A couple of weeks ago, it was the Washington Capitals spinning lemons into lemonade – now it’s the San Jose Sharks’ turn to play the “all this adversity will help us in the playoffs” card.
The Sharks can clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win over the Kings in Los Angeles, but it’s been a real battle up to this point.
“It hasn’t been a dream season, but sometimes those seasons, if you get in, you can make them work in your favor,” coach Todd McLellan said, as per CSNBayArea.com. “We know what it feels like to cruise through a season and be number one, and then all of a sudden the pressure comes. In this situation, we’ve been playing with pressure for a month now.”
Which is pretty much exactly what Caps forward Mike Knuble said a couple of weeks ago: “The last two years we’ve been kind of cruising, waiting and seeing what everyone else is doing. I have to believe (battling for a playoff spot down the stretch) makes your team sharper from being on every night.”
According to SportsClubStats.com, the Sharks have a 50-percent chance of playing the Canucks in the first round. Unlike San Jose, Vancouver’s never been in real jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Ditto for the Rangers, the likely first-round opponent of the Capitals should Washington qualify.
So maybe we’ll be able to put this “we’ve been in playoff mode while you’ve been sitting around waiting” theory to the test.
The contrasting theory is that the Canucks and Rangers have never been in jeopardy of missing the playoffs because they’re the better teams. (And typically the better teams win.)
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?