Get your game notes: Sharks at Wild

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Today on NBC, it’s the Minnesota Wild hosting the San Jose Sharks at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Despite the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul being located more than 2,000 miles away from the SAP Center in San Jose, the Sharks were essentially born from the Minnesota North Stars franchise. Original owners George and Gordon Gund sold the North Stars in exchange for rights to an NHL expansion team in the Bay Area.

• San Jose is in the middle of a 3-game road trip, having played last night at WPG (3-2 win) and closing out the stretch at St. Louis on Thursday.

• Last night, Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the game winner with 4.5 seconds left in the 3rd.

• This goal at 19:55 was the 2nd-latest regulation game-winning goal in Sharks history. (Jonathan Cheechoo scored at 19:56 in a 5-4 win vs. LA in 2005).

• SJ has gone 3-3-0 in the 2nd half of back-to-back games this season but has never swept both games of its back-to-backs.

• SJ has won 2 of its last 3 since dropping 3 straight before that.

• Minnesota is also a team in search of collecting wins. The Wild, despite splitting their last 4 games (2-2-0), have lost 7 of their last 9 (2-4-3), giving up an average of 4.00 goals per game during this stretch.

• MIN is coming off a 7-1 defeat in Dallas against the Stars on Saturday, by most accounts their worst loss all season:

• The 7 goals was the most given up by MIN all season.

• The 6-goal loss was the largest margin of defeat for MIN all season and the biggest lost since Mar. 6, 2012 at Colorado (also a 7-1 loss).

• Darcy Kuemper gave up 4 goals on 21 shots before being pulled in the middle of the 2nd…Niklas Backstrom allowed 3 goals on 14 shots the rest of the way.

SHARKS WITHOUT JUMBO JOE:

• Sharks captain Joe Thornton will miss his 3rd straight game tonight with an upper-body injury. Thornton was placed on IR on Sunday after he was injured on a hit at ANA on Wednesday. His status is day-to-day.

• Since joining the Sharks in the middle of the 2005-06 season, Thornton has missed only 7 games, having played in SJ’s other 713 regular-season games since then and also all of the Sharks’ 97 playoff games since 2005-06.

• Thornton’s streak of 319 consecutive GP was snapped when he missed Saturday’s game vs. STL.

• Thornton is t-2nd on the team with 33 points (Joe Pavelski – 35) and leads the team with 24 assists… Thornton had played well lately, boasting 5 points (1G-4A) during a personal 5-game point streak and 11 points (2G-9A) in his last 9 games.

• Thornton has fared well against MIN in his career: 36 points (11G-25A) in 38 GP – more points than any other player on the Sharks roster – including 34 points in 33 GP against MIN as a member of the SJ.

HEAD TO HEAD

• Teams have split thus far, with the home team winning each game…

• Oct. 30 at MIN: MIN def. SJ 4-3 (SO).

• Kyle Brodziak scored twice for the Wild

• MIN outshot SJ 46-28

• Jason Pominville netted the shootout winner in the 3rd roun

• Dec. 11 at SJ: SJ def. MIN 2-1.

• Christian Folin scored 1:03 into the 3rd to tie the game at 1 for MIN…but Joe Pavelski scored the game-winner 45 seconds later to give SJ the win.

• MIN Home Winning Streak vs. SJ: MIN is riding a 7-game home win streak vs. SJ dating back to the 2010-11 season.

• MIN last lost at home to SJ on Apr. 2, 2010, a 3-2 win by the Sharks.

SHARKS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Joe Pavelski leads the team in goals (20 – 5th in NHL) and points (35). He tallied 2 assists last night and has 3G-2A during a 3-game point streak. He also has 15 points (10G-5A) in his last 14 games.

• Pavelski’s 10 power-play goals lead the NHL.

• The 9-year vet, who has spent his entire career with SJ, is coming off a career year in which he set personal highs in goals (41) and points (79).

• Patrick Marleau, despite being one of 6 Shark skaters with 20+ points this season (28), has been in a 12-game goal slump and has just 4 assists during this stretch – although he did record a helper last night.

• Marleau ranks 2nd on the team in assists with 21.

• Marleau has faced MIN 52 times in his career, tallying 35 points (18G-17A) in those games.

• Defenseman Brent Burns is one of 3 Sharks with 10+ goals this season and leads all Shark d-men in goals (11 – 3rd on team) and assists (20 – 3rd on team).

• Burns totaled 1G-1A last night and now has 1G-3A during a 3-game point streak.

• Burns ranks 3rd among NHL d-men in points (31) and leads the league lead among d-men in goals (11).

