Cleaning out the notebook as the Sharks get set to start the second half of the season…
1) The last time we did one of these on Jan. 4, the Sharks were coming off of that putrid 4-1 loss to the Jets at home two days earlier. According to captain Joe Pavelski, that was a turning point. The Sharks are 8-1-2 since then.
“Since that Winnipeg game we’ve understood that you have to put in the effort," Pavelski said just before the All-Star break.
“When a night like that happens it’s always disappointing after, because you felt you could have done more. It didn’t happen. Everyone was on the same page that night in that it wasn’t very good. I don’t think there was anyone that was really any good. I think it was somewhat of a learning experience, and credit to the guys that everyone recognized what was missing, and we’ve taken a little bit of a step forward.”
2) Don’t be surprised if Ryane Clowe gets a job with the organization at some point. The former Sharks forward has a good relationship with both Doug Wilson and Pete DeBoer, whom he played for in New Jersey before too many head injuries ended his career.
The complication with Clowe is that he’s not officially retired – he’s on the Devils’ payroll through 2017-18. The Sharks would probably have to work out some kind of arrangement with the Devils and the NHL. There’s precedent for such a move, though, with Chris Pronger now working for the NHL despite still having several years left on his player contract.
3) I mentioned this on Twitter at the time – more than once – but the Sharks’ recognition of Todd McLellan in the former head coach’s first game back in San Jose on Jan. 14 was, in a word, pathetic. I imagine the conversation in the executive offices went something along the lines of, “what’s the least we can do to recognize McLellan when he comes back?” It was rushed, coming after a sponsored message on the jumbotron, there was no sort of announcement over the public address system, and many fans in the building had no idea it was even happening.
The phrase “winning with class” is a popular one in the Bay Area these days. McLellan did that here for seven seasons. He deserved to have his moment. This organization is better than that.
4) The Sharks surely missed having a healthy Logan Couture in the lineup, considering he plays in every situation. But keep in mind that DeBoer and the Sharks coaching staff also tabbed him to be a full-time alternate captain for the first time in his career this season.
The Sharks coach said that Couture “leads by example, like a lot of our leaders here. He lets his play do the talking.”
Still, there are discussions initiated by Couture when necessary. The 26-year-old was asked if he pulls guys like Chris Tierney and Matt Nieto aside when things maybe aren’t going so well.
“I wouldn’t say I pull them aside, but talk to them, try and stay positive with them through it. [Tomas] Hertl, as well,” Couture said. “Just tell them keep playing well, keep going at it. Things are going to turn around. With those guys, they’ve played very well lately.”
5) Although you’d have to think there are no plans to move Hertl back to center while he and the team are having so much success lately, DeBoer did say that he still envisions Hertl in the middle at some point.
“I like the idea of Tomas Hertl in the middle. He’s a big guy and a future centerman there,” said the coach.
6) Pavelski should firmly be in the discussion for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward. The 31-year-old all-star is tied for fourth in the NHL with 25 goals, and tied for fifth in scoring (49 points). Defensively, love it or hate it, plus-minus still gets looked at by voters, and Pavelski’s +18 rating is tied for seventh (with Joe Thornton, among others).
As far as advanced stats go, when Pavelski is on the ice five-on-five, the Sharks score 1.43 goals for every goal they surrender, which places him 12th in the league among players that have skated at least 20 games.
Thornton could even get into the discussion if he keeps up his recent scoring pace. He’s 10th in the NHL in goals-for at five-on-five at 1.53, which is even better than Pavelski (stats courtesy of behindthenet.ca).
7) I’m hearing some mixed reviews about Mirco Mueller with the Barracuda, but the underlying message I’m getting is that the 20-year-old still needs more time in the minors. And it might be more than just this season.
If the Sharks need a defenseman from the Barracuda at some point, don’t be surprised if they go with someone other than Mueller. Julius Bergman could be an option, especially if the Sharks need a right-handed shot. A second round pick in 2014, the 20-year-old has two goals and five assists for seven points in 33 games.
8) File this under things we missed. The Sharks will play a preseason game next season in Las Vegas against Colorado, according to a report from ESPN, at T-Mobile Arena on the strip. The Los Angeles Kings, who have played preseason games in Las Vegas for some time, will also likely play the Dallas Stars.
Las Vegas, of course, is still hoping to get approval for an expansion franchise. That’s still an “ongoing” process, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.
9) Former Sharks broadcaster Drew Remenda was pretty blunt recently when talking about the team on KNBR with Tom Tolbert and CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto.
Remenda gets into a number of topics starting around the 25:20 mark, including the team’s record at home and on the road, some of the mental/leadership issues that have plagued the club over the years, and Brent Burns’ role (Remenda believes Burns should still be a forward).
The interview is a little dated, coming on Jan. 13, but hearing Remenda’s take on the Sharks is always worth the time.
10) Finally, there are a number of reasons why the Sharks are on the hot streak they’re on, but the bottom line is they have been a much better five-on-five team over the past month.
On Jan. 4, the Sharks were 23rd in the league while scoring just 46.9 percent of the goals at full strength. Now? They’re up to 10th at 51.8. If they can sustain that – and their younger depth players will have to continue their recent production for that to happen – a nice playoff run is not out of the question.