The San Jose Sharks are winning, the Edmonton Oilers are losing, and the hockey world is turned upside down.
The Sharks, after a 3-2 victory over the Oilers, now have as many wins as the would-be Stanley Cup contenders.
Who woulda thunk it? Especially after San Jose started the season with an 11-game losing streak. But now they’re 2-10-1, while Edmonton is 2-9-1. Unbelievably, that’s five points apiece.
39 saves by Mackenzie Blackwood, along with goals from Fabian Zetterlund, Tomas Hertl, and Filip Zadina, might have spelled the end of the Jay Woodcroft tenure behind the Oilers bench.
as jay woodcroft and dave manson walk off the ice after the oilers loss to san jose, woodcroft appears to say “that might be it” to manson, who appears to respond with “yup.” pic.twitter.com/Qd1b8fNfAX
— zach (@zjlaing) November 10, 2023
Head coach David Quinn said of Blackwood: “When you got a goalie like that, you just play with more swagger and more confidence.”
And while the Sharks surrendered 41 shots, to their credit, they continued to fulfill two of the three things that GM Mike Grier asked of them during Monday’s team meeting.
“More compete, more pushback, playing within the structure better,” he outlined. “We can’t be giving up the chances we’re giving up. Those are probably the three main things that I’d look for over the next little while, and hopefully it improves.”
A season-high 34 blocked shots, led by eight from Nikita Okhotiuk, is a good example of that compete.
But granted, that structure could still be better. Per SPORTLOGiQ, the Oilers outchanced the Sharks 17-5 high-danger at even strength, and their 8:10 in OZ Possession Time doubled up San Jose’s 3:53.
So the San Jose Sharks still have a lot of work to do – Blackwood isn’t stopping 39 shots every night.
But it feels a lot better to do that work on a two-game winning streak, as opposed to a historic losing streak.
Tomas Hertl, on if the San Jose Sharks executed the game plan throughout the whole game:
It was, for sure, by far the best game of the year and I think everybody played really well, not just one guy…
I’m really proud of the group…
It’s just amazing that we could come back and have back-to-back wins.
Hertl, on how this year’s Zetterlund is different from last season’s Zetterlund:
He’s got jump, he’s physical. He has a really good shot and he uses it more than last year. He can find a spot. I’m proud to see how we [Hertl, Zetterlund and Eklund on the same line] played the last two games. It was fun for me, and we built some chemistry.
They keep working like that, I think they have big futures. I’m here to help them. I definitely had fun the last two games to play with them.
Hertl, on if the team’s confidence was high:
I think so. The breakout was good. We were making nice plays through the middle ice. It was definitely better. We can still work on the details, be a little smarter, don’t give them much space. But we definitely played good hockey.
Mario Ferraro, on tonight’s performance:
It was great. We got a really good team effort tonight. I think we built from the Philadelphia game. I think it was probably our best defensive game that we played in the last couple of years. We did a good job just being pretty disciplined and taking away time and space against this obviously really skilled team.
Ferraro, on new partner Calen Addison:
I know he’s gifted with the puck and he can make good puck decisions and he’s gonna help with our power play a lot. Playing with him was pretty good tonight. I thought we had a couple hiccups defensively, but for the most part, I thought he played a really good game.
[He] flew in last night from New York, probably the furthest place possible to fly in from the night before a game. With the time change, got in late, so he really played a good game and I look forward to seeing how he can help us.
Ferraro, on how these two wins could help build on what was discussed in the recent team meeting with GM Mike Grier:
It feels a lot better now than a week ago when I was talking to you guys. It’s like a weight off our shoulders a little bit to get the first one. And now we’re not gripping our sticks as tight.
We’re human beings, obviously. We got to be confident all the time. But at the end of the day, losing like we did early gets you a little nervous in games, to hold leads and stuff. I just feel so much better right now with our group.
Ferraro, on if his dad was at the game:
My dad was at the [game against] Philadelphia too. My girlfriend might not like it too much but he might have to hang around. (Laughs)
Nico Sturm, on the team battling these last two games:
Not just that but the guys get rewarded offensively too. It gives you confidence, it gives a little bit of structure to start making plays. I think you can see that we don’t have to throw away every puck when we’re under pressure. Yeah, and overall, good, good trends so far.
Sturm, on being personally rewarded with an assist tonight:
The way I play the game, there might be stretches over long periods of time where I maybe don’t contribute. For me, it’s always to stay true to myself and not change the way I play. So I help the team and I don’t really care if I have 30 points or one point at the end of the year. But of course, I want to help the team offensively as well. And I think even though I’m a bottom-six guy, penalty killer, I don’t have the worst hands in the world, I can still make plays. When I dream of hockey at night, I don’t dream of blocking shots. (laughs)
Sturm, on if tonight’s win can help keep the momentum going against Vegas Golden Knights on Friday:
If you guys keep me any longer, we’re gonna get to bed pretty late. (Laughs) Yeah, they are a good hockey team. I think they just lost the last game, right? So I’m sure they’re going to be fired up. But so was Edmonton tonight. This time of the year, the first 25 games, the teams are fresh and dialed every game—whether it’s Tuesday or Saturday night. So [we will] get some rest tonight and be ready for it.
David Quinn, on how the San Jose Sharks felt after the 10-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and coming back from that:
Everybody was ready to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge after the loss to Pittsburgh. But it’s 82 games. We didn’t get four losses for that loss. It was just a loss. Pretty proud of our group to dust themselves off and show a lot of mental fortitude and toughness to put two good games together, and better tonight than the other.
Quinn, on how satisfied he was with his group tonight:
PK was really good. Our sticks were really good. Like I said, we still got things we got to clean up but we’re becoming more of a team. Which feels good. You know, we’re in such an impatient society. When something bad happens, everybody panics, but this is a long, long season.
Quinn, on the role of Mackenzie Blackwood:
Huge. I mean, when you got a goalie like that, you just play with more swagger and more confidence.
Quinn, on why he switched Kevin Labanc to the fourth line and Luke Kunin to the second:
I didn’t love that line defensively in the first period.
Special thanks to Nikita Sokolov for his help transcribing.
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