Sharks not satisfied, in prime position to win Stanley Cup

Sharks not satisfied, in prime position to win Stanley Cup

SAN JOSE – The offseason is a time for NHL players to unwind and forget about hockey for a little bit. For the Sharks, as successful as their 2015-16 season was, it ended on a sour note in a six-game Stanley Cup Final defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. After nine straight months of hockey, downtime was necessary.

Joel Ward headed back to his hometown of Toronto for the summer, which isn’t exactly the best place to not think about hockey. But not even Ward could have been prepared for what he saw one day while out for a stroll down one of Toronto’s busy thoroughfares.

“I was walking down the street with my girlfriend to go get a burger or something. I just happened to sneak a peek at a bar downtown and it was [Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley’s Stanley Cup party],” Ward said. “I had to go chug a beer when I got home.”

Ward and his teammates had a short summer, and are now aiming to finish the job with a championship. They are in prime position to do it, too, returning virtually their entire roster and upgrading both the forward and defense positions with offseason adds Mikkel Boedker and David Schlemko.

San Jose was exposed as being a bit too slow against the Penguins, and Boedker’s biggest asset is his speed. Schlemko is much more mobile than the departed Roman Polak on the back end, too.

Joe Thornton said: “Mikkel flies up and down the wing. He creates a lot of space. David in the back moves pucks real well and he skates real well. We’re going to have a little bit faster team this year, for sure.”

The message from management is clear – the Sharks are still going for it.

“We had an unbelievable year, but we’re not satisfied,” Logan Couture said. “We want to get back there and we want to win it. We believe in this room that we’re capable of doing that this year. Adding pieces like that only helps us.”

The Sharks will also be more used to their head coach from the outset, as Pete DeBoer enters his second season in charge. Last year under its new coaching staff, the team was inconsistent through Christmastime with an 18-18-2 record through its first 38 games. The Sharks only really took in the second half.

Paul Martin said: “It’s a lot easier when you know what to expect and the way [DeBoer] likes to run practices and what he expects out of you day in and day out.”

It’s an advantage for DeBoer, too.

“Compared to starting last year right from scratch, we’re starting almost where we left off last year and we can build on that. That’s nice,” DeBoer said on the first day of camp. “The tough part is you don’t get to start where you ended last year. You have to start right at the bottom of the mountain again and start climbing.”

[KURZ: Ask the experts: Sharks' aging core a concern?]

Perhaps the biggest concern headed into the season is that the Sharks will again be counting on some aging players in important roles. Despite suggestions early in camp that there were some prospects primed to break through to the NHL full time, none of them ended up making the opening night roster. Former ninth overall pick Timo Meier could get to the Sharks at some point, but an illness has him sidelined for several more weeks.

Still, the Sharks have done an admirable job injecting some youth into their lineup. Boedker should be entering his prime at 26. Couture is still just 27, and played the best hockey of his life in last year’s playoffs. Joonas Donskoi, 24, came out of nowhere to establish himself as a top six forward last season, and both Tomas Hertl, 22, and Chris Tierney, 22, made major strides in their game last season.

Thornton, Ward, Martin and Patrick Marleau are all at least 35, and captain Joe Pavelski is 32, but general manager Doug Wilson is confident they can all continue to play at a high level while the youth surrounding them should continue to improve.

“We’ve got some older guys, certainly, but they play young. They love the game,” Wilson said. “I don’t think we’re an old team, I don’t think we’re a young team. I think we’ve got a group of players that are very experienced, and I think they respect each other. 

“Like any hockey team that has success, you’re a sum of all your parts.”

Where does Evander Kane's four-goal game rank in Sharks history?

Where does Evander Kane's four-goal game rank in Sharks history?

Sharks winger Evander Kane returns to his hometown of Vancouver on Saturday, fresh off of doing something a Vancouver-born player had not done in nearly 30 years. 

On Friday, Kane became the first such player to score four goals in an NHL game since Hockey Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson, who scored four goals with the Edmonton Oilers against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 19, 1988. It was also the first hat-trick of Kane's career, and just the fourth four-goal game in Sharks history. 

The latter point got us thinking, where does Kane's four-goal effort rank among those games? Using a rigorous, highly scientific process (read: the thoughts of this writer), we've come up with the definitive ranking. 

Without further adieu, we start with another power forward acquired in a midseason trade. 

4. Owen Nolan (Dec. 19, 1995 at Anaheim)

The Final Line: Four goals (Three power play goals), One assist, Six shots on goal

You never forget your first, so we begin with Owen Nolan, the first player to accomplish the feat in franchise history. If not for Kane and another entrant on this list (no spoilers), Nolan would still be the fastest to do it, scoring four goals in just his 27th game and just under two months after the Sharks acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche.

Nolan struck quickly throughout. He opened the scoring just 1:22 into the game against the then-Mighty Ducks, then scored his second only 57 seconds into the second period. His third and fourth, both on the power play, came 34 seconds apart in that same period. 

