Ray Ratto

Rolling Sharks look to snap skid in Jersey


Rolling Sharks look to snap skid in Jersey

Feb. 11, 2011

SHARKS (30-19-6) vs.
NEW JERSEY (21-30-4)
Coverage begins at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California

(AP) -- A winning stretch nearly a month long has helped the San Jose Sharks move into position to lead the Pacific Division.Even with its own month-long run of success, the New Jersey Devils have plenty of ground to make up in order to get back in the playoff race.Two of the NHL's hottest teams square off Friday night when the Sharks visit the Devils at the Prudential Center.
KURZ: Sharks Notebook -- Much-improved Devils on deck
It was not long ago that San Jose (30-19-6) was 10 points behind Dallas in the Pacific. However, the Sharks have followed a six-game skid with a 9-0-1 stretch that has them sharing the lead with the Stars.San Jose, which has not allowed more three goals in 10 straight contests, will try to win six in a row for the first time since an eight-game run from Dec. 17, 2009-Jan. 2, 2010.Patrick Marleau scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period as the Sharks overcame a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 at Columbus on Wednesday in the fourth stop on a seven-game trip.
REWIND: Sharks rally to keep roadie rolling, beat Columbus
"Beggars can't be choosers and we'll take it," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "(There are) some areas that we are not happy with, but we will see what we can do and move on."Though Wednesday's slow start might be a concern, McLellan should be thrilled by the recent play of Antti Niemi.WATCH: Todd McLellan SJSCBJ postgame
The second-year netminder has won four in a row and owns a 1.86 goals-against average during his 8-0-1 stretch. He's allowed two goals on 95 shots over the last three games.Niemi made 32 saves in a 2-1 shootout win on April 2 in his only appearance versus New Jersey while with Chicago.RELATED: Antti Niemi stats
Marleau, who snapped a three-game stretch without a point Wednesday, had a goal with three assists in a 5-2 home victory over the Devils on Oct. 27. Linemate Joe Thornton recorded his fourth career hat trick and matched a career high with five points in that contest.Though San Jose got the best of the Devils (21-30-4) earlier this season, it's 0-3-1 at New Jersey since November 2000.The Sharks also will try to cool down a New Jersey club that's 11-1-2 after winning just 10 games through the first three months of the season. Still, the Devils are 13th in the Eastern Conference and 13 points behind Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot with 27 games remaining."I know we can play better than we are right now," said coach Jacques Lemaire, who became the eighth coach in NHL history to reach 600 wins after Thursday's 2-1 overtime victory at Toronto.Ilya Kovalchuk scored the winner after Dainius Zubrus netted his 11th for the Devils, who won their third in a row overall and 10th straight when allowing fewer than three goals.RELATED: New Jersey Devils roster
Kovalchuk has four goals and three assists his last six games. He was held without a point against the Sharks in October.Martin Brodeur stopped 34 shots for the Devils in that contest and has a 1.92 GAA while winning eight of 10 overall, but is day-to-day with a sprained right knee. The future Hall of Famer has a 1.63 GAA during a three-game home winning streak against San Jose.Backup Johan Hedberg is 0-3-0 with a 6.20 GAA in four career games versus the Sharks.

MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance


MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

The San Jose Earthquakes cheated the reaper Sunday, which is news in and of itself. I mean, they’re a playoff team so rarely that getting to a 35th game is quite the achievement, and they should not begin the arduous process of sobering up until Tuesday morning.

I mean, their playoff game with Vancouver is Wednesday night, so slapping themselves back into form is probably a priority.

They got an improbable stoppage time goal from Marco Urena Sunday against Minnesota to sneak through the back door into the final Western Conference playoff spot Sunday, their first appearance in the postseason in five years. It was as electrifying a moment as Avaya Stadium has seen since it opened, and one of the best goals in franchise history if only for its importance.

That said, the Quakes also enter the postseason with a losing record (13-14-7) and the worst goal difference (minus-21) for any playoff team in league history. They are the most cinder-based of the league’s Cinderella stories, and are dismissed with prejudice by most observers as being as one-and-done as one-and-done can be without being none-and-done.

This is a league, though, that has respected timing more than dominance. In 2016, the Montreal Impact finished last in the East and got to the conference final; in 2012, Houston (which was a relocated Quakes team) just snuck in to the postseason and reached the final; in 2005 and 2009, the worst (Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake) ended up first.

In other words, the Quakes’ pedigree, modest though it is, still allows it a counterpuncher’s chance. Its attack, which is third-worst in the league, playoffs or no, is matched by its defense, which is fourth-worst in the league. Their years as a de facto vehicle for Chris Wondolowski are coming to a close, sooner rather than later. They are in no way an elegant team. They are working on their second coach of the year (Chris Leitch).

But therein lies their mutating charm. Their postseason pedigree stinks, but there is a no compelling reason why they cannot cheat a result or two. After all, the lower scoring a sport is, the greater chance for an upset, and the Quakes’ history screams that no franchise could use one more.

So they head for Vancouver, a raucous crowd and a difficult side, carrying with them only their humble resume and the indomitable cheek demanded of the upstart. I mean, anybody in their right mind would much prefer the Whitecaps’ chances, but you gotta be who you gotta be.

Plus, the Quakes are getting a 35th game, which is more than they had a right to expect, all things considered.

NBA fines Curry and Iguodala for incident in Memphis


NBA fines Curry and Iguodala for incident in Memphis

Programming note: Warriors-Mavs coverage starts today at 4:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Steph Curry owes the NBA some money.

The two-time MVP was fined $50,000 for throwing his mouthpiece near the end of Saturday night's game in Memphis, the league announced.

He won't be suspended.

Andre Iguodala was fined $15,000 for verbally abusing a game official.

"I want to play tonight. Don't think a suspension is necessary," Curry said following shootaround on Monday. "I'm pretty sure based on the precedent that was set last time I threw my mouthpiece, there'll be a fine.

"The timing is getting a little tight thinking about preparing for tonight, but just gotta wait and see."

Curry was fined $25,000 for throwing his mouthpiece during Game 6 of the 2016 Finals.

He did not need to rewatch the incident from Saturday to know he was in the wrong.

"In the grand scheme of things, it's Game 3, we were playing terrible," Curry explained on Monday. "I was frustrated because I was fouling, I thought I got fouled on the last play and the reaction was definitely a little over the top.

"Stuff happens. Try to continue to be myself, show some fire, but do it in a way that doesn't take away from the team and misrepresent who I am."

Kevin Durant -- who was also ejected from the game -- apparently won't receive any additional punishment.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller