"A lot of things happened there,"

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"A lot of things happened there,"

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The San Jose Sharks have made the playoffs in 15 of the past 16 seasons, but after blowing a three-games-to-none lead against the Los Angeles Kings in Round One, disappointment reigns in Northern California once again. Scottie Pippen White Jersey . Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Sharks team that has promised changes, but might be better off sticking with the core of a team that, even without a Stanley Cup win, has consistently been among the leagues best. Understandably, the Sharks are disappointed. No team with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations likes to get bounced in the first round, but there should be some mitigating factors considered. First and foremost, the Sharks have to consider that they had outscored the Kings 17-8 in the first three games of the playoffs and needed one more win to oust the team that is now favoured to win the Stanley Cup. That should indicate that, while improvement is necessary, the Sharks should realize that they arent far off. They were the leagues third-best possession team and that isnt a team that should be blown up just because the Western Conference Murderers Row tripped them up once again. This is relevant because rumours have surfaced that long-time Sharks Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton could be asked to waive no-movement clauses. Theres no sure answer to say that the Sharks will be just fine if they keep this core together, but its harder to see this team as a Cup contender in the next year or two if they move out players like Thornton or Marleau. Value always depends on what the return is, but those wont be easy holes to fill if that is the direction in which the Sharks are headed. Until that decision becomes clear, this team will be one of the most compelling to watch this offseason. Such is the nature of a contending team that is getting impatient with its inability to get over the hump. The TSN.ca Rating is an efficiency rating based on per-game statistics including goals and assists -- weighted for strength (ie. power play, even, shorthanded) -- Corsi, adjusted for zone starts, quality of competition and quality of teammates, hits, blocked shots, penalty differential and faceoffs. Generally, a replacement-level player is around a 60, a top six forward and top four defenceman will be around 70, stars will be over 80 and MVP candidates could go over 90. Sidney Crosby finished at the top of the 2013-2014 regular season ratings at 87.12. Salary cap information all comes from the indispensable www.capgeek.com. CF% = Corsi percentage (ie. percentage of 5-on-5 shot attempts), via www.extraskater.com. GM/COACHDoug Wilson/Todd McLellan Returning Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Cap Hit Joe Pavelski 81.92 82 41 38 79 56.4% $6.0M Patrick Marleau 78.15 82 33 37 70 53.1% $6.667M Logan Couture 78.60 65 23 31 54 53.5% $6.0M Raffi Torres 77.70 5 3 2 5 52.9% $2.0M Joe Thornton 76.10 82 11 65 76 58.3% $6.75M Tomas Hertl 74.29 37 15 10 25 55.8% $925K Martin Havlat 66.04 48 12 10 22 50.3% $5.0M Matt Nieto 65.52 66 10 14 24 51.9% $759K Tyler Kennedy 60.02 67 4 13 17 52.2% $2.35M Andrew Desjardins 58.82 81 3 14 17 50.0% $750K Adam Burish 54.73 15 0 0 0 52.8% $1.85M Free Agent Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Tommy Wingels 68.78 77 16 22 38 52.8% RFA $775K James Sheppard 64.77 67 4 16 20 52.5% RFA $830K Mike Brown 56.93 56 2 3 5 46.1% UFA $737K Coming off a career-best season, fueled in part by a career-high 18.2% shooting percentage, Joe Pavelski plays in all situations, hasnt missed a game in three seasons and, over the course of those three seasons, ranks sixth in goals. Hes a very good two-way player but, prior to last season, had scored more than 0.75 points per game (a 60-point pace)twice in seven seasons. Over the past four seasons, there are two players under the age of 24 with more goals than Logan Coutures 107-- Steven Stamkos (159) and John Tavares (112). Thats pretty good company. Last season, Coutures goal-scoring was down, thanks to a career-low 9.9% shooting percentage, but 53 points in 65 games represented a career-best rate of 0.82 points per game, and that came while facing the hardest competition with the highest percentage of defensive zone starts of his career. Having played nearly 