If you need an idea of how crazy this first-round series between the Kings and Sharks could potentially be, consider that seven goals were scored in Game 1 but neither team led for longer than 3:32 before second intermission. During two especially wild sequences in the second period, San Jose led for all of 40 seconds before Los Angeles tied the game, and the Kings took a one-goal lead only to watch it slip away 30 seconds later.
In the end, it was Joe Pavelski’s wraparound goal 17 seconds into the third period — the fastest playoff goal from the start of a period in Sharks history — that would make the difference. And in a game where no lead looked safe, San Jose managed to shut down the Los Angeles offense for the final 19:43 of the third frame to eke out a 4-3 Game 1 victory.
Pavelski’s game-winning goal came on an impressive play in which the Sharks captain shrugged off Kings center Anze Kopitar, one of the best defensive forwards in the league, and created enough to space to spin a puck on goal to beat Jonathan Quick. For Pavelski, the game-winning goal was further proof that this is his team now, and that it was he who netted the winner after scoring a game-tying power play goal in the first frame seemed fitting in what was his playoff debut as the Sharks’ captain. However, captain or not, that Pavelski scored at an important time should come as a surprise to no one. Read more
All hail the Frozen Four champs from North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks stomped all over Quinnipiac in the final and while Vancouver pick Brock Boeser has confirmed his return for another campaign, several free agents are drumming up interest now. Boeser’s linemate, Drake Caggiula, helped his cause with two goals in the final, while defenseman Troy Stecher is expected to leave school early for an NHL contract. In the meantime, San Jose won the derby for Lithuanian goalie Mantas Armalis and the Michigan Wolverines lost their two best players to the pro ranks. Read about them and more in our weekly prospect wrap:
As the regular season comes to an end this season, hockey writers will soon be tasked with submitting their award ballots.
We know the voting for the Norris will be controversial. We know the Calder will be difficult to judge because Connor McDavid, the best rookie, only played 45 games. And we pointed out yesterday that the Vezina race is wide open.
But what about the most prestigious award of all, the Hart Trophy? It looks to be a close vote, too. Our writers have picked a winner but it’s far from unanimous. Here are our picks for the Hart:
Life has become very interesting for goaltender James Reimer and the San Jose Sharks.
Reimer’s season has alternated nosedives and brilliant highs like an air show on a hot summer day. With the Toronto Maple Leafs, he struggled in October, excelled from November to January, then tanked in February. Toronto traded him Feb. 27 just as his value cratered. In San Jose he was merely expected to spell first-year starter Martin Jones, whose workload has never been higher. Reimer, a pending unrestricted free agent, had a chance to rescue his value, but it didn’t appear at the time he’d have any chance to pursue starter’s money on the open market. At best, he was looking at another battery situation and a deal similar to his expiring one, a two-year pact paying him an average of $2.3 million annually.
But, sheesh, plenty has happened since the trade. He failed to impress in his debut March 8, allowing three goals on 25 shots, but he apparently doused himself in kerosene and rolled in a bonfire after that. Reimer has won six of his past seven outings, posting a .945 save percentage and three shutouts. He’s allowed just 10 goals over that stretch.
Reimer has quietly started three of San Jose’s past four games. He’s played so well that he’s stirred talk of a goaltending controversy, and that’s especially impressive considering Jones hasn’t played poorly at all. Jones has a .924 SP since the all-star break and has an SP of .914 or better in all but one month in 2015-16. Part of the reason Reimer is playing so much of late is the Sharks have openly expressed their desire to rest Jones, who has already started 63 games. But it was fascinating to hear coach Peter DeBoer talk about “needing both guys” in the playoffs after Reimer’s shutout Tuesday night. DeBoer was similarly non-committal talking to Sharks reporter Kevin Kurz a couple weeks earlier. Are these the things a coach says if he’s set on one starter?
With the regular season winding down, the San Jose Sharks find themselves back in the playoff field after an uncharacteristic miss last year. The Sharks are guaranteed to play one of their California rivals in the first round, though whether the Kings or Ducks draw in remains to be seen. Either will be a tough match-up for a San Jose squad that has struggled to get anywhere in the playoffs for years now. But good teams have to beat good teams en route to glory, so there will be no excuses.
But there also doesn’t seem to be much anxiety in San Jose right now, even with the daunting task in front of the squad. A lot of the credit goes to first-year coach Peter DeBoer, who has instilled a new vibe around the team.
If the Anaheim Ducks were a baseball team, they would have all been wearing swimming goggles and drowning each other in beer and champagne. Thankfully, though, hockey teams exhibit a little more restraint upon learning they’ve clinched a playoff spot.
The Ducks officially punched their ticket to the post-season Thursday night, but you’d have never known it by the by the mood in their dressing room after their 6-5 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was an eerily empty and quiet place, with captain Ryan Getzlaf left to explain how a very big team that fancies itself a legitimate Stanley Cup contender can lose two games to a couple of Eastern Conference bottom feeders and give up 10 goals in the process.
Brent Burns is getting a ton of buzz this season and rightfully so – the burly and bearded defenseman is putting up a Norris-caliber campaign for the Sharks, a team that has bounced back from a rare non-playoff year nicely. But Burns will be the first to tell you he’s not doing it alone in San Jose – his new blueline partner has been a boon, too.
James Reimer has only taken the net twice for the Sharks since being dealt to San Jose ahead of the trade deadline, and he’s looked like a fish out of water with his plain white mask in both appearances. That won’t be the case for start No. 3, though.
Reimer, 27, unveiled his new lid Saturday, and it’s a spin off of his popular “Optimus Reim” masks. The Transformer theme is still there, but Reimer has gone with a more intense design, one that uses the full mask design to appear as though Reimer has the head of a shark. Think the memorable Brian Hayward goalie mask but with a mechanical twist and you have Reimer’s new lid. Check it out: Read more