Sharks

Five observations from Sharks' historic win to force Game 7 vs. Vegas

Five observations from Sharks' historic win to force Game 7 vs. Vegas

Easter Sunday 2019 will live in the history books for San Jose’s hockey team.  The hope is that it gets eclipsed with elation from the upcoming Game 7. But as for Game 6, it was a storybook thriller in all senses.  

Here are some takeaways from a 2-1 double-overtime win, where franchise history was made on a couple of different fronts.

Jones saves the day

Martin Jones made 58 saves. That’s never been done in any Sharks game, regular or postseason. Ever. What a statement from a goalie who was put on the ropes after Games 3 and 4 in Las Vegas.  Pulled in both, and not widely favored by critics to even be the starter in Game 5.  But Pete DeBoer made the bold statement, and Jones has now responded twice. What he did the last time in San Jose is not a “one-off”, and if the series finale turns out to be a goalie battle, you have to feel good about the guy in Teal.

First-timer

Tomas Hertl’s double-overtime, short-handed, game-winner… was also the first ever in Stanley Cup Playoff history.

Again, ever.  

It had been done before in single-overtime, but never after that. It was amazing to see Hertl fed with the puck and cross center ice seeming to lose some gas. Instead, he snapped one past Marc-Andre Fleury, and just like that, became the hero for a second straight game.  He predicted a Game 7, during that interview after Game 5… and here we are.

Another first-timer

Never in history had the Sharks been down in a series 3-1, and forced a seventh game. Until now. Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done for San Jose as it relates to advancing. But the way this series has played out in regard to momentum should clearly give them all the mental edge heading into Tuesday night. Las Vegas could have escaped the first round long ago, but now after missing on two opportunities, they have to come back to California again.  

Feelin' it, stealin' it

The Sharks stole one, on Sunday. They got out-shot 59-29. They got out-drawn 56% to 44%. San Jose didn’t always start with the puck, or have the puck, and didn’t always dominate gameplay.  But they did collapse in front of Jones and support their goalie with excellent net-front presence. It’s rare that the offense has a slow night, but they did, and fortunately, it wasn’t costly.

[RELATED: Hertl's double-OT winner in Game 6 highlights breakout season]

#TwoOrFewer

#TwoOrFewer lives on. The Sharks were 34-0 this season entering Sunday in games where they allowed two goals or fewer to the opponent. In fact, both their wins in this series had been earned that way, with respective 5-2 victories. But tonight, had Las Vegas won after regulation, it would have been their first loss while allowing two or fewer… and it would have also ended their season. Instead, the trend moves on to 35-0, and the thought has to be that if San Jose can win Game 7, it will largely be predicated on their play without the puck.
 

NHL free agency: Will Erik Karlsson's health affect Sharks signing him?

NHL free agency: Will Erik Karlsson's health affect Sharks signing him?

SAN JOSE – Ever since arriving in San Jose last September, Erik Karlsson’s tenure as a Shark has been riddled with questions.

Questions as to when he would get on the scoreboard when he started off the season pointless. Questions as to why he was participating in the NHL All-Star Game when he was too hurt to pencil into his team’s roster on a nightly basis. Questions as to whether the Sharks would sign him to a deal that would keep him in teal past the 2019 season – which became even more of a mystery when he tweeted out a message to Sharks fans, thanking them for the season.

The latter question will be answered in good time with San Jose’s postseason run over and free agency on the horizon. Now, come the questions as to how much Karlsson’s injuries from this past season play into what happens to him next.

“I’m still in the process of figuring all that out so I can’t really give you a straight answer,” Karlsson said during exit interviews when asked about his overall health. “It’s nothing major. It’s just going to take some time and figure everything out. It should be something that’s easy to deal with. That’s as much as I know.”

Karlsson missed 29 games over the regular season with a suspected groin injury, which first took him out of the Sharks’ lineup just before the All-Star break. Following his return in the final game of the regular season, the conversation continued into the playoffs regarding how healthy he really was.

While Karlsson appeared more and more healthy as the Sharks advanced through two rounds of the playoffs, he began to show signs he was ailing during the Western Conference final, and eventually missed Game 6.
 
The defenseman didn’t expand on the extent to which he was injured, only saying he was one of many Sharks’ skater who wasn’t playing at 100-percent.

“Everybody is dealing with something,” Karlsson insisted. “You have to play through things.” 

Karlsson also didn’t give any indication as to what kind of rehab process he will have to go through over the offseason, although he insisted his health wouldn't get in his way.

“All I know is it’s not going to be anything that will be a problem moving forward,” he said. “I’m going to be able to have a normal summer with training and everything and getting ready. That’s great.”

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told the press he didn’t know yet if any injured players on the team would need surgery in the offseason, including Karlsson. When asked if Karlsson’s health played a factor in whether the team tried to sign him to a long-term deal, Wilson didn’t lean one way or the other.

“I’m still in the reflection mode of this year, just starting to meet with players, meet with coaches,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of guys who have contracts up, and out of respect to them, we don’t discuss that.”

[RELATED: Sharks emerge from playoff run with lengthy injury list]

Karlsson does appear interested, however, in testing out the market.

“I’ve worked hard for 10 years in this league to be in the position that I’m in. I’ve earned that,” he said of being an unrestricted free agent. “I’ll do everything I can to make the best decision for myself and for the team that is going to want me.”

How much his health plays into that decision, still remains to be seen. 

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

karlssonbyeap.jpg
AP

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

The Erik Karlsson era could be coming to an end after only one season in San Jose. 

Karlsson becomes a free agent at the end of Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks' star defenseman sent a thank you note to the team's fans and the whole Bay Area on Friday. 

San Jose acquired Karlsson, who turns 29 on May 31, from the Senators for four players and two draft picks on Sept. 13, 2018. The two-time Norris Trophy award winner was named to his fourth straight NHL All-Star Game in his first season as a Shark. 

Karlsson played in 53 regular-season games this year, his lowest since the 2012-13 season. He tallied 45 points -- three goals, 42 assists. 

Injuries, however, played a large role in Karlsson's season. He missed 27 of the Sharks' final 33 regular-season games with various ailments. And he missed the Sharks' season-ending Game 6 loss to the Blues in the Western Conference final.

[RELATED: Karlsson expected to be pursued by Rangers]

Karlsson is expected to be pursued by multiple teams this offseason, including the Sharks. But he could have just said his last goodbye to The Tank and all its fans in San Jose.