1400 (regular season plus playoff) games for the Sharks, Patrick Marleau gets branded, at times, as the face of the franchises disappointment, but hes the fourth-leading goal scorer in the league over the past six seasons, giving little indication that hes slowing down, even as he enters his mid-30s. While playoff shortcomings get pinned to Marleau, since 2002, hes scored 55 goals in 125 postseason games, which leaves him with the second-best goals-per-game among players to play at least 100 playoff games in that time. He wont be able to do this forever, but Marleau has been extremely durable, having not missed a game in the past five years. He will slow down at some point, but hes hardly the reason the Sharks havent yet won a Stanley Cup. Raffi Torress per-game contributions were way out of line last season, but thats a small sample at work. Hes a hard-hitting third-line winger who can chip in offensively when hes not hurt, or suspended. With Teemu Selanne retiring, Jaromir Jagr is the only active player with more points than Joe Thornton, who has accrued 1194 in 1207 career games, and while hes managed a modest 18 goals over the past two seasons, Thornton still has 116 points in that span, tied with Tyler Seguin and Jonathan Toews for 12th in the league. Even so, that may not be enough. The 34-year-old could be available for trade, though thats a complicated matter since he has a no-movement clause tied to the three years remaining on his contract. Like Marleau, Thornton takes the heat for San Joses playoff stumbles but, even after scoring three points in seven games this season, he still has 82 points in 97 playoff games since joining the Sharks. If he is made available, and is amenable to the right move, there ought to be a long line of suitors. Tomas Hertl burst into the NHL with six goals in his first three games, but his production was slowing down even before he suffered a knee injury that kept him out for nearly four months, and he finished with seven points in his last 20 games after scoring 18 points in 17 games to start the year. However, Hertl has size, speed, skill and is just 20-years-old. Hes due to have some percentages fall, but can also play a bigger role, which could help offset that anticipated regression. 33-year-old Martin Havlat has had a rough ride in San Jose, scoring 27 goals and 67 points in 127 games over the past three seasons, and his points-per-game over the last two were under half-a-point-per-game for the first time in his career. Sharks GM Doug Wilson has said that Havlat wont be back, which would presumably mean a buyout of the final year of his contract. A speedy winger who earned a bigger role and produced more as his rookie season went on, Matt Nieto figures to have a top-nine, possibly top-six, role next season. Hes scored enough before arriving in the NHL to believe that there is more production possible as he matures. Tyler Kennedys play has dipped over the past couple seasons, when hes no longer had Jordan Staal as his centre like he did for his best years in Pittsburgh, and was a non-factor down the stretch for the Sharks, going without a goal in his last 25 games and managing two assists in his last 23 games. The proverbial great team guy, Adam Burish has nonetheless put up one goal and three points in 61 games, while getting beat up in puck possession terms, with the Sharks over the past two seasons. Can a healthy Burish even handle a regular role on the fourth line? Theres two years and $3.7-million left on his deal that makes that a question worth answering. Hard-hitting winger Tommy Wingels had a breakout season last year, getting the opportunity to play a regular role with skilled players. He was one of 25 forwards to record at least 200 hits last season and, among those with more hits than Wingels 210, only David Backes, Milan Lucic and Brandon Dubinsky had more than Wingels 38 points. Its been a long strange trip for James Sheppard, the ninth overall pick by Minnesota in 2006, who nearly lost his career after an ATV accident, but he has worked his way back into a regular NHL role, playing top-nine minutes down the stretch for the Sharks as he finished the year with 11 points in his last 19 games before delivering six points in seven playoff games. He only has 16 goals in 323 career games, but if Sheppard is able to handle a third-line centre role, thats a remarkable recovery. If the Sharks are prepared to push forward, bringing in at least one scoring winger would make sense. With Brent Burns moving back to defence and Martin Havlat on the way out, maybe a free agent like Ales Hemsky, Mike Cammalleri or Jarome Iginla would have some appeal.   