Colin White settling in with Sharks


Colin White settling in with Sharks

SAN JOSE If theres been one benefit to the Sharks missing two defensemen with broken hands, as they are with Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer, its that it has allowed Colin White to settle in and play his best hockey of the season.

At least, thats how coach Todd McLellan recently categorized Whites play.

Sometimes, somebodys misfortune is somebody elses good fortune, and when both Vandermeer and Murray went down with injuries, it allowed him to get in a groove and play. I know he feels better about himself, and that pair. We feel really good about putting him in, in important situations.

Its like anything, its new and its getting used to different partners and systems. Just fitting in, said White, after Thursdays practice at Sharks Ice.

Prior to the injuries to Murray and Vandermeer in early December, McLellan was doing everything he could to keep his eight healthy defensemen fresh. If White and partner Justin Braun had a good game, that didnt necessarily mean they would be in the next night. Several times this season, the Sharks coach swapped out an entirely new third defense pair regardless of if the team had won its previous game.

White has played in the last seven Sharks games, his longest streak of the season in the lineup, and has been an even or plus player in 13 of his last 14 games overall.

RELATED: Colin White 2011 game logs

He knew he was going to be in every night, and he got into a rhythm and started to play really well, said McLellan. Without the injuries, do we put him in every night when were juggling eight? I dont know. Now, hes really settled in and hes done a good job.

As a professional and an athlete, you want to be in. Everybody does, said White. There are guys in the minors that want to be up here, and theres pressure every day to be your best.

Like any player on a new team, it took White some time to get adjusted to the Sharks after he was signed by the club following a buy-out by the New Jersey Devils. White spent the first 11 seasons of his NHL career with the Devils, and after his services were no longer wanted in New Jersey, signed a one-year, 1 million contract with San Jose this summer.

The middle of the summer rolled around and he was still a Devil, and all of a sudden his world changed. It really changed, said McLellan. Hes not waking up around his kids every day, and there are lots of adjustments to his world.

Braun, too, has been thriving since he was recalled from Worcester for the second time this season at the beginning of the month. Hes played more than 20 minutes in three of the last five games, something he hadnt done at all in his first 13 games with the Sharks.

He enjoys playing with the veteran White.

Hes seen it all, won Cups, and its calming, said Braun. You dont get too riled up. You make a bad play? Just keep going. Theres a lot of game left. Its good to have him around.

Braun admits that being in the lineup on a night-in night-out basis has its benefits.

There are always other guys biting at your heels for spots so youve got to play well every night, but its a good feeling playing a lot in a row. You get used to games and dont want to lose that feeling, he said.

Murray and Vandermeer are getting closer to a return, though, as both have been skating with the team this week. Although they will probably not be ready against the Kings on Friday night, they could both be taken off of injured reserve at some point next week.

When that happens, it will be decision time for McLellan again.

Its really good for us to have eight quality NHL defensemen that we can play and were comfortable with that. Thats something we created and had a desire for, said the coach. In the same breath, its also hard for them because they know that two bodies around going to be in on most nights when theyre all healthy.

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.”

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

SAN JOSE – Just in case there was any question as to the grisly nature of Logan Couture’s mouth injury, the Sharks forward shared a picture on his personal Instagram account on Monday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, proceed with caution.

The photo was taken the night of his injury on March 25 in Nashville, showing several top teeth missing in a mouth that can accurately be described as a bloody mess, after he was hit with a defected puck while standing in front of the net in a game against the Predators.

Couture revealed on Tuesday in a conference call that there was more to his injury that just damaged teeth. He also has some facial fractures, including one above his upper lip that extends to his nasal area, and another that is under the bottom row of his teeth.

The one that’s higher in his face is still painful. 

“Still struggle to eat and sleep. … It’s not a comfortable state to be in,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the six-game first round series loss to Edmonton.

As for the next step, Couture has yet to sit down with his dentist, although further work is on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some implants to get the teeth fixed,” he said. “Hopefully get it done in the next few weeks, and then I’ll head back to Canada.”

Couture doesn’t yet know how many teeth need to be replaced.

“All depends on how the teeth respond,” he said.

* * *

Joe Thornton had successful surgery on his left knee on Monday afternoon, NBC Sports California has learned, and according to a team statement released later on Tuesday he is expected to "make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of the 2017-18 season." 

According to a source, the damage to Thornton’s MCL was more significant than his ACL. The team declined to give any details about the surgery in its statement, including who performed it and where it was done. 

Thornton played four playoff games against Edmonton despite damaged knee ligaments, head coach Pete DeBoer revealed on Monday, when he said Thornton was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” after getting hurt in Vancouver on April 2.