Minnesota Wild (10-4-0) 20pts 1st in the Central
3.36 Goals For Per Game (8th in the NHL)
3.07 Goals Against Per Game (21st in the NHL)
18.2% Power Play (19th in the NHL)
77.6% Penalty Kill (23rd in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 7G 4A = 11pts
2. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 3G 8A = 11pts
3. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 5G 5A = 10pts
4. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
5. #24 Matthew Dumba ~ 2G 7A = 9pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 34 PIM’s
2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 24 PIM’s
3. #24 Matthew Dumba ~ 10 PIM’s
1. #33 Cam Talbot (8-3-0) 2.80GAA .908%SP
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (2-1-0) 3.08GAA .882%SP
San Jose Sharks (7-6-1) 15pts 6th in the Pacific
2.79 Goals For Per Game (21st in the NHL)
2.86 Goals Against Per Game (16th in the NHL)
22.5% Power Play (11th in the NHL)
89.7% Penalty Kill (1st in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #39 Logan Couture ~ 6G 6A = 12pts
2. #28 Timo Meier ~ 5G 7A = 12pts
3. #88 Brent Burns ~ 1G 11A = 12pts
4. #48 Tomas Hertl ~ 6G 4A = 10pts
5. #76 Jonathan Dahlen ~ 6G 2A = 8pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #21 Jacob Middleton ~ 14 PIM’s
2. #13 Nick Bonino ~ 12 PIM’s
3. #88 Brent Burns ~ 10 PIM’s
1. #33 Adin Hill (4-4-0) 3.11GAA .894%SP 1SO
2. #47 James Reimer (3-2-1) 1.82GAA .940%SP
San Jose Sharks
M. Foligno~Eriksson Ek~Fiala
If I’m ever feeling a bit down about life, I let my morning television usually be my pick-me-up before work. Where I live, morning television, beginning at 9am, is the time for what I think are classified as talkshows. Although honestly, they’re more like live train wrecks. You see, starting at 9am, I get The Jerry Springer Show, followed by The Steve Wilkos Show, and rounding out the morning is the ever classic Maury. Seriously, no matter how bad I think things may be going in my life, at least I’ll never be on one of those shows. There’s a great word out of the German language for this feeling of joy, and that word is schadenfreude, which the literal translation is “harm-joy.” Basically it means taking pleasure from other people’s pain. It’s a guilty pleasure for some.
With sports’ fans, we all know the feeling of schadenfreude well. We’re either saying “at least we’re not that team” or “yes, yes, I know my team sucks.” Minnesota sports fans, we’re usually of the latter variety. If your team stinks more than it doesn’t, you really don’t need people to remind you of that. Trust me, we know. However, I think the Minnesota version of schadenfreude is of its own special variety. You see, even when things are going right, and skies appear to be clear, there’s a hesitancy to enjoy the success (in whatever form). We all know how things have gone in the past, and we’re not about to let our hearts get broken again.
As sports fans, the Minnesota Wild are not alone in their feelings of schadenfreude turned self loathing. One could say the San Jose Sharks could join Minnesota in these feelings. They are a team that has seen great success in the regular season, tearing opponents apart, yet when they get to the post-season, it all falls apart. Yet this season, it seems like this may be happening sooner rather than later. This season, the Sharks started out strong this season, much to the surprise of many around the league. However, it seems like reality has returned to San Jose. In their past 10 games, they’ve gone 3-6-1 and currently have a 2-game losing streak. Over the off-season, they parted ways with both Martin Jones and Aaron Dell and they were replaced with Adin Hill and James Reimer. While they got some better results early with Hill and Reimer, as their games regressed to the norm, so did the Sharks’ hot start. This is part of the reason why the Sharks are now in 6th place in the Pacific instead of near the top earlier in the season.
I think many fans in San Jose have enjoyed being free of the distraction of Evander Kane. He has 7 games remaining of his suspension for being caught with a fake vaccination card. With his antics both on and off the ice out of the way, this has allowed the rest of the team to attempt to focus on the game at hand. Captain Logan Couture leads the team in scoring. While trade rumors surround Tomas Hertl, he’s also having a reasonable start despite those rumors. Providing some unexpected offense after spending last season in Sweden’s 2nd best league, is rookie Jonathan Dahlen, who is the son of former Minnesota North Stars forward Ulf Dahlen. The Sharks do have a sniper in Timo Meier which is something that most teams need. Rounding out the Sharks’ forward lines is a familiar face. Anchoring the third line, is former Minnesota Wild forward Nick Bonino, who has definitely helped the Sharks have one of the best penalty kills in the league.
Defense has many veteran players, that keep on doing what Sharks’ d-men do. It should come as no surprise that Brent Burns is San Jose’s best defenseman overall. However, he still gets caught watching the puck in his own end. Joining Burns is Erik Karlsson is but a shadow of his glory days with the Ottawa Senators. Yet, for whatever unexplainable reason, he always seems to find his old magic against Minnesota. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jacob Middleton, and Radim Simek pride themselves on being a pain in the ass to play against. How nice it would be to have a defensive corps that no one else wants to play against.
The Sharks have been trying to get younger and faster. Fast and physical describe their bottom 6 forwards. Trades of draft picks for players in past seasons have left the prospect pool a bit shallow though. If the Sharks go down with illness or injuries, it’s going to be a bit hard for San Jose to refill the cupboards in an emergency situation. However, the Sharks have one of longest tenured General Managers in the league in Ron Wilson. You don’t keep your job as long as he has by not doing things the right away. Yet at the same time, players, coaches, and general managers only have so much time before they are no more. Yes, his decisions have painted this team into a corner with an aging roster, ownership so far seems willing to give him the time to fix it. The fact that he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player last night, that may have bought him a little more time.
If the Wild want any chance of winning this game, they need to stay even strength as much as possible. The Sharks have the best penalty kill and have a power play in the top third of the league. While the Wild had a special teams focused practice, a specialized practice does not suddenly make them experts at both power play and penalty. The abysmal penalty kill alone, should be proof that they need to stay out of the penalty box, yet they seem to not get the message. The Wild’s middle of the road power play isn’t enough to get them through the Sharks’ top notch penalty kill. The edge goes to Minnesota if they can play 5-on-5. Yet, I don’t trust this team to do that. Sure, the Wild don’t have to contend with the antics of Kane, but let’s face it, I don’t trust Minnesota to come out strong on a team that is struggling.
I know for a fact with this team, I am frequently left with the after effects of schadenfreude. Meaning, I’m left with the feelings of “here we go again” while the other teams enjoy our pain and suffering.