Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne was the ultimate Sharks villain


Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne was the ultimate Sharks villain

There are already a handful of Hockey Hall of Famers that had the Sharks’ number during their illustrious careers.

Ed Belfour followed up a forgettable teal tenure with two playoff series wins in two tries against San Jose, while Nicklas Lidstrom was classily dominant. Mike Modano scored his milestone 500th goal at what is now SAP Center, and Chris Pronger was loudly booed in every visit to San Jose.

None compare to Teemu Selanne, who joined them with his induction into the Hall of Fame on Monday night.

He mentioned the Sharks in his speech for all of 13 seconds, mentioning that he “had a chance to play with great players: Patrick Marleau, Owen Nolan, and many others.”

It was a forgettable, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment on an otherwise unforgettable night, and thus a neat encapsulation of his two-plus years in San Jose.

Somehow, his Sharks stint was even more infamous than Belfour’s. He was traded to San Jose for fan favorite Jeff Friesen in 2001, and was productive: 64 goals in 176 games are nothing to sneeze at.

Selanne cemented himself as a goat, rather than the G.O.A.T, with his lack of production in the postseason. 10 points in 18 playoff games wasn’t enough to get San Jose out of the second round.

His wraparound miss in a game 7 loss to Colorado in 2002 is etched into the memories of Sharks fans, as one of many missed opportunities for a franchise so often defined by misfortune.

Pronger likely would empathize with how frequently boo-birds flew upon Selanne’s subsequent returns to San Jose. Selanne was an all-time great that wasn’t especially great when he played for the Sharks, and the SAP Center crowd reacted accordingly.

It didn’t help that he was great against the Sharks.

No player in NHL history has scored more goals or points against the Sharks than the Finnish Flash.  His 99 points are 24 clear of the next closest player, fellow Hall of Famer Joe Sakic.

Only 27 of those points came after he left San Jose, but he added two more in the Ducks’ first round upset over the President’s Trophy-winning Sharks in 2009. Seeing Selanne skate with the Stanley Cup over his head in an Anaheim jersey only added insult to injury.

So Selanne not only stands above most of his peers in the Hall of Fame, but the rest of them as well, as the ultimate Sharks villain. Not because of anything he did after the whistle or said off of the ice, of course.

No, Selanne earned that status because of the points he scored against the Sharks, and the ones he didn’t for them.

How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific

About a month ago, the Sharks appeared locked into the Pacific Division's second, third, fourth, or fifth spot. At the end of trade deadline day, they were 12 points back of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, and only two points up on the fifth place Calgary Flames.

24 days later, thanks to an 8-2-0 record over the last 10 games (second-best in the NHL), San Jose's still in second place. Now though, those margins are eight points and 11 points, respectively. 

The latter's pretty much locked the Sharks into a playoff spot, while the former's created a path for a late run at the Pacific Division crown. Beginning Thursday night, they will play the Golden Knights twice over both team's final nine games. 

What does the path look like to the Sharks' first division title since 2011? To start, they'll have to beat the Golden Knights twice in regulation to even have a shot. 

That is the foundation of any run at the Pacific's top spot. If the Sharks win both remaining games in regulation, they'll trail the Golden Knights by four points, leaving aside results against other teams for now.

They have to win in regulation, however. A win in overtime or the shootout on Thursday would only cut the gap to seven, and a subsequent win in regulation would leave it at five. Two losses, in any situation, would create a gap of 10-12 points, which would be nearly impossible to overcome this late in the season. 

One point doesn't seem like a lot, but this late in the season, it makes a world of difference. A five-point gap means they'll need to earn six more than the Golden Knights in those other seven games, while a four-point gap means they'll need to earn five in order to pass them. 

The simplest way to five extra points, is for the Sharks to have a record that's two wins and an overtime loss better (2-0-1) than the Golden Knights in the seven games where they don't play each other. That's impossible if Vegas earns at least 10 points in those seven games, so a 5-2-0 or 4-1-2 record would ensure a division banner raising in Sin City.

Taken all together, then, the Golden Knights' 'magic number' is 10 points. Even if the Sharks win on Thursday, their path to a Pacific title remains difficult, if not improbable. 

If a season with an expansion team leading their division has taught us anything, though -- it's that improbable is not impossible.  

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it.