San Jose Sharks

Goalie nods: Pekka back for Preds

All the latest from the blue paint…

Rinne Returns

Pekka Rinne will start in goal for Nashville — for the first time since Jan. 19 — when the Preds host the Ducks tonight at Bridgestone.

Rinne, the NHL’s wins leader (29), had been playing at a Vezina- and Hart-worthy level prior to suffering a sprained knee three weeks ago, posting a .931 save percentage and 1.96 GAA. While Nashville did well in his absence (Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec combined to go 4-2-2), Rinne’s return will be a massive boost, especially against a Ducks team that’s tied on 72 points with the Preds, but trails in the standings because of the regulation wins tiebreaker.

For Anaheim, Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal.


Blues at Sabres: Jake Allen vs. Jhonas Enroth

Isles at Flyers: Jaroslav Halak vs. Steve Mason

Caps at Sens: Braden Holtby vs. Robin Lehner

Kings at Panthers: Roberto Luongo for Florida, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

Bolts at Stars: Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa Bay, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Wings at Avs: Petr Mrazek for Detroit, no word on a Colorado starter.

‘Canes at Coyotes: Cam Ward vs. Mike Smith

Sharks at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.

PHT Morning Skate: Tom Hanks brings Wilson to Rangers-Bruins game


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Tom Hanks and Brian Williams took in the NBCSN Rivalry Night game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers:

He also brought an old friend to the contest:

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $25,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Rangers went on to earn a 3-2 victory. You can see the highlights below:

Could there be an alternative to Chris Hansen’s arena plan in Seattle? (Seattle Times)

Sidney Crosby excels when it comes to managing his off-ice responsibilities too. (USA Today)

Nail Yakupov is getting along well with new Oilers coach Todd Nelson. (Edmonton Sun)

Logan Couture got some playing time between the pipes last night:

Former New York Rangers player Vic Howe, the younger brother of Gordie Howe, has passed away. (

Confidence continues to grow as Flames keep on winning


The Calgary Flames weren’t expected to be in this position.

The Flames, winners in eight of their last 10 games after defeating the visiting San Jose Sharks by a final score of 3-1 on Wednesday, are now second in the Pacific Division.

Yeah. They’re 11 points back of the Anaheim Ducks, so perhaps the division is out of reach.

With 30 games remaining in the Flames’ season, the adage would be there is plenty of hockey left, but could the playoffs be a legitimate possibility with this team?

“Every game we win the confidence rises,” said Flames goalie Jonas Hiller, as per following Wednesday’s game.

“At the same time, I think everybody in here knows if we want to have success we have to work hard. We don’t just feel now it’s going to come for free. We know we have to work hard. We go out there, we don’t worry about who we’re playing. Sure, we respect them, but we’re not trying to play to their strengths.”

San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed the entire second half of the middle period, and a few minutes in the third period, too.

However, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said his absence was because of an equipment issue, according to Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group.

The Sharks are in Vancouver on Thursday. They’re two points ahead of the Canucks.

Maybe the Sharks can take this as a positive? John Scott, known more for his enforcer capabilities, actually scored, pulling San Jose to within two goals in the third period.

For Scott, that’s his second goal of the season and the fourth of his career. For the first time in his NHL career, Scott has actually scored more than one goal in a single season.


Sharks ‘have to understand’ their schedule ends with a ‘pretty grueling’ stretch


Hockey players talk all the time about the importance of taking the season one game at a time.

That being said, hockey players also have access to the schedule. And in the case of the San Jose Sharks, they know that 10 of their last 13 games are on the road, including a seven-games-in-13-days trip east at the end of March.

“We have to understand that’s a pretty grueling schedule at the back end,” said coach Todd McLellan, per CSN Bay Area.

“So if we’re going to have success and build a little cushion, now is the time to begin.”

The Sharks play tonight in Calgary and tomorrow in Vancouver, then return home for games against Carolina, Calgary and Washington.

Given the standings, those two games against the Flames, as well as the one versus the Canucks, loom large.

“They are big games,” d-man Marc-Edouard Vlasic said of the games tonight and tomorrow.

“If you lose both, both of those teams will be ahead of you. You want to get as many points as you can, especially against teams that are chasing you.”


No extension talks between Sharks and Niemi, says agent


Doesn’t sound as though Antti Niemi’s anywhere close to a new deal in San Jose.

From ESPN:

Niemi’s future in San Jose is unclear at best, his agent Markus Lehto telling via email from Europe on Monday that there haven’t been any discussions with the Sharks about an extension.

Niemi, 31, is in the last of a four-year, $15.2 million deal with a $3.8M annual cap hit. Though he’s been San Jose’s unquestioned No. 1 since coming aboard five years ago, Niemi’s status was up in the air following last season’s opening-round playoff collapse to Los Angeles; the Sharks held an open competition between he and Alex Stalock for the No. 1 job this season, only for Niemi to once again emerge the starter (he’s made 38 appearances this year to Stalock’s 13.)

Despite this, the Sharks could stick to their “tomorrow team” philosophy and part ways with Niemi at the end of this season — or sooner. Per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Niemi could be in play prior to the Mar. 2 trade deadline.

“While most people might think it crazy to deal your veteran starting goalie when you’re sitting in a playoff spot, I think Wilson would be willing to do it as long as the offer was good enough,” LeBrun explained.