Colin White settling in with Sharks

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Colin White settling in with Sharks

SAN JOSE If theres been one benefit to the Sharks missing two defensemen with broken hands, as they are with Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer, its that it has allowed Colin White to settle in and play his best hockey of the season.

At least, thats how coach Todd McLellan recently categorized Whites play.

Sometimes, somebodys misfortune is somebody elses good fortune, and when both Vandermeer and Murray went down with injuries, it allowed him to get in a groove and play. I know he feels better about himself, and that pair. We feel really good about putting him in, in important situations.

Its like anything, its new and its getting used to different partners and systems. Just fitting in, said White, after Thursdays practice at Sharks Ice.

Prior to the injuries to Murray and Vandermeer in early December, McLellan was doing everything he could to keep his eight healthy defensemen fresh. If White and partner Justin Braun had a good game, that didnt necessarily mean they would be in the next night. Several times this season, the Sharks coach swapped out an entirely new third defense pair regardless of if the team had won its previous game.

White has played in the last seven Sharks games, his longest streak of the season in the lineup, and has been an even or plus player in 13 of his last 14 games overall.

RELATED: Colin White 2011 game logs

He knew he was going to be in every night, and he got into a rhythm and started to play really well, said McLellan. Without the injuries, do we put him in every night when were juggling eight? I dont know. Now, hes really settled in and hes done a good job.

As a professional and an athlete, you want to be in. Everybody does, said White. There are guys in the minors that want to be up here, and theres pressure every day to be your best.

Like any player on a new team, it took White some time to get adjusted to the Sharks after he was signed by the club following a buy-out by the New Jersey Devils. White spent the first 11 seasons of his NHL career with the Devils, and after his services were no longer wanted in New Jersey, signed a one-year, 1 million contract with San Jose this summer.

The middle of the summer rolled around and he was still a Devil, and all of a sudden his world changed. It really changed, said McLellan. Hes not waking up around his kids every day, and there are lots of adjustments to his world.

Braun, too, has been thriving since he was recalled from Worcester for the second time this season at the beginning of the month. Hes played more than 20 minutes in three of the last five games, something he hadnt done at all in his first 13 games with the Sharks.

He enjoys playing with the veteran White.

Hes seen it all, won Cups, and its calming, said Braun. You dont get too riled up. You make a bad play? Just keep going. Theres a lot of game left. Its good to have him around.

Braun admits that being in the lineup on a night-in night-out basis has its benefits.

There are always other guys biting at your heels for spots so youve got to play well every night, but its a good feeling playing a lot in a row. You get used to games and dont want to lose that feeling, he said.

Murray and Vandermeer are getting closer to a return, though, as both have been skating with the team this week. Although they will probably not be ready against the Kings on Friday night, they could both be taken off of injured reserve at some point next week.

When that happens, it will be decision time for McLellan again.

Its really good for us to have eight quality NHL defensemen that we can play and were comfortable with that. Thats something we created and had a desire for, said the coach. In the same breath, its also hard for them because they know that two bodies around going to be in on most nights when theyre all healthy.

Instant Replay: Schlemko's OT goal lifts Sharks past Avs

Instant Replay: Schlemko's OT goal lifts Sharks past Avs

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – David Schlemko’s overtime goal gave the Sharks a 3-2 win over Colorado on Saturday at SAP Center.

Trailing 2-1 after two, the Avalanche tied it midway through the third period. Some sloppy play by the Sharks’ top line led to Francois Beauchemin powering in a slap shot through Martin Jones at 10:24.

San Jose got the extra point in the standings, though, when Schlemko found a Logan Couture rebound at 1:18 of overtime. It was his second of the season.

The Sharks’ won their fourth straight, and sixth out of their last eight (6-2-0). Colorado lost its fifth in a row, and is just 2-15-0 in its last 17. The Avalanche have not won in regulation since Dec. 11 at Toronto.

