While the San Jose Sharks can’t be thrilled with their post-All-Star record — they’re just 4-3 over the last seven games — they have to be pleased with the play of linemates Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
The pair has racked up 22 points (9G, 13A) playing on a line with Patrick Marleau — Pavelski and Thorton also man the first power play unit together — with Thornton posting 4G-8A-12PTS, Pavelski notching 5G-5A-10PTS.
“I like playing with Joe,” Thornton told CSN Bay Area. “He sees the ice well and has a knack for being around the net and putting in timely goals. We enjoy playing with each other.”
Credit Sharks head coach Todd McLellan for utilizing the Joe-Joe chemistry to spark his anemic power play. The normally powerful unit struggled through most of the year (just 22 PP goals in the first 46 games) until McLellan put Pavelski and Thornton together…but with a twist.
Little Joe was moved to the point, and the results were immediate — dating back to the Sharks’ game in Vancouver on Jan. 21 (when Pavelski first started manning the blueline), San Jose is 13-for-32 with a man advantage, a remarkable 40.6 percent.
“To climb from where we were, and we reminded them of this after the St. Louis game, to where we are now, is a credit to them,” McLellan said, referring to an 0-for-4 performance against the Blues on Sunday. “It became real important to them and real important to our team that we fix [the power play.]”
“When you’re playing well in that area, it should translate over to feeling good about your game and having some confidence elsewhere.”
This offensive spark couldn’t have come at a better time. The Sharks are two games into a grueling nine-game road trip and their schedule over the final two months — 32 games in 59 days, six back-to-backs — is one of the league’s toughest. The likes of Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau will need to keep clicking if the Sharks hope to survive and remain atop the Pacific Division.
As the Art Ross winner and Hart Trophy frontrunner, there’s no doubt that Connor McDavid is the catalyst for the Edmonton Oilers.
Still, the scary thing for opponents is that, while he created chances against the San Jose Sharks, McDavid wasn’t exactly lighting them up for points.
Nope, as Mike Rupp and Jeremy Roenick discuss in the video above, the Oilers advanced thanks as much to depth scorers – and deft goaltending from Cam Talbot – as they did because of McDavid’s blistering combination of skill and speed.
Now, the Anaheim Ducks rank as an interesting opponent. While the Sharks could slow McDavid with one of the few blueliners who could really give him trouble – relatively speaking – in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, it remains to be seen if Anaheim can accomplish the same.
(A fully healthy Hampus Lindholm would increase their odds, mind you.)
Either way, the Oilers’ “other guys” deserve some credit, and they get it in the video above.
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.
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.
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.
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.