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  1. THE DEBATE – Hockey Podcast | Episode 32 20 Preseason Questions Brad Burud and Blake Friars discuss the monster Erik Karlsson trade, Robin Lehner Mental Health struggles, and Humboldt closure. Then they dive into 20 preseason quesions. Who is this years biggest bust? Who is the biggest rivalry? How many Canadian teams will make the playoffs? The questions keep coming… PODCAST
  2. Captains Head West… In a one-week span (during the offseason) two Eastern Conference team captains head to the Western Conference. The first trade took place on September 10th. The Montreal Canadiens sent captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights. In return the Montreal Canadiens received Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a 2019 Second Round Pick. If that was not enough the Ottawa Senators sent their captain Erik Karlsson and Francis Perron to the San Jose Sharks in a monster deal. In return the Senators receive a large package of players – Josh Norris, Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan DeMeio, Conditional 2020 1stRound Pick, Conditional 2019 2ndRound Pick, and 2 more Conditional Picks. Well my takes on this – take #1 – With Karlsson and Pacioretty traded now we can all talk about the game instead of them, for that I am thankful -- Montreal was forced to move Pacioretty, their return. Not too bad. I think it will pay off for Montreal in the future, and honestly, I think Pacioretty will not have an easy time playing in the physical Western Conference. As far as the Karlsson trade…. He is one of the best defensemen in the NHL so no matter what you get in return it will look like garbage. Ottawa is a mess, and this is par for the course. The Western Conference just got better. Drug Policy The NHL is not running and hiding from the fact that marijuana is becoming legal in some US states and may just become legal in all of Canada. They laid down the law by saying that they will not be changing any of the leagues drug policies making it still an illegal substance. Great move NHL. I am with you on this one. Crawford Is Out Just when things could not get worse in Chicago they did! Corey Crawford is very doubtful for the start of this season. I also don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that I would not be at all surprised if he did not play a game this season. It is scary how quickly things fell apart in Chicago. Bobrovsky Wants Big $ Columbus looks to be in goalie trouble. Sergei Bobrovsky heads into the final year of his contract and things do not look optimistic. Bobrovsky wants to be the top paid goaltender in the league and I am not sure that Blue Jackets management is on that some page. I ask the question, should he be the highest paid goalie in the league? I guess my answer would be no, he is good but not that good. I would feel a lot different if he had some playoff success under his belt. Prayers to Humboldt We close the chapter on the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. No this does not mean we will forget or that we will quit praying for them. It just means that it is time for us to let players, families, friends and Humboldt the privacy to move on. The first game back for the Humboldt Broncos was last Wednesday night. It was exciting, it was emotional, it was amazing. Amazing to see a community come back together doing what they love…watching hockey. The ceremony was heartbreaking but yet amazing. I pray for the families. I will never forget this tragic accident and I will always pray for everyone involved. Prayers to Humboldt….
  3. Thoughts on the Sharks landing John Tavares. I personally don't think he will sign with us, simply due to the fact that we haven't been able to lure any big name guys. We would have the money (if we don't re-sign Kane and/or Thornton), and I feel like he would be a good fit (even though he isn't a real fast guy). I would like him, and he would be a good replacement for Joe Thornton, who unfortunately cannot play forever.
