Sharks still lack secondary scoring

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Sharks still lack secondary scoring

Considering the NHL owners first CBA proposal and the marked lack of activity in the trade market this offeseason, its not a stretch to suggest that the Sharks roster, as it stands now, might be fairly close to how it looks at the beginning of the regular season.

Whenever that is, of course.

It also means that San Jose hasnt done much to fix what was one of its gaping holes last season, and that is the lack of secondary scoring, and production from the third and fourth lines.

While the Sharks still boast an impressive and productive top-six in Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe and Marty Havlat, the offensive output of the rest of the forward group under contract drops off dramatically after that.

In fact, when you combine the scoring of what would probably be the bottom six forwards at this point (Andrew Desjardins, Michal Handzus, Adam Burish, Tommy Wingels, James Sheppard and John McCarthy or Tim Kennedy), you get a total of 21 goals scored last season in 278 games.

Thats one goal every 13.2 games, and doesnt even include Sheppard, who hasnt skated in an NHL game since the 2009-10 season.

To be fair, Desjardins and Wingels are perceived as improving young players in the organization and will be counted on to increase their numbers from last season. Wingels played just 33 games, but showed flashes of becoming a consistent scorer and contributor when he was in the lineup for the final two months of the season and the playoffs. Its not a stretch to think he could get between 15-20 goals next season should he remain healthy something he had trouble with when in the lineup.

On the other hand, Handzus, 35, who had seven goals and 17 assists in 67 games last season, will be a year older and a year slower after a disappointing season for the veteran center in his first year as a Shark. The pace of the NHL game may have passed him by.

It also seems more and more unlikely that the Sharks will land one of the big three remaining names in the free agenttrade market. Rick Nashs 7.8 million salary cap hit for the next six years looks even worse when you consider that the owners want to dramatically roll back the cap. The ownership situation in Phoenix could finally be clearing up, and if it does, its likely Shane Doan will return to the place hes called home for so many years. And Alex Semin, the best free agent still available, probably wouldnt be a good fit with the Sharks, who are looking to re-energize and add some personality to their locker room with players like Burish.

San Jose will still likely add at least one more forward, but the unrestricted free agent market after Semin is bone dry. The Sharks chose to watch from the sidelines while depth, scoring forwards that could have immediately helped them were plucked one-by-one by other clubs. No one expected the Sharks would land a Zach Parise-type, but there were several players that were free to sign anywhere that could have aided the Sharks top-heavy offense.

Whether or not San Jose came close to signing another scorer is uncertain, but at it stands right now, theyve only added Burish and lost Torrey Mitchell to Minnesota. Daniel Winnik, Brad Winchester and Dominic Moore remain free agents.

In short, there is still plenty of work to be done. And the summer isnt getting any longer.

Three takeaways: Sharks make life easy on Avs rookie goalie

Three takeaways: Sharks make life easy on Avs rookie goalie

SAN JOSE – It took overtime for the Sharks to surpass the worst team in the NHL, but the points are valuable any way they come in the second half. Here are our three takeaways from the 3-2 victory on Saturday night…

1 – Top guys struggle, but depth comes through

It wasn’t a very good night for the captain’s line, which was particularly sloppy on Colorado’s tying goal in the third period. Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic weren’t much better, as the former was caught out of position a couple times, and the latter was tagged with six giveaways.

But those guys have been playing the bulk of the minutes lately, so they’re allowed to have an off night. At least, that’s how Pete DeBoer saw it.

“We've ridden our big guys pretty hard,” DeBoer said. “They played some tough minutes with some of the opponents we played this week, in L.A. and on and on. Tonight's a night you're looking for your depth guys to step up and give you some energy, and I thought we got that."

The Sharks’ fourth line was probably its best from start to finish, including Melker Karlsson’s goal, from Ryan Carpenter.

“[Tomas] Hertl's missed 30 games, so we needed somebody to come in and help us out in that area, and he's done that,” DeBoer said of Carpenter.

2 – Making it too easy on Martin

Spencer Martin was making his NHL debut in difficult circumstances, playing in front of what has been an incredibly loose team in its own end against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. But, the Sharks made it easy on him most of the night.

Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon, who had a tremendous game, told the Denver Post that he thought Colorado was the better team.

