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Sharks get to Jonathan Quick, Kings early, hang on for 6-3 Game 1 Win

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The Sharks' relentless forecheck did not make it an easy night for Jonathan Quick. (Nick Lust/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Sharks’ relentless forecheck did not make it an easy night for Jonathan Quick. (Nick Lust/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

The San Jose Sharks scored early and often, beating Jonathan Quick three times in the first period on the way to a 6-3 win in their series opener against the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night.

Joe Thornton got the hosts on the board just 3:06 in with a deft deflection of a Joe Pavelski backhander, but it was a pair of goals from Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau in the final 52 seconds of the frame that set the stage for a rout.

The Sharks built the lead up to 5-0 in the second, sending Quick to the showers after 40 minutes. And while the Kings rallied with three goals to make the score interesting in the third, the end result was never really in doubt.

Here are some observations after tonight’s contest and a look ahead to Sunday’s Game 2.

• It took barely five minutes for hostilities to break out in this one, with Mike Brown putting a match to the powder with a heavy hit that sent Slava Voynov barreling into Quick. The collision and ensuing scrum set the tone for an punishing game that saw the Kings dish out 69 hits to San Jose’s 52. Everyone was standing after this one, but you have to think that attrition will come into play if they maintain that punishing pace.

• The Sharks got a boost from icing a complete lineup for the first time this year. Raffi Torres dressed after missing all but five games in the regular season and Hertl played for just the third time since he was sidelined by a Dustin Brown cheap shot back on Dec. 19.

You can’t overstate the value of their presence. Compare this year’s club to the one that fell in seven games to the Kings last spring. The two key differences? Torres and Hertl.

Both players made their presence felt. Torres played a team-low 8:42 but still paced the Sharks with seven hits to go along with his game-winning goal midway through the second. He could use a couple more games to get his legs under him, but he looks primed to make his mark in this series with his trademark snarl and energy.

Hertl was fine, although he didn’t seem to have the same jump as he did earlier in the season. The hands looked pretty good though, and his presence makes this a tougher team to defend.

• Hard not to be impressed by San Jose’s ability to control the puck, at least through the first 40 minutes when they still had their foot on the pedal. Six of their forwards and two defenders finished with a Corsi rating of at least 60 percent. Thornton was dominant at 65.5, with Pavelski right behind him at 65.4.

• Nothing advanced about this stat, but it paints a pretty vivid picture just the same. The Sharks scored 10 goals against Quick over the entire seven-game series against the Kings in 2013. They lit him up for half that many in just 40 minutes tonight. Some nightmarish coverage by Los Angeles’ defenders created a few breaks that probably won’t be there Sunday, but you have to believe a goal like Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s softie–right through the wickets from 35 feet out–that made it 5-0 reminds them that Quick is anything but invincible.

Still, the keeper had his moments. His best came with the Kings down two men late in the second as he robbed both Thornton and Dan Boyle on close-range chances. The battle he showed on those two stops is what he needs to build on for a rebound performance on Sunday.

• Nice night for former Los Angeles Junior King Matt Nieto. The rookie created a lot with his speed and was relentless under pressure on the play that led to Marleau’s goal. He could be a real match-up problem for the slower right side of L.A.’s defense as this series wears on.

• The Kings came into the game as the lowest scoring team in the postseason (just 206 goals) and for the first 40 minutes they looked the part. They made life too easy for Niemi, who was tested maybe two or three times through the first two periods and only one of those–created by a Doughty pinch late in the second–required him to be at his best. That changed in the third when they took advantage of a lull in San Jose’s puck pressure to get pucks, and more importantly, bodies, to the front of the net. On Jake Muzzin’s goal 2:01 into the frame there were three players directly in line between the defender and Niemi, giving the keeper no chance on the point blast. Slava Voynov’s goal at 6:55 was a direct result of a Jarret Stoll screen (and some soft coverage by Jason Demers). Jeff Carter’s shot from the right circle at 13:59 bounced off the skate of Trevor Lewis, who was parked in front along with Dustin Brown. L.A.’s formula for evening up the series seems pretty clear, doesn’t it?

• Robin Regehr played just 15:04, by far the fewest minutes of any L.A. defender, but even that load might have been a little weighty for him. The veteran was directly at fault for the first and third goals scored by the Sharks, losing playmaker Brent Burns twice on Thornton’s opening tally and then failing to keep up with Marleau on the dagger goal with just 3.2 seconds left in the first. He was minus-3 after 20 minutes, digging a hole the Kings couldn’t climb out of.

• No surprise that Drew Doughty, who missed the final four games of the regular season with a shoulder injury, was a target for San Jose’s forecheckers. He struggled as he was hammered seven times through the first and second, but really found his legs in the third. He was involved in a couple of premier scoring chances, including a spectacular, swooping one-man effort that saw him dance through the San Jose zone and drive through the crease before being thwarted by a sprawling Niemi. That guy needs to show up for the opening faceoff on Sunday.

