MONTREAL – Ten more random points of interest from Montreal, where the Sharks try to remain in the playoff race…
1 - When the Sharks iced a third line of Logan Couture between Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto on Thursday in Toronto, it was the 23rd different third line combination that they have started a game with, or about one every three games.
The most common third line this season was James Sheppard between Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson, which started 10 games together mostly in December, after Karlsson was recalled from Worcester but before he was promoted to the Joe Thornton line.
2 - Sheppard, Tye McGinn, Andrew Desjardins and Tyler Kennedy were the roster casualties at the trade deadline. Here’s how they’ve fared so far with their new teams, with Kennedy seemingly the only one to have a noticeable impact:
Sheppard (NY Rangers): 4 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, +1 rating
McGinn (Arizona): 8 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, -2 rating
Desjardins (Chicago): 4 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, -1 rating
Kennedy (NY Islanders): 5 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, +1 rating
3 - The Sharks are reportedly one of many teams interested in Boston University goalie Matt O’Connor, a 23-year-old Toronto native that stands at six-foot-five, 201 pounds. O’Connor was 20-3-4 this year with a 2.13 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
San Jose is in the market for at least one goaltender, as pending unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi’s time here will have undoubtedly run out if the team misses the playoffs.
Doug Wilson was set to stop in Worcester this week, as well as scout some college talent. Perhaps O’Connor is on his list of players to talk to, and considering the Sharks have stuck to their plan of integrating younger talent onto the roster, Wilson’s sales pitch could be a strong one.
4 - The NHL general managers have announced a pair of rule changes they would like to implement for next season – 3-on-3 overtime, and the ability for head coaches to challenge goaltender inference on controversial goals.
Wilson commented on both to the NHL Network.
Regarding the 3-on-3 overtime, Wilson said: “I like the concept of the overtime. … I think anything we can have to settle a game prior to [a shootout] would be good.”
As for the head coaches having the ability to challenge goalie interference calls, Wilson said: “I think on both fronts the coach’s challenge and goalie interference situation, getting more information to get it correct is a great thing. It’s taken a couple years to get to this point, but I think it’s very favorable.”
5 - Here’s how important the start of games has been to the Sharks this season:
When allowing one or more goals in the first, San Jose is 15-18-5. That means they are 20-10-3 when they shut out an opponent over the first 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, the Sharks have allowed 55 first period goals in 59 games since Nov. 1. Only Toronto, Edmonton and Columbus have surrendered more.
6 - Remember John McCarthy? The Worcester Sharks forward, who spent the majority of the 2013-14 season in San Jose, recently became that the AHL team's all-time leading scorer. On March 14, McCarthy surpassed Dan DaSilva with his 145th point in 266 games for Worcester.
McCarthy is still property of the St. Louis Blues, after signing there in the offseason. He was loaned to Worcester on Jan. 14.
7 - Todd McLellan was recently asked to evaluate Brenden Dillon since his arrival from Dallas in November.
“For Brenden, it was a brand new experience for him. He’d grown up with a team, and that first trade and the first time you go to a new organization it’s a shock to the system. But, his personality, the way he carries himself, his ability to be a good teammate made him fit right away.
“He’s been a really good addition to our team. He’s had to figure out how we wanted to play, and then fit in. He’s been on the left side, he’s been on the right side, he’s had various partners, provided what we believed he would provide – a physical element to the blue line, and the ability to skate. So, a lot of what we thought would come from him, has come out.”
8 - Thursday night was yet another night the Sharks didn’t get hardly any help in the standings. Calgary beat the Flyers, 4-1, and Winnipeg beat St. Louis in a shootout, 2-1. Vancouver lost to Columbus, but the Canucks remain comfortably ahead of the Sharks by six points with a game in hand.
Some Sharks don’t want to admit they’re scoreboard watching. At least one is, though.
“Everybody is winning, everybody is getting points,” John Scott said a week ago. “It’s frustrating to score watch. You watch the scores, and a team will be down 4-0 and then it will be 4-4. It seems like Calgary starts the game down 2-0 and they always come back. It’s frustrating, but you can’t dwell on it too much, you’ve just got to win.”
9 - For as much heat as the Edmonton Oilers get for being so bad for so long, the Arizona Coyotes have now slipped into last place in the Pacific Division with 50 points (Edmonton has 51). Arizona has lost four straight, and is 1-8-1 in its last 10 games.
The Sharks will have six games remaining after their road trip, including two with the Coyotes and one with Edmonton.
10 - Finally, like everyone else in the hockey community, I was saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Capgeek founder Matthew Wuest. I had some contact with Matt over the years, and it was always a pleasant and professional experience.
One quick story – back in the 2012 offseason at the NHL draft in Pittsburgh, I asked the Sharks front office if they had discussions yet on extending Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who was a pending unrestricted free agent the next summer. I was told that Vlasic was set to be a restricted free agent – not unrestricted.
That was contrary to what Capgeek had, so I let Matthew know that it was wrong.
Turned out, of course, that Capgeek was right. Vlasic was set to become an unrestricted free agent the next offseason due to his seven years of NHL experience, and a few weeks later on July 11, he signed a long contract extension with San Jose.
Perhaps Capgeek was informative to more than just hockey writers and fans.