The teams conclude their home-and-home in Denver on Monday. The Avalanche are the only Central Division team that the Sharks play just twice this season.

The Sharks opened the scoring on the power play in the first period. Vlasic swung the puck down low to Joe Thornton, who found Joel Ward in front at 5:36.

Colorado tied it in the second, courtesy of Mikhail Grigorenko. After Nathan MacKinnon sped through the neutral zone past Brent Burns, he cut to the net and pushed it towards the goal crease, where deflected to Grigorenko’s stick for an easy tap in at 10:30.

Another goal by the fourth line put the Sharks back on top. Ryan Carpenter, playing in his third straight game since getting recalled earlier in the week, had time and space in the faceoff circle to direct a shot towards the net. Linemate Melker Karlsson got his stick blade on it, redirecting it through Spencer Martin at 15:01.

It marked the third straight game that a Sharks fourth liner has scored, including Carpenter’s goal against Tampa Bay on Thursday and Tommy Wingels’ score in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

San Jose improved to 19-3-0 in its last 22 home games against Colorado, and 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings overall.

Colorado fell to 5-1 in overtime. The Sharks are 5-2.

Special teams:
San Jose scored a power play goal for the third time in the last four games, finishing 1-for-3. It was Ward’s first goal with a man advantage this season.

The Sharks were not shorthanded for the duration of a game for the first time this season.

In goal:
Jones had struggled in the first game back after taking the previous one off, going just 1-5-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. He made 31 saves

Martin was making his NHL debut, and allowed three goals on 30 shots. The former third round pick in 2013 was recalled due to starter Semyon Varlamov’s groin injury. In 27 games for AHL San Antonio, he is 15-9-2 with a 2.62 GAA and .915 SP.

Lineup:
Matt Nieto was playing his first game as a visitor. He was claimed by the Avalanche on Jan. 5 after getting waived by San Jose, and finished with two shots on goal.

Timo Meier missed his second straight game, and is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Up next:
The Sharks have just three games left before the All-Star break next weekend. After Monday’s game in Colorado, their only visit to Pepsi Center this season, they visit the Jets on Tuesday and host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

Sharks' Hertl taking contact, getting closer to return

Sharks' Hertl taking contact, getting closer to return

SAN JOSE – Sharks center/forward Tomas Hertl has taken another step in his recovery from a right knee sprain and subsequent surgery.

The 23-year-old is now doing contract drills, and called himself “almost day-to-day now” on Saturday.

“Last two days I’m working on battles, and I feel pretty good,” Hertl said. “Everything is going right. Hopefully coming closer and closer to playing. … Just [need to be] more comfortable with battling, because skating and everything, I feel like 100 percent.”

Hertl didn’t completely shoot down a suggestion that he could play before the All-Star break, which begins on Friday, but indicated it’s more likely to be sometime after that. The Sharks resume their schedule on Jan. 31 against Chicago after next weekend’s breather.

“We want [to take] a little bit of time, more battles, a little bit more workouts,” Hertl said. “But, I think I’m pretty close. We’ll see how it goes the next couple days.”

The timeline has been fluid with Hertl, who was originally expected to miss “weeks” rather than months, general manager Doug Wilson said shortly after the injury on Nov. 17. On Jan. 5, a source with knowledge of Hertl’s status told CSN he was unlikely to play before mid-February, but it now appears he’ll be back sooner than that.

“Looks great,” coach Pete DeBoer said of Hertl. “I don't know if that's a testament to our group or his progress, but he looked fantastic out there. He's getting very close. We're starting to talk about him on a daily basis, which is a good sign."

Hertl suffered his knee injury during a game with St. Louis on Nov. 17 after what looked like a fairly innocent collision with the Blues’ Jori Lehtera, and underwent what Wilson termed a “minor procedure” on Nov. 22 designed to prevent further knee injuries from occurring. It was at least the third known procedure that Hertl has undergone on his right knee.

In 17 games, Hertl has nine points (4g, 5a).