Returning Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Cap Hit Brent Burns 75.46 69 22 26 48 57.1% $5.76M Marc-Edouard Vlasic 69.92 81 5 19 24 58.2% $4.25M Matt Irwin 66.24 62 2 17 19 50.2% $1.0M Justin Braun 65.60 82 4 13 17 54.2% $1.25M Brad Stuart 62.12 61 3 8 11 51.4% $3.6M Free Agent Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Jason Demers 69.36 75 5 29 34 54.9% RFA $1.5M Dan Boyle 64.96 75 12 24 36 53.0% UFA $6.667M Scott Hannan 62.78 56 3 9 12 49.9% UFA $1.0M After a productive run at right wing, where he scored 68 points (31 G, 37 A in 92 GP) over the past season-and-a-half, Brent Burns is moving back to defence, where he had shown plenty of promise before the move to Thorntons wing. This becomes a value judgement. Would the Sharks prefer to have Burns playing on the top defence pair and logging 23-24 minutes a night, or would they like a potential 30-goal power forward who plays 17 minutes per game? Both are desirable commodities, but the Sharks might find it easier to add a scoring winger than they would a top pair defenceman, even if the scoring winger may not come in a 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame. In eight NHL seasons, Marc-Edouard Vlasic has missed more than two games in a season just once and finds himself in very good company in terms of puck possession for big-minute defencemen and that is despite consistently starting more shifts in the defensive zone, even on a strong team like the Sharks. Last seasons 24 points was the highest season total for Vlasic since 2009, yet hes still very valuable in his defensive role. There arent many defence-only defencemen that hold a lot of value, but Vlasic is one. Matt Irwin hasnt been able to secure his spot on the Sharks blueline, still getting scratched at times, but hes been effective enough through his first 100 NHL games, although his performance wasnt as strong last season. He has a bomb from the point and quite reasonably priced if he plays regularly. Playing increasingly difficult minutes, Justin Braun has matured into a relaible top-four defenceman, playing a career-high 20:59 per game last season. Not a lot of frills to his game, but Braun blocks shots (four behind Vlasic for the team lead) and has spent time paired with Vlasic in a shutdown role. Its been a long time (been a long time, been a long, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time) since Brad Stuart was drafted third overall in 1998 by the Sharks, and hes used in a much different, defence-first, role. Like many physical defensive defencemen, hes lost a step, and played a career-low 19:10 per game last season, but Stuart is certainly capable of filling a regular role in the top six. Jason Demers had something of a breakout year in 2013-2014, playing a career-high 19:29 per game and tallying a career-best 34 points as the Sharks most effective offensive contributor from the blueline. As such, hes likely due for a nice raise as a restricted free agent this summer.   Returning Goaltender Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Cap Hit Antti Niemi 63.95 64 39 17 7 2.39 .913 $3.8M Free Agent Goaltender Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Alex Stalock 74.34 24 12 5 2 1.87 .932 UFA $625K Antti Niemis play has been up and down over his five-plus NHL seasons, though last season likely counts as the worst to date, with a below-average .913 save percentage and an even-strength save percentage that ranked 22nd out of 24 goaltenders to play at least 2000 5-on-5 minutes in 2013-2014. Given how the season ended, it wouldnt be a shock to see the Sharks try to make a change, but they could also play out the final year of Niemis current deal. With Alex Stalock headed for free agency, the Sharks may want to grab better than a basic backup; ideally, someone that could step in to handle the job if Niemi doesnt bounce back next season. Top Prospects Player Pos. Team/League Stats Mirco Mueller D Everett (WHL) 5-22-27, +1, 60 GP Chris Tierney C London (OHL) 40-49-89, +44, 67 GP Freddie Hamilton RW Worcester (AHL) 22-21-43, -14, 64 GP Konrad Abeltshauser D Worcester (AHL) 6-15-21, even, 57 GP Gabryel Boudreau LW Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) 16-19-35, +8, 67 GP Matt Tennyson D Worcester (AHL) 