McGinn thriving with Colorado


McGinn thriving with Colorado

SAN JOSE Its been quite awhile since 23-year-old Avalanche forward Jamie McGinn has been on this kind of a hot streak. And it took a departure from San Jose for him to do it.

Maybe in junior hockey, McGinn said, when asked the last time he's been on such a run.

The winger has eight goals and four assists in 13 games with Colorado since he was sent East as part of a deal for Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi on Feb. 27, playing with skilled center Paul Stastny and David Jones.
KURZ: Sharks-Avalance: What to Watch For

Im not going to think about it too much. Im just going to continue to go out there and take every game like its a new game and continue to work hard. You dont want to jinx anything, you want to continue to work.

McGinn and the Avalanche arrived in San Jose on Sunday, giving him a chance to catch up with his old teammates. He had dinner with Logan Couture, Colin White, Torrey Mitchell, Ryane Clowe and Jason Demers last night.
KURZ: Reunion night at The Tank

On Monday morning, though, he was saying all the right things about a game that is essentially a must-win for his club. The Sharks and Avalanche each have 86 points and are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs, and Colorado has just five games left as opposed to San Joses seven.

Its hockey, trades happen. You can be buddies off the ice, but once youre on the ice youve got to forget about it and worry about whats at hand," McGinn said. "With five games, every night is important, and you cant take a night off.

Whether you believe him or not, McGinn said that he hasnt thought about why the trade occurred in the first place. He was in the midst of a breakout year, and the deadline deal caught many by surprise, including him. Its still early, but its hard not to view it as a sweetheart of a deal for Colorado, even with Winniks improved play in the last week.

Im just forgetting about it. This is kind of a surreal moment, that you are traded and just seeing your old teammates again and being back at the Shark Tank, McGinn said. This was a special building to me, and the fans are energetic. I enjoyed playing here. Hopefully I can continue that in an Avalanche uniform, as well.

I havent thought about it. Its done and over with. Im happy, it worked out for me, and Im just going to continue to play.

REISS: Will the real Sharks please swim forward?

McGinn spent his time in San Jose this season generally on the third line with Mitchell and Michal Handzus. He was playing an average of 12:33 a night with the Sharks, but has seen his ice time jump by more than four minutes to 16:38 since joining Colorado.

Hes also getting a look on the top power play unit. Of his eight goals, three are with a man advantage.

With the ice time comes more confidence and you feel more a part of the game, he said. Im just trying to take it in stride, grab it, and go. Im just going to continue to take the ice time as it comes, continue to work hard, and hope that the success continues.

McGinn is also pleasing his head coach, Joe Sacco.

Jamies been excellent since hes been here, Sacco said. Hes played great for us. Hes been a very consistent player. I know that hes produced a lot offensively for us, hes got eight goals in 12 games, but I think even more than that hes solidified a line with Paul Stastny and David Jones. Hes been a real good fit with that group, and theyve been playing very well together lately.

Finally, McGinn was asked if he wouldnt mind sticking it to his old club tonight.

I mean, yeah, I want to win. We need the points just as bad as they do. Trade or no trade, both teams need the points, and thats all thats in my mind right now tonight is getting this win. We need it to be in the playoffs, so this is huge.

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens


There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

The San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens could not be more different in terms of tradition. But, on the ice this season, they couldn’t be more similar.

Both teams have placed their faith in a goalie that wears #31. The top defensemen on each team, Brent Burns and Shea Weber, are 32 and signed until 2025 and 2026, respectively. Tomas Hertl and Alex Galchenyuk are 2012 first round picks playing on the wing after being drafted as centers. Tomas Plekanec and Joe Thornton are favorites on the wrong side of 30, who may head elsewhere next summer.  Heck, both teams miss defenseman David Schlemko, who San Jose lost in the expansion draft and was eventually traded to Montreal, where he hasn’t yet played due to injury.

And both have struggled mightily so far. San Jose and Montreal have combined to win just two games, and sit 29th and 30th, respectively, in goals scored this season. It’s hard to imagine the Sharks and Canadiens scoring so little with all of that talent, but they can’t bank on good fortune, either.

Something’s got to give when the two face off at SAP Center tonight. After tonight, one team will feel much better about themselves, and the other team will be much closer to hitting the panic button.

That’s where the critical difference lies: Montreal’s already hit it, and San Jose probably won’t.

Last season, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien in February. Seven months after essentially siding with Therrien and trading star defenseman P.K. Subban, Bergevin ended Therrien’s time in Montreal, too. He surely can’t fire another coach, but a Galchenyuk trade is reportedly a possibility, according to TSN.

The Sharks, on the other hand, likely won’t do any of that. Even with the burden of high expectations in his tenure, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s never traded away a star player or fired a coach midseason. Even though Vegas pegs Peter DeBoer as the odds-on favorite to lose his job, it’s hard to envision Wilson making a change behind the bench during the year. He didn’t in 2015 when Todd McLellan seemed to lose the room, so why would he now?

Patience is what truly separates the Sharks and Canadiens, and that difference will likely determine how each front office reacts if their teams continue to struggle. Wilson’s shown a willingness to swing for the fences under these circumstances. He acquired Joe Thornton in 2005, after all.

But if you’re waiting on Wilson to take a page out of Bergevin’s book and fire the coach or trade away a key piece approaching their prime? Don’t hold your breath.

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Saturday’s loss to the New York Islanders is one with which Sharks fans have become all too familiar.

The Sharks held a decided 41-23 edge on the shot count, but trailed 3-1 on the scoreboard. Since 2005, no team in the league has lost more games (59) in which they shot 35 or more times, and held their opponent to 25 or fewer shots.

No, your instincts haven’t deceived you over the Joe Thornton era: San Jose has lost a lot of games where they’ve otherwise outplayed their opponent. Of course, they’ve won plenty of those games too. More often than not, in fact, winning 72 of 131 times under those circumstances.

Frustration under those circumstances became readily apparent in the second period on Saturday, when Joe Pavelski broke his stick over Thomas Greiss’ net. The captain had plenty of reason to be unhappy, as his goalless drought to start the season has mirrored his team’s inability to finish at even strength.

So far this season, only Dallas and Montreal have scored on a lower percentage of their shots at even strength than San Jose, according to Natural Stat Trick. Both the Stars and Canadiens, unsurprisingly, are seventh in their respective divisions. The Sharks are sixth in the Pacific, thanks only to the still-winless Coyotes.

This early in the season, bad results can mask a strong process. They can’t finish, but the Sharks have been, statistically, one of the league’s best puck possession teams at even strength. That can happen over such a short stretch, but that’s easy to lose sight of when the team’s sitting in the division’s basement.

Right now, the Sharks just aren’t scoring enough at even strength, even as they’re playing well elsewhere. The power play’s begun to find an identity, particularly on the Kevin Labanc-led second unit. The penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal since allowing three in the season opener, and have climbed all the way to 13th in the league.

If the Sharks continue to play this way, the goals, and wins, should come. They may not, of course, especially if Peter DeBoer struggles to find combinations that click for more than a game at a time. But eventually, the results should align with the process.

Saturday night was “one of those games” that have been surprisingly common in recent Sharks history, but it shouldn’t be chalked up as anything more than an amusing anomaly. Sometimes, one team is better, and still finds a way to lose.  

Sometimes, it truly is that simple.