Back-to-back may benefit Sharks


Back-to-back may benefit Sharks

CALGARY The Sharks have precious time to rest between now and the end of the regular season.

Theyll invade Calgary on Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after beating Edmonton on Monday, 3-2. Its one of three remaining back-to-back situations left on San Joses schedule, and after the brief flight from Edmonton late Monday, the team will enjoy an opportunity to get a little more sleep after the coaching staff canceled the morning skate.

While a breather is typically welcomed this late in the season, it might actually benefit the Sharks to get right back at it tonight at the Saddledome. The Sharks snapped a five-game losing streak against the Oilers, and is was evident in the locker room at Rexall Place that there was a least a temporary sense of relief as the Sharks got a rare moment to enjoy a win something theyve done just three times in the last 14 games (3-8-3).

RECAP: Sharks snap skid with 3-2 win in Edmonton

Getting right back out on the ice on the wings of those good feelings might be good for them.

Yeah, I want to keep going here, Dan Boyle said after the Oilers game. I want to get back to where we need to be. The wait sucks, we need to play and play these games, and get some wins.

I posited that to the captain, as well.

I hope, well have to see tomorrow night, but I hope, Joe Thornton said. I hope we take what we had in this game and carry it over tomorrow. The Sharks are Flames are right beside each other in the standings, so its going to be a battle.

Thornton is right. While the win against the Oilers was nice, the Calgary Flames are one of a number of teams the Sharks will be battling with down the stretch to make the playoffs. Ninth place San Jose is one point ahead of the Flames, with one game in hand, headed into tonights showdown.

The Sharks could climb as high as seventh or fall right back down to the 11th spot, depending on how tonights action shakes out. The Los Angeles Kings host the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, while Dallas, four points up in the Pacific Division, is in Minnesota.

Were going to go there and play, and we know theyre going to be prepared. Its a big game for them, as well, Todd McLellan said on Monday night. Wed like to bottle this up, get some rest, and put the work boots back on.

Its unclear this morning which goaltender McLellan will go with against the Flames. Antti Niemi has started the last seven games for the Sharks, but it wouldnt be shocking to see him get the call against the Flames, too. Traditionally, Niemi plays his best hockey when hes in the net over and over again, as evidenced by his 34 straight starts in the second half of last season.

The goaltender failed to get into a rhythm on the teams nine-game road trip in late February, when Thomas Greiss started two of the first four games both coming when the team played on consecutive nights.

McLellan claimed after the Oilers game he hadnt yet thought about who his goalie would be against the Flames, but with the importance of the game, you'd have to think he's leaning towards his number one.

When asked if he wants to play again right away, Niemi quickly responded: Im ready to go. Well see what happens.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”