He’ll be happy if he’s included. He’ll be upset if he’s not. He has no idea which emotion will be coming on that given day.
The only certainty Sharp knows about that moment of truth is he’ll have no regrets about the player he’s been in recent years. He’s confident he’s done everything he could to be picked for Team Canada.
“I hope so,” Sharp said on Wednesday. “I know the last Olympics in 2010 I was disappointed not to be a part of it. I feel like in the last couple seasons I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve been on a good team, won two championships, been able to play in the World Championships before and playing in some pretty important games.
“That’s a decision out of my hands. I’m not really focusing on that right now. Whatever happens, I’ll be happy with the way I’ve played.”
What Sharp can provide Team Canada is a reliable defensive player who can handle the responsibilities of any line and an offensive player who is among the league’s premier shooters. Sharp likes to let it go from every angle in hopes of notching a goal for himself or creating an opportunity for his teammates.
Sharp has consistently been a high-volume shooter and scorer, but he’s taken that to another level this season. Alex Ovechkin leads the league with 156 shots on goal, and Sharp is second with 132. Sharp is averaging a career-high 3.9 shots a game.
More shots on net have also been leading to more points. Sharp is averaging almost a point a game. He has 32 points in 34 games. He’s escalated that rate in December. He’s had five goals, four assists and 29 shots on goal over the last six games. He’s accumulated eight of those points in the last three games.
“Not really doing anything different,” Sharp said. “I think it’s a product of being on a really good team that has the puck a lot. When it comes to me, I’m the guy who is supposed to shoot it, so I’ve been sending more pucks to the net. Goals weren’t going in how I thought they should be at the start of the year. When I’m not scoring, I like to shoot even more. It might be the reason why the shots are so high.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville can never get enough shots. It’s what he believed the Blackhawks lacked last season on the power play, and what Sharp has helped fix this season by providing a constant shot from the point. He has five goals and eight assists on the power play this season.
“I think that the thought process of our power play is shooting the puck, and he’s been leading the charge,” Quenneville said. “That point shot is getting through and been productive as well. I think that shot-first mentality is something we get a lot of action off shots whether it’s off the rush or in the zone.
“The shot-first mentality, Sharp has that, we like that, and I think that plays into the team’s strength.”
Team Canada’s management now has to decide whether Sharp’s skills can play into their team’s strength as well. He already plays alongside Jonathan Toews on the Blackhawks' top line, and that familiarity could be an asset. Quenneville thought Sharp had a real chance of making the team, and it’s easy to find predictions all over the internet with Sharp on and off the roster.
Sharp has tried to steer clear from the outside noise, though. He said he hasn’t received any indication where he stands with Team Canada and plans to find out like everyone else. But instead of spending time getting himself worked up about something that’s out of his hands, he’s devoting his time and effort to what he can control.
“Just play hockey,” Sharp said.
Ryan Hartman, forward, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Hartman, the Blackhawks’ 2013 first-round pick, returned to playing last week after missing nearly a month with an injury. He had two assists and a plus-two rating in his first game back on Friday. He’s since played in two more games. He has 10 goals, 13 assists and a minus-16 rating in 23 games this season.
Vince Hinostroza, forward, Notre Dame (NCAA)
Hinostroza became last week the third Blackhawks prospect to be named to the preliminary U.S. roster for the World Junior Hockey Championships. Hartman and Tyler Motte were previously named to the roster. Hinostroza, a freshman, is second on the Fighting Irish with 14 points. He has three goals and 11 assists.