  • Published On Apr 18, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks

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    Joe Thornton (left) and Drew Doughty are both crucial figures in a potentially thrilling first round California series. (Don Smith/Getty Images)

    Joe Thornton (19) and Drew Doughty (8) are crucial figures in a possibly thrilling first-round series. (Getty Images)

    By Gabriel Baumgaertner

    Regular Season recaps

    Wed. Oct. 30: Los Angeles 4, San Jose 3 (OT)

    Wed. Nov. 27: San Jose 3, Los Angeles 2 (SO)

    Thu. Dec. 19: Los Angeles 4, San Jose 1

    Mon. Jan. 27: Los Angeles 1, San Jose 0

    Thu April 3: San Jose 2, Los Angeles 1

    Notable injuries

    Kings: Drew Doughty (upper-body, day-to-day), Dwight King (undisclosed)

    Sharks: Raffi Torres (knee, doubtful), Scott Hannan (head, day-to-day)

    Read More…

  • Published On Apr 16, 2014
  • GIFs: Sharks’ Joe Pavelski records hat trick in win over Edmonton

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    By Darian Somers

    Joe Pavelski’s stellar season just keeps getting better and better.

    The San Jose Sharks center rang up a hat trick against the Oilers on Tuesday night, his third this season and second within a month’s time.

    Pavelski’s first score cashed in a rebound try on the power play at 6:28 of the second period. He picked up his second tally early in the third period, beating goalie Ben Scrivens stick-side, and completed the hat trick with a shot over Scrivens’ shoulder at the 13 minute mark. His three-goal night tied him with Anahiem’s Corey Perry for second in the league goal-scoring race with 37 apiece.

    Pavelski also picked up an assist in San Jose’s 5-2 win.

    His wasn’t the only hat trick on Tuesday night. David Backes recorded one in St. Louis’ win over Toronto.

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  • Published On Mar 26, 2014
  • VIDEO: San Jose Sharks make dream come true for ailing youth hockey player

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    By Allan Muir

    The signing of Sam Tageson won’t change the fortunes of the Sharks, but it certainly changed the life of the young player.

    The 17-year-old, who suffers from a potentially fatal heart condition, lived out his dream of suiting up for San Jose on Tuesday night after receiving a one-day contract from the team with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

    He spent the day practicing with the Sharks and hanging around the dressing room with the players. It was prior to their game against the Panthers, however, that the Sharks went above and beyond. Tageson became the first non-player in the history of the franchise to skate with the team through the SAP Center’s shark’s mouth for pregame warmups. He then stood with the players on the blue line during the national anthem.

    You get a sense of what it meant to this kid — and to a couple of his new teammates — when he was introduced to the crowd.

    Warning: Don’t make the mistake of chopping onions while watching this like I did.

  • Published On Mar 19, 2014
  • Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau sign new multi-year deals with San Jose Sharks

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    Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have signed new contracts with the San Jose Sharks.

    Patrick Marleau (12) and Joe Thornton (19) have been Sharks teammates since 2005. (Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Their names may have popped up in the occasional free agency prognostication piece, but it has always felt like a matter of when, not if, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau would decide to finish their careers with the Sharks.

    The current and former San Jose captains both made it official today, signing extensions that will keep them in teal for the next three seasons.

    That was clearly the goal all along for Thornton and Marleau. Both players took less term and dollars than they could have earned on the market this summer. In fact, they were even willing to take minor haircuts to get the deals done. Marleau’s contract features an annual average value of $6.67 million, down from his current $6.90 million. Thornton will bring home an AAV of $6.75 million after taking home $7 million this season.

    “Patrick and Joe continue to perform at an elite level in the National Hockey League and, most importantly, they make the other players around them better,” general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. “They both made it very clear that they wanted to stay in San Jose and we were able to agree on contracts that fit with our team building philosophy.”

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  • Published On Jan 24, 2014
  • Grading the NHL team Christmas videos

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins made a Christmas video for 2013

    Nothing says “happy holidays” quite like Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. (

    By Allan Muir

    It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when your favorite NHL stars finally cave in to the pleadings from their teams’ PR departments and agree to abandon all dignity in the spirit of spreading a little holiday cheer.

    Yes, it’s time for the annual video Christmas cards that are sent, with love, to you, the fans. And this year offers a diverse and laugh-filled crop sure to bring years of embarrassment to the participants. Check ‘em out:

    Pittsburgh Penguins: Holiday Album

    The Bit: This one offers charmingly low-rent visuals and a great concept: a compilation album of re-imagined Christmas classics, including “Feliz Niskanen,” “Do Jussi What I See,” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Sidney Claus.”

