These aren't the Sharks of years past

Well, these certainly aren’t the San Jose Sharks we were all laughing
at after Dan Boyle’s own goal doomed them in overtime in the first
round. Since then, they’ve become a much more well-rounded, balanced,
confident and dangerous team. After last night’s big comeback win, the
Sharks are now just one win away from the Conference finals.

you read that right. The Sharks are close to heading to the Western
Conference finals.

David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News has
some great quotes from the Sharks on their big win yesterday, but
this one from coach Todd McLellan really stood out:

“We knew we were a different team and I guess what we have to do is
prove that to the hockey world.  We believed we were different and we
believed in each other.”

The Sharks were outplayed in the first 40 minutes of the
game, especially in the second period. Watching it, I thought to myself
that this was going to be another demoralizing Sharks loss that lets
the Red Wings get momentum and likely tie the series up before it heads
back to San Jose. With how the team has responded to adversity before in
the past, there was likely going to be a possibility that the Red Wings
could win the series if that happened.

Yet the Sharks came alive
in the third when in the past they’ve folded, and Joe Thornton (yes, Joe
Thornton) made the plays that gave his team a chance to win. This is a
different Sharks team.

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    Video: Cam Talbot was very angry with T.J. Oshie

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    Cam Talbot had another strong game for the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night by stopping 34 of the 35 Washington Capitals shots he faced in a 4-1 win, improving his season save percentage to a robust .927.

    Along with backstopping the Oilers to their sixth win in seven games to open the season, the team’s best start since a guy by the name of Wayne Gretzky played for them, he was also involved in some rough stuff in the second period when he went old school on Capitals forward T.J. Oshie for charging into his crease and cross-checking him.

    Talbot’s response (as seen in the video above) was an attempt to feed Oshie his blocker pad.

    The end result of that exchange was Oshie getting a two-minute minor for cross-checking and Talbot getting a two-minute minor for roughing. The NHL’s roughing rule gives officials the opportunity to eject a goalkeeper if they feel there was an attempt to injure an opponent by punching them with their glove or blocker pad.

    Obviously in this case the officials determined there was no such intent on Talbot’s part, so he remained in the game to help keep the Oilers’ surprising start rolling along.

    The Oilers are off to their best start since the Gretzky era

    EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 12:  Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates a goal against the Calgary Flames on October 12, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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    The Edmonton Oilers just keep on winning.

    Thanks to their 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night, the Oilers are now 6-1-0 through their first seven games, have the best record in the Western Conference, and the second best record in the NHL behind only the Montreal Canadiens.

    To find the last time the Oilers won six of their first seven games, you have to go all the way back to the 1985-86 season when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and Paul Coffey still played for them and their dynasty was just starting to take shape.

    Their best start since then was a 5-1-1 start during the 2000-01 season.

    The recipe on Wednesday was similar to the one we have seen from the Oilers in every game this season. Cam Talbot gave them capable goaltending in net, while Connor McDavid dominated at times and added a couple of more points.

    With his two assists in the win, including an incredible display of speed to set up Patrick Maroon‘s goal early in the third period, the second-year superstar is back in sole possession of the NHL’s scoring lead with 11 points, moving one point ahead of Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews.

    Benoit Pouliot also scored a pair of goals on Wednesday giving him four on the year, while Milan Lucic added his third goal of the season.

    Alex Ovechkin scored the lone Capitals goal, extending his current goal-scoring streak to four.

    The big question now is whether or not the Oilers can sustain this and are for real. Their schedule to this point hasn’t been too daunting based on last year’s standings, but of the two playoff teams from a year ago that they have faced (St. Louis and Washington) they have beaten by a combined score of 7-2.

    They have some real talent up front, and if Talbot can continue to give them strong goaltending that is going to be a pleasant change from what they have had in recent years.

    The biggest issue is whether or not the defense can hold up over the course of the season because they do give up a ton of shots and have been on the wrong end of the shot charts more often than not so far. That is not usually a great sign for future performance. But whether they maintain this early season success or start to regress back toward where they were expected to be, two things are very clear early on: They do look like a much improved hockey team, and they are really fun to watch.

    McDavid has a lot to do with both improvements.

    Rangers storm back, crush Bruins


    For the first half of Wednesday’s game in New York, everything was going pretty great for the Boston Bruins.

    They not only had a two-goal lead, but rookie goalie Zane McIntyre was playing extremely well in his first NHL start as he filled in for injured veterans Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin.

    And then everything kind of fell apart for him and the Bruins defense.

    The Rangers stormed back for five consecutive goals on their way to a 5-2 win, handing the Bruins their fourth loss in seven games to start the season, and their second lopsided loss in a row.

    This game was always going to be a struggle for Boston given the injury situation both in goal and up front (David Backes was also sidelined for this game) and the fact it was their second game in as many days.

    But even though he gave up five goals on 29 shots, including one on a Kevin Hayes bank-shot from below the goal line, it is tough to put too much of this on the rookie McIntyre.

    This loss was a total team effort.

    The Bruins got into penalty trouble in the second period and the defense in front of their rookie was simply not good enough, something that is going to continue to be an issue for the rest of the season until the front office addresses the personnel.

    That defense turned out to be a brutal matchup against a Rangers team that has some great forward depth and the floodgates finally started to open for them in the second half of the game.

    Rick Nash opened the scoring for New York with a power play goal midway through the second period, and then added an assist later in the game to help put it out of reach when he set up rookie forward Jimmy Vesey for his fourth goal of the season.

    Brandon Pirri, one of the many bargain free agent additions the Rangers made to their forward group over the summer, also added a pair of goals including the game-winner in the second period to break the 2-2 tie.

    The Bruins have now lost three games in a row and have been outscored by a 15-4 margin.

    Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf out with upper body injury

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks awaits a face off against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. the Ducks defeated the Avalanche 5-3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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    Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf was banged up in his team’s overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night and it is bad enough to keep him out of the lineup entirely on Wednesday when they host the Nashville Predators.

    The Ducks announced the news just before puck drop on Wednesday.

    Getzlaf played only 10 minutes on Tuesday night before exiting the game.

    The Ducks are also playing without goaltender Jonathan Bernier who was also injured on Tuesday, resulting in the team calling up Dustin Tokarski for Wednesday’s game. Tokarski will serve as the backup for John Gibson.

    Getzlaf is definitely the bigger loss here for the Ducks on Wednesday, not only because Gibson was likely to start this game anyway, but because Getzlaf is one of their absolute best players.

    Still one of the NHL’s top playmakers, Getzlaf has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the Ducks’ first seven games. That includes a three assist game against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.