Sharks

What Sharks still can accomplish as unfortunate season comes to close

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USATSI

What Sharks still can accomplish as unfortunate season comes to close

The Sharks have just 18 games left in a season where the Stanley Cup playoffs still are mathematically possible -- but not realistic.
 
It’s been an uncharacteristic journey by franchise standards, one that now demands a pressing question: What can the Sharks accomplish during the rest of the season?

Healthy finish for Couture

In his second game back from injury, Logan Couture netted the game-winning goal Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. He did this despite not having officially practiced with the Sharks since Jan. 7th when he broke a bone in his foot. The captain's quick return should not diminish the fact that his season had to be completely paused and re-started from scratch.

With Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson shelved for the rest of the season, it remains important for Couture to finish the current schedule healthy and get his timing back without any limitations entering the summer and next season.

Get Jones' groove back

We could be witnessing the start of a strong finish for Martin Jones, who only has allowed seven goals in his last four starts. Two of those still resulted in losses, but that shouldn't discount his encouraging play.

This is not to suggest his struggles this season will be entirely erased, but sustained success through March would be a positive for Jones and the Sharks.

Jones and Aaron Dell are expected to continue alternating starts for the rest of the way, which would give Jones ample opportunity to continue distancing himself from the glooms of October and December. Before the current stretch, Jones only started three of the Sharks’ first 16 games in 2020.

Can young players emerge?

A theme entering this season was the expectation that the next wave of young players would make their mark at the NHL level.

Outside of Mario Ferraro -- and Dylan Gambrell to a degree -- it didn’t really pan out that way. The Sharks' desire to construct a turnaround by January only exacerbated the situation.

But now that the trade deadline has passed, even more nightly spots in the lineup have opened up. You can expect to see players like Alexander True, Jacob Middleton, and Noah Gregor get the full benefit of regular opportunity from here on out.

At the worst, it’s a great experience that they’re ready for. But the best-case scenario would be to have some built-in optimism and confidence surrounding one or some of the young commodities entering next season.

Avoid struggle stretches

I'm stating the obvious, but sustained losing streaks near the end of any season don’t usually bring any positive vibes or moral victories. This hockey season has been a complete struggle in San Jose, but avoiding a salty ending only can benefit the group that will carry over into next season. Losses are unavoidable, but staying away from long skids will be critical.

[RELATED: Why Couture has 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' as his song]

Spoiler

While there aren’t going to be extra hockey games in San Jose this spring, it almost is guaranteed there will be a few occasions in the final weeks where the Sharks can help derail an opponent’s postseason plans.

Nothing truly can replicate Stanley Cup playoff games, but putting this group through some simulated high-stakes situations is the next best thing.

Ever wonder where Sharks' giant head came from? It involves Disney

Ever wonder where Sharks' giant head came from? It involves Disney

Editor's note: Every Tuesday and Thursday during this sports hiatus, we'll answer questions that Bay Area sports fans long have debated in "Ever Wonder?" Second up in the series: Where did San Jose's giant shark head come from?

The Sharks have one of the most memorable entrances in all of sports. Skating through the giant shark head at SAP Center is right up there with "Enter Sandman" at Lane Stadium for Virginia Tech football and the run down the hill at Clemson.

But did you ever find yourself wondering where that huge shark head came from?

NBC Sports Bay Area has you covered on that front as Brodie Brazil explains where that massive shark head came from in the second episode of the "Ever Wonder" series.

During their first few years, the Sharks were looking for a way to give their team an epic entrance. They eventually found it, and, of course, Disney was involved.

To find out the whole story, check out the video above.

More from "Ever Wonder"

Sharks' Stefan Noesen dealing with extra uncertainty in coronavirus pandemic

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AP

Sharks' Stefan Noesen dealing with extra uncertainty in coronavirus pandemic

Sharks forward Stefan Noesen is isolating with immediate family in his home state of Texas during the coronavirus pandemic.

And he’s slightly bored.

“You can only do so many lunges at your house, so many laps around the neighborhood,” Noesen said with a laugh in a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports California on Tuesday.

The NHL’s suspended season is par for the uphill course of Noesen's current campaign.

It began with a professional tryout in the Dallas Stars organization, which didn’t pan out. He then played 22 AHL games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, which led to signing a two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 2nd. They waived him shortly before Christmas.

“This year has been a s---t-show, legit,” Noesen said. “Up until being with the Sharks.”

That turning point definitely happened in San Jose. Even during the Sharks' down season, Noesen came in and earned a role, plus the respect to go along with it.

“First thing I did when I got (to San Jose), was meet with [general manager Doug Wilson],” Noesen said. “He told me what he expected of me, which was honestly nothing but to go out and play my game.”

That game resonated, with Noesen scoring six goals in 34 games. And now, there's a lot of fans who would like to see him re-signed for next season.

“I’ve always believed it’s not that hard to be a good guy,” Noesen said. “All you have to got is be yourself, treat others with respect, and find a way to get along with everybody.”

[RELATED: Sharks' restocked draft picks, college signings offer hope]

There's a lot of uncertainty for Noesen’s career at this point, like when and where he will play hockey next. But these life-changing times have also even made him ponder what comes after the game.

“The world has kind of taken things for granted up until now,” Noesen said. “And I think everyone is kind of taking a step back and realizing the little things are actually important.

“The minute that we’re able to go back to whatever life is after this, I think it will be interesting.“