The San Jose Sharks scored twice in the third period on Friday to earn a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames.
The Sharks have now won seven straight games for the second time this season, but in between those two stretches, they had a terrible 6-11-6 record.
So are they just a streaky team that happens to be hot right now or is there something fundamentally different about how they’re winning this time around?
“The start of the season our power play was really hot, but we had two, three or four guys – Patty, in particular – putting the puck in the net,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told CSN Bay Area. “This time around, I think we’re just balanced. We’re getting scoring from everybody, so I think that’s the difference.”
Boyle was referring to Patrick Marleau, who led the Sharks with an incredible nine goals in his first five games. Joe Thornton also got off to a hot start with 14 points in his first six contests.
By contrast there’s no one or two hot streaks that are driving this winning streak.
“We’re playing the type of hockey that allows us to win consistently. At the beginning of the year, scoring five or six goals a night, we looked like the Globetrotters for a while there in Edmonton,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
“Everything was going our way, and we weren’t going to continue to play that way. I think we’re playing a better brand of game right now that sets us up for success.”
Even after seven straight wins, the San Jose Sharks aren’t likely to win the Pacific Division. However, they are winning the battle for the fourth seed.
The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.
You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:
If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.
The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.
The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.
“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.
“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”
While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.
“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”
Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?