• Burns leads the team in TOI/game (23:42) but does have a -7 rating on the season (t-worst on the team).

• Burns was drafted by MIN back in 2003 (1st round – 20th overall) and played from 2003-2011 with the Wild (183 points in 453 games) before being traded to SJ in June 2011.

• Logan Couture is one of 3 Sharks (along with Thornton and Pavelski) with 30+ points this season, boasting 14G-19A (33 poitns). Couture registered his 10th multi-point game of the season last night (2 assists)

• SJ is 8-2-0 this season when Couture has 2+ points.

• Couture’s 14 goals are 2nd on the team.

• John Scott returned from suspension last night (0 points in 4:48 TOI) after missing the last 4 games for punching Tim Jackman of ANA on Dec. 22.

WILD TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Zach Parise leads the Wild in points (30) and is tied for the team lead in goals (14 – with Nino Niederreiter).

• Parise had an assist against DAL in MIN’s last game and has 7 points (3G-4A) in his last 7 games.

• Jason Pominville is 2nd on the team in points (28) and assists (20)…Pominville has 8 points (2G-6A) in his last 8 games.

• Pominville led the team in goals (30) and points (60) last season.

• Thomas Vanek is 3rd on the team in points (24) and now has 7 goals after finding the back of the net against DAL. Vanek has 10 points (5G-5A) in his last 12 games. Vanek is in his first season in Minnesota (signed in the offseason) has scored 20+ goals and totaled 40+ points in each of his 9 seasons in the league.

• Ryan Suter leads the league in time on ice/game (29:29) after leading the league in this category the past two seasons. Suter is 4th on the team in points (22) and 1st in assists (21 – t-5th in NHL among d-men).

• Suter has gone without a point in his last 5 games and scored his only goal in MIN’s season opener against COL on Oct. 9.

• Nino Niederreiter is tied for the team lead in goals (14) but has gone the last 8 games without one and has 0 points in 5 career games against the Sharks.

• Niederreiter has 18 points this season (played in all 37 games) – halfway to his career high of 36 set last season (in 81 GP) – and has already tied his goal total from a season ago in 44 fewer games.

• Darcy Kuemper is coming off a 4-goals-allowed-on-21-shots outing in Saturday’s loss at Dallas. The Wild goaltender had a strong start to the season but has struggled in net since Nov. 22.

• Kuemper started both games against SJ this season, allowing 3 goals in the October-win and 2 goals in the December-loss.

Flames’ Brodie hospitalized after suffering seizure during practice

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In what sounds like a scary scene from Calgary Flames practice on Thursday, defenseman T.J. Brodie fell to the ice and appeared to experience a seizure, according to multiple reporters on hand.

Brodie, 29, was hospitalized afterward, but the good news is that Flames GM Brad Treliving described Brodie as “alert and responsive.”

Treliving didn’t officially announce that Brodie had a seizure, instead referring to it as an “episode.”

The Flames postponed practice after Brodie was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Their next game is on Saturday, when they face the Arizona Coyotes on the road.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders place Andrew Ladd on waivers

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New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello announced that the team put forward Andrew Ladd on waivers on Thursday, and from the sound of things, it’s unclear if we’ll see Ladd in the NHL again.

That said, Ladd’s $5.5 million AAV doesn’t expire until after 2022-23(!) so it’s possible that this saga may not be over.

For now, the Islanders are putting Ladd on waivers with the plan of assigning him to the AHL. Ladd had been on a conditioning stint while on LTIR as he tries to recover from a torn ACL suffered in March, and Lamoriello said that the Islanders hadn’t seen enough from that conditioning stint to have him resume playing. Setting such a standard would always make sense, really, but especially so with the Islanders humming along with an impressive 13-3-1 record so far in 2019-20.

Ladd’s longer-term future is fuzzy, and Lamoriello didn’t want to speculate about his chances (or lack thereof?) to play in the NHL again.

Newsday’s Andrew Gross clarifies that Ladd won’t need to be taken off LTIR to make this happen, which is relevant considering the whole $5.5M thing.

Ladd’s signing ranks as one of the many cursed 2016 free agent contracts, joined by Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo (the player he essentially replaced for the Islanders), David Backes, Loui Eriksson and more.

