Sharks' path to playoffs runs through Dallas


Sharks' path to playoffs runs through Dallas

It is a staple of current orthodox thinking that the Sharks playoff battle will go until the final game of the season, next Saturday against Los Angeles.

Well, theyd better hope it doesnt. As Dean Wormer told Flounder in Animal House (dated reference, sorry), having to beat Jonathan Quick twice in a row is no way go through life, son.

Frankly, San Joses best chance is to put the stake in someones heart now, because they are not entirely trustworthy in those must-win games against Pacific Division opponents.

RELATED: Conference standings

No, their ticket to ride is to steal a game in Phoenix tonight, and then box Dallas twice, Saturday and Tuesday. It wont help them momentum-wise, because clinching early and then cruising takes the edge off a team that desperately needs all the edge it can get.

But thats a chance the Sharks would have to take, because the Kings are a tougher defensive team than either Phoenix or Dallas, and can take a team that scores only fitfully and shut them down entirely.

Phoenix hit a wall in March, going 4-6-4, but it is the toughest out of the Sharks final three opponents (3-1 against San Jose), and they benefit from the return of their captain Shane Doan, whose suspension for sharing recipes with Dallas Jamie Benn is up.

But sweeping Dallas is the dagger the Sharks need to display. They are 3-1 against the Stars, but thats not the point. Dallas finishes with Nashville and St. Louis, who are both better than any Pacific Division team, and it would be most difficult for them to overcome a sweep.

By now, a little thing can become a big one, but the greater truth is that the standings tell you who you are, and San Jose is an average offensive team that hates momentum. Their longest win streak, five games, was in games five through nine of the season; they are team who excels when scoring first, yet they are one of the worst first-period teams in the league. They have spent the last two months losing game after game to non-playoff contenders.

They have, in short, richly earned their discomfort, and we are loath to point out the easiest way out for them. They deserve to have to grind all the way until Day 154.

But these are the facts. They have a better chance of taking Dallas out of the postseason five days before seasons end than either Los Angeles or Phoenix, and in a race where there are four contenders for three spots, you kill the weakest link, or you become the weakest link.

In other words, if theyre not safe at home and dry before Saturday, they arent going to be. And they wont deserve to be.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip


NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.


Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game


Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch watched most of Thursday night’s game versus Kansas City from the stands after getting ejected for making contact with an official.

He’ll also be a spectator next week.

The NFL suspended him one game for unsportsmanlike conduct stemming from an incident where left the sidelines to join an on-field scuffle and ended up pushing an official.

The league announced the suspension Friday afternoon. Lynch has already appealed the suspension, per multiple reports.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and automatically ejected by rule.

Punishment after the fact has gotten expensive.

By rule, Lynch will be fined $30,387 for making contact with an official. He could get hit with other penalties, including entering a fight unnecessarily.

Lynch is also suspended without pay, meaning he’ll forfeit a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.

The Cal alum won’t play a Week 8 contest in Buffalo, against a Bills team that drafted him No. 12 overall in 2007.

Lynch was on the sidelines during a third down draw play where quarterback Derek Carr incurred what officials called a late hit from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters.

The Raiders offensive line took offense, and came after Peters in a scrum. Lynch and Peters, both Oakland natives, are extremely close. Lynch ran on the field to get between his teammates and his friend, but ended up inadvertently pushing an official. The league has zero tolerance for that, and sent him off the field.

Lynch watched a dramatic 31-30 victory over Kansas City from the stands and screens near the field, and congratulated his teammates after a big win.

Lynch did not explain why he entered the fray, though he seemed to be trying to get Peters out of harm’s way.

“They can say what they want but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first,” Peters told Bay Area News Group’s Logan Murdock.

His Raiders teammates and coaches must carry on without the 31-year old power back. They’ll roll with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and fullback Jamize Olawale against the Bills, as they did against the Chiefs.

Lynch had two carries for nine yards before getting tossed. He has just 266 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries through seven games.

If the suspension is upheld, Lynch will be eligible to return in Week 9 against Miami.