San Jose Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala, who led the team to four victories with a 0.98 goals-against average, .950 save percentage and one shutout, was named the NHL’s Defensive Player of the Week today.
Toskala, who captured Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in three weeks, made 16 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Dallas Stars April 3 and turned aside 25 of 26 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche April 5. The 28-year-old Tampere, Finland native made 14 saves for his fourth career NHL shutout in a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings April 6 and finished the week with 21 saves as the Sharks defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 April 9.
“It’s a really nice honor,” said Toskala. “It was a great week for us, getting eight points in four games. Our defense has been playing really good. Other teams are averaging around 20 shots a game, so that always gives us a chance to win games.”
Toskala improved to 20-7-4 in 34 games, including a 16-2-2 mark in his past 20 appearances.
“He’s been great,” said Jonathan Cheechoo. “I got to play with him for a couple years in the minors too and there were nights where he was facing 50 shots and we’d only lose 2-1. I’ve known what he’s capable of and now he’s starting to show everybody else. He’s been solid in there and he’s a big key for us during the playoff run.”
The Sharks (40-26-11, 91 points), seventh in the Western Conference, will continue their playoff push when they visit Phoenix tonight and Vancouver Wednesday before finishing the regular season with home games against Vancouver, Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Team Teal will have to find a way to solve Curtis Joseph and the Coyotes, as they have won just one game out of six against them this season.
“A week ago we lost two games against them at home,” said Toskala. “Again it’s a huge game, every game is huge now. If we can play the same way we did yesterday, we shouldn’t have any problems.”
Tonight’s game can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on the Sharks Radio Network and sjsharks.com. The Sharks will also be hosting the Coolest Game of the Month party at Stanley’s Sports Bar at Logitech Ice tonight. Be sure to support the Sharks and head to Stanley’s for your chance to win great Sharks prizes.
SHARKS PROSPECT HELPS TEAM WIN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Sharks prospect Joe Pavelski
assisted on the game tying goal in the Wisconsin Badgers National Championship game on Saturday against Boston College.
With the assist, Pavelski became just the ninth Badger to reach 100 points in his first two years at the University of Wisconsin and the first since the Ottawa Senators Dany Heatley.
Pavelski, Wisconsin’s leading scorer in 2005-06, with 23 goals and 54 points, finished tied for sixth in the nation in scoring. A 2006 All-WCHA Second Team pick and 2005 WCHA All-Rookie Team selection, the Plover, Wis., native was a member of the 2006 NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team.
Scoring his first career hat trick with a three-goal game against Bemidji State in the NCAA Midwest Regional, Pavelski lead the team with 15 multi-point games, six game-winning goals and 11 power-play goals, while sharing the team lead with two short-handed scores.
The recent owner of a career-high, 12-game scoring streak (6-11=17), Pavelski was also named to the 2006 Insidecollegehockey.com All-America Second-Team.
In a game Jan. 14 at Colorado College, Pavelski tied a UW record with four assists in the first period on the way to a five-point game. All four assists came on the same five-minute major penalty and the four points in the first period were one off the school record for a single period.
Tied for the national lead among freshmen scorers in 2004–05 with 45 points, Pavelski is a 2003 draft pick of the Sharks.
PLIHAL & CLOWE RECALLED
On Monday, the Sharks recalled forwards Ryane Clowe and Tomas Plihal from the Cleveland Barons, the Sharks top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Clowe has split the season between San Jose and Cleveland. This being his third call-up, Clowe has posted two points (0-2=2) in 17 games with the Sharks this season. With the Barons this season, Clowe has nearly averaged one point per game with 34 points (13-21=34) in 35 games.
The six-foot-two, 225-pound native of St. John’s Newfoundland was originally selected by San Jose in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Last season, he led the Barons in goals (27, assists (35), points (62) and plus/minus (+19) en route to being named the team’s most valuable player.
Plihal has produced 30 points (11-19=30) in 74 games this season. Experiencing the NHL for the first time in his three-year professional career, he has registered eight points (7-1=8) in the Barons last seven games. Plihal has 74 points (32-42=74) in his 187 games with the Barons.
The six-foot-one, 195-pound native of Frydlant, Czech Republic was originally selected by San Jose in the fifth round (140th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.