Sharks Notes: Pavelski surging; Candid J.R.

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Sharks Notes: Pavelski surging; Candid J.R.

Joe Pavelski is hitting his stride. Unfortunately, it’s in the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Sharks forward, currently playing for Dinamo Minsk, has a seven-game point streak with four goals and five assists over that span. In his first eight games, Pavelski managed just one assist and was sidelined briefly with a minor leg injury.

Dinamo Minsk is currently in 10th place in the 14-team Western Conference.

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Former Sharks forward and NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick is again urging the players to ink a new collective bargaining agreement as quickly as possible, and openly questioned NHLPA head Donald Fehr’s tactics and intentions in an interview over the weekend.

Speaking with NextSportStar.com’s Josh Rimer on Saturday, Roenick was his usual candid self in regards to the ongoing lockout.

A few snippets…

On the deal that was offered by NHL last week: "I'm a player's guy, and I'll always be a player's guy, but I think the deal that's on the table is worth signing and playing."

"The players have given a lot, don't get me wrong. But now, it's time to sign a deal. Donald Fehr should be telling players right now to sign a deal."

More on Fehr: "From what I've seen in the last few days how talks have been going, Fehr better start representing the players more responsibly."

On the owners’ offer of a five-year cap on contracts: “Five-year contracts are more than good for sports. I think longer contracts are bad for the owners. I think it’s bad for the cap. That’s a nice lengthy contract, where guys can make good money and get good security. I have never been a fan of long contracts.”

On the state of the game: “Hockey is getting destroyed right now. It goes even further than the players and the owners, it goes to the fans, it goes to the people that work at the arenas. People are losing their jobs.”

The full interview can be found here.

* * *

Joe Thornton’s good friend Rick Nash has deserted him in Davos.

Nash, a teammate of Thornton’s in Switzerland, recently returned to New York to get treatment on what appears to be a minor groin injury.

“It’s purely precautionary, but we’re taking the ‘Better safe than sorry’ approach,” Joe Resnick, Nash’s agent, told the New York Post. “There’s nothing for anyone to be alarmed about.”

The Columbus Blue Jackets dealt Nash, a good friend of Thornton and whose name was frequently mentioned as a potential trade target for San Jose at last year’s deadline and again this summer, to the Rangers in the offseason.

In 17 games with Davos, Nash, who could return if the NHL cancels its season, has 12 goals and six assists for 18 points.

Thornton, meanwhile, has a very Thornton-esque seven goals and 22 assists for 29 points in 27 games, tying him for the team lead in scoring (eighth in league scoring).

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Adam Burish seemed genuinely frustrated back on September 21, when he was in the Bay Area practicing with his new team at Sharks Ice.

“I haven’t gotten to see the team dynamic, see how guys are together, see how guys interact. That’s kind of tough for me,” he said nearly three months ago.

Burish also said he was exploring his options overseas at the time, so that he could “stay sharp” in the event of a lengthy lockout. Instead, he’s been a part of a couple of charity games, the latest coming over the weekend in Windsor, Ontario. Burish was a part of the losing “Black Team,” and scored two goals in an All-Star Game-type final score of 17-11.

The crowd at the WFCU Center, a short drive from Detroit, was estimated at 4,500 people. Other participants included 11 Red Wings as well as former Sharks Jamal Mayers and Kyle Wellwood.

Burish signed a four-year, $7.4 million contract with the Sharks on July 1.

* * *

The Worcester Sharks moved into sole possession of first place following another come-from-behind victory on Sunday night.

Tim Kennedy and Brodie Reid scored third period goals in a 3-2 road win over the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Worcester has a league-leading five wins when trailing after two periods.

Worcester, 12-8-1-2, has won seven of its last eight road games. The Sharks continue to be led by Kennedy, who has 26 points (12g, 14a) in 23 games. He’s tied for third in the league in scoring, behind Edmonton Oilers/Oklahoma City Barons Justin Schultz (32 points) and Jordan Eberle (30 points), and tied with Philadelphia Flyers/Adirondack Phantoms’ forward Brayden Schenn.

One more prospect note: Goaltender J.P. Anderson, signed as a free agent by the Sharks on Sep. 21, 2010, recorded his 115th Ontario Hockey League win on Sunday to set a new league record for victories.

Anderson, a 5-11, 190-pounder, currently plays for the Sarnia Sting, where he’s spent the past two seasons after four years with the Mississagua Majors.

"We are proud to congratulate J.P. on achieving this milestone," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said of the 20-year-old. "He has made great progress throughout his OHL career and we look forward to watching him continue to develop with Sarnia Head Coach and General Manager Jacques Beaulieu."

In return to San Jose, McLellan emerges victorious, ends Sharks' season

In return to San Jose, McLellan emerges victorious, ends Sharks' season

SAN JOSE – To borrow a phrase from Chuck Woolery, Todd McLellan was back in two and two.

Saturday’s Game 6 between the Sharks and Oilers marked exactly two years and two days since the Sharks-McLellan love connection was broken up, as the coach and his staff were all essentially fired on April 20, 2015. But McLellan and assistants Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft quickly resurfaced with the Oilers a few weeks later, and now they’re moving on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the expense of their former employer.

At what was his home for seven seasons, McLellan took the press conference podium at SAP Center as the victorious visiting coach after Edmonton’s 3-1 win clinched the series in six games. Asked what the moment meant to him, McLellan preferred not to focus on himself or his staff.

“It’s not about Todd, it’s not about Jay or Jimmy. It’s about the Oilers and the group of players there that are growing up in front of us,” McLellan said.

