Mike Halford

Video: Pavelski powers Sharks’ playoff run


The Sharks are in the Western Conference Final for first time since 2011 thanks to a number of key contributors — Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Martin Jones — but there’s one guy that’s arguably had the biggest impact of ’em all:

Joe Pavelski.

San Jose’s captain has been brilliant this spring. He leads the playoffs in goals, with nine, and his three game-winners has him tied with Blues captain David Backes for most among postseason skaters.

You’ll notice the focused on goal totals in describing Pavelski’s impact. And for good reason. Finding the back of the net has sort of become Pavelski’s calling card.

The 31-year-old — a seventh-round pick back in 2003 — has emerged as one of the NHL’s premier marksmen over the last three seasons:

Most goals since 2013

Alex Ovechkin, 154
Joe Pavelski, 116
Jamie Benn, 110
Max Pacioretty, 106
Sidney Crosby, 100

So yeah, of the five active NHLers that’ve scored at least 100 goals over the last three years, Pavelski is No. 2 behind Ovechkin — considered by many to be one of the greatest snipers in NHL history.

The big difference between Pavelski and his counterparts is how the goals are scored. Pavelski’s generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, well off the measurables of Ovechkin (6-3, 239), Benn (6-2, 210) and Pacioretty (6-2, 213).

And Pavelski doesn’t have Crosby’s total package of skill, speed and vision. (To be fair, nobody does.)

Pavelski’s strength is his hockey IQ. The word “cerebral” is often used in explaining why he’s found so much success, and turned into such an effective scorer.

“I’d say he’s about as smart a hockey player as they come,” Preds forward Craig Smith said, per the San Jose Mercury News.

“He’s such a student of the game.”

Pavelski’s studies will continue on Thursday night, when he and the Sharks host the Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. You can catch the game on NBCSN, at 9 p.m. ET.

Isles’ goalie situation takes another twist with Halak’s sports hernia surgery

New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) of Slovakia makes a save in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Isles netminder Jaroslav Halak, who missed the final three months of the season with a groin ailment, will undergo — or, has already undergone — sports hernia surgery, per Newsday.

The procedure is expected to sideline the Slovakian goalie for 6-8 weeks. Barring complications in recovery, it (presumably) won’t keep Halak from playing for Team Europe in September’s World Cup of Hockey.

But looking further down the road, Halak’s future in New York remains unclear.

At locker clear-out following the Isles’ second-round loss to Tampa Bay, Halak voiced his displeasure with the club’s three-goalie system. Halak, Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube all saw time this year (technically, it was a four-goalie system when you consider AHL farmhand Christoper Gibson got a couple of starts as well).

More, from the Post:

After getting hurt in training camp, Halak suffered a severe groin injury on March 8 and was not able to return as his team lost in the second round to the Lightning. Yet as Thomas Greiss ably took the reins, and as the team remains infatuated with 24-year-old J-F Berube, the 30-year-old Halak and his two years at an annual $4.5 million salary-cap hit make him a possible trade piece.

Either way, the team is not looking to continue a three-goalie system next season. Halak admitted “it’s not ideal,” and added, “I’ve tried to tell [management], and this is not up to me.

“I like it here, but they just have to decide which way they want to go for next season. J-F is a young goalie, Greisser played well all season long. So we’ll see.”

Halak’s contract isn’t particularly burdensome, but — in a flush goalie market with plenty of affordable options available — Isles GM Garth Snow might find it tough to move.

The x-factor in all this is Halak’s health.

He turned 31 last week, has a history of groin/abdominal injuries and has only broken the 50-games-played mark three times over his 10 NHL campaigns.

Perry pleads ignorance after Laine incident


In the aftermath of Finland’s 4-0 win over Canada on Tuesday at the world hockey championship, Canadian captain Corey Perry was asked about his trip/kick on 18-year-old Finnish wunderkind Patrik Laine.

Perry’s response?

Here’s the incident in question, in case you haven’t seen it yet. The collision happened during the second period, and Perry wasn’t penalized on the play.

