Prior to Monday’s win over the Winnipeg Jets, the Sharks lost two games thanks to players who have had their number of late. On Wednesday, Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals for the second time in three career match-ups against the Sharks and helped Calgary to a 3-2 win over San Jose. Yesterday, St. Louis Blues goaltender Carter Hutton shut out his former parent club for the second time in four games.
Both players have killed the Sharks in a limited sample size, and if they keep it up, it could be enough to join the likes of Theo Fleury and Patrick Roy of players who have dominated against San Jose. It also got us thinking: what would a lineup of present-day shark killers look like?
On-ice success, as well as playoff history, time spent with the Sharks, and longevity also are taken into consideration. So, too, is efficiency against the Sharks, as to not leave out players who don’t play for the Sharks’ division or conference rivals.
Wing: Jarome Iginla
Iginla’s now in the twilight of his career, but enjoyed considerable success against the Sharks during his prime and has scored 54 points in 71 regular season games against San Jose. Where Iginla earned his reputation as a Shark-killer, though, was in the postseason.
He scored 14 points in 13 career playoff games against San Jose, including nine in the teams’ classic, seven-game tilt in 2008. That success, coupled with the narrative contrast between him, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Marleau (even though all three boast similar career postseason numbers) makes Iginla a natural fit on this last, even if his prime is long gone.
Center: Anze Kopitar
Ryan Getzlaf and Henrik Sedin would have been worthy of selection here, but the Kings’ captain gets the edge. Among active players Kopitar ranks third in career regular season and postseason points against the Sharks, despite entering the league 10 and 11 years, respectively, after the two players ahead of him on the active list (Iginla and Shane Doan).
Kopitar will soon take that title, most likely by attrition as Doan and Iginla’s careers wind down. And he could conceivably take the all-time top spot in points among Sharks opponents, as he’s 48 points away from Joe Sakic’s all-time mark (103 points). He’s 29, under contract in Los Angeles until 2023-24, and in prime position to take that record.
Wing: Corey Perry
Who else belongs here? Perry’s killed the Sharks on the scoresheet (52 points in 70 career regular season and playoff games), but is also arguably the most hated opponent in Sharks history (Chris Pronger and Ed Belfour may home something to say about that, though).
He’s run multiple Sharks goalies, delivered cross checks, and even received a spear from a former Sharks captain. You couple that with his success playing for a division rival, and Perry’s spot is a no-brainer.
Defense: Erik Karlsson
Against which team has Erik Karlsson scored the most points per game? If it wasn’t obvious by his placement in this article, it’s the San Jose Sharks, with 1.18 points per game. Now, he’s only played 11 games against the Sharks, and doesn’t have the same history against the team as, say, Drew Doughty or Duncan Keith.
But, he has had more success on a per-game basis and is currently one of the league’s two best defensemen. Of course, Doughty can always be named to this list at a later date to commemorate accomplishments outside of the criteria for this lineup of Shark-killers. Kind of like his Norris Trophy win last season.
Defense: Shea Weber
Last May’s Game 7 notwithstanding, Shea Weber’s had a lot of success against the San Jose Sharks in his career. His points per game rate against the Sharks (0.71) is higher than his career rate (0.58).
He’s also posted 10 multi-point games against the Sharks, which is the most of any opponent he’s faced in his NHL career. He’ll have much fewer chances to do that now that he’s in Montreal and no longer roaming Nashville’s blueline,
Goaltender: Pekka Rinne
This is technically cheating since Rinne and Weber spent so much time together in Nashville, but no goaltender epitomizes the Sharks’ uncanny knack to lose despite throwing a kitchen sink’s worth of shots at an opposing goaltender.
In 13 of his 28 career appearances against the Sharks, Rinne has stopped 30 or more shots. Rinne’s stopped 35 or more in seven, or one fourth of the games he’s played against San Jose.
The previously mentioned Getzlaf and Sedin, as well as Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick could have easily been included, given their playoff history. The same goes Jaromir Jagr, who feasted on some of the Sharks’ earliest iterations.
What would your lineup of present day Shark-killers look like? Sound off in the comments below!