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Sharks, Blues tackling stretch run far differently


Sharks, Blues tackling stretch run far differently

The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, rivals in the Western Conference Final just two springs ago, entered the trade deadline two weeks ago in somewhat similar positions. Their respective approaches, however, could not have been more different. 

The Sharks had lost three games in a row, and the Blues six. San Jose held a playoff spot by two points, and St. Louis was just a point out of the Wild Card. 

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson made a big bet, acquiring pending unrestricted free agent winger Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres in order to bolster San Jose's top six forwards. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, on the other hand, decided to cash out. 

For the second straight season, Armstrong traded an assistant captain (and soon-to-be UFA) to a Stanley Cup contender for a package including a first round pick in the upcoming draft. Last year, he sent Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals, and this year Paul Stastny was traded to the Winnipeg Jets. 

Each time, the Blues were closer than they were far from the postseason, and they even made the playoffs last year. But, in both cases, Armstrong recognized that St. Louis wasn't particularly close to winning a Stanley Cup, and decided to preserve flexibility for the ensuing summer. A playoff berth was just a bonus. 

Wilson had the summer of 2018 on his mind, too, even as the Kane trade strengthened the Sharks ahead of the stretch run. He was hopeful San Jose would re-sign Kane this summer, and told reporters after the deadline that acquiring Kane would allow both sides to get to know one another down the stretch, and see if there's a fit between the two going into free agency. 

Both teams looked ahead to the summer, yet the Sharks were buyers and the Blues were sellers. Only three points separated the two teams going into the deadline, and only four separate them now, but those gaps may as well have been 13 and 14, given the trades they made. 

Some of the difference surely boils down to the divisional playoff format. The Blues would likely have to play one, or both of the Jets and Nashville Predators before reaching a Conference Final if they make the playoffs as the last Wild Card team. The Sharks, meanwhile, won't see one of the Central juggernauts until the Conference Final at the earliest, but could have a stop in Vegas in order to get there.  

Both Armstrong and Wilson smartly recognized where their respective teams stood, and acted accordingly. The Sharks and Blues figure to be players in free agency, with nearly $20 million in salary cap space to their names, depending on where the cap is set, and each team is linked to John Tavares ahead of the summer.

Each of them clearly had the summer in mind, yet they took nearly opposite approaches, despite being separated by only a handful of points in the standings. Sometimes, that's all the difference. 

Steph Curry's 30th birthday party was so epic that the Warriors cancelled Tuesday's practice

Kevin Durant/Instagram

Steph Curry's 30th birthday party was so epic that the Warriors cancelled Tuesday's practice

Steph Curry turns 30 years old on Wednesday, but with the Warriors playing the Lakers, his friends and family decided to hold the party for him on Monday night.

Most of Curry's Warriors teammates attended the bash. Things must have gone late into the night because the team cancelled the planned practice for 11am on Tuesday.

Special guests included E-40, Paramore  and Lecrae. Curry himself took a turn on the mic and belted out a few bars.

Based on the videos from the party, it appears Curry may have gotten a small yacht for a present.

Don't feel bad that you weren't invited. There were enough videos posted on Instagram Stories by Steph, his wife Ayesha, his sister Sydel, his brother Seth and E-40, among others. Check out some of the best here:

Counting down top plays of Steph Curry's career before 30th birthday -- No. 2

Counting down top plays of Steph Curry's career before 30th birthday -- No. 2

Programming note: In the lead up to Stephen Curry's 30th birthday on March 14th, we will be unveiling the top plays of his historic career. Check back Wednesday for the No. 1.

Curry No. 2: Epic 35-foot game-winner in OT vs Thunder on Feb. 27, 2016

The Warriors are locked in an epic battle against an Oklahoma City team featuring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and it looks bad when Curry leaves in the third quarter after rolling his left ankle.

He not only returns but also conquers, scoring 46 points, including 12 3-pointers, punctuated by pulling up from 35 feet to sink the game-winner in OT. It is the biggest shot of the regular season.

[RELATED: Counting down top plays of Steph Curry's career before 30th birthday -- No. 3]