  4. I thought I would give the Sharks lines a quick shot. Keep in mind that these lines change frequently. This is just my stab at the opening night lineup. Here are the forwards who will or might make the team: Thornton C Pavelski C/RW Couture C Donckoi RW Hertl C/LW Ward RW/C Marleau LW/C Boedker LW Karlsson RW/C/LW Nieto LW Wingels RW Tierney C Haley C/LW Sorensen RW Meier RW/LW Goldobin LW Chartier C Goodrow RW Let's get the easy parts over quick: Thornton and Pavelski will be together. Couture will center the second line. Haley will bounce up and down from the Barracuda. Sorensen is a wild card. Doubt he will be another Donskoi this year. Good potential though. Goldobin probably won't make the team this year, but could be the replacement for Marleau next summer. Goodrow sure looked good in the AHL last year. It's easy to go with the classic Hertl-Thornton-Pavelski line, but I think the SCF showed that that line could use some speed on it. It's also tempting to put Timo Meier with the big guns. I think he would be better suited with Couture and Donskoi myself. A third line of Marleau-Hertl-Ward would be a very solid third line. That would mean that Boedker would make the first line (legitimately possible) and Tierney would once again center the fourth line (hopefully not). You have to imagine that Melker Karlsson is going to get a good look in camp after his strong SCF. Unfortunately, there are just too many right wings on the team for that. Here's my first thought: Boedker-Thornton-Pavelski Meier-Couture-Donskoi Marleau-Hertl-Ward Nieto-Tierney-Karlsson (Wingles, Goodrow) This is assuming Meier makes the team out of camp. Let's say he doesn't: Hertl-Thornton-Pavelski Boedker-Couture-Donskoi Marleau-Tierney-Ward Neito-Chartier-Karlsson (Wingels, Goodrow) Okay, defense. This is much easier. Martin-Burns and Vlasic-Braun are locks. You would have to image that Schlemko and Dillon are together on the third pair. Then DeMelo is the seventh defenseman? Martin-Burns Vlasic-Braun Dillon-Schlemko (DeMelo) And goalies? Well it's all about the backup. The FA market is dry now, so the best AHL goalie: Aaron Dell. Jones Dell Thoughts?
  5. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Edmonton Oilers in demanding fashion 5-2 Tuesday and the team currently is sitting in a playoff spot, so everything is going swimmingly for the team right? Not exactly. Despite earning a spot in the post-season dance so far, the Sharks find themselves in eighth place in the Western Conference, a far cry from their fourth place finish last season, all this having played more games than any other team in the conference. So despite holding a spot with 33 points and being just a win away from hopping the Winnipeg Jets and tying the Calgary Flames, each of those teams have a game-in-hand on the Sharks. What is even more concerning is the Los Angeles Kings who are just one point behind them, have two games in-hand and the Minnesota Wild who are three points behind them, have four games in-hand, including a tilt Thursday against the Sharks. So a slide down the western conference standings could be on the horizon. Looking quickly at this year’s team it seems kind of odd that they find themselves where they are, as there doesn’t seem to be any obvious reasons for the drop in the standings. San Jose currently has the 13th best goals per game average at 2.8 and the 12th goals against per game at 2.57, and though neither are very impressive, neither is terrible either. However, when you consider last season the team had the sixth highest goals per game at 2.92 and the fifth best goals against per game at 2.35 it all starts to make sense. The team’s power play has been much more successful this year, firing on a 24.2 per cent success rate, good enough for third in the NHL. This is an improvement from their 20th ranked power play last season. However, their penalty kill has dropped from sixth in the league last season to 12th this year. The biggest area though where the Sharks are seeing a lack of success is in the possession game, that’s right advanced stats lovers. Last season the Sharks had the third best Corsi-for percentage and the fifth best Fenwick-for percentage both firing at 53.7%. Whereas this season, San Jose’s Corsi-for has dropped to 10th to 52 per cent while their Fenwick-for has dropped to 16th and 50.8%. The team’s shooting percentage is sitting at almost an identical position to where it did last year, in the 18th spot at 7.47%. However, this is greatly due to a big 5-2 win against the last place Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night where they scored five goals