Connect with us

San Jose Sharks

Sharks Locker Room: Slumping Zadina, Kunin Break Out in Big Way



Credit: San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks were led by a bunch of unlikely heroes in a 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames.

Filip Zadina, one goal and three points in his last 18 games, put up a career-high four points, off two goals and two assists. Justin Bailey, one goal and three points, enjoyed the first multi-point game of his career. And Luke Kunin, one goal in his last 25, added two goals.

Mikael Granlund opening the scoring for the Sharks, while Mackenzie Blackwood turned away 31 shots in San Jose’s second game since their two-week break.

Zadina and Kunin, in particular, have had tough individual campaigns. Perhaps this game will kickstart them?

Zadina, the sixth-overall pick of the 2018 Draft, walked away from $4.56 million cash with the Detroit Red Wings to sign a one-year, $1.1 million prove-it deal with the Sharks. It’s been an up-and-down season for the 24-year-old winger though, going from the first line to start the season to the fourth line now. He had five goals and 13 points in 47 appearances before tonight.

“He cares so much and he wants to do so well, and sometimes, that gets in his way. I think he’s played a little bit more relaxed lately,” Quinn said. “Nice to see him get rewarded statistically.”

Meanwhile, Kunin was never expected to be a big-time scorer, but San Jose was probably hoping for a little more production than six goals and eight points in 47 contests from the $2.75 million AAV winger. He does play an all-around game and is the type who drags him team into the fight, hence the “A” that he received before Wednesday’s game.

“Obviously coming back from the injury from last year, I thought it took a little bit of time maybe to get his speed back,” Quinn said of Kunin’s season-ending knee injury last January. “But I just think he’s got better and better as the year has gone on.”

San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier will also have to decide if both pending RFAs are a part of the team’s future. Does Zadina’s work ethic and flashes of skill buy him another season? Are Kunin’s intangibles and all-around game something that the Sharks can rely upon as they dig out of the rebuild?

Bailey too is a pending UFA.

If you consider the Sharks’ post-break games as a closing statement for players on the roster bubble next year, Zadina, Kunin, and Bailey are off to a fast start.

David Quinn

Quinn, on Kunin’s season:

Obviously coming back from the injury from last year, I thought it took a little bit of time maybe to get his speed back, but I just think he’s got better and better as the year has gone on.

Quinn, on William Eklund’s game:

I thought he had a really good game. I thought in all three zones, he was good. He was effective in the offensive zone. I thought he really did a great job off the rush.

Quinn talks growth in Zadina game this season:

The one thing about Z, he works his ass night in, night out. You’re always gonna get an honest effort from him. He puts an awful lot of pressure on himself. He cares so much and he wants to do so well, and sometimes, that gets in his way. I think he’s played a little bit more relaxed lately. Nice to see him get rewarded statistically. There’s definitely been some growth in his game here over the last month.

Mackenzie Blackwood

See Blackwood’s full interview here

Blackwood, on why the San Jose Sharks’ PK is 17-of-17 recently:

Guys are doing a better job of not panicking when something breaks down. So let’s say they make a good play and beat one guy, the other guy’s not gonna race over there, out of position and give them the next play. So we’re doing a good job of limiting chances from going from one bad chance to two to three. Everyone’s playing with a lot more poise.

Filip Zadina

See Zadina’s full interview here

Zadina, on challenge of playing lesser minutes in a bottom-six role:

I was just playing the way I was playing before. Obviously, it’s hard mentally because you’re not playing that much, you’re not really on the ice. And when you’re on the ice, you’re trying to be your best to help the team. I believe we’ve done a pretty good job of it today.

Zadina, on what he’s improved this season:

Recently, I’ve done a better job in the D-zone. We’re not giving up that many goals [compared to at] the beginning of the season. Obviously, the crazy [minus] number I had.

Justin Bailey

See Zadina’s full interview here

Bailey, on the unselfishness of the San Jose Sharks, from Zadina’s extra pass on his goal to how hard the team worked to get Zadina a hat trick:

I think for us, you saw when Kunny scored the one that went to review, you saw how happy our bench was. Obviously, things haven’t been easy for us as a group. But I think the one thing that’s been a staple throughout the whole year, we maintain a positive attitude. We’ve maintained trust and belief in the system of what we’re doing. Nights like tonight when all things kind of seem to go in your favor, it feels good as a group.

Bailey, on if the Sharks were trying to shoot high on Dustin Wolf:

I don’t think so. I think there were some turnovers, some tips. Z’s got a great shot, Kunny’s got a great shot there. I don’t know how many goalies would’ve stopped either of those. It wasn’t anything going into the game, but at the end of the day, it’s a smaller goalie. We kind of knew that. Anytime, you can go get the puck and get it towards the top of the net, you’ll have success.

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network plus an ad-free browsing experience.

Sheng’s Travel Fund

Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.

Click here to contribute to Sheng's travel pool!

Get SJHN in your inbox!

Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Hockey Shots

Extra Hour Hockey Training

Cathy’s Power Skating

Sharks Team & Cap Info

SJHN on Facebook