Patrick Sharp makes strong push for spot on Team Canada | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaPatrick Sharp makes strong push for spot on Team Canada

Posted: Saturday, December 14, 2013 | 01:39 PM

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Patrick Sharp has four goals and eight points in the last three games for the Chicago Blackhawks. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Patrick Sharp has four goals and eight points in the last three games for the Chicago Blackhawks. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

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Canadian Olympic hopeful Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks has sharpened his production just in time with a terrific run since Oct. 28, writes Tim Wharnsby.

Chicago Blackhawks teammates Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook shared a laugh along the boards in the morning skate at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday.

The scene was a sign of the times because they have plenty to smile about these days. The Blackhawks have won three in a row by a combined score of 19-6. Seabrook has a four-game point streak with two goals and six points. While Sharp has checked in with a whopping four goals and eight points in his last three games.

These two talents have made a strong push to be named to the Canadian men's Olympic team on Jan. 7. Seabrook, of course, played on the gold-medal winning 2010 team. Sharp, who turns 32 on Dec. 27, is trying to crack Steve Yzerman's Olympic team roster for the first time.

But his play with the Blackhawks has been first and foremost on this season.

"We have a pretty good team and we've played a lot of games in a short period of time," Sharp said. "So we've been pretty busy with that. But it's always in the back of your mind. It's really something that is out of my hands. The only thing I can control is how I play on the ice."

Even though Sharp had plenty of scoring chances early on, he scored only once and had five points in his first 11 games this fall. Since then the native of Thunder Bay, Ont., has been one of the most productive players in the NHL.

"Make sure you write that," he joked.

Goals scored since Oct. 28

  • Alex Ovechkin 16 
  • Corey Perry 15
  • Patrick Sharp 14
  • Chris Kunitz 13
  • David Perron 12
  • Alex Steen 12

Points registered since Oct. 28

  • Patrick Kane 33
  • Evgeni Malkin 28
  • Patrick Sharp 27
  • Sidney Crosby 26
  • Ryan Getzlaf 26

"[Sharp has] played really well for us this year, but he's been good for us over the years playing big minutes and in key situations," Seabrook said. "He's always been able to find his game and step up in big games.

"I think if he gets the opportunity to play for Team Canada he will have a big impact on the big ice, with the way he can see the ice and with his big shot."

The right-shooting Sharp plays the left side because of the Blackhawks' right-side depth with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. But Sharp can play the right side if needed and he played mostly centre before his days in Chicago.

His position was not a topic of discussion with Yzerman and the coaching staff at the orientation camp in Calgary last summer.

Still, if Sharp had a private chat with Yzerman, how would he sell himself?

"I would tell him that I was disappointed not to be on the 2010 team," Sharp said. "But in the years since I've played in some important games with those two Stanley Cups. I've improved as a player and I have played in some high-pressure situations.

"I would try to sell myself as a player who can play in all kinds of situations and would do whatever it takes to win."

Top line

A key development in Sharp's increased production this season was being elevated from a line with Kane and Michal Handzus to the top line, alongside captain Jonathan Toews and Hossa.

"There is a big difference playing on a top line in the NHL," Sharp said. "Playing with Jonny [Toews], I've noticed he plays against the top defenders every game. It's a bigger challenge. On one side it's a positive because I'm playing alongside two top talents. On the other side, I'm playing against two top D and top forwards every shift."

Sharp has rewarded Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville for the faith he has shown him in playing him alongside Toews and Hossa.

A self-confessed late bloomer, the University of Vermont product won a Calder Cup championship with the 2004-05 Philadelphia Phantoms and two Stanley Cups with Chicago.

He didn't pull a Canadian sweater over his shoulders until he was 26 years old at the 2008 world championship. He played again for Canada at the 2012 world championship.

Like Seabrook stated, Sharp has produced in big games; he scored a league-high 10 goals in Chicago's 23-game run to the Stanley Cup last spring and 11 goals in 22 postseason games in 2010.

Sharp also has four goals and 11 points in 17 world championship games. He recalled the first time he played for Canada in 2008.

"We had just been eliminated that year and there was Steve Yzerman, who was the general manager of Team Canada then, too, who wanted to talk to a bunch of us," Sharp said. "Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews were invited, too.

"It was a thrill. We were excited. I didn't care if I was going to play centre or wing, first line or fourth line. I learned a lot. I watched the way others prepared and the experience made me a better player."

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