The San Jose Sharks will close out the season with an extremely tough six games that will be completed in nine nights. But there’s no better time then now for the red hot Sharks to be as confident as they have been all season.
And why not? The Sharks will play host to the Dallas Stars Sunday night at HP Pavilion after returning home from an outstanding road trip in which they earned a crucial six points. With four of their final six games at home, the Sharks feel very good about their chances moving forward.
“Obviously we needed all the points we could get on the road,” said Joe Thornton
. “Going into Dallas, Colorado and LA and beating all those teams was a huge confidence booster for the team. It shows that we can really play on the road with the best teams in the League. It’s a fun and exciting time for all of us in here. We’ll be excited for tomorrow and then we go on the road for Phoenix and Vancouver. We’ve got some huge games coming up, so we have to play our best hockey moving forward.”
Team Teal has been riding the hot hand of Vesa Toskala who has been playing unbelievable hockey the last few months. Toskala has earned two NHL Player of the Week honors recently and will surely be up for another one after finishing the last road trip with a 3-0 record with a shutout and just three goals allowed.
“That was a perfect road trip,” said Toskala. “We got six points from the three games and I think it gives us lots of confidence. The third game we could have been tired because of the back-to-back games, but I thought we were flying out there. We played really well defensively. I only had to make 14 saves.”
The Finnish netminder has improved his record to 19-7-0 with a 2.57 goal-against average and a .900 save percentage in 33 games. Toskala will look to carry forward the success he’s had against Dallas this year, as he has gone 2-0-0 against the Pacific Division rivals this season.
“It’s so much easier to play all the time,” said Toskala. “You feel like you are in there right from the start and you don’t have to work that hard to get into it. I just feel really comfortable right now.”
There’s no question that the Dallas Stars will come out looking for revenge after their 3-2 overtime loss at the hands of the Sharks last Monday. But as long as San Jose plays with the same intensity as they did on the last road trip, they will look forward to climbing in the Western Conference standings.
“We feel good about ourselves right now,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson. “I think for sure we understand and are playing with the urgency that we need. We don’t have to be reminded that the season’s down to nine days now. We just have to come ready to play every night.”
CARLE PRACTICES AFTER HECTIC DAY
Just because he won the most prestigious individual award in college hockey yesterday doesn’t mean that Sharks rookie defenseman Matt Carle didn’t have to practice today.
After traveling to and from Milwaukee for the Hobey Baker ceremony yesterday, Carle was still in a state of shock over the recent events in his life after the Sharks practice Saturday.
“The whole experience was overwhelming,” said Carle. “It was pretty nerve racking sitting there through the ceremony, but those two guys were great guys and it seemed like we were joking around the whole time. To be able to win it, it hasn’t really sunk in yet to be honest. It was good to be there though. It was kind of my last college hockey experience.”
Even after winning the Heisman Trophy of college hockey, the Hobey Baker award, Carle would have preferred another trip to the Frozen Four.
“Hockey’s a team sport, so when you can accomplish more as a team and as a group it definitely trumps winning an individual award,” he said. “I’m happy to be here in San Jose, but at the same time, I’d trade in the Hobey Baker to just be competing in the Frozen Four.”
In addition to winning the Hobey Baker award, Carle was named to the NCAA’s All-American Team. Both Carle and recent Sharks signee Dan Spang earned First Team honors, while Sharks prospect Joe Pavelski
was named a Second Team All-American.