7-14-21, -25, 54 GP Taylor Doherty D Worcester (AHL) 4-11-15, -6, 69 GP Dylan DeMelo D Worcester (AHL) 2-22-24, -17, 68 GP Sean Kuraly C Miami (NCHC) 12-17-29, -1, 38 GP Ryan Carpenter C Bowling Green (WCHA) 8-8-16, +3, 15 GP Daniil Tarasov RW Worcester (AHL) 17-14-31, +2, 47 GP Last summers first-round pick, Mirco Muellers point production dipped ever-so-slightly from his first WHL season, but hes a highly-regarded puck-mover. Can the Swiss rearguard make the jump next year, or will he be better served with another year in the Dub? A second-round pick in 2012, Chris Tierney has increased his offensive output at the junior level. Starting with the 2013 playoffs, he has 127 points ( 52 G, 75 A) in 97 games. Theres no rush to get him to San Jose, but Tierney is a good one to have in the pipeline. Freddie Hamilton, a fifth-round pick in 2010, made a nice progression in his second pro season and earned 11 games with San Jose. He struggled in the NHL, but the 22-year-old is available if the Sharks need a call-up. A sixth-round pick in 2010, 6-foot-5 Konrad Abeltshauser made a nice transition to the AHL and could push quickly in an organization that, aside from Mueller, doesnt have great blueline prospects. Taken in the second round last year, Gabryel Boudreau saw his scoring dive from 63 points in 2012-2013 to 35 points last season. Thats not very encouraging, but is also an indication that hes due for further development before he gets his turn at pro hockey. With 50 points in 121 AHL games over two-plus seasons, Matt Tennyson has shown the puck skills to warrant consideration for promotion, but the free agent out of Western Michigan hasnt been reliable enough defensively. A 6-foot-8 defenceman with three-plus years of AHL exerperience, Taylor Doherty isnt going to score his way to the Show, and has yet to see action in an NHL game, but hes 6-foot-8 and can move well for that size, so the 2009 second-round pick shouldnt be discounted yet. Drafted in the sixth round in 2011, Dylan DeMelo has worked his way into position to contend with other San Jose blueline prospects. At the same time, hes 21-years-old and could use further development. Picked in the fifth round in 2011, Sean Kuraly is a winger with good size who had a nice bump in production as a sophomore, finishing third on his team in scoring. With another year or two of development, he could turn into a solid two-way contributor. Signed out of Bowling Green after scoring 16 points in 15 during an injury-plauged junior season, Ryan Carpenter struggled in his first taste of pro hockey, registering a couple of assists in 11 games with Worcester, but hes a low-risk signing that could be interesting based on his improving numbers in college. Daniil Tarasov has worked his way up from the USHL and has 31 goals and 59 points in 90 AHL games over the past couple seasons. Sharks advanced stats and player usage chart from Extra Skater DRAFT20th - Josh Ho-Sang, Roland McKeown, David Pastrnak FREE AGENCYAccording to www.capgeek.com, the Sharks have approximately $58.7M committed to the 2014-2015 salary cap for 17 players. Check out my possible Sharks lineup for next season on Cap Geek here. Needs: One top six forward, depth forwards, one top four defenceman, backup goaltender.What I said the Sharks needed last year: One top six forward, two defencemen.They added: Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto, Tyler Kennedy, Scott Hannan. TRADE MARKETPatrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Irwin, Antti Niemi. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Michael Jordan Bulls Jersey . The game will be made up on Thursday as part of a day-night doubleheader. Tickets for the Wednesdays game will be honoured for the 1:05 p. Taj Gibson Black Jersey . The Arena das Dunas in the northeastern city of Natal sustained minor damage during the protests, but demonstrators stayed away on Sunday and officials said the stadium passed its first test, with only minor adjustments needed going forward. WASHINGTON -- When Braves baserunners Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn both found themselves near the bag at second during a rundown, it looked like the sort of mistake that plagues a team on its way to wasting a chance to make the playoffs. Seconds later, when Bourn wound up scoring an odd-as-can-be run on the play, he was greeted by laughter and high-fives in the dugout. "A little crazy way to add on a run in the