on 24 shots. The offensive outburst shot the Sharks up the list six spots in that category overnight. Advanced stats aside, making the playoffs plain and simple comes down to winning hockey games and what could be very telling about the this season for the Sharks is who the team has lost to. San Jose has lost five games to teams that looking now could be in the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes in just over six months time. They have dropped two games to the Columbus Blue Jackets who sit 27th in the league standings, one to the 26th seeded Arizona Coyotes, two at the hands of the 28th Buffalo Sabres, and last Sunday a 2-1 decision to the last place Oilers. The Sharks do not seem to be the same team since their historic elimination from the playoffs last season to the Kings. After taking a 3-0 stranglehold in the series, the team dropped four straight. Management stripped veteran Joe Thornton of the team’s captaincy during the off-season and have been suiting up with four alternates instead. Meanwhile rumors since last season have swirled about the security of head coach Todd McLellan’s job. It isn’t time just yet to call the team a disaster as they are still in the mix and could very well turn it around, but for a team who has finished atop the Western Conference consistently in the past, this season’s team looks as though they could be in a fragile state of regression. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman Photo Courtesy of EZRA SHAW/Getty Images/AFP
  6. Last week the SJ Sharks became the 4th team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. Right when it looked like the Sharks would drop the playoff choker label, they instead went on to have perhaps their worst playoff choke in history. In 2010 and 11 the Sharks lost in the WCF winning a combined 1 game, 2012 the Sharks lost to the Blues in the WCQF 4-1 as a 7th seed, in 2013 lost to the Kings in 7 games in the WCSF as a 6th seed and now in 2014 were sent packing again by the Kings. Every season starts the same for the Sharks. They're looked at as contenders, but always seem to find a way to disappoint. The Sharks have the star power with Marleau, Thornton Couture, and Boyle. So after another failed playoff appearance what do the Sharks do from here? Marleau and Thornton were just signed to extensions through the 2016-17 season. Boyle is a UFA and I would be surprised if he returned to Northern California. An issue could be arising in net with Niemi for the Sharks. He was benched in game 6 in what I called a panic move by McLellan. I'll start with Niemi while I'm on the topic. Do the Sharks stay with the 30 year old tender who has one year remaining on his deal or do the Sharks look to move him and go a different direction? Stalock showed promise for the Sharks this year, but he is a UFA come July 1st. The Sharks could look at the UFA market come July for help in goal. Ryan Miller would welcome the chance to play in California with his wife living in LA. I don't see Miller returning to the Blues before he tests the market at least. The Sharks could also look at other options like Bryzgalov, Halak, Hiller, Nabokov, Vokoun, or Elliott. However none of the last six I mentioned seem like improvement over Niemi. I believe the Sharks would be wise to stick with the former cup winner in goal next season. Where I think the Sharks need to make changes is with one of their long tenured stars Marleau or Thornton. Neither played well in the playoffs this year. The Sharks have gone to battle with both for years and neither have led them to the promise land. Now is the time to try to get value for one or both of them while you still can. This team needs to be handed over to the new core of Pavelski, Couture and Hertl. The average age of the Sharks was 28.42 this year, which was the 9th oldest team in the NHL. Trading either or both of Marleau and Thornton could bring younger talent to the roster as well as top prospects to the Sharks system. Lastly I think a change is needed behind the bench. Todd McLellan is not a bad coach however if your team falls apart to blow a 3-0 lead especially when your team has a reputation for failure then a change is needed. McLellan has been the Sharks bench boss since 2008 and leads a great regular season team, but cannot get it done when it matters. Sharks management has already said they are not looking to replace McLellan, but could be on a short leash. Long story short it doesn't seem possible the Sharks can go at it again with the same crew. Change is needed, but where will it come? The Sharks should be a fun team to follow in the offseason.
