Patrick Sharp broke free from the New Jersey Devils in pursuit, flicking his 18th goal of the season past Cory Schneider. It was a big one, giving the Chicago Blackhawks breathing room they would build on later.
His Blackhawks teammates are used to seeing Sharp put up big numbers to help the team cause. And considering what he’s done in recent years, including this one, they think he could help Team Canada, too.
“He earns a lot of consideration,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I liked his game a lot (Monday) in all aspects. He was a threat to score and could’ve had a couple more. It was one of those nights where he and that line were very effective.”
Sharp wasn’t part of Team Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympic team, which went on to win the gold medal, but he’d love to represent his country in 2014. Early this season, he said playing in the Olympics is “in the back of his mind,” and the performances he’s logged lately beg Team Canada to give him the opportunity.
“You know there’s lots of talk and who’s going to make it, with so many good players from Canada. But he’s done everything he can in his power to show Team Canada what he can do,” Keith said. “He’s versatile, can play center or wing, and he’s got that going for him as well. Obviously he’s been huge for us here.”
Sharp’s been on a roll lately, recording 10 goals in his last 14 games. But after scoring his two goals against the Devils, Sharp downplayed his hot streak.
“Just playing hockey, taking it game by game and just trying to do whatever I can to help the team,” he said.
But while Sharp undersells himself in words, his game is talking loudly. It has the past few seasons, actually. The credentials are there: two Stanley Cups, two 30-plus goal-scoring seasons and another 18 goals already this season.
“If he’s not being considered, I don’t know what to say because the guy’s had a heck of a last few seasons, and a great start to this one,” Kris Versteeg said. “He’s put himself in the running to get on that team. He definitely deserves it. He’s played in big games, has won two Stanley Cups. This would pretty much be a feather in the guy’s cap, and I hope he gets it.”
Sharp’s priorities are pretty set: when it comes to hockey, it’s about helping the Blackhawks stay successful first. But the Team Canada possibility is there, and selections will probably be announced soon. Sharp would love to be among them. Teammates say he should be.
“Who wouldn’t like to be on that team, with it being such a strong team?” Marian Hossa said. “I know he’s on the bubble, but he’s playing great and he has a really good chance. With the way he’s playing, he deserves it.”