Ducks squeak past Sharks in another low scoring, tight affair

Ducks squeak past Sharks in another low scoring, tight affair

SAN JOSE – Some recent trends have emerged in games between the Sharks and Ducks, and they were again on display on Saturday night at SAP Center.

They’re close, and they’re low scoring, to be specific.

Anaheim’s 2-1 triumph was the eighth straight head-to-head matchup that has been decided by just one goal. Furthermore, the teams have combined for just 28 total goals in those eight meetings, or 3.5 per game.

Of course, in those types of games, one mistake can be deadly. In this case, it came when Paul Martin’s attempted pass to Joe Pavelski was blocked by Jakob Silfverberg, who raced in on a breakaway to beat Martin Jones at 13:29 of the second period. It was the final goal of the game.

Martin described the play.

“[The puck] kind of rolled on me or jammed me a little bit. I was going to shoot, and then I saw Pavs kind of slide up in the slot and I just tried to slide it to him. Hit a shin pad, or hit something, so…yeah,” Martin said.

Logan Couture said: “Obviously it’s a tough break to give up that one, to that guy, with that shot. He picks his corners pretty good. We rebounded and had a good third period.”

Couture is correct in that the Sharks did press Anaheim in the final frame, outshooting the Ducks 14-4 but failing to get the equalizer.  The Sharks had a 34-27 advantage in shots in the game, and a 76-53 advantage in shot attempts.

His line with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward was the Sharks’ most effective of the evening, and all of them had chances. Ward was stopped in front of the net about four minutes into the third period, though, and Marleau was denied on a breakaway with nine minutes left. Couture finished with a game-high six shots, including a first period power play goal on a two-man advantage.

In one sequence in the second period, Couture’s wraparound try ended up on Ward’s tape on the other side of the net, and with goalie Jonathan Bernier sprawled out in the crease, Ward tried getting it over the goaltender to Marleau in front of an empty net. He didn’t get it high enough, though, and Bernier froze it.

The Sharks were much more pleased with their effort on Saturday than in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Blues in which they were thoroughly outplayed. 

“I didn’t like our first 10 minutes, but after that I thought we played a real good game,” Pete DeBoer said. “It was a playoff-type atmosphere. We had enough opportunities to get three or four tonight. We didn’t. That’s a credit to their goalie. But, we did a lot of good things.”

Joe Pavelski said: “They had their chances, we had ours. It was a game, it was physical, it was a fun one. Crowd was into it right from the start, and guys showed up to play.”

There are no points for effort, though, so the Sharks still have some work to do if they want to close out the Pacific Division. They were well aware that they had a chance to essentially bury the Ducks by potentially opening their lead up to seven points with a game in hand.

Instead, they’re now just four points ahead with a pair of back-to-backs on the road on the immediate horizon. The Sharks visit Dallas on Monday and Minnesota on Tuesday, and will have to keep an eye in the rear view mirror on surging Anaheim, which has won five of its last seven (5-1-1).

“I think as the games get closer to the end, you kind of know who’s up and down,” Ward said of the contracting standings.

The primary takeaway from Saturday’s game, though, was that if the Sharks put forth the same kind of effort and performance over their final 11, they’ll be fine.

Martin said: “As long as we’re playing the way that we want to play, I think it will take care of itself.”

“If we play like we did tonight, most nights we’re going to win,” DeBoer said.

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DeBoer didn't offer any sort of update on Jannik Hansen, who left the game in the third period after taking a stick up high from defenseman Brandon Montour as the two came together in the corner. "I don’t have anything for you on that yet," DeBoer said.

Pavelski talked to his linemate after the game.

“I think [Hansen] said he got a stick in the head, or something like that. I don’t really know for sure," Pavelski said.

 

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

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AP

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

No one asked, but I’m going to begin this week’s mailbag with my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final – Preds in six. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to a few of your questions…

Most likely to be moved this off-season? (Nik @niknisj25)

If the Sharks do make a move – and I’ve argued here that I think it may be time for a shakeup – they’ll surely be looking for someone up front to boost the offense. In that case, they’d likely have to sacrifice a defenseman or two.

