Sharks notebook: McLellan's pre-playoff dilemma


Sharks notebook: McLellan's pre-playoff dilemma


Brodie Brazil

The Sharks held an optional skate Saturday morning, which actually ended around 10:25 a.m. Ironically, these practices arent even supposed to officially start until 10:30 a.m. Go figure!

Antti Niemi will make his 33rd consecutive start, although head coach Todd McLellan said that getting backup Antero Niittymaki some time before the end of the season would be important. McLellan said he recognized that it would be difficult to do, given that the main goal is still to rack up as many points as possible right now.

Scott Nichol and Kent Huskins are definitely out for the 7:30 p.m. game with Anaheim with upper body injuries. Justin Braun was one of the last players on the ice, along with those two, so its assumed he will be a scratch, as well.

There are five more games left in the schedule, and now that the Sharks have clinched a playoff berth, there is the obvious question of whats next?

RELATED: NHL standings scoreboard stats

The majority of players I spoke with this morning noted the importance of keeping the same hunger and approach the team had during its first 77 games, through the remaining five. They value the important run the team has had since mid-January, and are very protective to keep it alive.

Ironically all of the remaining opponents (Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Phoenix) are all teams the Sharks could face in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Some, like Joe Pavelski, said it will be important to set a certain tone with these teams in the final few games. McLellan said there are really no secrets between divisional teams at this late point in the season.

Topics we will cover tonight on SportsNet Central and Sharks Pregame Live:
- What is the best way for the Sharks to approach the final five games of the season? Players give a look into their mindset.
- How is Anaheim different from the last time these two teams met?
- What do the Sharks think of their final three opponents, and how the tight division has made them a better team this year.

After all the confusion, Axford pleased "Moonlight" won


After all the confusion, Axford pleased "Moonlight" won

MESA, Ariz. — By the time the Academy Awards wrapped Sunday night, A’s reliever (and movie fanatic) John Axford was content in picking 19 of 24 categories right.

Of course, Axford thought he’d nailed 20 of 24.

He was as shocked as anyone at the mass confusion surrounding the Best Picture announcement that sent the social media world bonkers.

Axford, a film major in college who’s gained attention for his spot-on Oscar predictions, picked “La La Land” to win Best Picture. He was watching the awards show at a restaurant — it had closed down, but employees saw he was so engrossed in the show they let him stay and watch — and when “La La Land” was announced as the winner, he left and didn’t give it another thought.

Not until he got home and saw a text from his agent did Axford know that “Moonlight” wound up winning. That actually sat well with the pitcher. “Moonlight” was his favorite movie of the year, he just didn’t expect the industry to give it the award.

“It was a sad and beautiful film. I absolutely loved it,” Axford said.

He was also happy to see Oakland native Mahershala Ali win Best Supporting Actor for “Moonlight,” after Ali helped arrange a screening of the movie for A’s players.

Axford took to Twitter to share an idea that struck him:

Hey @Athletics...when can we get Mahershala Ali out to the Coliseum to throw out the first pitch? Oscar in one hand, baseball in the other!

Before long, A’s president Dave Kaval had the Twitter response:

“Great idea! We are on it.”

Paul Pierce reveals origin of his trash-talking beef with Draymond Green

Paul Pierce reveals origin of his trash-talking beef with Draymond Green

Programming note: Warriors-76ers coverage starts today at 3pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Draymond Green and Paul Pierce engaged in some trash talk last Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

On Saturday night, Pierce didn't give Draymond's words high marks.

"That's about a three," Pierce said on ABC. "I’ve been around for a long time -- the likes of Kevin Garnett, obviously. I grew up watching Gary Payton, hearing him, so that’s light.

"I couldn’t even hear him.”

In the first minute of last Thursday's Warriors-Clippers game, Draymond said the following to Pierce:

"Chasing that farewell tour -- they don't love you like that. You can't get no farewell tour, they don't love you like that ... you thought you was Kobe?"

Why did Draymond say that?

"This is how it all started: Blake Griffin posted him up, got a foul, and I was just pretty much like, 'You can't guard Blake. He gonna give it to you all night. You not that good. You only good because you got Steph Curry, KD and Klay Thompson around. That's the only reason you get recognition,'" Pierce explained. "And so I'm trying to spark my team with the trash talk -- go at their emotional leader and give my guys some confidence. And that's when you hear him say what he said...

"... When I got home, I see all of this on social media. I'm like, 'Ah, OK,' and that's when I went to my Twitter and said what I said."

Shortly after 2am PT on Thursday night/Friday morning, Pierce tweeted: