Sharks-Jets: What to watch for


Sharks-Jets: What to watch for

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sharks (23-11-5, 51 points) at the Winnipeg Jets (20-17-5, 45 points). Coverage begins tonight at 5:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California, and the puck drops at 5:30.

WINNIPEG The Sharks have heard all the chatter surrounding Winnipegs MTS Centre, specifically how loud it gets and how difficult it can be to play here.

Theyll get to experience it first-hand for the first and only time this season tonight when they take on the Jets.

Weve heard from other teams and other players this building is a lot of fun, and pretty loud, and an exciting building to play in, Dan Boyle said.

Its always nice to come back to Canada, to your hockey roots, if you will, for a lot of players. The weather outside we dont experience that in California so youre back into hockey weather, Todd McLellan said, referring to the -2 degrees Fahrenheit temperature outside the building.

San Jose got a chance to practice on the MTS Centre ice on Wednesday, and held an optional sate on Thursday morning in which the majority of the players were on the ice.

That could help them adjust better to some unfamiliar surroundings, according to Jamie McGinn.

Its just hockey. Im sure thats why we had practice yesterday and the pregame skate this morning, to get used to things. Its an NHL ice surface, people have been playing on it all year, McGinn said.

Early energy: McLellan would like to see his club come storming out of the gates on Thursday night, especially after a lackluster effort through the first two periods of Tuesdays 5-4 shootout loss to Minnesota.

The Jets are playing at home for the first time since New Years Eve, and after a 1-3 road trip that concluded with a 5-3 loss at Boston on Tuesday.

Well probably talk about a 10 minute game and a 50 minute game, McLellan said. Knowing that theyre coming off a road trip, playing in front of their own fans, I understand that the energy in the building is second to none. Well have to be on our toes very early, so Id expect a strong start for them, but also for our team.

Ryane Clowe was among the Sharks players dissatisfied with Tuesdays loss, which ended a four-game winning streak.

Its not so much frustrating as it was disappointing. You need to have the coach come in and light a fire under your ass between periods and get you going, he said. We turned it up and completely dominated the third period once we got going. Thats the disappointing part.

Were focused tonight being more competitive and more of a gritty team. Well be better.

More from the grinders: The Sharks had strong games from several of their top players on Tuesday, with multiple-point games from Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle. Leading goal-scorer Logan Couture also scored in the third period.

It was the effort from the third and fourth liners, though, that has had the coach in an ornery mood for the past two days.

If you look at the third and fourth lines, I didnt think we started well last game. I can put the onus on myself, and I didnt think I had a very strong first period but got better as the game went on, McGinn said. I think tonight one of the main focuses is going to be starting strong and making sure Todd has confidence in us right away.

It wasnt just McGinn.

We were actually quite disappointed with a number of our players, McLellan repeated this morning. We didnt get the effort that we needed. Well look, first of all, to individuals to improve their input into the game, and after that a strong defensive effort and rely on our opportunities at the other end to get us to three goals.

McLellan didnt say if there would be any lineup changes, and it was hard to tell at the optional morning skate.

Niemi vs. Pavelec: Antti Niemi will face Winnipegs Ondrej Pavalec in goal tonight.

Niemi, who has just one regulation loss in his last 12 starts, is 1-1 with a 3.90 goals-against average and .855 save percentage against the JetsThrashers, while Pavelec has never started against the Sharks.

Niemi allowed four goals for the second time in just 23 games in the loss to Minnesota on Tuesday, including a pair of stoppable shots that beat him to the glove side.

Odds and ends: Ryane Clowe will wear a full cage for about a week after going face-first into the boards during the second period in Minnesota. The Sharks have points in 12 of their last 13 games (8-1-4). Patrick Marleau has a six-game scoring streak (3g, 6a). The Jets Evander Kane has just two assists in the last five games. Blake Wheeler has 11 points in the last nine games. Dustin Byfuglien remains out for Winnipeg with a knee injury. The Sharks are 9-1-1- with two ties all-time against WinnipegAtlanta.

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

DETROIT – The Sharks had just one scheduled practice on their 10-day road trip, set to take place on Friday in Detroit prior to the fifth and final game against the Red Wings. It was canceled, though, as the coaching staff opted for rest rather than work.

The result was a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings in which the Sharks were sloppy in their own zone, were smoked in the faceoff circle, surrendered a plethora of odd-man rushes, and took eight minor penalties. They just couldn’t keep pace with a Detroit team that was playing its second game in as many nights. 

San Jose looked like a club that has held just a single solitary practice since the season began on Oct. 12.

“Some breakdowns, guys not being above [the puck], some giveaways in our own end, we’re kind of leaving [the defensive zone] early,” Logan Couture said. “We just don’t seem like we’re dedicated to defense like we were at the end [of] last year.”

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud]

“It wasn’t very good tonight,” added Martin Jones, who lost his third in a row in goal. “Too many penalties, too many turnovers. Just wasn’t very good tonight.”

The start was actually a decent one, as the Sharks were attempting to put Thursday’s third period collapse in Pittsburgh behind them, but Detroit eventually took over. Gustav Nyquist broke the scoreless tie four minutes into the second period, and added to the Red Wings’ lead with a second marker about 11 minutes later.

