Havlat hits a wall; Couture says he's fine


Havlat hits a wall; Couture says he's fine

DALLAS Marty Havlat has hit a bit of a wall. Again.

The Sharks winger announced his return to the lineup from a partially torn hamstring with four goals and two assists in his first six games from March 15 20. Since then, Havlat, who missed 39 games after getting hurt in mid-December, has just two assists in his last seven.

He admitted on Tuesday its been more a struggle lately after that initial rush of adrenaline.

I think everybody has to go through it. The beginning youre pumped up and everything, and then a little slide, Havlat said.

He added that he feels not bad physically, but Im trying to get back the way I was at the start. Its uphill right now.

Its not the first time Havlat has experienced the feeling of hitting a wall when returning from a serious injury. In fact, hes already done it once as a Shark. Havlat had offseason shoulder surgery causing him to miss all of training camp and the first four games of the regular season. He had eight points in his first eight games back (1g, 7a), but just one assist in the following nine.

The pattern is the same, Todd McLellan said. He missed the beginning of the year and came back and was on fire for the first three or four games, and then kind of settled in. The same thing happened here, we got a really good four or five games in late March from him, and now hes kind of settled in.

Hes got to push himself. Hes got to push his limits, and his limits arent the same as they would be if he played 82 games, but he has limits and has got to push himself a little bit further, a little bit harder, and try to expand what hes got going for him right now.

The Sharks packed March schedule hasnt exactly helped.

The legs, and all the games were playing basically every other day since I got back. Thats most important, to get the body used to this game schedule and practice schedule, Havlat said.

Another struggling Sharks winger, on the other hand, insists health is not an issue when it comes to a lack of production. Logan Couture hasnt scored in his last 10 games tying a career-long drought but isnt blaming it on anything physical.

I feel fine. I didnt know it was 10 games without a goal, so weve got to change that, Couture told me Tuesday morning. Ill take games without scoring a goal if we can just win them. Weve got to stick to our game, put the individual stuff aside, and stick to our team game now."

Couture missed his only two games of the season on Feb. 28 and March 1 with a suspected knee injury.

Its the end of the year. Everyones beat up. No excuses.

Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut


Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut

SAN JOSE – Struggling to score goals lately with two or fewer in eight of their last 11 games, the Sharks may soon turn to their biggest prospect to try and give the offense a boost.

Timo Meier, the ninth overall pick from the 2015 draft, is tearing up the American Hockey League lately with the Barracuda. He scored four goals (and registered 15 shots) in two games in San Antonio over the weekend, has eight points (5g, 3a) in his last four games, and leads the Barracuda with eight goals.

On Thursday, Pete DeBoer was asked what he’s heard about Meier lately and how close he may be.

“Good things, and real close,” DeBoer said. “I think he would have been even a consideration [Wednesday], but he came down I think with the flu. 

“You feel for him because we’re looking to bring some guys in, and he obviously had a great weekend. He’s one of quite a few guys down there that we feel real comfortable can come in here and are going to help us before the year ends, for sure.”

It’s the second time an illness has affected Meier’s status, as he came down with mononucleosis early in training camp and missed a month of action. He did, however, return to Barracuda practice this week.

One month ago, Barracuda coach Roy Sommer told CSN that Meier had to make some adjustments coming out of juniors. 

“He’s just has to simplify his game,” Sommer said on Nov. 9. “I think he’s just trying to do too much. He’s got to be north-south, and [forget] this circling and trying to put pucks through people. … It’s not going to work.”

Apparently, Meier has figured it out. On Tuesday, Sommer told The Gackle Report: “He’s getting better every game. At the start, I was going, oh man, he’s all over the map, circling and not using his teammates. But shoot, now he just keeps producing.”

“We’ve spent a lot of time with him on video and he picks stuff up.”

The 2015 draft has already produced several players that are regular contributors for their respective clubs, led by Connor McDavid (Edmonton), Jack Eichel (Buffalo), Mitch Marner (Toronto) and Zach Werenski (Columbus). 

Meier is the only player among the top 11 picks that year that has yet to play an NHL game, while 17 of 30 of the players overall chosen in the first round have played at least one NHL game.

Sharks still struggling to get consistent offense


Sharks still struggling to get consistent offense

SAN JOSE – There are games where the Sharks’ lack of offensive firepower isn’t an issue. Recent 2-1 wins over two of the best teams in the league, Chicago and Montreal, were impressive in that San Jose kept a pair of the league’s better offenses from getting more than a single score.

In other instances, though, that necessary goal from the team’s depth just hasn’t come. Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Ottawa was one example. The Sharks got goals from Logan Couture and Brent Burns – no surprise there – while Joe Pavelski was all around the net, generating more scoring chances than any single player on the ice.

Again, though, the depth forwards and defensemen other than Burns never found the scoresheet. 

And it’s becoming a real issue.

In fact, in the Sharks’ last 11 games in which they’ve gotten 25 goals total, 60 percent of them have come from just those three aforementioned players – Couture (7g), Burns (5g) and Pavelski (3g).

Also over that span, in which San Jose has gone 6-4-1, they’ve gotten no goals from Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi, Mikkel Boedker, Micheal Haley or Melker Karlsson; one goal apiece from Joel Ward and Tommy Wingels; and just one goal by a defenseman other than Burns (Dylan DeMelo). Of the 12 forwards that dressed against the Senators, eight of them had two or fewer goals.

The Sharks sit at 23rd in the NHL at 2.38 goals-per game. Sure, it’s just fine winning games by 2-1 final scores. But at some point, other guys are going to have to start putting the puck in the net if this team is truly going to contend for the Stanley Cup.

Couture – who himself got off to a slow start offensively – believes it’s going to come soon.

“Everyone wants to score,” Couture said after the Senators game. “It’s not about trying, it’s just the way that things are going right now. Pucks just aren’t going in for some guys, and, hey, I went through the same thing for awhile there where I wasn’t finding the back of the net. 

“That’s the way that goal-scoring works in the NHL, is you go through streaks where you’re hot and when you’re cold. Some guys are going to get hot soon. It’s going to happen.”

For his part, coach Pete DeBoer also believes the offense will pick up shortly. In the Senators game, the coaching staff internally tracked the scoring chances as 22 for the Sharks and just eight for Ottawa.

When that happens, “you should win, and you should score more than two goals,” DeBoer said.

Without getting into specifics, DeBoer pointed to the “analytics of where we are in the league” as a reason not to panic. Perhaps he’s aware that the Sharks are sixth in the league in shot-attempt percentage (52.25), and first in the NHL in shot-attempt percentage in close games (55.67).

Still, those numbers don’t mean anything when the puck isn’t going in. So what’s missing?

“I just think finish. I think we’re doing a lot of things right,” DeBoer said.

“Obviously I’d love to see us score some more goals five-on-five, but we’re getting some chances,” Ward said. “I would think if we weren’t or if we were getting shelled then it would definitely be something to be concerned about. … We’ve had some good looks and some really quality chances. Things just haven’t fallen in five-on-five, but I think that will come around.”