To be fair, Ladd had some utility if you looked beyond disappointing numbers for the money at times with the Islanders, but again, it’s hard to get too thrilled about such positives when the price tag was so steep. Still, he had some aptitude, particularly defensively, during his first two seasons for the Islanders, as illustrated by this Hockey Viz heat map:

Looking at Ladd’s contract structure at Cap Friendly, there’s the remote chance that the Islanders might be able to move that $5.5M cap hit (LTIR-bound or not) as the deal goes along. Ladd’s actual salary slips to $4M from 2020-21 through 2022-23, and it’s split up by a $3M signing bonus and $1M base salary each year. Maybe a team hoping to hit the cap floor might be willing to eat that cap hit to inflate their numbers for assets after the signing bonus is already paid, even if that would most realistically be able to happen heading into 2022-23? Perhaps the Islanders could bribe the Seattle expansion franchise to eat that deal, much like Vegas ended up doing with David Clarkson‘s contract?

Ultimately, those details are mostly the concerns of whoever is handling the Islanders’ cap situation in the future, and perhaps other teams hoping to squeeze every ounce of value out of an offseason.

Unfortunately, whether Ladd ever plays for the Islanders (or any other NHL team) again, it’s clear that the Islanders didn’t get much value from signing the former Winnipeg Jets captain.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fabbri finding a home with new opportunity in Detroit

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This season for the Red Wings is about developing youth. There are over 10 players currently on the roster who are 24 years old or younger, so getting the kids up to speed to continue this transition phase is vital if the franchise is to become a playoff team again.

One of those kids is a recent addition to the team — thanks in part to Darren Pang — and a player who was in need of a new opportunity after a couple of tough seasons.

Robby Fabbri left the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues for the Red Wings earlier this month in a trade that sent Jacob De La Rose to St. Louis. He signed a one-year deal with St. Louis in July, but when it was clear he wouldn’t have a regular role in the lineup, he asked to move on. So far, the change has paid off as through three games, the 23-year-old winger has two goals and four points, including two primary assists on Detroit’s last two game-winning goals.

“He’s been great. He’s a playmaker,” said Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin. “He gets the puck and it’s going to someone with a purpose after he’s got it. Adding a guy like that who can make plays and does it a lot, and he’s a crafty guy, he’s been an energy guy for us and a huge addition.”

Entering the 2014 NHL Draft, the Red Wings were interested in Fabbri, who scored 45 goals and recorded 87 points in 58 games with the OHL’s Guelph Storm during his draft year. But when they were on the clock, general manager Ken Holland announced Larkin’s name at pick No. 15. Six spots later, Fabbri went to the Blues.

“He was always dangerous with the puck and he always had the puck on his stick,” Larkin said about playing against Fabbri in their younger days. “He was one of those guys where being from Detroit, he’s from Toronto, you knew who he was and you knew going into the game that it’s Robby Fabbri, he’s going to make plays and he’s going to be a star out there. It’s cool to have that and be in the same locker room with him now and come up through the same draft. We’re pretty familiar with each other through events and just knowing each other through time. I’m excited that he’s here and I think he’s excited that he’s here.”

Fabbri got off to an okay start with the Blues, scoring 29 times in his first 123 games, but two ACL injuries in the same knee derailed the next year-and-a-half of his career. By the time he returned last season, he showed he could still play, but it would remain a process before he’d 100% be back to his old self.

A new team, a new chance. It’s all working out so far as Fabbri continues in a positive direction.

“We’re hoping we can get Robby back up to the speed he was when he first came into the league and he had lots of success,” said Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill after the trade. “I talked to Ken Hitchcock and (Blues head coach) Craig Berube. There’s a belief there’s more in him. There’s opportunity. … [W]e have opportunity here, a clean slate and now he’s got to grab it. We need more scoring, he can potentially provide that, so I look forward to watching him play.”

For Fabbri, putting his injuries in the rearview will help him move forward with his new opportunity and help him be a consistent offensive presence on a Red Wings team hoping to begin a consistent move in the right direction.

“When you’ve been hurt with the massive injuries he’s been hurt with sometimes you can get a little bit cautious, so it takes a little bit of time to get away from that,” said Blashill. “I’m hoping he can play as hard as he has in the past and he can give [us] scoring depth.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Book excerpt from Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life

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The NHL on NBC’s Eddie Olczyk was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in Aug. 2017 and after a long journey was deemed cancer-free seven months later. Since beating cancer, the former player and current analyst has been dedicated to be an advocate for those fighting the disease and their families.

Olczyk was recently named the NHL Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador for the 2019-20 season and his new book “Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life” tells the story of his fight.

***

On February 21, at precisely 9:02 am, I was unhooked from my final chemo treatment. What a relief! It was incredible to be finally done — epic. I was done after six months. I had a bunch of family and friends call and congratulate me and I received so many texts from the hockey and horse racing worlds with exclamation points. Diana brought me a bouquet of helium balloons shaped like horses and dogs with the words You Did It. She almost flew away because of all the balloons. 