    Highlight: Kris Letang channeling Fred Armisen channeling Lawrence Welk.

    Grade: A

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  • Published On Dec 18, 2013
  • Dan Boyle leaves ice on stretcher after cheap shot by Maxim Lapierre

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    By Allan Muir

    Just hours after the league threw the book at Patrick Kaleta, another repeat offender, St. Louis Blues forward Maxim Lapierre, earned himself a date with Brendan Shanahan for one of the cheapest hits you’ll ever see.

    Early in tonight’s heavily anticipated showdown between the undefeated Blues and Sharks, San Jose defender Dan Boyle rang the puck around the boards deep in his zone. Moments later, Lapierre roared in from behind and blasted Boyle square in the numbers, sending him chin-first into the lip of those boards and leaving him immobile and apparently unconscious on the ice for several scary seconds.

    It was as stupid a decision as you’ll see anyone make in hockey. There was a clean hit to be made on this play. Conversely, there was plenty of time to pull up from making contact in this area, but Lapierre but followed through, blasting Boyle face-first from behind instead. Forget about fighting — it’s garbage like this that has no place in the game.

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  • Published On Oct 15, 2013
  • Hockey world prays Joe Thornton never celebrates four goals

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    Joe Thornton's four-goal celebration comment set off the twittersphere

    Joe Thornton says if he ever scored four goals, he’d really lay the lumber on the crowd. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan sat rookie sensation Tomas Hertl after he scored his fourth goal against the Rangers on Tuesday night.

    Let’s all pray that McLellan does the same thing if Joe Thornton ever gets to three.

    The Sharks’ captain was on the outskirts of a media scrum in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon where, naturally, the conversation focused on his linemate’s big game. The questioning began to take a negative turn, prompting Thornton to step in and defend the kid.

    What happened next is courtesy Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province:

    Hearing a question to Marleau about Hertl and whether he was showboating, Thornton said:

    “Shut up, have you ever played the game?”

    When the press turned his way, he then added:

    “I’d have my [mighty sword] out if I scored four goals. I’d have my [Mr. Happy] out, stroking it.”

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  • Published On Oct 10, 2013
  • Six NHL teams keeping an eye on their 2013-14 Stanley Cup window

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    Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks faces off against Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

    With young, talented cores, the Blackhawks and Penguins remain solid Cup contenders this season. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s a funny thing about windows. Sometimes you can’t tell if they’re open or not until you pass through . . . or run smack into them.

    That’s usually the way it plays out as teams work to establish themselves as legitimate challengers for the Stanley Cup. Those years spent carefully assembling the pieces require more than vision. They hinge on perfect timing. Because just when everything seems to be place, injuries can deplete the depth or the scoring dries up or the chemistry experiment fizzles. It doesn’t take much to derail the dream.

    Every team aspires to contention, but few teams are ever actually in the sweet spot where everything comes together and puts them directly in the hunt. The defending champion Blackhawks are there now. So are the Bruins and the Kings, and perennial contenders like the Red Wings and Penguins, too.

    Eastern Conference Power Rankings | Western Conference | Kane, Crosby on SI preview covers

    And then there are the teams for which opportunity is either just over the horizon . . . or just slipping from their grasp. For them, the window of opportunity is slowly opening or closing right in front of their eyes.

    Here’s a look at three clubs that are rounding into Cup-contending form this season, and three that may have passed their best-by date.

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  • Published On Sep 25, 2013
  • Being over the NHL salary cap isn’t so bad after all

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    Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers

    A little shell game with Brayden Schenn may be what it takes for the Flyers to get under the cap. (Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    With less than two weeks until the start of training camp, it’s clear that this year’s $64 million salary cap won’t be the financial sharknado that many feared.

    Despite the sharp reduction from last year’s prorated $70.2 million ceiling, most clubs appear to be in fair shape — if a bit shorter on breathing room than they’d like. There are some perfectly serviceable veterans who still find themselves on the outside looking in, of course, but that would have been the case no matter where the cap had been set.

    Not every team is set to be in compliance, though. Six are believed to be over the $64 million limit. But even with some tough decisions looming, it seems that cap-space hell isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be.

    Take the Flyers. According to capgeek, they’re about $2 million over the cap, but they are also two players over the 23-man roster limit. With 10 defenders on NHL deals, it’s a safe bet that Philadelphia will trade or waive two of them. Bruno Gervais ($825,000) and Marc-Andre Bourdon ($612,500) are likely targets. Waiving veteran forward Jay Rosehill ($675,000) would cover the difference, but if the Flyers don’t want to risk losing his intimidating presence, they could demote forward Brayden Schenn for a game and then call him back up for Game 2 after putting defenseman Chris Pronger and his $4,941,929 contract on long-term injured reserve.

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  • Published On Sep 03, 2013