  7. With seven games now under their belt it seems like there might be no stopping the San Jose Sharks, but is this year’s team a real contender or is history likely to repeat itself. The Sharks have started off the season a league best 7-0-0, a franchise record, but although this may be the best start the Sharks have had don’t hold your breath just yet. The Sharks have been no stranger to strong seasons or even post-season play, but as history as shown, it is once they make the playoffs that things start to unravel. In the past five seasons the Sharks have never made an appearance in the Stanley Cup final. They have been eliminated in the first round twice in the last five years in 2009 and 2012. They were eliminated in the second round in 2008 and eliminated in the conference final in 2010 and 2011. All these disappointing post seasons followed regular seasons where they finished atop the Pacific division every year minus last season where they finished second in their division. However, this season the Sharks are off to a roaring start and much of the team’s success can be attributed to the stellar play of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Anti Niemi. Marleau started off the season tying a record that has not been equaled since 1917-1918. Marleau started the season recording two goals in each of the first four games of the season. He is currently the league leader in goals having lit the lamp nine times in the first seven games and totaling 14 points. Thornton has also been the recipient of Marleau’s hot start. Thornton has amassed 14 points in the first seven games including 11 assists with most following a Marleau tally. If Thornton should keep up this pace he would finish the season with 75 assists and 96 points. Pavelski, like Marleau and Thornton, is also off to a thunderous start recording 12 points in seven games. Pavelski will eclipse the highest totals of his career in a shortened season if he can keep up his pace. What this line has also really helped to deliver is one of the hottest powerplay units in the league. San Jose has the 5th best powerplay, running at a 30.8% success rate and scoring 12 times. The trio alone has recorded 8 of those goals and has also been responsible for 4 game-winning goals. Besides being an offensive powerhouse the Sharks have also been very responsible in their own end of the ice due in large by the solid play of goaltender Anti Niemi. Niemi has put up a goals against average of 1.95 and has a save percentage of 0.933 both of which are among the league leaders in those categories. So, with a team that has been able to be nearly perfect in both ends of the rink thus far it would seem that the Sharks are an early favourite to win the cup. Unfortunately for the Sharks if they want to live up to this early hype they are going to have to prove that this time around they are not just a team that can have a strong regular season, but that they can also bring their stellar play to the playoffs. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  8. Last season was unfamiliar territory for the San Jose Sharks, scrapping through the season and only clinching a playoff spot at the very end. This year, a slow start in a 48-game schedule could be the difference between a summer of hockey and one on the golf course. For San Jose to keep the playoff streak alive, they must get contributions from all members. Here are 5 players to watch on the 2013 San Jose Sharks: 5.) Ryane Clowe Ryane Clowe has been a staple in the Sharks top-six ever since the 2006-07 season. Last season, Clowe had a down year by his standards, registering 17 goals and 45 points in 76 games. This was after averaging around 60 points the two seasons previous. Clowe is in the last year of this contract and is due to become a UFA. At 6’2”, 225 pounds, Clowe has a valuable mix of skill and size, which would make him an attractive commodity on the open market. Clowe is at his best when he is playing a physical game and commanding space for him and his linemates. 4.) Martin Havlat Havlat arrived in a straight up trade for sniper Dany Heatley. Previously known for being injury prone, Havlat was coming off three straight seasons of playing at least 73 games. Much like the rest of the team, Havlat’s luck took a turn for the worse in San Jose last season, suiting up for just 39 games and managing 27 points. As you can see, when healthy, Havlat is a proven top-six forward. Though not overly physical, his high hockey IQ and speed put him in plenty of great offensive opportunities. Expect Havlat to rebound and play a key role on the powerplay. 3.) Antti Niemi Niemi surprised the hockey world in 2010 by backstopping the Chicago Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup championship. Since arriving in San Jose, Niemi has done his role putting up a combined record of 69-40-15 with a combined save percentage of .917% and a GAA of 2.40. He gives the Sharks a chance to win every night. Niemi attempted to stay in shape during the lockout playing one month in the SM-liiga (Finnish Elite League), but has since returned to workout with the team. With three years left on his contract and a $3.8 million cap hit, Niemi is the go-to guy for the Sharks. For San Jose to be successful this season, Antti Niemi must continue to uphold the level of play he displayed in his first two years with the Sharks. 2.) Joe Thornton When Joe Thornton was named captain of the Sharks, he responded with two seasons of playing under the point per game average. Thornton returned to his wife’s homeland during the lockout and kept in game shape playing for HC Davos. In addition to being game ready, look for Thornton to return to the NHL refreshed and ready to dominate once again. Expect Thornton to return to the point per game average and lead the charge as the Sharks compete for a playoff spot in this shortened season. 1.) Patrick Marleau Patrick Marleau has taken criticism from former teammates, analysts, and mostly the fans. Whether justified or not, it seems that Marleau’s future with the team will be determined by their success in 2013. After three straight seasons of 71-plus points, Marleau had a down season in 2012 while still managing 30 goals and 64 points. It was in the 2012 playoffs that Marleau took the brunt of the criticism, going pointless in a five-game series loss to St. Louis. Marleau is a proven sniper and still an attractive commodity around the NHL. Look for Marleau to be on the move if this season goes south.

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