Kevin Labanc's surprising emergence on the power play


Kevin Labanc's surprising emergence on the power play

Given their respective scouting reports, you may have thought Thursday night's box score mixed up Kevin Labanc and Joe Thornton’s final stat lines.

Labanc, the supposed sniper, finished with three assists and just one goal -- the game-winner in overtime against the Vancouver Canucks. Thornton, the alleged assists man, scored two goals and picked up a single assist. 

What shouldn’t come as a surprise is that both players did significant damage on the power play. Thornton’s long been an elite player with an opponent (or two) sitting in the penalty box, and Labanc’s emerging as one. 

Only five players that have played a minimum of 50 minutes on the power play have scored points at a higher rate there than Labanc (9.19 points per 60 minutes, according to Corsica Hockey). He’s not padding his stats with secondary assists, either, as only the same number has scored primary points at a higher rate (7.15 per 60).

He’s in elite company, as the five players that score primary points on the power play at a higher rate are James Van Riemdsyk, Blake Wheeler, Brock Boeser, Filip Forsberg, and Steven Stamkos. Plus, only two players are picking up primary assists at a higher rate: Wheeler and Josh Bailey, the NHL’s assists leader entering Friday.

Perhaps most impressively, Labanc’s been productive in fairly limited minutes. He’s only seventh on the Sharks in total ice time on the power play. He has also played the fewest minutes of any player in the top 10 in primary scoring rate, nearly 18 fewer minutes than the next closest player.

Only three Sharks have scored more power play points than Labanc, and they’ve all played at least 40 more minutes on the power play. Thornton’s the only player with more primary power play points than Labanc, and he’s nearly doubled (110.73 minutes) the second-year forward’s ice time (58.78).

The 22-year-old’s been a pivotal part of the Sharks’ resurgent power play, which has now scored in each of the last seven games. Labanc’s assisted on four of San Jose’s last six power play goals, including two of three on Thursday. 

Labanc has faced his fair share of adversity this season, breaking a 23-game goalless drought against Vancouver and spending a brief stint in the AHL with the Barracuda. Now, Labanc’s carved out a niche, and has established himself as a top playmaker on what has become one of the league’s best power plays. 

The Sharks may have expected him to do so with his shot, rather than his passing ability, but they’ll surely take it either way.

Sharks' Evander Kane announces daughter's birth after 'tough journey'


Sharks' Evander Kane announces daughter's birth after 'tough journey'

Just over a year after losing their daughter during pregnancy, Sharks forward Evander Kane and his wife, Anna, welcomed another daughter into the world.

The Kanes announced the birth of their daughter, Kensington Ava, on Thursday on social media. Evander Kane said his daughter was born on July 3. 

"My wife Anna is a rockstar, the strength and love she has displayed over the last 18 months," Kane wrote on Twitter. "We want to thank everyone who has reached out during this period in support of our family and (we) appreciate the kind words throughout this journey. I'm so proud of my daughter, it's tough to put into words how much she means to me."

Kane thanked the Sharks, their fans, his friends and family "for their overwhelming love" during a difficult time. Last March, Kane announced that their daughter, Eva, passed away 26 weeks into Anna's pregnancy.

"You gave us all, especially your mom and I, something to be excited about," Kane wrote of Eva on Twitter on March 14, 2019. "And though we are devastated that you couldn't stay with us longer, your mom and I will always cherish the time we had with your beautiful soul. Your spirit will give us strength, your love will give us comfort. We will love you forever."

The Sharks, San Jose teammate Mario Ferraro and Hockey Diversity Alliance co-founder Akim Aliu all commented on Kane's Instagram post on Thursday.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Tomas Hertl has a huge year ahead of him. As he returns from ACL and MCL surgery, he and his wife Aneta are expecting the birth of their first child in November.

Sharks fans everywhere can't wait for No. 48 to get back on the ice. But how did he pick that number? It’s quite simple.

“They give it to me,” he wrote in a recent NHLPA questionnaire.

Enough said.

But before Hertl was the Sharks’ All-Star center, he had other aspirations.

Believe it or not, he wrote in the questionnaire that he wanted to be an architect if he wasn’t going to be a hockey player. But he was born to play hockey.

His dad, Jaroslav, during the winter in his native in Prague, would create nets (measuring the perfect size) on the frozen ponds near where he lived. Hertl’s dad would even kick off skaters if they were recreationally using the area where he wanted to play hockey.

[RELATED: Sharks avoid nightmare scenario in 2020 NHL Draft lottery]

As much as Hertl could have thrived as an architect, his career as a hockey star was destined.