Are the San Jose Sharks really chokers?


jumbojoe.jpgOne of my instincts is to question conventional wisdom. (After all, if I didn’t then I would have just crumbled in high school as people laughed at my clothes and mountain scent. I was raised by wolves.) If there’s one common refrain for hockey fans, it’s that “the Sharks choke in the playoffs.”

Certainly, there’ some fire to go with that smoke. There’s that series with the Edmonton Oilers, when the team coughed up a 2-0 series lead to the Pronger fueled Oilers squad (too soon, Edmonton fans?). There were times in last year’s series against the Ducks that I felt like it might be necessary to check Joe Thornton’s pulse.

Then again, one thing strikes me about all those moments of “choking”: the Sharks lost to some really good teams (not surprising since it’s the West). Just take a look at the series they lost the last few years and what those teams went on to do.

2008-09: Sharks lose to Ducks 4-2 in the first round. Eight seeded Ducks push the Red Wings (the Western Conference’s Stanley Cup Finals representative) to the limit in a seven game series.

2007-08: Sharks lose to Stars 4-2 in the second round. Dallas has a nice run before meeting Red Wings-based reality. So San Jose loses to the team who lost to the Stanley Cup champions, basically meaning they lost to the Cup champions by One Degree of Kevin Bacon.

2006-07: Sharks lose to Red Wings 4-2 in the second round. The Red Wings lose to eventual Cup champions Anaheim. Once again, Kevin Bacon’d.

2005-06: Sharks lose to Oilers 4-2 in the second round. Oilers go on to lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

2004-05: Boo lockout. Boo to you.

2003-04: Sharks lose to Flames 4-3 in conference finals. Flames go on to lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

After looking at those results, I cannot help but wonder if the Sharks are just wildly unlucky. Everyone loves to beat up on Jumbo Joe Thornton, but his San Jose playoff numbers actually are pretty solid (35 points in 41 games). Perhaps it’s all about how they lose, not who they lose to, though. Thornton and Patrick Marleau are a microcosm of that: they aren’t prone to dramatic expressions of sadness; rarely will you see them break a stick on the ice or, you know, yell.

But are the Sharks really chokers? I’m not so sure. They might just be unlucky. Speaking of which, that Craig Anderson kid’s pretty good …

Glencross released from another PTO, this time by Avs

Washington Capitals v Ottawa Senators
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Curtis Glencross’ hard-luck preseason continued on Monday, as the Avalanche announced they released him from his training camp tryout.

Glencross had previously been cut from Toronto’s camp, which he described as “kind of a shock” move. Following that release, the 32-year-old quickly shifted to Colorado but arrived fairly late in the overall process, and only got a bit of exposure before being let go.

While some thought yesterday’s trade of Freddie Hamilton to Calgary may have opened up a spot for Glencross, the Avs now appear to be going in a different direction.

A two-time 20-goal scorer that netted 13 in 71 games last year, it’s unclear what lies ahead for Glencross.

Slepyshev earns final Oilers roster spot; Draisaitl to AHL

Anton Slepyshev, Anton Lander
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The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.

The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.

The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.

But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.

“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”

Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.