Watching the Chicago Blackhawks agitate the Vancouver Canucks all the
way to a series win the San Jose Sharks are certain to have taken
detailed notes on just what exactly went wrong for Vancouver. The
Sharks, fresh off of getting that elusive playoff monkey off their
backs, now have the pressure on them to continue their run. The
Blackhawks will be a much different test for the Sharks than the
Avalanche or Red Wings, especially with the confidence they’re riding
after some big wins in Vancouver.
At the top of the list of the concerns for the Sharks will be the top
line of Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who wreaked
havoc for the Blackhawks by getting under the skin of Roberto Luongo and
the Canucks defense. The Sharks are far from the emotional team that
the Canucks became, but it’s not just the agitation they’ll have to
worry about. Toews and Kane were dominant offensively in the second
round, and that is what has to worry the Sharks the most.
David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury-News:
“He just works hard every shift,” Thornton said of Toews,
the leading scorer in the postseason with 20 points. “He’s very skilled
and is really turning into a complete player. Whoever’s line goes
against him is going to have a real challenge.”
“He’s a big man
who really started to make an impact in the series later on,” McLellan
said of Byfuglien. “We’ll have a plan for him and figure out how to deal
Toews became a force to be reckoned with, but you have to wonder if
the emotional aspect of the series against Vancouver is what drove the
Blackhawks more than anything else. The Sharks and Hawks don’t have much
of a history against each other and the Sharks have yet to face Antti
Niemi this season.
Just like with any Conference finals, there’s
going to be emotions flying but I doubt we’ll see anything close to what
we witnessed in the second round.
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.