On the first, Paul Martin was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone, leading to a two-on-one rush by Detroit. Nyquist abruptly stopped on the faceoff dot in front of Justin Braun, and rifled a shot though. On the second, Matt Nieto had control of the puck and was headed up the ice before he stumbled and turned it over to Ryan Sproul, who found Nyquist in the slot. 

A bad line change resulted in Andreas Athanasiou powering a slap shot to Jones’ far side six minutes into the third period, giving Detroit a commanding three-goal lead. 

“We were late everywhere tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “When you’re a step behind a good team they expose you, and I think that was the story. We’ll have to go back and figure out why, and get our game back in a better place.”

“We played into their hands. They’re a transition team, a speed team, and if you’re going to play east-west and turn the puck over they’re going to make you pay for it. We talked about it, but we still fell into that trap. Obviously the penalties didn’t help, and we’re playing catch up all night.”

Among those penalties was a double minor to Joe Pavelski for spearing Steve Ott, just a few seconds after Athanasiou’s goal. The captain seemed agitated for much of the night.

Pavelski said he didn’t think he got a whole lot of Ott with his stick, but “it’s a play you don’t want to make.”

DeBoer didn’t take issue with the play which nullified what would have been a Sharks power play after a Drew Miller interference.

“Pav is a competitor. He was probably our best player tonight. He’s competing right until the final buzzer,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have a problem with that. It doesn’t bother me.”

The power play, though, is one area that the coach may need to focus on when the Sharks finally get a practice in on Monday at home. Despite being together for so many years, the top unit seems tentative with the puck and is misfiring on passes that are typically routine.

On one power play in the second period when the game was still scoreless, Pavelski was open in front of the net, but Patrick Marleau missed him on what would have been a tap-in goal. The Sharks finished 0-for-4 with a man advantage and have just one goal in a manned net this season during five-on-four play.

What has to change?

“Quite a few things,” Couture said. “We’re breaking in fine, [but] we’re too stationary, I think. I don’t know if we’re moving the puck well enough. Not attacking holes, not shooting the puck and getting it back.”

The Sharks will open up a three-game homestand on Tuesday with the Ducks. There is work to do before that.

“We’re 3-3. That’s the good news,” DeBoer said. “I think we’ve played some good hockey, but we have a lot of things we’ve got to clean up, too.”

Jones said: “Obviously it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the road trip. We’ll bounce back, and we’ve got a lot of games left.”

Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud

Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud


DETROIT – The Sharks organization made some good memories over the years at Joe Louis Arena. Saturday’s game, their final regular season game ever in the storied Detroit arena, wasn’t one of them.

Gustav Nyquist scored twice and Jimmy Howard made 30 saves in leading the Red Wings to a 3-0 blanking of the Sharks. San Jose’s record stands at an even 3-3-0 after it lost three of five games on its road trip, including the final two.

The Sharks open a three-game homestand with the Ducks on Tuesday.

Both of Nyquist’s goals came in the second period as Detroit opened up a 2-0 edge.

His first came on a two-on-one rush. Nyquist skated the puck into the Sharks’ zone, slammed on the breaks in the faceoff circle, and buzzed a wrist shot past Martin Jones at 4:14 of the middle frame.

On his second score, Nyquist squeezed a wrist shot through Jones from the slot at 15:10 shortly after Matt Nieto lost his footing – and the puck – in the Sharks’ defensive zone.

The Red Wings put the game out of reach when Andreas Athanasiou teed off on a slap shot from the circle at 6:05 of the third period, beating the Sharks’ starting goalie high to the far side.

San Jose was unable to score despite pulling Jones for an extra attacker with more than three minutes to go.

The Sharks again struggled on the power play taking an 0-for-4, and are 0-for-8 over the last three games.

Detroit will open Little Ceasar’s Arena at the start of next season. The Sharks finished with a 12-28-4 record all-time at The Joe.

Special teams

If there was one bright spot for the Sharks it was their penalty kill, which fought off all seven Red Wings power plays.

The power play, though, remains ice cold, as San Jose has scored just one power play goal this season during a standard five-on-four advantage. Overall, the Sharks are 3-for-20 on the season, including an empty net goal and another on a two-man advantage.

A bit of nastiness ensued shortly after the Red Wings’ third goal, as Joe Pavelski was given a double-minor for “attempting to spear” Steve Ott, who got an unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

In goal

Jones dropped to 2-3 on the season, losing his third straight start after beginning the season with a pair of wins. He allowed three goals on 32 shots.

Howard won for the second time in as many starts. He improved to 5-7-4 all-time against San Jose.


Brent Burns, who entered the game tied for the league lead in scoring with nine points, saw his five-game point streak to start the season come to an end.

Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader was scratched, so Athanasiou was inserted back into the lineup.

San Jose reassigned forward Ryan Carpenter to the Barracuda on Friday. He did not play at all on the trip.

Up next

The Sharks will play just their second home game on Tuesday against Anaheim. The Blue Jackets visit SAP Center on Thursday, and the Predators next Saturday.

Overall, five of the Sharks’ next six games are in San Jose.