Sharks

Three takeaways: Sharks not concerned about potential rematch

Three takeaways: Sharks not concerned about potential rematch

SAN JOSE – There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the Sharks-Blues game at SAP Center on Thursday. That’s usually a good sign for the road team, and it was in this case, too, as St. Louis claimed a convincing 4-1 win. 

Still, we can find a few topics to discuss in our three takeaways…

1 – Worried about a potential rematch?

There’s a decent chance the Sharks and Blues will get to rematch their Western Conference Final series from a year ago in the first round. If San Jose surpasses the Wild and Blackhawks and gets the top seed, or the Blues move up to the first wild card position, it would make it much more likely.

Should the Sharks be worried about that, considering they were handled fairly easily by the Blues in the three-game season series?

“I’m not concerned about it,” Pete DeBoer said. “We’ll deal with that if we get them in the playoffs. I think if you go two games back we’re not very good, if you go the last 10 games against them we’re pretty good against them. I’m not worried about it.”

The Blues are surely doing something right against the Sharks. Since Jan. 1, two of San Jose's three lowest shot totals have been against St. Louis, including 23 shots on Jan. 14 (a 4-0 loss) and just 20 on Thursday, tied for a season-low.

Paul Martin said: “The last time we played them (on Jan. 14) was awhile ago, and two different teams I think from last time, but definitely we were not happy with our performance or the way we’ve been playing against them. We were off tonight, we didn’t have one of or better games, obviously. They did the job of bottling us up and not giving up a whole lot.”

2 – Burns going cold

It’s now been 11 games since Brent Burns has scored a goal, despite his registering 43 shots since Feb. 19. He still leads the Sharks with 70 points, but that’s now tied for seventh in the league, nine behind leaders Connor McDavid and Brad Marchand. He’s also just seven points ahead of Erik Karlsson for the NHL lead in scoring among defensemen, too. Is the Norris Trophy still a lock?

More concerning, though, is that Burns hasn’t been all that effective in his own end lately and is making some curious decisions with the puck and with his positioning. While Thursday’s game was a team loss – as we mention below, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun weren’t any better in terms of defensemen – it was Burns’ unforced turnover to Scottie Upshall in the neutral zone led to the Blues’ first score.

"When you pick off a pass from the best defenseman in the league," Upshall told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "and make them pay for it, it's a big added bonus for your team, so it was a big goal for us to get us going."

As the team’s most important player now, Burns’ game will be something to monitor over the next little while. 

3 – Tarasenko takes over

One of the biggest reasons that the Sharks got past the Blues in six games last season was keeping Vladimir Tarasenko under wraps. That didn’t happen on Thursday, as the Blues’ forward registered a game-high eight shots and 12 shot attempts while recording a power play goal and an empty netter.

His line, with Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny, was dominant while skating mostly against the Sharks’ top shutdown pair of Vlasic and Braun, as Stastny had five shots and Schwartz another two.

Blues coach Mike Yeo like his team’s game overall, as it responded from Wednesday’s loss in Anaheim.

"I thought we competed at a real high level tonight,” coach Mike Yeo told reporters. “Right from the drop of the puck, guys were paying a price for each other.”

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

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AP

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for his 74th career shutout and the Florida Panthers blanked the San Jose Sharks 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad.

Florida coach Bob Boughner won in his return to San Jose. He served as an assistant coach for the Sharks the last two years.

Luongo earned his first shutout of the season and first in 32 games against San Jose.

Martin Jones was nearly as good for the Sharks. He stopped 26 shots, but that wasn't enough to keep the Panthers from winning for the seventh time in their last eight trips to San Jose.

Sharks defenseman Tim Heed had a goal disallowed on a coach's challenge a little less than five minutes into the second period. Replays showed he came into contact with the puck just behind the blue line, making the play offside.

San Jose had another goal overturned after a replay review. Brent Burns took a hard shot that Luongo nearly caught but couldn't handle and it bounced along his pads. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one of three Sharks trying to poke at the puck and he used his stick to push both the puck and Luongo's pad into the net.

Sceviour scored a minute into the second after digging out the puck along the boards behind the net. He skated around the cage and poked a shot that hit Jones' pads. He took a second shot that got over the goalie's pads and went in.

Sceviour has four points in six games since returning from injury. He had two points in his first six games this season.

The Panthers, who have won three of four, added an insurance goal with less than eight minutes remaining. Radim Vrbata intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and played it to Jamie McGinn, who got Jones to commit before dishing to Bjugstad for the score.

NOTES: Panthers C Michael Haley received a warm ovation from Sharks fans. He played in San Jose the last couple of years. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed his 15th game with a lower-body injury, though he has been skating pain-free for the past two weeks. ... Florida center Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 10 games. ... The Sharks have not scored on their past 15 power plays.

UP NEXT

Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne was the ultimate Sharks villain

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AP

Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne was the ultimate Sharks villain

There are already a handful of Hockey Hall of Famers that had the Sharks’ number during their illustrious careers.

Ed Belfour followed up a forgettable teal tenure with two playoff series wins in two tries against San Jose, while Nicklas Lidstrom was classily dominant. Mike Modano scored his milestone 500th goal at what is now SAP Center, and Chris Pronger was loudly booed in every visit to San Jose.

None compare to Teemu Selanne, who joined them with his induction into the Hall of Fame on Monday night.

He mentioned the Sharks in his speech for all of 13 seconds, mentioning that he “had a chance to play with great players: Patrick Marleau, Owen Nolan, and many others.”

It was a forgettable, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment on an otherwise unforgettable night, and thus a neat encapsulation of his two-plus years in San Jose.

Somehow, his Sharks stint was even more infamous than Belfour’s. He was traded to San Jose for fan favorite Jeff Friesen in 2001, and was productive: 64 goals in 176 games are nothing to sneeze at.

Selanne cemented himself as a goat, rather than the G.O.A.T, with his lack of production in the postseason. 10 points in 18 playoff games wasn’t enough to get San Jose out of the second round.

His wraparound miss in a game 7 loss to Colorado in 2002 is etched into the memories of Sharks fans, as one of many missed opportunities for a franchise so often defined by misfortune.

Pronger likely would empathize with how frequently boo-birds flew upon Selanne’s subsequent returns to San Jose. Selanne was an all-time great that wasn’t especially great when he played for the Sharks, and the SAP Center crowd reacted accordingly.

It didn’t help that he was great against the Sharks.

No player in NHL history has scored more goals or points against the Sharks than the Finnish Flash.  His 99 points are 24 clear of the next closest player, fellow Hall of Famer Joe Sakic.

Only 27 of those points came after he left San Jose, but he added two more in the Ducks’ first round upset over the President’s Trophy-winning Sharks in 2009. Seeing Selanne skate with the Stanley Cup over his head in an Anaheim jersey only added insult to injury.

So Selanne not only stands above most of his peers in the Hall of Fame, but the rest of them as well, as the ultimate Sharks villain. Not because of anything he did after the whistle or said off of the ice, of course.

No, Selanne earned that status because of the points he scored against the Sharks, and the ones he didn’t for them.