* Corey Perry (ANA): 7 straight games with a goal (longest streak this season and 3rd longest in Ducks history)
* Ducks: won 6 straight vs Wild
* Ducks: 12-0-2 at home this season (only team without a regulation home loss)
Longest Goal Scoring Streaks
Teemu Selanne 11 1997-98
Teemu Selanne 8 1998-99
Corey Perry 7 2013-14
Paul Kariya 6 1999-00
Longest Goal-Scoring Streaks
NHL This Season
Corey Perry 7
Steven Stamkos 6
Alexander Steen 6
Patrick Marleau 5
Kings 3, Maple Leafs 1
* Kings: have won 5 straight games and have earned a point in 16 of their past 17 games (12-1-4)
* Drew Doughty (LA): 6th goal of the season (in his 32nd game), as many as he had in 48 games last season
* Maple Leafs: 2-5-2 in their past 9 games
* From Elias: Martin Jones: first goaltender ever to allow an average of less than one goal per game while winning the first four games of his NHL career
Blackhawks 7, Flyers 2
* Patrick Sharp (CHI): goal, 2 assists; 4th 3-point game this season (only Nicklas Backstrom and Sidney Crosby have more)
* Marian Hossa (CHI): 3 assists (1st 3-assist game since 2011)
* Blackhawks: outscored opponents 19-6 during current 3-game win streak
* Flyers: largest loss to Blackhawks since February 1973
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks like to say they're getting the "bounces" when they score a lot of goals in a game.
They make it sound as if they're catching a break and have luck on their side for that day.
But the reality coming to light as the sample size grows and they continue to score an excessive amount of goals is the Blackhawks are simply that good.
The Blackhawks were at it again offensively Wednesday and filled the Philadelphia Flyers' net seven times on their way to a 7-2 win at the United Center. It was the Blackhawks' third consecutive game of at least six goals.
Just don't tell that to the Blackhawks.
"Sometimes it's easy and things happen for you, and you get the bounces and sometimes they don't," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I think the last few games it's a good example of it. We're playing consistent."
Playing with consistency and utilizing their depth have been the keys to the Blackhawks' offensive success.
Take Toews as an example of that depth. The Blackhawks have been lighting the lamp aplenty over the last few weeks, but Toews wasn't the one scoring those goals. He had assists and he was doing other things, but he wasn't scoring. His goal Wednesday was his first in eight games.
The Blackhawks have been getting production from everywhere in the lineup. Of their 19 goals in the last three games, 11 different players have scored. All seven goals Wednesday were scored by different players. The Blackhawks have six players with at least 10 goals.
"Every line seems to bring something different and some chemistry," Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg said. "I think it's really been coming in. It's coming in big time over the last three games for sure. Just got to keep it up."
The Blackhawks may soon be adding another offensive threat, as well. Bryan Bickell, who was expected to be a 20-goal scorer this season, could return to practicing with the team Friday after missing 12 games because of a lower-body injury.
Add in Bickell to an already potent offense and the Blackhawks may just have the potential to be one of the best offensive teams in recent seasons. The season is still young, but their 3.68 goals-per-game average is the highest since the Washington Capitals averaged 3.82 goals during the 2009-10 season.
Maybe at some point the Blackhawks will quit talking about bounces. Versteeg seemed to be getting closer Wednesday.
"It's not a fluke if you keep doing it," Versteeg said. "Hopefully we keep it up. We've been playing good hockey. At the odd time, a few games ago, we had our chances they just didn't go in for whatever reason. They're going in now. That's the game of hockey. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't."
Right now, it does.
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 7-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center on Wednesday.
How it happened: The Blackhawks went off in the second period for five goals and quickly erased a 1-0 deficit. They added two goals in the third period to get to the final score. The Blackhawks received goals from Duncan Keith, Andrew Shaw, Michal Handzus, Kris Versteeg, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp. Flyers goaltender Ray Emery, who played for the Blackhawks last season, allowed six goals on 18 shots and was pulled during the third period. Blackhawks rookie goaltender Antti Raanta made his second consecutive start in place of injured Corey Crawford and had 28 saves. Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek accounted for the Flyers’ goals.
What it means: The Blackhawks have been on an offensive roll the past three games, scoring 19 goals over that span. The Blackhawks have scored five or more goals in 14 games this season. They extended their winning streak to three games and improved to 23-6-5 with 51 points on the season. The one negative for Chicago on the night was its penalty kill. The Blackhawks came into the game killing off their past 10 penalties. The Flyers halted that streak on their first power play and later scored a second power-play goal. The Flyers were playing in the final game of a six-game road trip. They fell to 13-15-3 on the season.
