Olympics or not, Sharp happy with play

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp will learn whether he’s been selected to play for Canada in the Olympics in less than a month.

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.