As the second video shows, Laine — projected to be the No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft — was in serious discomfort following the trip. He missed a few shifts while laboring in pain, but did return to finish the contest.

No word yet if Perry will be subjected to supplemental discipline for the incident.

Murray says Stralman shot didn’t go through glove, questions Internet’s credibility

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 16:  Matt Murray #30 and Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins look on against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on May 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Perhaps you saw Hockey Twitter’s version of the Zapruder film last night, when Anton Stralman‘s backhand goal on Matt Murray was analyzed and dissected to the nth degree, as people tried to figure out if the puck actually went through Murray’s glove.

See here. And here. And here.

Today, Murray responded, slamming those conspiracy theories and the world wide web’s factual integrity in one fell swoop:

(Believe everything you see on PHT, though. We’re the truth.)

Murray’s remarks came just hours after the Penguins attempted to scuttle the hole-in-glove theory themselves, tweeting out an alternate replay angle that shows Stralman’s shot went off the tip of Murray’s catcher, not through it.

That and Murray’s remarks should put an end to the conversation.

You’d hope.

Related: No purported equipment malfunctions on Crosby’s OT winner

Dallas loves its young defensemen, which could mean goodbye for some vets

ST PAUL, MN - APRIL 20: (L-R) Jason Demers #4, goalie Antti Niemi #31 and Kris Russell #2 of the Dallas Stars celebrate a win against the Minnesota Wild of Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 20, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Stars defeated the Wild 3-2. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Alex Goligoski, Kris Russell, Jason Demers and Jordie Benn.

Combined, those four have over 1,800 games of NHL experience. They’re all 27 or older, fairly well traveled (only Benn has spent his entire career in Dallas) and, this summer, all will be eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Which begs the question — which ones will be back in Dallas?

Which leads to another — will any of them be back?

The Dallas Morning-News took an in-depth look at the Stars’ blueline yesterday. The locks for spots next year are John Klingberg, Johnny Oduya and Stephen Johns, with the News’ Mike Heika suggesting youngsters Patrik Nemeth and Esa Lindell as potential regulars.

And there could be even more kids on the way.

As we’ve written about on PHT in the past, the Stars are enamored with their collection of young blueline talent. Last summer, owner Tom Gaglardi said “we’ve got the deepest bench of defense prospects in the league, quite honestly,” and at this year’s deadline, GM Jim Nill said teams were looking to raid his cupboard.

“When I talk about trades, when we got to make trades, that’s who everyone wants and I’m not giving them up,” he said. “That’s too big a part of our future.”

Dallas has been stockpiling blueliners for years. Klingberg, Nemeth, Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak are all draftees that have played in the NHL, while the likes of Ludwig Bystrom (43rd overall, ’12), Niklas Hansson (68th overall, ’13) and Julius Honka (14th overall, ’14) are being groomed in AHL Texas.

Johns and another prospect, ex-Detroit property Mattias Backman, were acquired via trade.

Which brings us back to the UFA Four of Goligoski, Russell, Demers and Benn.

In what’s hardly a blockbuster defenseman class, these guys will probably get good money on the open market. Goligoski could break $5 million annually, as could Russell (that was the reported figure from TSN, though before Russell’s less-than-stellar playoff effort.) Demers figures to get a nice bump from the $2.2 million he made this year.

And this is where things get interesting for Nill.

Dallas has some big-money decisions on the horizon, most notably the Jamie Benn extension, which Nill said he’d like to get done this summer. Nill also needs to decide what he wants to do with veteran UFA forwards Travis Moen, Vern Fiddler and Patrick Eaves. RFA winger Valeri Nichushkin needs a new contract, as does Oleksiak and burly power forward Brett Ritchie.

And don’t forget, the Stars are also locked into $10.4 million — annually, through 2018 — for the oft-maligned goalie duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen.

Taking all this into account, going young on defense could very well be the plan. Dallas has most of these blueliners on the cheap (entry-level or second contracts) and, given how high the organization is on them, perhaps now is the time to see what they’ve really got.