What Sharks must do to beat Blues in Western Conference final rematch


What Sharks must do to beat Blues in Western Conference final rematch

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks have yet to face the St. Louis Blues this season. But that stretch of time doesn’t dull that feeling of disappointment when recalling what happened when the two teams last tangoed roughly seven months ago.

Sure, it’s a new season. But with both rosters comprised of roughly the same players, there’s bound to still be a little bad blood out on the ice on Saturday night when San Jose and St. Louis face off for the first time since the Blues booted the Sharks from the Western Conference final.

And, suffice to say, the Blues pose a lot of challenges for a Sharks team that has struggled with consistency through the first few months of the season. 

For starters, St. Louis currently the best team in the Western Conference, sitting at 50 points through 36 games, compared to San Jose's 34 points. Through this first stretch of the season, the Blues have outscored their opponents in all three periods of play and get production throughout their lineup, to boot. They are also 10-4-3 on the road, proving that even the toughest buildings can’t scare them. 

Oh, and the Blues visit the South Bay riding a four-game winning streak after defeating the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

San Jose, on the other hand, is looking more like what St. Louis looked like at this time last year. The Sharks are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Arizona Coyotes and, despite turning things around in the month of November, are once again sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference. Every night poses a different problem, whether it's trouble holding onto a lead late in a game or the inability to score any goals on the power play.

Clearly, Saturday's matchup won't replicate any of the six games the Sharks and Blues played against each other last May. 

Now, this isn't to say that San Jose doesn't have a fighting chance in Saturday's game. In fact, the Sharks did a lot of good things against the Coyotes. Well, before giving up the go-ahead goal late in the third period and then not being able to convert on a 6-on-3 power-play opportunity in the final minute of the frame. 

But the Sharks are going to have to find another level on Saturday in order to win.

That means all areas of San Jose's game have to clock. The Sharks will need a full 60-minute effort from their defense and they'll need offensive contributions from multiple players -- not just Tomas Hertl, who scored twice in San Jose's last game and is riding a four-game points streak. It probably wouldn't hurt to get a power-play goal as well against the Blues' penalty kill, which is ranked fourth in the league.

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What the Sharks are really going to need is a stand-up game from goaltender Martin Jones, who has watched the last two games from the bench while Aaron Dell got consecutive starts. There is no word yet on whether Jordan Binnington or Jake Allen is starting in net for St. Louis, but both netminders have better save percentages than Jones through the first part of the season. Avoiding that game-opening goal five minutes into the first period or that late-game stunner in the third can make a huge impact on the Sharks' chances of winning.

That might seem like a lot to ask of the Sharks. But they'll have to play at another level if they're going to compete with the Blues. This might not be another Western Conference final game, but it would still mean a lot for the Sharks if they won. 

Sharks' Joe Thornton frustrated he wasn't traded to contender at deadline

Sharks' Joe Thornton frustrated he wasn't traded to contender at deadline

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have one thing missing from their Hall of Fame résumés: A Stanley Cup championship. 

Marleau now has the chance to become a champion after the Sharks traded the franchise icon Monday to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Another legend was left behind, though. The Sharks held on to Thornton, and he doesn't seem too happy about that decision. 

Thornton, 40, will have to wait yet again to become a champion. The Sharks (26-32-4) are well out of playoff contention as they enter Tuesday with the third-worst record in the Western Conference. The four-time All-Star admitted to The Athletic's Kevin Kurz on Saturday that he was enticed by the idea of joining a contender at the deadline. 

“Yeah, obviously I was willing to go somewhere, and try to win my first Stanley Cup,” Thornton added on Tuesday. “I’ve been dreaming about that ever since I can remember and it just didn’t come to fruition, for whatever reason. I wanted to get something back for the Sharks obviously to help them continue this process with young guys. It just didn’t work out.”

Thornton scored two goals Saturday night in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers. While trade rumors swirled, Jumbo Joe was busy doubling his goal total for the season, further proving he could help a team that's out to win a Cup. 

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The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, however, reported Tuesday that the NHL's elite likely weren't inquiring about a Thornton trade. 

While his wish didn't come to fruition, Thornton made it clear Tuesday he's still happy to be a Shark. He also believes this isn't his last season in the NHL.

One thing is for certain: Thornton knows he still has more left in the tank, but he will have to continue waiting for the title he so badly covets.

Barclay Goodrow thanks Sharks fans after being traded to Lightning

Barclay Goodrow thanks Sharks fans after being traded to Lightning

Barclay Goodrow was 21 years old when he first suited up for the Sharks. His run in San Jose came to an end Monday as he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

San Jose also sent Tampa a 2020 third-round draft pick, and received a 2020 first-round pick and Anthony Greco in return from the Lightning. Later Monday night, Goodrow thanked Sharks fans for six years of memories.

Goodrow, who turns 27 years old on Wednesday, always will have a place in the hearts of Sharks fans. He became a hero when he scored the game-winning goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series last season.

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He has scored a career-high 24 points this season -- eight goals and 16 assists. 

Goodrow has 71 points over 268 career games. The Toronto native has scored 26 goals and 45 assists as a Shark.