Marleau passes ex-Sharks teammate on all-time scoring list


Marleau passes ex-Sharks teammate on all-time scoring list

Former Shark Patrick Marleau moved into sole possession of 39th on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list with his 514th career goal on Wednesday night, passing an ex-teammate and longtime critic in the process. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward's second period goal against the Minnesota Wild moved him ahead of fellow former Shark Jeremy Roenick. The two played together in San Jose from 2007-09, and Marleau's drawn significant criticism from Roenick since his retirement. 

The NBCSN analyst has called Marleau, among other things, "gutless," not "one of the locker room favorites," and one of the "five players [he] most hated playing with." He's often criticized Marleau for a perceived lack of effort, and told reporters this offseason that "lulls" in his game "[happen] to Patrick Marleau too much."

There was also tension when the two were teammates, at least according to Roenick. In his memoir, he recounted leaving his family "around Thanksgiving" and showing up to Marleau's house, unannounced. 

"I wanted to inspire him, to let him know that his teammates were behind him. I went there to tell him that I believed he could be one of the league’s very best players if he just altered his game slightly. He needed to play with more of an edge," Roenick wrote in “J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey.”

"“I tried to tell him that that night, but I could tell 10 minutes into our conversation that I was wasting my time. He considered my arrival at his house an intrusion. He listened to me, but he never did anything to change the way he was.”

His inclusion in Roenick's book prompted the normally soft-spoken Marleau to respond.

“To say that I don’t care about my play or winning or being gutless is absurd,” Marleau wrote in a text message to David Pollak. “I wouldn’t have left home at 14 years old to play a game I didn’t care about. I want to win more than anyone. Just because I don’t jump up and down acting like a buffoon on the ice doesn’t mean I’m not into it.”

Roenick correctly predicted this offseason that Marleau would leave the Sharks. Marleau signed a three-year, $16.75 million contract with Toronto this summer, and returned to SAP Center for the first time on October 30.

In addition to the regular season, Marleau has scored more postseason goals than Roenick, as well as more game-winning goals in the regular season and playoffs than his former teammate. 

Sharks 'aren't panicking yet' after road trip ends with consecutive losses

Sharks 'aren't panicking yet' after road trip ends with consecutive losses

Like with all hockey seasons, it’s easy to get caught up with how a team plays in its first couple of games. If said team does well, they’re showered with praise. And if they falter… well, you get the idea.

Following that pattern, there has been concern about the Sharks after opening up the season 2-2-1, and losing back-to-back tilts by giving up third-period leads.

But according to San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer, his team isn’t going to get too far ahead of themselves.

“We’re not 0-6. We just finished a five-game road trip at 2-2-1,” the head coach told the media after Sunday's 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

The Sharks batted .500 on their early-season roadie, collecting five of a possible ten points. So while there’s no doubt a need for improvement, DeBoer said it’s too early in the season to hit the panic button.

“We aren’t panicking yet,” he continued. “We could’ve won every game we played.”

San Jose was, in fact, on the cusp of winning the last two games of the roadie. But trouble winning faceoffs and taking too many penalties have been their demise. It also doesn’t help that, outside of an 8-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, the Sharks are having trouble finding the back of the net. 

“We’re not scoring enough, that’s the bottom line,” DeBoer summarized. “We’ve got to find a way to get another goal a night, part of that is power play and part of that is five-on-five.”

The players, for their part, know that’s something they need to work on. Especially in light of losing a lead in the third period like they did on Sunday to the Devils.

“This team has the players to get the job done,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said.  

Team Teal has the opportunity to do so when they return to San Jose for a two-game stint at home. They kick things off hosting the Buffalo Sabres Thursday evening – a team that has won three of their first five games, but has work to do on tightening up their special teams and isn’t panicking just yet.

Just like the Sharks.

“Thankfully it’s only six games (into the season) where this is happening,” Logan Couture said of correcting some of the Sharks’ woes ahead of the homestand. “We have a couple days here to regroup and get ready for Thursday.”

Sharks' penalty kill, power play come up short in loss vs. Devils

Sharks' penalty kill, power play come up short in loss vs. Devils

In the final two games of their five-game road trip, the Sharks were dominant through two periods of play before losing the lead and losing by one goal. While Thursday's loss to the New York Rangers came in overtime and Sunday's 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils in regulation, Joe Pavelski said those two games had a lot in common.

In fact, all of their losses thus far have had similarities.

“This game felt exactly like a couple other ones we’ve lost so far,” the Sharks’ captain told the media on Sunday. “They’re right there for us. A few chances, power play opportunities, all those certain situations.”

It’s not like those chances aren’t coming in bulk for San Jose. The Sharks created plenty scoring chances over the course of their five-game roadie, notching 40-plus shots in back-to-back tilts on Tuesday and Thursday, and getting their chances on special teams.

But through six games so far this season, San Jose isn't cashing in on those opportunities enough.

“We expect to win these,” Pavelski said of the road trip. “That’s why they’re frustrating.”

Special teams have been the topic du jour since the very start of the season. While the lack of production on the power play continues to grab headlines, the Sharks’ penalty kill got more attention after the team racked up eight penalties on Sunday. They were rung up twice on delay-of-game calls, and three times for high-sticking – including a double-minor on Erik Karlsson late in the third period.

While New Jersey only scored one goal on the man advantage, spending so much time on the kill clearly took some of the wind out of San Jose’s sails. 

“You’re not going to win on the road, or at home, taking eight minutes in high-sticking and four for shooting pucks over the glass,” coach Peter DeBoer commented after the game. “That’s twelve minutes in penalties that we’re playing short, at the end of a road trip, taxing our guys.

“We beat ourselves with the penalties. Just can’t do that.”

When the Sharks aren’t skating in and out of the penalty box, they still aren’t finding the back of the net on the man advantage either.

“We’re not scoring enough, that’s the bottom line,” DeBoer continued. “And we’re not getting enough saves too. It’s a bad combination.”

San Jose has a couple of days to turn that combination around before they face their next opponent. With the early road trip in the rearview mirror, the Sharks return home to work out the kinks and remedy their early season woes before they host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday evening.

“Thankfully it’s only six games [into the season] where this is happening,” Logan Couture said. “We have a couple days here to regroup and get ready for Thursday.”