So…what happens if the Sharks don’t make the playoffs?

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The San Jose Sharks are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Two straight losses to Anaheim and Phoenix have them tied in points with eighth-place Los Angeles in the West, but the Kings have a game in hand.

The last time the Sharks failed to qualify for the playoffs was the 2002-03 season. To put that in perspective, 2003-04 was the last time the Leafs made the playoffs, and we all know the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in, like, forever.

San Jose still controls its destiny with two games remaining against each of the Dallas Stars and Kings. However, it’s worth wondering what the fallout could be if the Sharks finish on the outside looking in. And even if they do squeak in, what happens if they’re eliminated in the first round?

On the one hand, San Jose’s only one season removed from an appearance in the conference finals. It’s not an old team by any means. Michal Handzus is the elder statesman, and he’s only 35. The Sharks should be in their prime.

On the other, there’s no excuse for this team to miss the playoffs. Martin Havlat’s the only Shark that’s missed significant time with an injury. The rest of the core – Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Ryan Clowe – has missed a combined eight games.

We’ve been down this path before with San Jose. The calls for the team to be blown up. Trade Thornton. Trade Marleau. Fire GM Doug Wilson. If the Sharks miss the playoffs, those options won’t seem so drastic.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

Video will be added to give you better context for the goal, but until then, check out this GIF of the key moments:

If nothing else, Frederik Andersen looks confident:

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.