Sharks takeaways: What we learned in dominant 7-2 win over Oilers

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in dominant 7-2 win over Oilers


SAN JOSE – If you watched any of the Sharks’ game against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, you never would have known this was a team playing the second night of a back-to-back, and their third game in four nights. The forward lines kept rolling, and goaltender Aaron Dell stood tall as San Jose defeated Edmonton yet again, by a score of 7-2.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s game:

San Jose advantage of different scoring opportunities

It sounds overused and cliché to say a team has to find different ways to score if they’re going to win games. But, that’s exactly what the Sharks did on Tuesday. 

They took advantage of their power-play opportunities – thanks to a second-period marker from a red-hot Brent Burns – and got their second goal of the evening on a beautiful penalty shot from Marcus Sorensen. Heck, they even got a little puck luck thanks to three goals hitting the back of the net off deflections. If the Sharks are going to stay hot, they have to keep taking advantage of those different opportunities.

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The Third Line Stays Hot: Part 2

Really, what more can we say about these guys? Both Joonas Donskoi and Evander Kane had two goals on the evening. Donskoi now has seven goals in his last six games, and Kane has 17 points in a 16-game span. Tomas Hertl, clearly well-adjusted playing center, set up Kane’s game-opening tally and finished plus-3 on the evening. 

Additionally, Erik Karlsson seems to like setting this line up to score goals. He collected three more apples on Tuesday, two of which were on goals generated by that third line. Karlsson now has 25 points in his last 14 games. 

Aaron Dell had the start the Sharks needed from him

The Sharks’ backup netminder needed a good start on Tuesday. After having a strong start to his 2018-19 campaign, Dell had a rough few outings -- including the New Year’s Eve loss to the Calgary Flames. He did just that, holding down the fort on the back end and even freezing Oilers superstar Connor McDavid a couple of times on Edmonton’s power play.

Dell’s performance on Tuesday was a good endorsement for the Sharks’ goaltending on a whole. Martin Jones has cut down on the number of goals he’s given up over the last couple of games, and Dell complimented those starts with one of his own. If San Jose is going to continue being this competitive, it helps to have both goalies playing so well.

Sharks, Barclay Goodrow feel duty to spread 'Bell Let's Talk' message


Sharks, Barclay Goodrow feel duty to spread 'Bell Let's Talk' message

SAN JOSE -- As you scroll your Twitter feed looking for the latest information on how the Sharks plan to defeat the first-place Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center on Wednesday night, you're bound to come across a specific hashtag, and likely not just once or twice. Wednesday is #BellLetsTalk Day in Canada, an annual movement that advocates for mental health initiatives, and naturally, the NHL is very much involved.

Mental health issues are nothing new in sports, but Chicago Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's acceptance speech for the Bill Masterton Trophy -- given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game -- at the 2019 NHL Awards certainly advanced the discussion.

"I’m not ashamed to say I’m mentally ill," Lehner memorably said, "but that doesn’t mean I'm mentally weak."

Damn right.

While Lehner's comments enlightened viewers to the widespread pervasiveness of mental health issues, there is still so far to go. #BellLetsTalk seeks to carry the torch that Lehner passed on, and San Jose is in full support.

"I think you can see it through all sports," Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said of increased mental health awareness. "There have been many athletes that have struggled with that or had a family member affected by that, and I think it's just important that it's not so taboo to come out and talk about it. If it can help one person out there, I think that's important. These guys have a role to play as being leaders in their communities. I think it's a great initiative and it's an important one."

Prior to Boughner's comments, some of his players had already fulfilled his leadership mandate. For every retweet of the #BellLetsTalk hashtag Wednesday, five cents will be donated to Canadian mental health initiatives, and several Sharks tried to bring attention to the cause.

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Sharks forward Barclay Goodrow agreed with Boughner's claim that the players have a responsibility to use their elevated status for the benefit of others.

"Obviously, we have a bigger platform than the average person," Goodrow explained following Wednesday's morning skate, "so I think if we can show that we're susceptible to it just as much as the average fan and if we're willing to go get help and rely on other people, then there's no reason why people at home can't. As long as athletes and other people with a bigger platform can show that we go through these things too, then there's no shame in getting help if you're going through it."

Through his own experience as an athlete, Goodrow knows just how important it is to not ignore what's going on in between a person's ears. While not everyone is a professional hockey player, he believes the #BellLetsTalk discussion is a benefit to all, regardless of status or occupation.

"It's all about breaking the barrier of if you're going through something, not to be afraid to come out and say you need help or need to talk about it," Goodrow said. "Especially in the athletic world, you're kind of taught to battle through things or not show weakness and things like that, so when it comes to mental health, it's something you shouldn't have to battle through. You shouldn't have to try to conquer yourself. It's good if you get help and rely on other people to get you through if you're going through a tough time."

For anyone struggling with mental health, please remember Lehner's veracious words. We can be mentally ill, but that will never make anyone mentally weak. That's what #BellLetsTalk is all about.

How Sharks' Joe Thornton taught Rick Nash to be a pro in Switzerland


How Sharks' Joe Thornton taught Rick Nash to be a pro in Switzerland

Joe Thornton currently is in his 15th season with the Sharks after being acquired by San Jose in a trade with the Boston Bruins during the 2005-06 NHL season. He spent the previous year in Davos, Switzerland while the league remained in lockout, where he paired up with one of the NHL's rising young stars.

More than a decade-and-a-half later, Rick Nash still fondly remembers the time he spent playing alongside one of the most prolific passers to ever play the sport.

"When me and Joe first played together in Switzerland, it was really kind of instant chemistry," Nash recalled to NBC Sports California. "For the first couple games, we played together. On the power play, we played the whole season together. The easy thing about playing with Jumbo was he told you, 'Just go to the net with your stick down. Go to the high slot with your stick on the ice and I'll find you.' We had a lot of success with that over the years, at World Championships, obviously in Davos.

"He's such an easy guy to play with and his skill is so high and his passing ability is so high, it just makes sense why he has that many assists in the NHL."

At last check, Thornton was up to 1,082 career assists, good enough for seventh place on the NHL's all-time list. You don't accumulate that many helpers without being supremely skilled, but as Nash explained, Thornton always has brought a lot more to the table than what he could do with the puck.

"The thing that made Joe different from other teammates was, No. 1, off the ice, he was always a happy guy, always had a smile on his face," Nash said. "He was always around the rink. For me, being a younger guy, he was someone I looked up to on how to be a pro, how to extend my career, how to be good to the other guys that I was kind of taking under my wing. On the ice, it was obviously his skill to make plays and make passes. 

"For me and my style of game, I was always a shooter. I always liked to score goals, so we kind of accompanied each other perfectly. To this day, I don't think there's an easier guy to play with than Joe."

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To spend 22 seasons in the NHL -- and one in the top Swiss league -- it requires not only an abundance of talent, but competitiveness to match. According to Nash, while he has seen plenty of Thornton's competitive streak on the ice, he experienced it off of it, as well. Specifically, when it came to the board game of world domination known as "Risk."

"We started this game with his brothers and his friends and my friends," Nash explained with a chuckle. "Dinner time would roll around, and we would bring the Risk board to dinner. So if you could only imagine trying to keep all those pieces on the board driving the car through the Swiss mountains to get to dinner to set up our Risk game, and once we got there, guys would be arguing about how many soldiers they had on which country. 

"It was always that stuff away from the rink that made hanging out with him so fun."

The Sharks know as well as anyone just how fun and talented Thornton can be. While world domination is a lofty goal, they'd all gladly settle for a Stanley Cup.