Sharks

'No stress' for Sharks' Thornton despite getting snubbed by NHL

'No stress' for Sharks' Thornton despite getting snubbed by NHL

SAN JOSE – When it comes to sports, any time there is an all-time list of any kind there will surely be a vigorous debate that follows.

The NHL provided some consternation in San Jose, especially, when it revealed its top 100 players of all-time on Friday in Los Angeles. Arguably the biggest snub left off of that list is also the best player that’s ever put on a Sharks sweater.

Despite being 24th in scoring in NHL history, and sitting just eight assists from 1000 in his career, Joe Thornton was surprisingly not named. The list was chosen by what the league called “a Blue Ribbon Panel” of 58 that “represent a wide cross-section of the NHL family – including owners, executives, general managers, coaches, players, and broadcasters and media members.”

Judging by the reaction on social media, many Sharks fans were not happy about Thornton being left off. Thornton, though? He’s not losing any sleep over it.

“At the start I was [like], ah, maybe I could be on there,” he said. “But once it came out – I try to live my life with no stress. So as soon as it came out, [I] just kind of was like, ‘Oh, you’re not on it. OK, don’t worry about it.’ And I kind of went on. No stress.”

Did he hear from any friends or family about being left off?

“Not really. The people around me, they try to live like that too,” he said. “It would have been nice I think for my parents or kids if I was on something like that. For me personally, it was like – wow, what a list it was. You read all the names and you’re like, wow, those are some powerful names. But, no worries.”

Of course, the biggest argument against Thornton making it over some contemporaries or recent retirees like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Teemu Selanne or Mike Modano is that he’s still missing a Stanley Cup. 

Fortunately for Thornton, he’s in a good position to challenge for one after making his first career appearance in the Stanley Cup Final last season.

To do that, though, he may have to increase his personal production. After finishing fifth in voting for the Hart Trophy last season with 82 points in 82 games, Thornton is on pace for just 50 points this season.

Playing so much hockey in the past calendar year has surely played a role. Not only is Thornton coming off of the shortest summer of his career, he also represented Team Canada at the World Cup in September, while the NHL’s condensed schedule has further complicated matters.

The 37-year-old admitted on Monday that it’s been a tough grind.

“A little bit. A little bit. But, I feel good now,” he said. “I’ve been feeling good the last month or so, so I think this little break here is going to help me in the long haul, for sure.”

Taking a weekend away from the rink after the Sharks played eight games in their final 13 days before the All-Star break was a welcome respite for the big man.

“It was really nice to kind of sit back and relax and let the body just kind of take a couple days off, which I think I needed. It was a nice treat for myself,” he said.

Perhaps the well-earned rest gives him and his veteran team a jolt, and it finally leads to a Stanley Cup. If it does, an even greater honor will be a lock, if it isn’t already – the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Unsurprisingly, Thornton isn’t concerning himself with that, either.

“That’s not up to me, to be honest. We’ll have to wait and see. When the career’s over, we’ll see what happens,” he said.

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Well, the Sharks certainly made it interesting. Every time the Ducks scored a goal on Friday evening, the Sharks came back and were able to tie things up. They even got the game-tying goal late in the third period that took their contest into overtime – at least, before they lost 4-3.

Perhaps at a different time of year, getting their first point in five games would feel better. Not on this night. 

The focus remains on the work to be done with just seven games left in the regular season. For Team Teal, they need to clean their game up and get back into the win column.

“It’s better than nothing, but overall, we’re just not finding ways to win games now,” Timo Meier told the media in Anaheim regarding the single point. “We’ve got to find a way to win games. It’s an important time of the year. Playoffs are really close.”

San Jose put a better effort on the ice on Friday than they did the previous evening in LA against the Kings, but the opportunistic Ducks were able to bury more of their chances,

"I don’t think we gave them very much," Peter DeBoer said. "Every chance they got, they stuck in the net, though."

DeBoer was more critical of the team a second night in a row, and rightfully so. Despite outshooting the opposition, the Sharks weren’t able to find the back of the net enough times. They allowed two goals while playing on the penalty kill and tallied 14 giveaways. Plus, outside of Meier’s power-play marker, San Jose still went one-for-five on the man advantage. Despite tying the score up three times, the Sharks couldn’t keep the Ducks from responding.

Clearly, all areas of the game need to be tweaked.

“We’ve got to find a way to get an extra save, and on (the other) end we’ve got to find a way to get another goal,” DeBoer said. “We could’ve used a power-play goal tonight -- another one.”

Perhaps the only silver lining, as Meier put it, is that the Sharks are going through this stretch now instead of once they get into the playoffs. San Jose is still trying to get some of its key players healthy and into the lineup so they can make a deep playoff run with the lines and pairs they want. The goal, at least at the moment, is to make sure this five-game skid is a lesson to learn from and not a prelude to the future.

"Get stronger as a team, get tighter as a group, and learn," Meier said. "It’s going to make us stronger going into the playoffs because there are going to be lots of ups and downs coming up. It’s going to make us stronger and we’ve got to react the right way.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

BOX SCORE

All the Sharks needed was a win. Just one win on Friday evening against the Ducks. Two points to salvage the road trip, stop the losing streak, and get back to hunting for first place in the division.

Not surprisingly, Team Teal made things interesting with a game that stayed tied up heading down the stretch. Unfortunately for San Jose, the Ducks were the victors in overtime 4-3.

Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game:

How did the power play look?

In a few words: nonexistent until the third. San Jose had three opportunities on the man advantage through the first 40 minutes of play and couldn’t make anything happen. They even gave up a couple breaks the other way that Dell had to stop. Had the power play converted, the Sharks might’ve been up by two or three goals after two period of play.

Timo Meier came up big with the power-play goal in the third period to tie the score up 2-2. While they couldn’t capitalize on the power-play opportunity immediately followed, Meier’s marker will hopefully open up the flood gates for the power play.

Who else stepped up?

Sharks’ bench boss Peter DeBoer didn’t mince words after Thursday’s loss to the Kings, saying that the team needed someone to step up during this stretch with injured superstars and be a hero.

“You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that,” DeBoer said on Thursday.

In all honesty, the whole team looked better even with the loss. The fourth line had a couple very memorable shifts, cycling low and establishing pressure. Joe Thornton’s line was clicking, which was clear from Kevin Labanc’s goal.

Gustav Nyquist was a solo standout – despite not finding the back of the net, he played a heck of a game and had some incredible looks. Of course, you can’t talk about this game without talking about Justin Braun scoring the big game-tying goal in the third frame, which was his first marker since December 2.

How did Aaron Dell do?

In all fairness, Dell gave the Sharks a chance to win for the majority of the game. No. 30 has looked good in his last couple of outings – save his relief effort against the Golden Knights earlier in the week when he had little defense to help him out – and he made a couple great saves in Anaheim as well, especially when the Ducks had a couple short-handed breakaways.

Unfortunately for Dell, he gave up the two power-play goals in the third frame. While Braun was the hero and scored the tying goal late in the third to help take the game into overtime, Dell still couldn’t hold down the fort in overtime. It doesn’t matter if he’s the backup or not – at this time of the season, playing too loose late in games isn’t good.