Player of the game: Sharp had a goal and two assists on the night. He’s compiled eight points over the past three games.
Stat of the game: The Blackhawks scored four goals on six shots during a span in the second period.
What’s next: The Blackhawks are set for another set of back-to-back games. They travel to play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
CHICAGO -- The Frozen Four will be held at the United Center in Chicago in 2017, the NCAA announced on Wednesday.
The event will be held in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame on April 6-8, 2017, and it will mark the first time the Division I men's hockey championship will be played at the United Center.
"Hosting these NCAA championships is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Chicago as the first-class sports destination that it is," Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "I look forward to welcoming the NCAA student-athletes, coaches, and fans to one of the country's greatest and most spirited sports cities."
Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz was also pleased to host the games at the United Center.
"We are incredibly proud to welcome the Frozen Four to the United Center in 2017," Wirtz said in a statement. "Along with our partner, the University of Notre Dame, we cannot think of a better hockey community to host this national championship and know what a powerful economic impact it will have on the city of Chicago. Since privately built in 1994, the United Center and the west side of Chicago have been home to countless memorable moments and we have no doubt that this marquee event will add to that legacy."
The Frozen Four will be held in Philadelphia in 2014, Boston in 2015, Tampa, Fla. in 2016, and St. Paul, Minn. in 2018.
Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell, the team’s lone forward or defenseman still injured, could return to practicing with the team as early as Friday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. Bickell has missed the past 11 games with a lower-body injury.
“He’s made good progress,” Quenneville said prior to Wednesday’s game with the Philadelphia Flyers. “He could join practice on that Friday.”
Quenneville hasn’t had a healthy roster of forwards and defensemen to utilize since the Blackhawks added forward Kris Versteeg to the mix on Nov. 14. Injuries have kept Bickell, Michal Handzus, Andrew Shaw, Marian Hossa and Mike Kostka out of the team’s lineup at various points since then.
Kostka was the last player to return from injury, and he came back on Tuesday and contributed a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks’ 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
With Kostka back, the Blackhawks again have eight healthy defensemen. Quenneville began the season rotating Kostka, Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival in the final defenseman spot.
“It’s great depth,” Quenneville said. “Game in and game out, the guy that comes in that spot has been very effective for us. Whether you call it the third pairing or whatever it is, we’re getting consistency across the board. Our defense has been a big part of our team and our success. That just doesn’t change much who takes that spot. We look for that guy to come in and make a difference.”
Bickell’s return could bolster the league’s best offense, which is averaging 3.58 goals per game. Bickell got off to a slow start with five goals and one assist in 22 games this season, but he is expected to turn it on at some point this season and resemble the player he was in the playoffs last season. He had nine goals and eight assists in 23 playoff games last season and was given a four-year, $16 million contract in the offseason.
The one area where the Blackhawks are still dealing with injuries is at goaltender. Nikolai Khabibulin hasn’t played since Nov. 16 due to a lower-body injury, and there is no timetable for him to return. The Blackhawks also expect to be without goaltender Corey Crawford for about three weeks after he suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday. Kent Simpson serves as Antti Raanta’s backup.
Henrik Lundqvist agreed to a seven-year, $59.5 million extension with the New York Rangers last week, giving him the fifth highest cap hit in the NHL after Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Corey Perry. The King's annual cap hit will be $1.5 million more than any other goalie, including Boston's Tuukka Rask and Nashville's Pekka Rinne, who have cap hits of $7 million next season.
The Blueshirts didn't have much choice. Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy for his work in the 2011-2012 season, and was a finalist last season after posting a 24-16-3 with a .926 save percentage. He has been the Rangers' MVP for seven straight campaigns, and was in net when Sweden won the gold medal during the 2006 Olympics. To see him in net for another team just wasn't an option.
But all of that doesn't make it a good deal. In fact, it could even be argued that the contract will become an overpay within the next few years, even against a rising salary cap.
