With two weeks left in the regular season, the San Jose Sharks might be the only National Hockey League club with two, 40-goal scorers. Patrick Marleau
is one of four in the NHL’s 40-goal club with 42. There’s a good chance that teammate Dany Heatley will join him. Not only does Heatley have 39 goals, he’s also one shy of 300 for his career.
How does this compare with the rest of the NHL? In Washington, Alex Ovechkin has 45, while Alexander Semin has 35. The only other team that could have two, 40-goal men is New Jersey with Ilya Kovalchuk (38) and Zach Parise (35).
It’s no surprise that the three teams are near the top of the NHL’s standings with Washington and San Jose ranking first and second overall, with New Jersey sitting with the third best mark in the Eastern Conference (which could be higher if they had Kovalchuk all year).
Those results are what Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson had in mind when he acquired Heatley before the season began. So did Joe Thornton
“You know both were capable of scoring 40,” Thornton said. “Dany has done it a number of years and Patty has been close to 40 in the past. Forty goals is a big number and not of lot of guys can score 40. They are two of the best in the League.”
Which makes it even more special is when two could be on one club.
For Thornton, whose love and skill for passing makes him one of the best playmakers in the history of the game, it has been a fun ride this year.
“Having good scorers definitely helps out,” he said.
The key note for Wilson in having both players is neither is a cherry picker who doesn’t know the defensive side of the blueline. They’re committed to all areas of the ice and the special teams play also includes work on the penalty kill, not just the glamorous power play.
“They play both ends of the rink including the penalty kill and do the things to help us win,” Wilson said.
Marleau was the known commodity to the fans as they had watched his speed on the penalty kill for years, but Wilson had no doubt about Heatley’s commitment to the all-around game.
“We did a lot of homework,” Wilson said. “His plus/minus (rating) is extremely high and he’s a two-way, 5-on-5 player. He’s a hockey rat who does what’s necessary to win hockey games.”
With Marleau, Wilson has enjoyed seeing his longtime star blossom into his finest campaign.
“He played really well last year, but this is the best we’ve seen him play,” Wilson said. “The goal scoring speaks for itself, but the other things he does, including leading by example, are what make him stand out.”
There’s no status change with Joe Thornton
’s day-to-day lower body injury, but he’s set to depart with the club on the upcoming four-game road trip tomorrow afternoon.
“I’m going on the trip, so hopefully sometime on the trip,” said Thornton about when he could play. “Every day I wake up it will feel better and better.”
Thornton was asked about whether he had thoughts about playing in the last game as Head Coach Todd McLellan noted the night Thornton was injured.
“Yeah, but I couldn’t,” Thornton said with a smile.
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San Jose will visit Dallas Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.