Sharks

Never a doubt: Sharks-Golden Knights a playoff preview

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AP

Never a doubt: Sharks-Golden Knights a playoff preview

When you looked at the schedule ahead of the season, you surely circled Golden Knights-Sharks on Feb. 7 and envisioned a measuring stick game...for the Sharks? Naturally, you thought Vegas and San Jose would hold the Pacific’s top two spots, and the former would lead the latter by...10 points?

Yes, just as everyone predicted, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights enter Thursday’s contest as the Western Conference’s best team, and the league’s third-best by points percentage. In other mass hysteria news, dogs and cats are now living together.

As any forlorn gambler can tell you, whether they bet on the hockey team or not: Vegas is no joke. The Sharks learned this firsthand in November, losing in overtime to the preseason longshots in a Black Friday matinee, when a three-goal comeback fell short.

Vegas entered that game as a pleasant surprise, leading the Pacific Division standings by a single point after the first 20 games. Since then, the league’s newest team has been a surprising standard-bearer.

Since Nov. 25, only the Bruins (22-4-4; 48 points) have a better record than the Golden Knights (21-8-3; 45 points). As is the case with any Vegas institution, there’s some luck involved, as their PDO (the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage) is the eighth-highest in the league over that span.

For the most part, though, they have the hallmarks of an elite team. The Golden Knights are sixth in five-on-five puck possession (52.39 corsi-for percentage, per Corsica Hockey), tied for fourth-most goals across all situations (102), tied for the sixth-fewest goals against (80), and third in penalty kill percentage (86.8 percent) since they last played the Sharks.

By those same measures, San Jose is 12th (51.05 corsi-for percentage), tied for sixth-most (97), tied for sixth-most (93), and 12th (82 percent). By no means have the Sharks been bad, as they’ve picked up the seventh-most points in the league since Nov. 25.

The Golden Knights have simply been better.

As a result, Thursday night’s contest will not only serve as arguably San Jose’s best barometer of their capabilities without Joe Thornton, but as a possible playoff preview. It just might be the start of a legitimate, albeit nascent rivalry.

Familiarity breeds contempt, and including Thursday, the Sharks and Golden Knights will play three more times this season. They’ll face each other twice in the final 10 games of their respective seasons, with seeding (in the case of San Jose) and a possible President’s Trophy (in the case of Vegas) likely on the line.

Much like the Golden Knights this season, that’s far more than anyone could have truly expected.

 

Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline

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AP

Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE --Brent Burns and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday for their third win in four games.

Mikkel Boedker and Marcus Sorensen also scored for the Sharks, who improved to 3-0-1 against the Canucks this season. Martin Jones stopped 29 shots.

Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks, who lost their sixth in seven games. Anders Nilsson made 40 stops.

Boedker scored at 8:41 of the first period, picking up a soft rebound from Tierney's shot.

Burns scored his 10th goal, tops among NHL defensemen, taking a pass from Joakim Ryan and sending a laser shot into the net just under five minutes into the second.

Sorensen scored his first goal since Dec. 23, punching it in with an assist from Justin Braun at 3:06 into the third. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had an assist in his third straight game, getting the second assist on Sorensen's goal.

Sedin scored at 6:43, taking a nice pass from Thomas Vanek that gave him clear shot into the net. It was Sedin's 14th goal, one shy of his total last season.

Tierney made it 4-1 after taking a nice pass from Burns with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

NOTES:Tim Heed was recalled from the AHL and joined a makeshift Sharks lineup, allowing Burns to play up front at times. ... Sharks C Logan Couture has points in four of his last five games. ... Boedker recorded games in consecutive games for the second time this season, and the first since Jan. 15-16. ... Sedin has five points against the Sharks this season and 45 in 69 games. He's recorded points in three straight.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Host Boston on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Dallas on Sunday.

Sharks co-prez: Original fin logo to 'start showing back up again'

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AP

Sharks co-prez: Original fin logo to 'start showing back up again'

Fans of the original set of San Jose Sharks logos can rejoice: The fin is coming back in a yet-to-be-announced capacity. 

The original secondary logo, a gray fin atop a teal background enclosed by a black circle, "will start showing back up again in a special surprise appearance next year," Sharks co-president Jonathan Becher told NBC Sports California in an interview with Brodie Brazil and alongside co-president John Tortora on Sharks Pregame Live. The logo appeared as a shoulder patch on the team's home and away jerseys from 1991-98, and on its black alternate jersey from 2001-07.

Becher did not elaborate what form that 'special surprise appearance' will take, but it's possible it will appear on an alternate jersey. In Adidas' first season as the league's jersey manufacturer, no teams have alternate jerseys this year, aside from the teams that played in the league's various outdoor games. 

That's reportedly set to change next season. 24-26 teams will have alternate jerseys, the league told Greg Wyshynski in June, and some teams will utilize previous designs. The Sharks wore a version of their original teal jersey as a 25th anniversary alternate during the 2015-16 season -- perhaps it will return next season? 

Becher also told NBC Sports California that the team's newest alternate logo, the 'yelling shark' featured on the shoulders of their current teal jerseys, will begin making more appearances. It will not replace the current logo, Becher said.