Since the NHL started tracking save percentage (1983-84) there have been just 96 seasons where goalies aged 32 to 38 have posted an above-average save percentage over 40 or more games played. Only eight have done it four or more times: Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Tim Thomas, Curtis Joseph, Dwayne Roloson, Martin Brodeur and Tomas Vokoun. I'd agree with you if you said Lundqvist is as good or better than some of those netminders, but it gets harder and harder for a goaltender to be better than average over the long haul the older he gets.
In the chart, you can see the breakdown of those 96 seasons by the goaltender's age at the start of the campaign.
The Rangers were backed into a corner when it came to signing the face of the franchise, but they aren't alone: every year, contracts are handed out that end up on the wrong side of the return on investment ledger. Here is a look at some of those, along with some bargains and some justifiable high-cap hit contracts.
Goalies are a fickle bunch. One season, they're a Stanley Cup champion and a finalist for the Vezina Trophy; the next they post a below-average .902 save percentage but are signed to a 10-year contract extension worth $58 million anyway. Quick's 2013-14 record of 10-5-0 is impressive, but his save percentage is not (.905). His two backups -- Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones -- who get paid $1.1 million collectively, have combined for a 0.950 save percentage. The player with the eighth largest cap hit in the league should at least be able to outperform his backups.
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Chicago's one weakness this season continued its upswing Tuesday night as the Blackhawks killed off five power plays in their 6-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.
Included were three kills in the third period with the game all but decided. Going back to Sunday's 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, Chicago has killed off all 10 power plays it has faced.
Yes, the Stars are now a sorry 1-for-47 on the power play at home. Even so, for Chicago -- which entered Tuesday ranked 29th in the league with a 73.3 penalty-killing percentage -- this is some major improvement.
“Yeah, I thought we had a couple or three late in the game that had to get through," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said after Tuesday's victory. "The guys stayed with it, did the right things.
“So we’ll say baby steps, but hopefully we’ll get some confidence off it and turn the other way.”
"If the forwards want to score points, that's fine for me," Raanta said. "I have to just keep on doing my own job. It's pretty nice to be a goalie on this team."
Raanta could get used to Chicago's goal-scoring barrages while starting goalie Corey Crawford spends at least three weeks recovering from a groin injury.
The Blackhawks scored six goals for the second straight game. They also won 6-2 on Sunday in Florida when Raanta replaced the injured Crawford during the game. It's now up to 13 times in 33 games Chicago has scored at least five goals.
Raanta had a 1-0 lead handed to him 123 seconds into the game, when defenseman Michael Kostka, playing for the first time after missing 22 games with a right foot injury, scored a goal on his first shift.
Then came five more goals from the Blackhawks' top three scoring lines.
First came Patrick Kane, who scored on a breakaway for a 2-0 lead at the 12:05 mark of the first period.
Then it was Brandon Saad at even strength at the 2:46 mark of the second period for a 3-0 lead after the Stars appeared to be creating momentum following a listless first period.
Patrick Sharp -- quickly becoming a Stars killer as this new division rivalry blossoms -- added two consecutive goals in the second period, one on a power play and another on a brilliant pass by defenseman Duncan Keith.
Sharp tried to cut through two Stars defensemen on his forehand, circled around at the blue line toward the Blackhawks' bench and received a gorgeous pass from Keith, who was to the right of the Chicago goal and Raanta. Sharp did the rest from there, beating Dallas backup goalie Dan Ellis for a 5-0 lead with 8:52 still left in the second period.
"Great pass," Sharp said. "Great pass. There's not a lot of players in the league that can make that pass. It was hard and accurate and right on the tape. I had the easy job of just kind of doing my best to get a shot on net."
Don't forget the job the Blackhawks did in keeping the Stars from creating scoring chances. Chicago did an exceptional job with their backchecking on Tuesday night.
The Stars, who rely on their speed and quickness, appeared to have chances going at Raanta, but the Blackhawks' forward were able to make it back and deflect pass after pass away.
At one point midway through the second period, the Stars had all of five shots on goal.
I know we've gotten a lot of attention for some guys that score goals and put up big numbers.
"But the key is our defensive play and the way our forwards come back and play well defensively. We weren't aware of the shots or the stats of the game, but I knew we had a good team going."