This was one of the strangest trade deadlines in a long time for the San Jose Sharks. On Tuesday they said goodbye to long-time fan favorite Ryane Clowe, who reportedly slept for only an hour and a half between getting traded and playing for the Rangers. Then Clowe came out and notched two goals and an assist in his debut, because hockey is really, really weird.
Wednesday morning, San Jose acquired former-Shark (and member of the greatest 5-0n-3 penalty kill in franchise history) Scott Hannan from the Nashville Predators. Doug Wilson seemed to be done altering the team when, just minutes after the deadline passed, it was announced the Sharks acquired Raffi Torres from the Coyotes.
It all culminated with a hockey game at HP Pavilion featuring the home team taking on the home team-lite in the Minnesota Wild. As it stands, the current construction of both San Jose and Minnesota are products of major transations in 2011 offseason. San Jose traded Devin Setoguchi, prospect Charlie Coyle and the 28th overall pick for Brent Burns before trading Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat as well.
Every one of them played a role in the Sharks’ 4-2 win, some more than others.
- First it was Burns who set up the table for Havlat to open up the scoring. Burns forechecked hard, took the puck and slid it to Joe Thorton on the corner boards. Thornton fed Havlat in the slot, who slid the puck past Niklas Backstrom.
- Dan Boyle scored next, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
- The Wild answered. After a breakdown in the Sharks’ zone, Zach Parise threw a puck at the net that slid past Antti Niemi to the post, where Coyle was there to deposit it. Coyle’s emergence as not only an NHL ready prospect, but one worthy of playing on the Wild’s top line is already a thorn in Sharks’ fans sides. Scoring on his former team only makes matters worse.
- The man who tied the game was Heatley, with a vintage “Heater” slap shot from the high slot. It was even met with a few scattered cheers, which would have indicated there were a few Heatley fans still around in San Jose… until the final moments of the game.
San Jose took a penalty with less than a minute to play and Backstrom pulled. From there it was a rough 6-on-4 battle in front of the net, and a nasty scrum erupted as the final horn sounded. Heatley and Marc-Edouard Vlasic exchanged slashes before wrestling each other to the ground. Heatley came out of it battered, skating off the ice clutching his arm to a downpour of boos from the HP Pavilion crowd.
After the game, Vlasic explained what happened:
Q: What happened at the end there with you and Dany?
Vlasic: The last shift, both teams were crosschecking and slashing and so forth. He took a swing at me and missed, I took a swing at him and got him.
RSG: Where’d you catch him?
Vlasic: I don’t know. I mean, he just swung at me and I swung at him. I mean, he could have easily hit me. I wasn’t intending to hurt him. I just wanted to slash him because he took a swing at me and missed but he got me the shift before. I mean, if he’s going to slash me I’m going to defend myself and just swing back and unfortunately I got him and I don’t … I didn’t want to hurt him but if he’s going to slash me I was just defending myself and swung back.
Q: You have anything carry over from any other game with him?
Vlasic: No, it’s just in front, you know, the last couple shifts… [Pavelski] got slew-footed, I got crosschecked by [Heatley] in front and I gave him a crosscheck back. I mean, guys are battling in front, if you’re going to get a crosscheck I assume you can give one back, and that’s what happened in the last shift. Unfortunately, I got him in the wrist or the shoulder, I’m not sure where I got him, but that was not my intent. My intent was just to defend myself.
While the story of the game will undoubtedly be the scrappy rivalry the Sharks and the Wild are developing, San Jose has put together an extremely solid stretch now. This was their sixth win in a row and they’re fully taking advantage of their recent home-heavy schedule. San Jose now sits in fourth place despite being tied with — guess who — the Northwest Division-leading Wild with 44 points.
— Now, about Dan Boyle’s goal. It was his third 5-on-3 goal of the season, a coast-to-coast beauty that left everybody speechless. So there really isn’t much to say. Without further ado, this is why I learned to make .gifs:
— In the postgame presser I asked Todd McLellan about the physical play his team had been exhibiting lately and what he attributed it to:
RSG: It was particularly physical tonight, what do you attribute that too?
McLellan: I think it was more emotional than physical. There were some battles and that type of stuff but it was emotional. It gets right down to the end where we’re down six-on-four. Competitive teams, competitive players on both sides. Teams that are close in the standings. An emotional time for both teams — trade deadlines and so a lot going on.
— I also asked Thornton what he thought about Clowe’s two-goal performance in his first game with the Rangers:
RSG: Thoughts on Clowe’s performance tonight?
Thornton: Yeah, I see he buried two and, you know, I think most of the guys who were watching the game were pretty happy for him.