The Sharks defense is the strength of the organization at the moment, as they had one of the best one-through-seven groups in the NHL this season. But it’s also an expensive one. The Sharks have nearly $27 million committed to their top seven defensemen next season, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is due for a hefty raise beginning in 2018-19.

One name that could be intriguing to other teams is Justin Braun. The 30-year-old has been a part of the Sharks’ top shut down pair with Vlasic for several seasons now, and is signed for the next three years at a reasonable $3.8 million cap hit. The Sharks could potentially move him for offensive help, and slot in a guy like David Schlemko alongside Vlasic, while finally giving Dylan DeMelo a chance to play on a nightly basis on the third pair. A Vlasic-Schlemko pair could be more offensive than Vlasic-Braun, too, because as adept as they were at keeping the puck out of their own net, the Sharks didn’t get many goals from their defenders outside of Burns.

Of course, the upcoming expansion draft all but assures that nothing will happen until Las Vegas selects its team on June 21. If the Sharks lose a defenseman to the Golden Knights, they’ll be more reluctant to move another one. Still, with guys like Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, Julius Bergman, Mirco Mueller and now Radim Simek in the pipeline, the club might be able to handle a couple departures.

How do we fix the power play next season? Bring in a coach that could help us? Change up the lines, or style of play? (adam smith @kickback408)

One thing that won’t be happening is a new coach, as Doug Wilson recently confirmed that Steve Spott would be back alongside Pete DeBoer. Bob Boughner could move on if he gets hired as a head coach elsewhere, but Boughner’s focus is the team’s defense and penalty kill.

Obviously, the future of the power play depends on who is on the roster, beginning with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both saw their power play production dip this season.

Thornton went from 29 power play points in 2015-16 to 19 this season (he had eight power play goals in 2015-16, and just one this season). Marleau saw a decline from 25 power play points in 2015-16 to 16 last season. Even if both return, it may be time to try other bodies on the top unit.

Do you see Meier, Labanc and/or Sorensen having a breakout season next year? Or anyone else on the Barracuda? (Colin Dunn @ColinDunnACA)

Someone better had, because this team needs to start getting younger, and soon. One of the bigger disappointments of the 2016-17 season is that none of them apparently showed the coaching staff that they were prepared to play on a nightly basis at the NHL level.

Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, I would surmise, are at the top of the depth chart as far as forwards go. Their line in the playoffs with center Chris Tierney was the Sharks’ best through the early part of the series with Edmonton. As for Kevin Labanc, I think he’s fallen a bit since he had a brief run of success for the Sharks in December.

While the Sharks did a good job stockpiling some young players through the 2013-15 drafts, they’ve traded away a number of picks in recent years. In last year’s draft they didn’t have a first or third round pick; this year they don’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds; and in 2018 they are already without their second and third round picks. 

It’s great to accumulate young players, but at some point they have to break through. Now is the time.

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

After five seasons with the Sharks, Larry Robinson is leaving the organization.

Robinson, 65, spent the last three seasons as the club's director of player development. He served as an associate coach from 2012-14.

TSN in Montreal and the Montreal Gazette originally reported the news.

The Sharks confirmed that Robinson's contract would be expiring, and general manager Doug Wilson told NBC Sports California that the divorce was amicable, and "because of geography." Robinson lives in Florida.

According to the Montreal Gazette

Robinson’s contract with the Sharks expires on July 1, but agent Donnie Cape said Thursday that San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has given him permission to speak with other teams. Robinson lives in Bradenton, Fla., and the long travel distance to San Jose is one of big the reasons he’s looking for a new team to work for.

Robinson seemed to ponder retirement in 2014, but signed a three-year extension to remain in the Sharks' front office. He worked mostly from his home in Florida the past two seasons, making occasional trips to San Jose, including during training camp.

In the summer of 2015, Robinson underwent surgery for skin cancer.

Recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Robinson won six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, and holds the NHL record for playing 20 straight seasons in the playoffs. A 10-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson was the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99, and the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002 and again in 2005-06. He led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson has nine Stanley Cup rings as a player and coach.

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The Sharks did not renew the contract of pro scout Jason Rowe, who had been with the organization for the past nine seasons. Rowe focused on eastern NHL and AHL teams.