What are the Sharks doing now? It looks like the same thing they have been doing all season but I still don’t know what it is.
Andrew Desjardins, Tyler Kennedy and James Sheppard are all going to the Stanley Cup playoffs without the San Jose Sharks. Desi will play with the Blackhawks, Kennedy with the Islanders, and Sheppard was traded to the Rangers. Others won’t be in the playoffs but at least they are seeing NHL ice time– without the Sharks. Freddie Hamilton and Tye McGinn landed with the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes respectively. McGinn’s move might have been an “oops,” since he was claimed off of waivers when the Sharks tried to send him down to the AHL. Hamilton was traded fair and square.
McGinn has played 12 of 13 Coyotes games since they picked him up. He even has 2 points, which is almost half of what he had in the 33 games the Sharks put him in. I can’t remember if Hamilton had time for a cup of coffee in San Jose but Colorado seems happy with him. He’s played 9 of 11 games since being acquired. (He did have time for a cup of coffee- he played one game for San Jose.)
So not all of the 2015 Sharks will miss the playoffs but the ones wearing teal are likely to miss even if they win out the rest of the season. They can’t get more than 16 more points and for that to be good enough the teams ahead of them have to win fewer than half of their remaining games. Teams like Los Angeles, Calgary and Winnipeg are not likely to do that. That said, Go Minny!!! (Minnesota has a 2 goal lead right now over Los Angeles.)
This is not what I envisioned when Sharks GM Doug Wilson said that he wanted to rebuild, or at least aggressively retool the team. Failure to make the playoffs is not surprising as part of such a scenario, but these are not the players I thought would be moved. Maybe they are older than I thought they were. Besides, after saying he was rebuilding, Wilson partially retracted that and said he expected the team to make the playoffs.
What the what?
So here we are, the Sharks have not yet been mathematically eliminated but they are awfully close to it. It is not a good thing to play like you are out before you are out, but there are things a team can do to make the most of the remaining games even if their season will end before playoffs begin. Young players you may want to re-sign need to be looked at closely. Young players you will rely on for improved performance next season need as much mileage as you can give them. So what are the Sharks doing?
Rookie call-up Daniil Tarasov was listed on CSN’s lineup display to start the Philadelphia game, but it was veteran enforcer John Scott in the lineup instead. The difference between those two is much more than NHL experience. On a good day, few would expect offense from Scott, while Tarasov is a player who brings more skill than weight. If pounding the already depleted Flyers is so important, probably Tarasov would be better off helping Worcester make the AHL playoffs.
It is the first time in a hockey eon that the Worcester Sharks are in a position to make the playoffs. I am not sure which NHL Sharks are eligible since the AHL has a cut off date for players to be on the AHL roster for playoffs. I can’t seem to find that information but I believe Tarasov at least would be able to play.
Matt Irwin played Saturday in Philly, but had been a scratch in the Detroit game before that. His performance was not particularly bad in Ottawa or Montreal, the games before Detroit. What does he have to do to get regular playing time with this team? On Saturday he was paired with Brenden Dillon, also a left-handed shot, so being left-handed is not necessarily the hold up. It seems that seasoned veteran Scott Hannan is the one who might not need the extra playing time at this stage. Sitting Irwin out did not get the Sharks in the playoffs, so it really behooves them to play him now, whether or not they are interested in re-signing him. If they want to trade his rights he should be seen. If they want to keep him, they should see him. It is a done deal now, with Hannan and Vlasic both hurt, Irwin will play. It should not take that for him to get in.
Backup goaltender Al Stalock was also back in for the game in Philly. His performance was fine, not great. That is not surprising since he had not played for 26 days. He was last seen in the Sharks’ 4-0 win against Montreal, a rare home win for the Sharks. These lineup decisions might have something to do with the reports that the Sharks players wanted to keep Niemi and Hannan at the trade deadline, but at this point it seems moot. Whether or not the Sharks plan to re-sign Niemi, they need to get Stalock in the game.
It is baffling, but no more baffling than the rest of the season has been. Doug Wilson said he wanted to give young players a chance to step up, he wanted his team to get faster and younger, so he signed John Scott. Really, that is a pretty good microcosm of this season: nonsensical and self-defeating.
It makes me think of the spat between Wilson and Thornton. Wilson was right: Thornton will lash out if provoked. Thornton was also right: Wilson should be quiet. The more he contradicts himself the less people trust him. Of course the elephant in the room is that even if Wilson (and Robinson) was right, that sometimes Thornton can intimidate younger players and this is bad for the team, why did the team play better with Thornton as captain? Maybe those young players aren’t as easily intimidated as some think they are, and maybe the occasional outburst is good for competitive athletes. Or maybe any captain is better than no captain. Or maybe Joe Thornton has nothing to do with it. Maybe the captaincy, the highest-profile offseason change for this team last summer, has nothing at all to do with this team’s problems.
Damn. Los Angeles just scored. 2-1 Minny in the second period. I can’t watch this.