KPIX 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on KPIX 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.
(KPIX 5) — For Sharks opponents, it’s no longer safe to go back on the ice.
No team benefitted more from the three week layoff than the San Jose Sharks, who welcomed back Logan Couture and Raffi Torres. Couture missed 16 games after surgery on his hand while Torres missed the first half with a torn ACL.
Still, the Sharks managed to go 37-16-6 without them and no have a chance to finish as one of hockey’s hottest teams over the final 22 games. Case in point? Look no further than Thursday night when Couture and Torres scored two goals apiece.
Naturally, it was the Big Pavelski who stole the show with another hat trick, but what else is new? The prophetic Pavelski said before the game that the ice seemed small compared to the Olympic venue he’d been playing on.
Turns out it was small for everyone in teal. The Sharks exploded for five goals in the second period to beat the Flyers and are now 9-1-3 over the last 13 games against Philadelphia.
Some Olympic hangover, huh? Pavelski is the hottest player in the NHL since January 1st with 15 goals.
Oh, did I mention that super rookie Tomas Hertl is close to returning after blowing up his knee on December 19?
Point being, the Sharks have their bite back. They simply destroyed a Flyers team that was red-hot going into the Olympic break. If you’re going to go deep in the playoffs, it’s about depth and balance.
The Sharks will have that for the first time in a long time. Which line Pavelski or Couture plays on is less significant than the fact they playing, period.
Perhaps the most intriguing position to keep an eye on will be who is in goal. It was Stalock on Thursday night, but Todd McLellan remains solidly behind Anti Niemi. Stalock has made a highly improbable comeback from a severed nerve in his left leg that had to be reattached.
But it’s become more than a comeback story. The guy shattered the Sharks record this year, going 178:55 without allowing a goal, and his goals against average is 1.58 to Niemi’s 2.37.
The Sharks coach has nice problem. Too many teeth.