“We’re part of this team now. I obviously have a soft spot for a lot of the players that are here in San Jose. They gave us a hell of a series. They helped us grow up by pushing us, and we’re lucky to get through. That’s an important thing for us.”

Amazingly, the Oilers managed to prevail with just one even strength point from Connor McDavid, who led the league in scoring in the regular season. That point came with less than a second remaining on the clock on Sunday when McDavid converted on an empty net.

The focus from the outside, among many of the Edmonton and San Jose media, was that the Sharks were doing an admirable job of defending the 20-year-old, who had 30 goals and 100 points in the regular season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, in particular, were keeping McDavid frustrated.

While that may be the case, McLellan said after Game 6 that he had no problem with the McDavid vs. Vlasic showdown. In his view, the Oilers could win the series elsewhere.

“There was a lot of talk in this series about us trying to get Connor away from Vlasic and Braun. Obviously we don’t want to talk about it during the series, but we had an eye on [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] against [Joe Thornton’s] line, especially since they put them together. That was a match we were looking for.

“You can’t get everything. When you’re a coach, the media experts find something and they keep going to it. But coaches have different plans sometimes. Peter [DeBoer] had his plan, we had ours. Ours wasn’t about getting Connor away from Vlasic and Braun, ours was getting [Nugent-Hopkins] on the ice against [Joe] Pavelski and Jumbo and Patty Marleau. For the most part, it worked in our favor.”

It worked, because as the stars on both teams were essentially neutralized, the Oilers’ depth players contributed just a little bit more than the Sharks group did and at more opportune times.

Zack Kassian had a pair of game-winning goals in games two and three; David Desharnais was the Game 5 hero with a game-tying assist and game-winning goal; and Anton Slepyshev posted the game-winner with a breakaway in Game 6. Not exactly big names.

DeBoer was particularly disappointed with Game 3, a 1-0 loss on Kassian’s third period goal; and Game 5, in which the Sharks had a 3-1 lead that they couldn’t protect. That the Sharks only got one power play goal in 18 chances not counting the Game 4 blowout was also one of the reasons for their downfall.

“If you had told me before the series we would have held McDavid in check, we would have won the special teams battle on paper, I probably would have felt pretty good about our chances,” DeBoer said.

Instead, McLellan will take his up-and-coming team to the next round, where it will face off with the Anaheim Ducks.

“For our team, we’re watching them grow up right in front of us, which is a great thing,” he said.

 

Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

SAN JOSE – The clock said there was seven minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the third period. It was frozen there for a bit after Patrick Marleau’s goal brought the Sharks back to within a single score of Edmonton.

Filled to capacity, the Shark Tank came to life, ravenous for the equalizer. The next several minutes offered a reminder of the team’s thrilling 2016 playoff run, when the Sharks finished just two wins away from a championship while taking their fans along for a ride they had never been on in a quarter-century.

But those seven minutes and 48 seconds quickly wound down, leaving the Sharks worlds away from what they did just a year ago. The Oilers held on for a 3-1 win, ending the Sharks’ season in a first round series that lasted six games.

Other than Game 4, a Sharks blowout victory, all the games were competitive.

“There were just a couple key moments in the series,” Joe Pavelski said.

In Game 6, the key moments that won the game for Edmonton came early in the second period. Justin Braun’s point shot was blocked leading to Leon Draisaitl’s goal to open the scoring, and Chris Tierney’s pass to Paul Martin at the point was just off the mark, allowing Anton Slepyshev to glide ahead untouched for another goal. The scores both came within the first two minutes of the middle frame, and were just 56 seconds apart.

That was probably poetic justice in that the Oilers were the much more aggressive and hungry team in the first period, they just weren't rewarded on the scoreboard.

Joe Thornton agreed with a suggestion that the Sharks were “a little bit sloppy” early, “but we got better. I thought we played a great second period and pushed in the third period. Just not enough time left on the clock.”

The Sharks did seem to get their game going just after Slepyshev’s score, but couldn’t solve Cam Talbot more than once. Pavelski nearly tied it with 3:45 to go, but his backhander from down low glanced off of both the crossbar and the post.

Key moments.

“It felt good coming off the stick, it really did,” Pavelski said of his chance. “It was there.”

Connor McDavid’s empty net goal with less than a second on the clock capped the scoring, sending the Oilers and former Sharks coach Todd McLellan on to the second round. 

Other than Game 4, which they dominated 7-0, the Sharks managed just seven goals in the other five games. Brent Burns failed to record a point in five of the six games, while Pavelski had just a single assist outside of Game 4.

The depth scorers also failed to come through, no surprise after the Sharks got little from them for much of the season.

“They defended well, Talbot played well. They were all close games,” Pete DeBoer said. “You’ve got to find a way to win 1-0, 2-1 in the playoffs. It’s not realistic you’re going to get three or four every night. They found a way to win more of the close games than we did.”

Burns said: “Series was pretty tight. I think it’s like Pavs said, it’s just little moments here and there. So much is luck, just puck luck, creating that luck. It’s a tight series, back and forth.”

The Sharks face an uncertain offseason, as there is little reason to believe their current roster, as constructed, will be able to compete with an Oilers team that has not only proven to be better now but is only going to improve. Whether Thornton and Marleau return remains an uncertainty, too.

“This is a big summer. We’ve got some guys that are up, and the expansion draft and whatnot,” Logan Couture said. 

“Every year I’ve been in this league, the team has never been the same the next year. There’s always been changes. Unfortunately, that’s the way that this league works. We’ll see what happens this summer, and come back hungrier next year.”

In the meantime, the Oilers will continue their push for a Stanley Cup while San Jose’s visit to the final round last year will only become more and more of a distant memory.