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.

Bad offense, not bad officiating, is main culprit for Sharks' skid

Bad offense, not bad officiating, is main culprit for Sharks' skid

For just the second time this season, the San Jose Sharks have lost consecutive games.

It’s the first time since the club opened the season 0-2, and were outscored 9-4. San Jose played much better in Thursday’s loss to Florida and Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Boston than they did to start the campaign, but have now been on the wrong side of four goal reviews.

The Sharks have lost each of the last two games by two goals, so there’s an understandable temptation to chalk these losses up to questionable officiating. Yet even if you disregard the notion that the officials got each call right (which they did), it’s one that must be resisted.

Their actual lack of offense, not a perceived lack of good officiating, is the main culprit behind the losing streak.

Timo Meier’s goal on Saturday stands as San Jose’s lone tally on this three-game homestand. It’s not for a lack of trying: The Sharks pumped 72 shots on net in the last two games, but could not solve Roberto Luongo or Anton Khudobin.

You can blame the officiating in San Jose’s last two losses all you want, but a good offensive team would have converted subsequent chances to make up for the goals taken off the board. The Sharks have not been a good offensive team this season, and could not make up for it.

San Jose’s inability to finish chances has been their main weakness all season, but they were still able to win games thanks to their defense and goaltending. The latter’s lapsed at times over the last two games, and the former let them down on Saturday when Aaron Dell allowed three goals on only 20 shots.

But that, as well as the discussion around the recent officiating, only serves to mask the Sharks’ real issue. San Jose just simply cannot score.

They’ve only scored on 7.41 percent of their shots this season, according to Natural Stat Trick, which is the third-worst rate in the league. There’s too much talent on the roster to expect that to continue all season, but the Sharks faltered offensively down the stretch last season, too.

Plus, they’re relying significantly on players on the wrong side of 30. Brent Burns, 32, hasn’t scored a goal, and Joe Pavelski, 33, is on pace to score fewer than 20 goals.

He hasn’t failed to reach that mark in a decade. At some point, it must be asked: are the Sharks just unlucky, or is age catching up to their star players?

The answer is probably a bit of both. How much of a role either factor has played is up for debate, but that either has led to San Jose’s failure to score goals is not.

Poor officiating is easier to diagnose than a poor offense, but it’s the latter, not the former, that’s responsible for the Sharks’ most recent skid.

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

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USATSI

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

Martin Jones was a Boston Bruin for less than a week.

The “Original Six” franchise acquired Jones from the Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2015. Four days later, Jones was traded back into the Pacific Division, this time to Northern California.

The Sharks gave up a first round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly for Jones. It seemed like a fairly high price at the time, but it’s one San Jose was happy to pay: No goalie started more games than Jones over the last two seasons, and the team signed him to a five-year extension this summer.

The first Jones trade in 2015 set off a flood of goalie transactions, as five netminders were traded during Jones’ extremely brief Boston tenure. One of those was Anton Khudobin, who will start for the Bruins as Jones backs up Aaron Dell against  his “former team” on Saturday night.

Khudobin was traded from Carolina to Anaheim, where he started seven games before getting sent down to the AHL. He then signed with Boston in 2016, returning to his former club as the Bruins tried to fill the hole that trading Jones left behind entrenched starter Tuukka Rask.

Jones and Khudobin will have taken vastly different paths to their respective creases on Saturday night. The former enters the game as his club’s undisputed franchise goalie, and the latter the unheralded backup.

Naturally then, Khudobin’s been the better goaltender this season.

Among the 46 goalies that have played 200 five-on-five minutes this season, Khudobin’s .962 five-on-five save percentage was the best entering Saturday, according to Corsica.  So, too, is his .954 save percentage off of high-danger shots.

Jones, meanwhile, ranks 27th (.920) and 14th (.833) in those respective categories.

What does it all mean? For one, it’s early in the season, and the fact that Khudobin’s made seven fewer starts undoubtedly plays a role in his superior performance to Jones.

Mainly, it speaks to just how fickle goaltending can be.

The Bruins backup is arguably getting the nod Saturday night because of how bad the man ahead of him has been. Rask, once one of the league’s best goaltenders, has steadily declined over the last three years and reached a new low this season: This year, he’s 40th out of 46 qualifying goalies in five-on-five save percentage.

Jones has demonstrated this, too. He’s stopped a lower percentage of low-and-medium danger shots at even strength than the last two seasons, but has stopped a higher percentage of high-danger shots.

Plus, he’s played behind one of the league’s best penalty-killing teams after playing behind one of its worst last season, and has benefitted from a corresponding bump in his shorthanded save percentage.

So much of what a goalie does is out of their control. Yet who’s playing in front of them, what kind of shots they see, and how often they see those shots all can affect their performance.

Khudobin and Jones are living proof of that this season.