Just as Kane did on Friday, Nolan scored as many goals as the opposing team in a 7-4 win. It didn't quite have the same impact on the playoff race, however, as San Jose picked up its seventh win....of the entire season (in its 34th game) thanks to Nolan.

3. Patrick Marleau (Jan. 23, 2017 at Colorado)

The Final Line: Four goals (including the game-winner), Six shots on goal

The 1,459th time was the charm for the longest-tenured player in Sharks history, and the then-37-year-old Marleau became the second-oldest since 1987 to score four in a game. The oldest, Martin St. Louis, actually reached the feat against the Sharks as a 38-year-old in 2014. 

Marleau scored all four goals in a span of 13-and-a-half minutes in the third period, which began with the game tied at one. Three of those goals constituted a natural hat trick, in just a 7:42 stretch.

This game also jumpstarted Marleau's pursuit of a major milestone, as the goals were No. 494, 495, 496, and 497 of his career. He scored No. 500 a week-and-a-half later, but the four-goal game gave Marleau yet another signature moment in teal. 

2. Evander Kane (Mar. 16, 2018 at Calgary)

The Final Line: Four goals, Seven shots on goal 

Of all the players to score four goals in Sharks history, Kane certainly had the best timing. With San Jose in the thick of a playoff race and in need of a win, the newly-acquired forward delivered. 

He only needed eight games to score four goals for the first time in teal, but needed 565 for the first hat-trick of his career. The exuberance (and relief) was palpable after Kane scored his third, and that goal put the Sharks up by two. 

The desperate Flames, now four points out of the playoffs, would never get closer than that again, and Kane essentially put the game out of reach with his fourth goal 62 seconds into the third period. No Sharks player has scored four goals in a playoff game, but this one comes the closest. 

1. Tomas Hertl (Oct. 9, 2013 vs New York Rangers)

The Final Line: Four goals (One power play goal), Seven shots on goal

In just his third NHL game, and in front of his griflriend and mother visiting from the native Czech Republic, Tomas Hertl became then the fourth-youngest player in NHL history (now the sixth-youngest) to score a hat-trick-plus-one. If not for Auston Matthews scoring four in his debutHertl has arguably the most memorable four-goal game by a young player to his name. 

Of all the Sharks to score four in a game, Hertl did it the most efficiently. He only played 11:12 in that game against the Rangers, and still scored four goals on seven shots. 

Yes, it was in an October blowout, but no other four-goal game has had the same impact on the rest of the hockey world. From a fourth goal tailor-made to go viral, to the ensuing Hot Takes ("Hertl's disrespecting the game!") and subsequent jokes (Joe Thornton's still looking for four goals) it spawned, Hertl captivated the hockey world in a way no other Shark that's scored four has, and all by living his "dream, no reality."

Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night

Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night


CALGARY, Alberta -- Evander Kane scored four goals to lead the San Jose Sharks past the Calgary Flames 7-4 on Friday night.

Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who have won three straight and four of five. Kevin Lebanc and Eric Fehr also scored, and Martin Jones made 30 saves.

It was the first NHL hat trick for Kane, acquired from Buffalo just before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Micheal Ferland had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who are four points out of a playoff spot. Troy BrouwerMark Jankowski and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary.

Three nights after stopping all 28 shots he faced against the Oilers, Calgary goalie Mike Smith had a rough outing as he made just 14 saves before being replaced by David Rittich early in the third period. Rittich went on to stop all seven shots he faced in a relief appearance.

The Sharks opened the scoring six minutes into the first period when Kane's wrist shot beat Smith to the glove side.

The Flames pulled even at 16:42 when Brouwer chipped a pass from Curtis Lazar into the top corner behind Jones. Matt Stajan stole the puck from Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon behind the San Jose net to get the play started.

Jankowski took a pass from linemate Garnet Hathaway and wired a shot to the top corner, glove side behind Jones to put Calgary up 2-1 at 2:10 of the second period.

Kane then redirected Dillon's point shot past Smith at 6:29 before Gaudreau cut into the slot and snapped a shot past Jones at 10:16 to put Calgary back up by a goal.

That lead lasted just 1:26 as Lebanc fired a shot from a sharp angle into the top corner past Smith to pull the Sharks into a 3-all tie.

Kane completed his hat trick at 16:32 when he swatted in his own rebound before Hertl poked the puck through Smith's legs with 1:58 remaining before the second intermission.

The Sharks added an insurance goal 62 seconds into the third when Kane redirected a pass from Joe Pavelski past Smith.

Ferland backhanded a shot past Jones to pull Calgary within two goals with 5:35 left in regulation and Rittich on the bench for an extra attacker. Fehr rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal 1:37 later.

NOTES: Jankowski suited up for the Flames after sitting out Tuesday's 1-0 win over Edmonton. Fellow forward Kris Versteeg returned to Calgary's lineup after missing the past 49 games with a hip injury. ... Gaudreau extended his point streak to six games (three goals, five assists).


Sharks: At the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Flames: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.