“Tonight, we outplayed them,” he said. “We outplayed the team that went to the (Stanley Cup) Finals last year, and there were some bright spots for us. We have to climb out of this hole and have a good last 30, 40 games here and go into next season feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

They’ll get another chance against the Sharks on Monday at Pepsi Center as the teams conclude their two-game season series. San Jose will try and give the Colorado goalie, whoever it is, a more difficult time.

“When we’re on our game, we’re making it tough with grind time and traffic at the net, some chances,” Joe Pavelski said. “Tonight we didn’t have as many as we could have had. We’ll try to find a little bit more for next game.”

Schlemko said: “We just didn’t have as much grind time in the o-zone as we usually do. If you’re not playing in their end you’re usually playing in your end.”

3 – Ward gets another on the power play

Joel Ward’s resurgence continues, as the forward again found a way to contribute on the scoresheet. His first period power play goal was one of the easier scores he’ll have, on a nice setup by Joe Thornton.

“[Thornton] had it behind the net and came around the side, and sent it to me on the far side, so it went in,” Ward said.

The 36-year-old Ward has nine points (3g, 6a) in his last 13 games. To put that in perspective, the last time he was a healthy scratch on Dec. 20, he had just nine points in 31 games on the season.

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

SAN JOSE – Playing their fifth game in eight days thanks to the condensed (some would say foolish) NHL schedule this season, perhaps it’s not all that surprising that the Sharks looked like they hit a wall on Saturday night at home against Colorado.

Still, this was the Avalanche, who have been far and away the NHL’s worst team for the past six weeks. Even a subpar effort should be enough.

And, it was. The Sharks got a power play goal by Joel Ward and another from their fourth line, while David Schlemko pounced on a rebound in overtime to push the Sharks to a 3-2 win.

It was an uninspiring victory, but a victory nonetheless.

“Two points is what was the important thing,” Ward said. “It wasn't our best, but we found a way."

Joe Pavelski said: “We had some moments where we were good. Some that we could have been better. It’s a game right now that you’ve got to really stick to your foundation, because there’s a lot of games in a lot of nights here.”

Coach Pete DeBoer, who has skillfully managed his veteran team’s rest since taking over at the start of last season, wasn’t all that critical of the Sharks’ effort, either, even though they made life far too easy on rookie goalie Spencer Martin making his NHL debut.

To DeBoer, the Sharks may be in the midst of their toughest stretch of games on the calendar. By the time they host the Oilers on Thursday in the final game before the All-Star break, San Jose will have played seven games in just an 11-day span.

“I feel the fatigue, and I haven't played a game. I'm just coaching,” he said. “We found a way to win. It was ugly, but we found a way."

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect from the Sharks’ perspective is that their fourth line continues to make an impact, scoring a goal for the third straight game. Ryan Carpenter got on the scoresheet for the second straight, floating a puck towards the net that was redirected by Melker Karlsson. It gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with five minutes to go in the second period.

“I think we fit pretty good together,” Karlsson said of playing with Carpenter. “Good centerman, good guy. It’s fun.”

Pavelski said: “You can see [the fourth line is] playing with confidence. They’re playing hard. They’re in on a lot of pucks, and giving us energy that way, and they’re getting rewarded.”

The game-winner was a simple one from Schlemko’s perspective. He hopped over the boards, slithered towards the crease, and stickhandled in a Logan Couture rebound for his second goal of the season.

“The rebound came right to me and I just had to tap in,” Schlemko said. “I’ll take those any day.”

While the Sharks were fighting through some physical and mental sluggishness, Colorado looked better than a team that hasn’t won a regulation game in a month and a half. Playing in front of a goalie making his first NHL start likely had something to do with that, as they tried to give Martin an honest effort.

Nathan MacKinnon was particularly effective, generating a game-high seven shots and setting up Colorado’s first score. Just before that goal that was finished off by Mikhail Grigorenko, MacKinnon breezed through the neutral zone untouched, and Pavelski mentioned that area of the game as a troublesome one for his club.

“Whether they were good in the neutral zone or we weren’t as sharp – that wasn’t a very strong point of our game, I don’t think. Turned over a few too many pucks,” he said.

The Sharks will have a better idea of what to expect headed into Monday’s rematch in Denver. Whether they have their legs back by then is uncertain.

“It was hard from an energy point of view for us today,” DeBoer said.