Fighting Flames next test for Sharks

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Fighting Flames next test for Sharks

March 22, 2011

SHARKS (42-23-8) vs.
CALGARY (37-27-11)

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE (AP) -- With 2 12 weeks left in the season, the San Jose Sharks are in position to win a fourth consecutive Pacific Division title. The Sharks, however, know they could also fall out of playoff position in the tightly bunched Western Conference during this stretch.

Playing its final non-division game this season, San Jose looks to win its fourth straight when it hosts the slumping Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

HIGHLIGHTS: Pavelski powers Sharks past St. Louis, 5-3

The Sharks (42-23-8) have gone 21-4-3 in their last 28 to move from worst to first in the division. Although San Jose is three points back of second-place Detroit in the West, it know it needs to finish strong.

The Red Wings and 10th-place Flames - who are tied with eighth-place Anaheim and ninth-place Dallas with 85 points - are separated by 10 points.

VIDEO: Heatley on his suspension

"You look at that three through eight and that can really change the next two weeks," forward Dany Heatley told the Sharks' official website. "You want to have the highest seed as possible obviously for home ice and things like that. ... These last nine games are going to mean a lot."

The Sharks are getting Heatley back for this game he served a two-game suspension for elbowing Dallas' Steve Ott on March 15. Rookie center Logan Couture, however, is questionable after suffering a lower-body injury in a 5-3 victory over St. Louis on Saturday.

Couture, who has a franchise rookie-record 27 goals with 21 assists, sat out practice Monday.

"I don't like sitting out games," he said. "If I'm healthy, I want to play."
RELATED: Couture day to day with lower-body injury

San Jose may not have its Calder Trophy hopeful on the ice, so it may need Joe Pavelski to continue his hot streak. The center has three goals and eight assists while recording at least a point in each of his last four.

"I feel confident with the puck," Pavelski said after scoring twice with an assist Saturday. "The line's been playing good. We've had lots of chances."
RELATED: Pavelski named NHL's First Star

The Flames (37-27-11) have dropped five of six and are running out of opportunities as they struggle to keep pace in the playoff race. Calgary lost 2-1 in a shootout at Los Angeles on Monday.

"We would have loved to get two points, and we know in our remaining games we're going to have to get a ton of them," captain Jarome Iginla said. "So we've got to keep our heads up and keep playing like that."

Former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff, pulled 5:49 into a 5-4 overtime loss at Anaheim on Sunday after yielding three goals, should be in net for this matchup. He made 26 saves versus the Kings.

"Kipper was outstanding," coach Brent Sutter said.

Kiprusoff has gone 1-1-1 with 2.29 goals-against average in Calgary's three games against San Jose this season. He turned away 31 shots in the teams' only meeting at HP Pavilion - a 4-3 Sharks victory Nov. 13.

Antti Niemi, who made 28 saves in that win, is expected to start his 29th consecutive game Wednesday. He stopped 21 shots through overtime and all three in the shootout in a 4-3 victory at Calgary on Feb. 25.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton is one goal shy of reaching 20 for the 11th straight season.

Iginla is tied with Rene Bourque with a team-best two goals against San Jose in 2010-11.

Casspi thanks Kings after trade to Pelicans: 'Definitely isn't easy'

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USATSI

Casspi thanks Kings after trade to Pelicans: 'Definitely isn't easy'

The Kings traded Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the forward to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

I want to thank the Sacramento Kings organization for the opportunity to play basketball in front of the great fans of Sacramento. My wife and I felt in Sacramento like being home and this is something we both will cherish for ever. This definitely isn't easy for me and my family to leave, and you all know how much I love our city, organization and fans but the time has come. I want to wish nothing but success to my Kings. I will definitely will follow and cheer from afar. 
Always a big part of my heart, 
Omri #18

Casspi, 28, averaged 5.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 18 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

MESA, Ariz. — Adam Rosales has a real simple plan for which infield position he chooses to try to get work at.

“Wherever there’s less guys, I go over there,” he explained with a smile.

The sun came out and the A’s finally got on the field for their first full-squad workout Monday after being rained out Sunday. That meant Rosales, back for his second go-round as an Athletic, got his first chance to prepare for what figures to be a super-utility role, which is how he’s carved out a nine-year major league career.

All indications are that he’ll be the primary backup infielder, capable of spelling Jed Lowrie at second base, Marcus Semien at shortstop, Trevor Plouffe at third and even fill in at first base or left field in a pinch.

Though Rosales, who spent 2010-12 with Oakland and re-signed in January on a one-year $1.25 million deal, is well-versed in preparing himself all over the diamond, one position in particular is one that he says is most difficult to master in limited time.

“Shortstop,” he offered without hesitation. “There’s a lot more going on there, a lot less room for error. At shortstop, especially with a guy like Mike Trout running, you’ve got to be in good rhythm, good timing, get rid of the ball and make an accurate throw.”

Depending on how the A’s prioritize their 25-man roster, Rosales could very well be the only backup infielder. That means fellow infielders Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder would start in the minors if the A’s were to keep a fifth outfielder or third catcher. But because the A’s have some players who can fill in at multiple spots, there’s numerous ways they can choose to configure the roster when it comes time to pare it down.

Rosales, 33, said walking back into the A’s clubhouse for the first time made him “feel like I’m back home.” So much of the support staff — equipment guys, clubhouse guys — are the same as when he was here before. He was also happy to see former infield mate Mark Ellis walk through the door Sunday. He says Ellis, a teammate from 2010-11, instilled in him the importance of being a great defender. Ellis is working as a part-time spring instructor.

“He told me, the No. 1 reason he was in the big leagues was because of this,” Rosales said, holding up his glove. “I was such a young player then. I’d always work with him, how to turn double plays. Just to have him around is awesome.”

NOTEWORTHY: Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman were among the pitchers who faced hitters for the first time this season. Bruce Maxwell caught Gray, his first time behind the plate with Gray other than the one inning Gray threw in an abbreviated start at Anaheim toward the end of last season. Maxwell said Gray’s changeup in particular looked good.

Manager Bob Melvin has been very impressed early on with Graveman’s command. Graveman said he’s trying to improve his changeup, in an effort to induce weak contact from righties and get them on the their front foot, which could then make him more effective on the inside corner.

CAMP BATTLE: There could be a good fight for the seventh and final spot in the bullpen, and it would seem being left-handed could give someone an edge. Sean Doolittle is the only lefty currently projected among the A’s top six relievers. Melvin had good things to say about Daniel Coulombe, a lefty who made 35 appearances in relief last year and also saw a bit of time with Oakland in 2015. Coulombe posted a 4.53 ERA last season but struck out 54 in 47 2/3 innings.