Sharks, Predators OT thriller intensifies NHL playoff series


Sharks, Predators OT thriller intensifies NHL playoff series

Saturday’s Game 5 of this Western Conference semifinal series is brought to you by, the place you go to when you want to see athletes who would pay big money to trade their lungs and legs for yours.

The Nashville Predators needed three overtimes and Mike Fisher (formerly “married to Carrie Underwood” and now “Carrie Underwood, who is married to Mike Fisher”) to out-endure the San Jose Sharks, 4-3, in a game that finally imprints each team on the minds of the opposing fan bases, as in “remember the time when . . .”

You see, multiple overtimes of anything are heroin for viewers, and hell on players, and frankly, if you had the choice between entertained and worrying about players; welfare, you’d have stopped watching football decades ago.

Thus, the Preds and Sharks put on a sensational show which will enervate them both for Game 5 Saturday night in San Jose -– almost a doubleheader, followed by a 1,800-mile plane trip.

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Preds outlast Sharks in 3OT, series tied 2-2]

And if you’re into history as the predictor for the future, the winners of nine of the last 11 triple-or-more-overtime games lost their next game -– sometimes in overtime. And if you’re really into history that has no value whatsoever, Thursday’s game was also the first time in five that a triple-overtime game did not involve the Chicago Blackhawks.

The real point, though, is that hockey is an unforgiving game sport that demands the exertion that Nashville and San Jose spent Thursday be replicated two nights later, and though that isn’t likely, they’ll be willing to play three more overtimes trying.

And they’ll spend precious little time either gloating over or whining about the non-goal by Joe Pavelski in the first overtime that forced the next two. Getting screwed is a constant feeling in hockey -– from the pass that doesn’t hit the boards just right to the rut that catches the skate at the wrong time to the bad change to the crossbar to the penalty that isn’t called or the non-penalty that is. In the immortal words of Al Swearengen, Patron Saint To Us All, “Pain or damage don't end the world. Or despair or f------ beatings. The world ends when you're dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man . . . and give some back.”

Oh, and “Don’t forget to finish your checks.”

That’s the beauty here –- that the reward for playing all night is almost always the right to play some more. San Jose, oddly, is one of the few that didn’t get to do that, having lost the deciding game of the 2008 Western Conference semis in four overtimes at Dallas. And that was after the Sharks won Game 5 in overtime at San Jose.

See how this works? It’s a diabolical world out there, and what you got (other than the despicable bleatings of people back east who had “go to bed” or some equally snivelly nonsense) is a series that you’re suddenly more interested in, one that suddenly grabbed your interest because of what you saw Thursday.

In other words, if you didn’t go to bed, you are a full-fledged adult and better class of person than the Twitter narcoleptics who couldn’t endure an extra hour on the couch, or the bar stool -- just as the Predators and Sharks are better for this experience.

The Predators, we will grant you, better still. Now let’s see if these two teams have the human dignity, intellectual honesty and just plain gumption to do what the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs did in 2003 -– go two overtimes in Game 3, then three overtimes in Game 4, and two more in Game 6.

Now those guys gave a damn, by cracky.

Why Sharks firing coach Peter DeBoer doesn't solve all their problems


Why Sharks firing coach Peter DeBoer doesn't solve all their problems

SAN JOSE -- It was time for a shakeup, there’s no question about it. And when things go sideways, the head coach typically takes the bulk of the blame.

But, the Sharks still have a lot of work to do.

So while those calling for Peter DeBoer to be out of a job have gotten their wish, it needs to be understood that his firing isn’t the beginning nor the end of San Jose's problems.

Don't get me wrong. The first stretch of the Sharks' 2019-20 campaign has been downright rough. They lost the first four games of their season and, despite having plenty of talent in the lineup, have struggled mightily to dig out of the hole they are in. Even during the six-game winning streak, those games weren't always pretty.  

And through that stretch of wins, there were issues that San Jose needed to address, whether it was goaltending or lack of offensive depth or the penalty kill getting overworked.

Long story short: This isn’t just about coaching. Honestly, the Sharks might still lose a lot of games.

Please remember -- DeBoer took the Sharks to the Western Conference finals last season with Martin Jones and Aaron Dell posting save percentages under .900. And he took the team to a Stanley Cup Final in 2016 after beating two stacked teams in the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. This isn't the story of someone who can't coach a Cup-contending team.

So, what's the issue?

Even before DeBoer's firing, the Sharks have been in a team in flux. After the first four defeats, DeBoer had his own list of complaints as to how the team was playing defensively. And offensively. Quite frankly, he wasn't happy with how the team played as a whole during the winning streak in November.

Whatever the core reason is for San Jose's woes, something still has to change now that DeBoer is out the door. After nearly erasing their October deficit with a phenomenal record in November, San Jose has gone 0-4-1 so far in December, a slide that has dropped the team five points out of a playoff spot.

[RELATED: Sharks scuffling due to bad combo of scoring, penalties]

December is a weird month to try to right the ship. The Sharks a homestand coming up, but with two long breaks shoved in the middle. They have a three-day layover ahead of a back-to-back with St. Louis and Vegas and then another a few days later with the Kings and Flyers.

The Sharks absolutely could go on a run before the new year. Just don't expect the coaching change to solve all of their problems. 

Sharks fire Peter DeBoer, hire Bob Boughner as interim head coach


Sharks fire Peter DeBoer, hire Bob Boughner as interim head coach

In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Sharks have decided to make a coaching change.

San Jose announced Wednesday that the team has parted ways with head coach Peter DeBoer. Assistant coach Bob Boughner will take over as the interim head coach. Also joining the Sharks' coaching staff are associate coach Roy Sommer, assistant coach Mike Ricci and goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the news.

The Sharks currently own a disappointing a 15-16-2 record, and are coming off a recent four-game road trip where they went 0-3-1. They currently sit in sixth place in the Pacific Division.

"When you have had a level of past success, change is never easy, but we feel this team is capable of much more than we have shown thus far and that a new voice is needed," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a team statement. "As a team and as individuals, our play has not met expectations this year and our level of consistency has not been where it needs to be. This group of individuals who will lead our team moving forward are very familiar with our players, and we think this change can provide our group with a fresh start."

In a related move, assistant coaches Dave Barr, Steve Spott and Johan Hedberg were relieved of their duties. 

"Under the leadership of Pete, along with Steve, Dave and Johan, our franchise accomplished some great things, culminating in reaching the 2016 Stanley Cup Final," Wilson continued. "We want to thank them for their contributions to our organization's success over the last four years."

Boughner rejoined the Sharks as an assistant coach prior to the start of the current season, but recently served as head coach of the Panthers, leading Florida to a combined 80-62-22 record over the last two years. He originally joined San Jose's staff in 2015, and helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2016.

Sommer, most recently the head coach of the San Jose Barracuda, is the all-time leader in games coached and wins in the history of the American Hockey League, and has promoted more than 130 players to the NHL.

Nabokov played for the Sharks for 10 seasons and remains the franchise's all-time leader in almost every major statistical goaltending category, including games played (563), wins (293) and shutouts (50). For the past five seasons, he has served as a scout and goaltending development coach, where he has worked closely with the Barracuda, who have had a goalie named to the AHL All-Star Game in each of the last three years under his tutelage.

Ricci played in 529 games over six-plus seasons in San Jose and has spent the last 12 as a development coach within the organization.

[RELATED: Sharks scuffling due to bad combo of scoring, penalties]

DeBoer had one more year left on his contract worth $3M per season, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. In four-plus years at the helm in San Jose, he led the Sharks to a 198-129-34 regular-season record and playoff appearances in each of the last four years.