The San Jose Sharks’ latest letdowns were so troubling that it left local media personalities bickering. With the should-be contender’s outlook dropping seemingly every day, CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz broke down which areas might (and might not) be the problem for the disappointing team.
Here’s one of the more interesting excerpts, at least if you’ve followed leaned-upon media narratives more or less ever since Joe Thornton’s first playoff session in teal:
They aren’t motivated
Why it’s true: This has obviously been the biggest criticism of the Sharks over the years, and the conversation usually begins with Patrick Marleau. The former Sharks captain hasn’t shown the kind of effort you’d expect from the team’s second highest-paid player in the midst of a playoff push, as he has just two goals in his last 18 games. Marleau isn’t the only one, though. Logan Couture has to be held accountable here, too. The second-year All-Star has just three goals in his last 15 games (two in the same game) since the NHL’s trade deadline, which, coincidentally or not, was when he saw his best friend on the team traded to the Avalanche in Jamie McGinn.
Why it isn’t: Statistically speaking, Couture and Marleau are still second and third, respectively, on the Sharks in scoring. Joe Thornton is another player that is often on the receiving end of being too relaxed, but his play on the ice and his numbers on the scoresheet reveal otherwise this season. Thornton has been the Sharks’ most consistent offensive threat for the past two months, and has at least a point in 21 of the last 31 games.
Perhaps Kurz’s “they’re just not good enough” is the tidiest bow you can put on the situation.
From a team stats standpoint, the Sharks seem like a playoff team in most areas. I figured that with their productive power play, they might be weak 5-on-5, but they’re at least above “.500” in that area. They heavily out-shoot opponents, averaging 34.1 per game vs. 28.5 allowed. The one weakness that does jump out at you is the penalty kill, which has a success rate of just 78.2 percent – third worst in the league.
Maybe what makes the question so intriguing for general NHL fans and stomach-churning for Sharks devotees. Then again, you might have the obvious answer waiting to go in the comments, so fire away.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone from worst to first.
The Leafs finished dead last in the NHL’s overall standings, giving them the best odds of winning Saturday’s draft lottery. And when the big show ended, Toronto had landed that top pick for the draft on June 24.
Outside of Toronto, the biggest winner Saturday had to be the Winnipeg Jets. They entered the day with the sixth best odds of getting the top pick at just 7.5 per cent. They were able to move all the way up to the second overall pick, which could certainly land them a franchise player and one that could definitely be ready to make the jump into the NHL next season.
The biggest loser? You could definitely argue it was the Vancouver Canucks. They finished 28th in the overall standings, giving them an 11.5 per cent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. But they fell all the way to fifth.
The Edmonton Oilers? Well, they didn’t win. Had they won the lottery, it would’ve given them the first overall pick for the fifth time in seven years.
Here is the 2016 draft order:
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Winnipeg Jets
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Edmonton Oilers
- Vancouver Canucks
- Calgary Flames
- Arizona Coyotes
- Buffalo Sabres
- Montreal Canadiens
- Colorado Avalanche
- New Jersey Devils
- Ottawa Senators
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Boston Bruins
Now that the order is set, who will go No. 1, 2 and 3 in that opening round?
Auston Matthews has long held the title as the top-ranked player heading into this draft. But there’s been increasing chatter that Finnish winger Patrik Laine has at least closed the gap between him and Matthews for that first overall selection, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN.
Meanwhile, fellow Finnish forward Jesse Puljujärvi likely rounds out the top three, following a sensational showing at the 2016 World Junior Championships.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to even up their second-round series with the Washington Capitals with a win on the road Saturday at Verizon Center. You can catch Game 2 between these rivals on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links for both Game 2 between the Penguins and Capitals, and the draft lottery:
Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision
Wilson fined for kneeing Sheary
Everything you need to know about the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery
Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight
Burke: Once a team picks first overall, no more drafting first overall (for a few years at least)
Tyler Johnson began the playoffs as a game-time decision for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their series with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s now among the top point producers this post-season.
Needing a win to even the series before it shifts north to Brooklyn, the Lightning earned a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon. Series tied, 1-1. As for Johnson, the diminutive but skilled forward, he led the Bolts with a three-point night and is up to 10 points in the playoffs.
He opened the scoring versus the Islanders and finished it with an empty-netter to negate any late comeback attempt.
Still without Steven Stamkos, the Lightning got another strong game from Jonathan Drouin, who entered this series without a goal. But he changed that, giving the host team a two-goal lead in the opening period of Game 2. That goal would be the eventual winner.
After a first-round playoff loss that resulted in the firing of coach Bruce Boudreau, players were forced to answer for such a disappointing end to the Anaheim Ducks’ season.
The Ducks were last in the West at the holiday break but went flying up the standings in the second half of the season, claiming the Pacific Division. But they couldn’t close out the Nashville Predators in the opening round, despite a 3-2 series lead, and Boudreau was sent packing.
Ducks GM Bob Murray then let the players have it, blasting the core group and their performance, especially in the first two games of the series, and strongly suggesting there would be some big changes in Anaheim leading up to next season.
“I take a lot of blame for what happened,” said Corey Perry, as per the Ducks’ website. “I didn’t score a goal. I take a lot of responsibility. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform.”
In seven games, the 30-year-old Perry, who just concluded the third year of an eight-year contract with a cap hit of $8.625 million, had four assists. But, as he said, no goals.
On Boudreau’s dismissal, Perry added: “He did a lot for my game. It’s tough when you know the reason somebody got fired is because we as a team and as individuals didn’t perform to where we needed to perform, and that’s the hardest thing. You lose four Game 7s at home, and he has nothing really do with what we did on the ice. We’re performing, we’re playing and we have to hold ourselves accountable. And I think a lot of guys are doing that.”