Vandermeer adjusting to life as a forward


Vandermeer adjusting to life as a forward

SAN JOSE At various times this season the Sharks have had eight healthy defensemen on their roster, meaning two able-bodied players would be sitting out at any given time.

The Sharks have found a creative way to remedy that situation, lining up typical defenseman Jim Vandermeer as a winger on the fourth line.

For the second consecutive game on Tuesday night, Vandermeer skated as a forward. He played more than 11 minutes, noticeably getting into two fights with Jared Boll, but also making a good account of himself during even-strength play.

Its coming. Its a work in progress, Vandermeer said after Wednesdays practice at Sharks Ice.

Both games that hes played there, hes played very well, said Todd McLellan, also alluding to the Sharks last game before the All-Star break on Jan. 24 in Calgary. Very reliable, when he gets down low in his own zone, hes basically another defenseman.

Obviously, his physical attributes are something we need most nights. I like him there. I know hes a defenseman, I understand that, but to be a utility guy is a real good asset, too.

Vandermeers physical presence certainly came in handy against the Blue Jackets. Bolls hit on Thornton resulted in a long bout with Vandermeer, who was sticking up for the team captain.

Thats a key element Vandermeer brings to the ice, no matter what position hes playing.

I think in general thats more my style, when the bodies are flying, and guys take liberties, Vandermeer said. Boll hit Jumbo a little high that first shift, and it was good for our guys to respond.

KURZ: Boll fined for hit on Thornton

Hes not the only one on that fourth line willing to play the tough guy role, though.

Winnie (Brad Winchester) was ready to go. Hes like are we going? And I said its either you or me, you pick. We got on the ice, and Boll was more looking at me so I just switched sides with him and went at er.

McLellan admitted that Vandermeer, who missed 21 games with a broken hand from early December to mid-January, has a better chance to dress against teams that have more of an edge. That could include Thursday nights opponent, when the Dallas Stars visit HP Pavilion.

McLellan was asked if thats the type of game Vandermeer will be used up front.

Likely. It makes sense. But, that doesnt mean we wouldnt play him in any other scenario or situation, McLellan said. Some nights we just feel better about seven d-men. Maybe someone is not feeling as good, or is banged up or bruised. We could start him there with the ability to throw him back on defense.

Although the competition from the lowly Blue Jackets wasnt exactly fierce in the 6-0 Sharks win, the fourth line provided good early energy as San Jose jumped in front with a pair of first period goals. On one shift, in particular, they held the puck in the Columbus zone for well over a minute with a heavy forecheck and an aggressive, energetic style.

Were not a real offensive threat as much as the other guys, Vandermeer said. For us to go out there and get a couple hits and a good forecheck, it just leads in the next line going out there. I felt the first 10 to 12 minutes we had our game going, playing in their end, getting on the body.

Its not the first time Vandermeer has lined up as a forward in his hockey career. He spent some time there during his stint with the Calgary Flames in 2007-08 to 2008-09, as well as his Western Hockey League club in Red Deer.

In actuality, his expertise of the defense position could help him when it comes to being a fourth line forward.

Some of those d-men that go up front are often more reliable than the forwards that play up there permanently, McLellan said. They know how to play on the defensive side of the puck.

Odds and ends: Jason Demers remains out with a lower body injury and will not play against Dallas. Ryane Clowe skated on Wednesday and could return against the Stars. Forward Andrew Murray has sat out the last two games in place of Vandermeer.

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

PITTSBURGH – The primary reason the Sharks made the additions and subtractions they did in the offseason was to match up better against a swift-skating team like Pittsburgh, which won last June’s Stanley Cup Final by playing a game based on speed.

If the first rematch is any indication, even a dramatically shorthanded Penguins team can still get the job done against San Jose.

Despite no Sidney Crosby, no Kris Letang, no Matt Murray, no Conor Sheary, and no third defense pair of Olli Maatta and Derrick Poulliot for the third period, the Penguins stormed from behind to give the Sharks a 3-2 loss on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. All of the Penguins’ goals came in the third period after they trailed 2-0 to start the final frame.

For the second time in four games on their road trip, the Sharks controlled play through two periods. That was enough against lowly Columbus last Saturday, but not against the Penguins, who got goals from Evgeni Malkin, Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist in span of eight minutes and 15 seconds in the third.

“Let them hang around a little bit, which is something we’ve done lately,” Pete DeBoer said. “Had some opportunities to extend it, and didn’t. Probably deserved to be up by more, but we weren’t. That’s what happens.”

San Jose got goals from Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau in the second period, a period that saw them outshoot the Penguins, 17-4. Shots were 27-10 overall through 40 minutes.

They started well in the third, too, when Mikkel Boedker drew a trip on Malkin at 4:10. Just after the ensuing power play had expired, Boedker was staring at a wide open net after slick seam pass from Joonas Donskoi, but fired wide.

