliable guy at both ends of the rink," McLellan said. As much as he's reaching a career high in goals he's doing some real good things defensively as well."

Everybody's favorite stat in hockey -- plus/minus -- says that's true. He's a plus-15 this season, better than any season before. He's never been on the negative side. But you can't put too much stock into plus/minus, as we know it's a flawed statistic, doesn't really say much about the individual player.

An advanced metric that's a bit more telling is Corsi (for an explanation, here you go), and there Pavelski is a 12.93, the second highest among forwards in San Jose behind Thornton.

"I'm not surprised. He plays in all situations," Boyle said. "He kills penalties, he's a power-play guy, big-minute guy. Does a little bit of everything."

With the Sharks embarking in a nine-game, cross-continent road trip, they'll rely on all of his tools. It's the kind of stretch that will determine how the Pacific Division will play out as the Kings and to a lesser extent Coyotes and Sharks continue to lie in the weeds. If it's a struggle, the race is on.

"It's really important for us, you don't want to go 0-2 to start a road trip," Pavelski said of Monday's 5-3 win that followed Sunday's 2-0 loss in St. Louis. "You see what can happen with Chicago. It can just keep snowballing. It never gets easier on the road so you take the wins when you can get them.

"It never gets easier. That next game gets that much bigger."

The goal now for Pavelski and the Sharks is to get to that game where the stakes can't possibly be any bigger.

More from Eye on Hockey

Holtby beaten from center ice
Recap: Sharks 5, Capitals 3
NHL Trade Deadline rumor mill
NHL Playoff Race
NHLPA: McGinn's comeback season

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 10:52 am
 

The Sharks' holiday video is absolutely must-see

By Brian Stubits

The other day we shared with you the Florida Panthers sending along their holiday greetings through song. It was entertaining for sure.

But then the all-stars of NHL marketing came to the plate with eight and a half minutes of spectacularly awesome holiday viral video and completely blew the Panthers out of the water.

The San Jose Sharks are no strangers to great ads where players are seen doing other professions poorly before you're reminded that they are great at hockey. You could literally spend an hour watching and laughing at the videos.

They have also knocked a few holiday videos out of the park. Here is their 2009 version, then they one-upped it with the 2010 version.

But here is this year's version and, quite frankly, I don't see how it can ever be topped. It's Fabulous!

It's too hard to highlight any one or two specific moments that are particularly funny. I'll leave that up to you, but just know this is full of candidates.

I'll just say that Jumbo Joe Thornton makes me laugh every time he's on the screen, whether he talks or not.

Don't ever stop, Sharks. Please, don't ever stop.

H/t to Puck Daddy

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 20, 2011 6:01 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Key players still looking for first goal

By: Adam Gretz

Entering play on Thursday Toronto's Phil Kessel is your leading goal-scorer in the NHL, currently setting the pace with seven tallies for the Maple Leafs, including the game-tying goal he scored in their 4-3 shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. While Kessel is leading the way for the still unbeaten (in regulation, anyway) Maple Leafs, some other notable players around the league are still searching for their first goal of the 2011-12 season.

1) Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers: It's not that Jagr is playing poorly for the Flyers following his three-year absence from the NHL, because he and Claude Giroux have been an excellent top-line duo for the Flyers in their first five games, he just hasn't managed to find the back of the net yet. Earlier this week he joked (we think he was joking, anyway) that he doesn't consider himself to be a good goal-scorer. Which is crazy, seeing as how in the history of the league only 11 players have scored more. He has a chance to break into the goal column for this season on Thursday night against one of his former teams (the one that he's probably least known for playing with), the Washington Capitals, in a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Throughout his career he's scored 29 career goals against the Capitals.

2) Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks: Getzlaf's style of play is built more around playmaking and setting up his teammates as opposed to filling the net for himself, and it's not uncommon to see him start a season with a lengthy goal drought. Three times in the previous six years he's had to wait until at least the seventh game of the season before scoring his first goal. He's currently been held scoreless through five games to start this season. It hasn't stopped the Ducks from winning as they currently sit with a 4-1 record, having won four in a row since losing their season opener to Buffalo. Getzlaf and the Ducks take on Dallas on friday, a team that he's managed to score just six goals against in 39 career games.

3) Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks: You have to go all the way back to the 2002-03 season to find the last time Marleau went longer than four games to start the season without a goal (he had to wait until game No. 13 that season). He's generating shots on goal, currently third on the team with 14, and sooner or later he's going to start scoring. He's scored at least 32 goals in five of the past six seasons. The Sharks start a difficult six-game road trip on Friday that takes them through a couple of tough defensive teams, including three straight against Boston, Nashville, New Jersey and Detroit.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:31 am
 

Daily Skate: Winnipeg ticket prices, RFA offers

COSTLY RETURN: Would you like to go see the Winnipeg Jets make their return to the NHL for the home opener in the 'Peg? Do you have $1,645 handy? A search of ticketcenteronline.com shows only two choices available for any tickets to the game against the Canadiens, and the other price is $1,839. I'd say they have the concept of supply and demand down pretty well.

MAKE IT EIGHT: With news coming out Monday that Matthew Hulsizer has withdrawn his bid to buy the Coyotes, speculation immediately began that that could have been the straw that broke the camel's back and the Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have dried up. There's certainly hope in Canada that it means the Nordiques will be coming back to Quebec City. You might remember when Jim Balsillie was trying to buy the Coyotes that a site makeit7.ca was launched? Now, there's a makeit8.ca with as simple a web page as you'll ever see.

OVER-QUALIFIED: Want to know which restricted free agents were given qualifying offers and which, like Dan Carcillo, let go? Check the list here courtesy of Pro Hockey Talk. Keep in mind that any player who was not given an offer is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens July 1.

MR. KENNEDY, JAGR WATCH: One restricted free agent who wasn't offered is Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy. But that doesn't mean he won't be back in the black and gold next season. Penguins GM Ray Shero says Kennedy wants to come back and he wants Kennedy back; it's just that arbitration or a qualifying offer wasn't the best option. What's more? The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins have a handshake that he will return to the first franchise he called home.

SHARK THINK TANK: When the Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi and more to the Wild for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns, they undoubtedly upgraded the blue line. But they lost a top-line winger in the process. So fearthefin.com takes the task of figuring out who should take the spot next to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. There is no shortage of names in the mix, from Dany Heatley to Ryan Vesce.

Flyers ARE FINE: Worried that changes the Flyers just made might damage their chances of winning the Stanley Cup? Senior vice president Bobby Clarke doesn't think you should be. It comes as no surprise, but Clarke believes the Flyers did exactly what they needed to do to get better and explains exactly why Philadelphia is in a better position now than at this time last week.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

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?

“Absolutely.”

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