After that last round of chemo, I got rid of anything that reminded me of what I had gone through during those treatments—clothes, pillows, blankets. Anything that reeked of chemo, I disposed of. That felt really good. The week before I went to the mall and went on a shopping spree. I was about to embark on the rest of my life and the rest of my career. 

It was around this time that Illinois congressman Mike Quigley spoke on the House floor and addressed my situation. He had a Blackhawks jersey with my name and number brought in for display and talked about my battle and what I had been doing to raise awareness about the need for earlier screenings and continued research to find a cure. He described me as a native son of Chicago who has exemplified the heart, grit, and the character of the city we both call home. 

“Like many others who have faced cancer, he was concerned that he was letting people down and he began to question his mortality, but as he went through treatment and reflected on this ordeal Eddie started to recognize that it was okay to be scared,” Congressman Quigley said. “He knows it’s important to emphasize that there’s nothing wrong with people getting colonoscopies at an earlier age. He knows that if he can help just one individual get a checkup sooner, he will feel like his battle with cancer was worth it. To Eddie and to all fighting cancer, stay strong and know we’re with you.” 

I was very grateful for him doing that. What an honor.

On March 8 I had the scan and the next day while traveling with the team to Boston, I asked Dr. Michael Terry, the Blackhawks team physician, if he had any update. He had been part of my illness from the start; I call him the captain of my doctors. 

He had access to the scan on his iPhone. He looked at me and said, “Edzo, from what I can see, it looks really clean.” 

I gave him a huge hug because I’d just dodged a huge bullet. After getting emotional, I took a couple of deep breaths. I wanted to yell something like what most hockey players do after they score a goal, but I was just overcome thinking about so much—my family, my kids, my friends. I just couldn’t wait to tell Diana that it looked good, but we still had to wait to hear from Dr. Mulcahy. 

It was a relief and a half that it was all gone. Thank God. I was so thankful for the physicians and the team that I had and the support I had. It’s always going to be with me, but I felt okay. We had come a long way since that first meeting with Dr. Mulcahy. Yes, it was absolute hell for six months. Going through the chemo was the most difficult part because there was a chance, God forbid, I’d have to continue with more treatment. 

I endured a lot and tackled it straight on and felt like I had conquered it. Now I had to recover and rid myself of all this medicine and tell my story to encourage people to go in for checkups and get colonoscopies. This is why we tried to be so open and outgoing without being overbearing. If you don’t feel good or you get to the age of 45, you’ve got to get checked, whether you have a history of cancer in your family or not. 

I called Diana after we deplaned and told her the news and we subsequently gave the heads-up to the kids. 

Four days later, at 5:07 pm, Dr. Mulcahy called and told me I was cancer-free. Diana was there with me and we didn’t do anything special other than maybe hug a little tighter when I got back home. It was like, “We did it. Let’s get as far away from this as we can.” 

On March 22, just before the start of the second period of a game at the United Center between the Hawks and the Vancouver Canucks, I went back on the air with Pat Foley to update people on my condition. He told the audience that because of what I had gone through, he had gotten a colonoscopy, as had Troy Murray and a bunch of Pat’s friends. He said my ability to go public with what I had gone through was tremendously inspirational and also heroic, because anybody who has gone through chemotherapy knows how devastating a situation that can be. 

Happily, I told everyone I was cancer-free. I reiterated as I had throughout my battle that it was a team effort, including the doctors, the entire Hawks organization, the National Hockey League, the people I worked with on TV, my family, my wife, my children, and my friends. If it wasn’t for my family, there was no way I could have gone through this. We all beat this. And I said I had done enough crying to last me a lifetime. 

Pat was so pumped. “You beat cancer, baby!” he exclaimed. 

Now that I was publicly revealing I was cancer-free, I wanted to reinforce to people who were battling cancer or knew someone going through it that they are not weak individuals. My message for them was to stay strong, believe they are tough, and believe they will beat it. I ended the interview by saying if I could inspire one person to stay away from this by going for a colonoscopy, then I guess it was well worth it. It tests your will to live. 

I did a bunch of interviews afterward, just as I had done since I went public with my cancer battle, so it was kind of like going full circle. It wasn’t easy but it’s a lot less stressful when you’re telling them the happy ending of the story. Sharing that news was such a relief. 

I subsequently underwent the hernia surgery in which they put an 8″x10″ piece of mesh in my stomach to seal it up and fix it. In a way, it also felt like the final touch on my long journey.

This excerpt from Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life by Eddie Olczyk with Perry Lefko is printed with the permission of Triumph Books.  For more information and to order a copy, please visit www.triumphbooks.com/EddieOlczyk.