Sharks

NHL Entry Draft need-to-knows

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NHL Entry Draft need-to-knows

The 2012 NHL Entry Draft takes place on Friday and Saturday this weekend in Pittsburgh, PA. The first round commences at 4:00 p.m. PST on Friday and will be broadcast in the United States on the NBC Sports Network, while rounds two through seven are on Saturday starting 7:00 a.m. on the NHL Network.Here are a few things to know
The Sharks have the 17th overall pick in the first round, and 55th overall pick in the second round. Should they use them both, it will be the first time since 2007 they have drafted two players in the top two rounds. That year, the Sharks drafted Logan Couture (ninth overall) and Nick Petrecki (28th overall), both in the first round.The Sharks have never drafted in the 17th position, and should they keep the pick, it will be the highest theyve drafted since they chose Couture in 2007.San Jose has a total of six picks, including one choice in the fifth round, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. It currently has no third or fourth round choice.Current Sharks drafted by the club (who finished the season on the active roster) include Tommy Wingels (2008, 6th round); Jason Demers (2008, 7th round); Couture, Justin Braun (2007, 7th round); Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2005, 2nd round); Thomas Greiss (2004, 3rd round); Torrey Mitchell (2004; 4th round); Joe Pavelski (2003, 7th round); Ryane Clowe (2001, 6th round); Douglas Murray (1999, 8th round); and Patrick Marleau (1997, 1st round). Brad Stuart was drafted third overall by the Sharks in 1998.Nashville picks 37th overall in the second round. The pick originally belonged to Minnesota, was sent to San Jose as part of the Brent Burns trade last summer, and then flipped to Tampa Bay in return for Dominic Moore. The Predators acquired the pick as part of the trade for goalie Anders Lindback earlier this month.The draft returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since 1997, when Joe (Boston) and Marleau were the top two picks, respectively.Thornton is the lone player from the 1997 draft to accumulate more than 1,000 career points (1,078), and his 754 assists also ranks first. Marleau leads in games played (1,117).The Sharks other first round pick in 1997 in Pittsburgh was Scott Hannan (23rd overall).Nine players from the 2011 draft played in the NHL this past season, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Round 1, Pick 1); Gabriel Landeskog (Round 1, Pick 2); Adam Larsson (Round 1, Pick 4); Sean Couturier (Round 1, Pick 8); and Andrew Shaw (Round 5, Pick 139).The Consol Energy Center opened on August 2, 2010, with the first game on Oct. 7 vs. Philadelphia.The Sharks have played just one game at Consol Energy Center, the new home of the Penguins. They won 3-2 on Feb. 23, 2011, led by two goals from Marleau. They did not visit Pittsburgh this past season.The statue of Mario Lemieux outside of the Consol Energy Center took 15 months
to design and construct, and was transported across the country from California to Pittsburgh on a flat bed truck over six days.Three teams have a pair of first round picks: Washington, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. Washingtons 11 picks total is a league-high.

Sharks have tall task avoiding holiday hangover in Vegas

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AP

Sharks have tall task avoiding holiday hangover in Vegas

Once they entered the league, many joked that the Vegas Golden Knights would have the best home-ice advantage in the league.

Sure, the novelty of a new team would get fans excited, but it was the team’s presence on the Las Vegas Strip that would give the expansion team an edge. After all, they call it “Sin City” for a reason, and it’s not for the ride in.

Nobody could have expected them to be this good at home.

The Golden Knights are 8-1-0 at T-Mobile Arena, and have the league’s highest winning percentage at home. They’ve outscored opponents by 18 goals, and their 4.33 goals per home game is the third-best mark in the entire league.

The Sharks will thus face their toughest road test of the season on Friday night, in a game that they’re almost designed to lose. Early afternoon games mean there’s no morning skate, but an early afternoon game the day after Thanksgiving? In Las Vegas?

Blackjack players have better luck hitting on 20.

In fact, Vegas’ home slate is littered with early starts: 12 of their 41 home games occur before the traditional 7-or-7:30 p.m. slot. Some of that is undoubtedly due to travel, of course, as the Sharks will play on the first night of a back-to-back on Friday.

But the effect is nonetheless apparent: T-Mobile Arena has become a fortress.

The same can be said about any number of arenas in cities known for their nightlife, such as the Miami Heat’s home at American Airlines Arena, located less than 10 miles from South Beach. Vegas is another matter entirely.

It doesn’t help that the Golden Knights have, home ice advantage aside, played like a playoff team. Adjusting for score effects and venue, Vegas ranks 13th and ninth, respectively, in the two major puck possession metrics: corsi-for percentage (shot attempts) and fenwick-for percentage (unblocked shot attempts).

They’ve also had luck that gamblers on the strip would envy, thriving despite being down to fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace because of injuries to the goalies ahead of him. Vegas has played extremely well in front of him in spite of that, and have won three straight since getting shellacked in Edmonton 10 days ago.

In spite of almost every piece of available logic heading into the season, the Vegas Golden Knights are good. Almost every piece, of course, because their home-ice advantage is simultaneously the most logical thing in the world.

In Las Vegas, it usually doesn’t pay to bet against the house.

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

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USATSI

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

The San Jose Sharks woke up this Thanksgiving and found themselves in a playoff spot, albeit barely. 

They hold the second and final wild card spot by the thinnest of margins, edging out the Colorado Avalanche not on points, games played, regulation and overtime wins, but a single goal in the goal differential column. 

As early as it is, it’s a critical time to be in playoff position. Since the NHL expanded to 30 teams in 2000, 79 percent of teams holding playoff spots on Thanksgiving made the postseason. 

If the Sharks avoid becoming a member of the dreaded 21 percent, they’ll have two players to thank, more than anyone else, for their good fortune: Logan Couture and Martin Jones. 

Couture, along with Joonas Donskoi, seems to be the only Shark unaffected by a team-wide scoring bug. Even as he’s cooled off slightly, his 11 goals are still tied for 10th-most in the league. 

He’s held a positive share of puck possession on the ice, despite starting the fourth-lowest percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone among Sharks forwards that have played at least 50 minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey

Couture also leads the team in power play scoring with three goals, and is one of only three San Jose players that’s scored multiple times on the man advantage. It’s hard to imagine the league’s fourth-worst power play (15.1 percent) getting worse, but it undoubtedly would be without the 28-year-old.

While Couture has stood out among a hapless offense, Jones has led one of the league’s best defensive units. The Sharks are among the best teams at limiting shots and scoring chances across all situations, but Jones has not let them down. 

Although his .922 even-strength save percentage is 27th among 51 goalies that have played at least 200 minutes, San Jose’s given him a razor thin margin of error. He had the fifth-lowest goal support of any goalie entering last night, as statistician Darin Stephens noted, and his play has been good enough to keep the Sharks in games in spite of that. 

Jones has also led the way for the league’s best penalty kill, posting a .940 save percentage in shorthanded situations. That’s the best mark among goalies that have faced at least 80 shots on the penalty kill, according to Stephens.

The sustainability of Jones’ penalty kill dominance and Couture’s 20.8 shooting percentage is an open question, but their importance to the team early in the season cannot be overstated. They’ve helped keep the Sharks afloat, and in a playoff spot with history on their side at the critical Thanksgiving mark. 

The Sharks need to not only let them have extra helpings during their holiday feast, but find a way to give them more help on the ice too.