Malkin scored 30 seconds later, and the comeback was on.

“Just missed it. It’s a tough shot when it comes from the other way, but [Donskoi] made a good pass,” Boedker said. “It’s one of those you want to put in, and when things are going the right way, they come in bunches. … Obviously it sucks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

After Malkin’s goal, and another by Wilson tied it, the Sharks took a pair of minor penalties. Paul Martin was called for a delay of game that was killed off, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s slash on Bryan Rust resulted in Hornqvist’s winner with less than six minutes to go in regulation.

Joe Pavelski didn’t seem to like either call, indicating that Martin’s errant clearing attempt hit a Penguins stick on its way out, and the Vlasic slash late a tie game is a call “that you don’t always see.”

Hornqvist got a couple fortunate bounces on his goal, too. He took control of the puck in front of the net after it hit Joel Ward’s foot, and his shot attempt deflected in off of Martin’s skate.

“They got a bounce or two more, but the position we were in, it shouldn’t matter how many bounces they get,” Pavelski said. “We’ve got to seal that game.”

The captain expressed disappointment over the fact that the Sharks squandered a chance to move to 4-1-0 on the season, which would be an accomplishment considering their early peripatetic schedule in which they played just one home game before traveling east.

That outweighed any sort of revenge factor that might have been on the minds of the players that were defeated by Pittsburgh in the Final last spring.

“The biggest thing is we were playing for a 4-1 record going into that third [period]. Not because it was the Penguins,” Pavelski said. “It’s early in the year and it’s not easy to start coming on the road with all these games. Now we’re staring at 3-2, and we move on. It would have been nice to beat them, for sure, but the best thing would have been for that record.”

The Sharks can still conclude their five-game trip with a winning mark by beating Detroit on Saturday.

DeBoer said: “We’re not going to overreact. We played very good hockey for large amounts of this game. Learn from it, and move forward.”

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins


PITTSBURGH – It wasn’t the Stanley Cup Final, but it was a disappointing defeat for the Sharks against the Penguins nonetheless, as Pittsburgh stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to beat San Jose, 3-2.

The game-winner came from Patric Hornqvist. On a Pittsburgh power play, he found a loose puck and swiped it in with 5:58 left in regulation.

The Penguins trailed 2-0 to start the third, but Evgeni Malkin got them on the board. After the Sharks were caught scrambling in front of their own net, Malkin took control of the disc in the high slot. He spun around and flicked it through Martin Jones at 6:47.

A little more than two minutes later, Hornqvist drilled Brenden Dillon on the corner, jarring the puck loose from the wall. Scott Wilson grabbed it, swooped towards the crease and slipped it though at 9:01 to knot the game at 2-2.

The Sharks (3-2-0) fell to 2-2 on their five-game road trip, which concludes with their final visit to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Saturday.

San Jose scored twice in a dominant second period in which it outshot Pittsburgh, 17-4.

Tomas Hertl’s second goal in as many games opened the scoring. He got to the front of the net and poked in a Joe Pavelski rebound at 5:04 after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury lost control of his stick while making a save on Brent Burns moments earlier.

Patrick Marleau created the second goal at 16:15, stripping Chris Kunitz of the puck at the blue line and finishing off a give-and-go with Logan Couture for his second of the year.

Prior to Marleau’s marker, the Penguins had a power play goal waved off. On a power play, Phil Kessel directed a rebound towards the net, and it rattled around off of the post and Jones’ left pad. Hornqvist directed it in, but a video review showed it illegally went in off of his glove and not his stick with 6:41 left in the period.

Special teams

The Sharks allowed one power play goal in five Penguins advantages, and were 0-for-3 on the power play.

Mikkel Boedker had a chance to essentially seal the win on a third period advantage for the Sharks, but couldn’t bury a Joonas Donskoi pass into an empty net. Malkin brought the Penguins back to within a goal moments later.

San Jose killed off a Paul Martin delay of game penalty at 10:17 of the third to keep it 2-2.

In goal

Jones fell to 2-2 on the season with three goals allowed on 20 shots.

Marc-Andre Fleury got the win with 32 saves. Starter Matt Murray remains out with a hand injury.


Pittsburgh was down to four defensemen by the end of the game, as Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot were forced from action in the second period.

The Penguins were without several key pieces to start the game, including Murray, best defenseman Kris Letang, and the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby.

Matt Nieto returned to the lineup in place of Micheal Haley on the fourth line. Nieto was a healthy scratch on Tuesday against the Islanders.

Up next

After Saturday’s game in Detroit, the Sharks finally play their second game at SAP Center on Thursday, Oct. 25 against Anaheim in the first of a three-game homestand. Columbus and Nashville also visit.