The Sharks already have an injury report?

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Training camps haven’t even opened for NHL teams and the San Jose Sharks already need to issue an injury report. Newly acquired Martin Havlat is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Antti Niemi had a cyst removed, and Antero Niittymaki is trying to figure out what’s wrong with his groin. Aren’t teams supposed to wait until roster players officially take the ice before they start telling the media they have some players who are dinged-up?

The goaltending situation is a mixed bag for GM Doug Wilson and the Sharks. The good news is that starting netminder Anti Niemi’s procedure was relatively minor and he shouldn’t miss much practice at all. Obviously, it’s better to have something like this done in the offseason and miss a practice or two than to miss a week or two during the season.

Unfortunately, the news isn’t as positive for back-up goaltender Antero Niittymaki. He’s had groin problems stretching back to last season—and injury that has not healed as the organization would have hoped. Doug Wilson spoke to David Pollack of the Mercury News about Niittymaki’s tenuous situation:

“We’ve exhausted all the conservative therapy that we’ve had with him. There’s a procedure that can get him pain-free so we’re supportive of that. If that procedure takes place, he’ll be out for probably 12 weeks or so.”

Since Niittymaki could be out for the first two months of the season, there will be a battle in training camp for the back-up spot. Thomas Griess is under contract for two more seasons, but spent last year in the Swedish Elite League. Aside from Griess, the Sharks a handful of goaltending prospects: Tyler Sexsmith, Alex Stalock, Narri Sateri, and Thomas Heemskerk within their system. The good news is that goaltending is the strength of their organizational depth. The bad news is that we are talking about the Sharks goaltending depth on September 15. Then again, there’s no rule that says the Sharks can’t play Niemi for the first 30 games of the season.

Then there’s Martin Havlat. Havlat injured his shoulder at the end of last season while playing for the Czech Republic. He had surgery while he was still a member of the Minnesota Wild—the injury and procedure were disclosed to the Sharks before the Heatley trade. He’s been working out over the course of the summer as he looks to increase strength in the injured shoulder. Regardless, he’s been skating and is already in good shape for training camp. Havlat, Wilson, nor the Sharks training staff will commit to a timetable for his return, yet all agree that this is a shorter-term injury and shouldn’t affect the season. Things could be worse.

Things obviously could be worse. Niemi and Havlat shouldn’t miss any of the regular season and the serious injury is to a player who only plays 4-5 times per month. Still, someone needs to tell the Sharks that they’re supposed to wait until after the season starts before they start scaring their fans with injury reports.

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

Wow.

With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.