ninth," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said, "but well take it right now." Yes, this was a game the Braves needed badly. Jones, Dan Uggla and others knocked around Stephen Strasburg a bit in a three-run first inning, and Atlanta beat the Washington Nationals 7-4 Friday night to increase its lead in the NL wild-card standings to three games. "That was a good play. It energized us," said Bourn, who stole two bases to raise his majors-leading total to 58. Then, after speaking specifically about the ninth-inning rundown that padded Atlantas margin against Washington, he added: "I think the whole game is what energized us." The Braves had lost eight of their previous 12 games, and they entered Friday with their once-hefty edge over the St. Louis Cardinals for a post-season berth down to two games. But St. Louis lost 5-1 to the Chicago Cubs. "Good, good momentum boost tonight," Jones said. The only damper on the evening was that right-hander Tim Hudson (16-10) headed to the hospital to get treated for cramping near his neck after pitching 5 2-3 innings for the Braves. During his final inning, the sixth, Hudson was visited on the mound by Gonzalez and a team trainer but stayed in to face four more batters. Gonzalez said after the game that Hudson went to the hospital "to get some fluids in him" and called it "nothing serious." The manager said Hudson "has a history of" cramping. "Its well documented that he cramps up every once in a while. Thats what happened," Gonzalez said. "It was a lot more humid than we expected for September here, but hes fine, other than that." Atlantas rookie closer, Craig Kimbrel, got three outs for his 46th save in 53 chances. Uggla finished with three hits and two RBIs, including a run-scoring single while Strasburg (0-1) laboured at the outset of the game, which began 14 minutes late because of rain. The right-hander, coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery, allowed four hits in an inning for the firstt time in the majors, according to STATS LLC. Doug McDermott Bulls Jersey. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg was too "amped up" and "a little hyper" at the beginning of the game and "really started to overthrow it." Strasburg needed 38 pitches -- spread across 18 minutes -- to get through the top of the first. He faced eight batters and gave up three runs, two earned. "I got some pitches up. If I would have got the ball down, they would have been ground balls," said Strasburg, who was making the fourth start of his comeback from reconstructive elbow surgery. He explained that he found that he was "trying to slow down, trying to stay within myself." Strasburg allowed consecutive singles to Martin Prado, Jones and Uggla, and later a two-out RBI single to Freddie Freeman that made it 2-0. Jack Wilson then hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The ball bounced off Zimmermans right wrist, between his legs and trailed off into left field for an error that scored Uggla. Collin Balester replaced Strasburg for the fifth and walked two batters before serving up Ugglas RBI double. And that was it for Balester, who was charged with three runs, because the next reliever, Atahualpa Severino, was greeted by Brian McCanns two-run double. Hudson, meanwhile, did what he nearly always does against the Nationals: win. Hes 14-3 against them. The righty gave up a bunch of hits, nine in all, but limited the scoring to three runs. Jayson Werth hit his 20th homer in the eighth off Jonny Venters, one of four relievers used by Atlanta. It was only the third homer off Venters in the 169 innings hes pitched in the majors. That made it 6-4. But the Braves tacked on an extra run in the ninth when the Nationals blew the rundown, left home plate uncovered, and let Bourn trot in to score on a fielders choice groundout by Jones that wound being scored 1-6-5-3-4. "A lot of things happened there," Johnson said. NOTES: Strasburg allowed five singles, struck out three, walked none and left with Washington trailing 3-1 in his last home start of 2011. It was his fourth appearance this season and the 16th of his career. ... The Braves send RHP Brandon Beachy (7-2) to the mound to face Nationals RHP Chien-Ming Wang (3-3) on Saturday. The teams wrap up the three-game series Sunday, with LHP Mike Minor (5-2) pitching for Atlanta against LHP Ross Detwiler (3-5). wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys' ' '

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