Fatigued Havlat still finds game-winner

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Fatigued Havlat still finds game-winner

SAN JOSE When any player returns from a long absence, its only natural he might take a few games to get his legs and his lungs back to where he wants them to be.

He may have scored two goals last night, including the winner in overtime, but Marty Havlat is no different. As mentioned in last nights recap, the winger said he was dying midway through the exciting 3-2 Sharks win over the Red Wings.

Todd McLellan noticed it, too, and kept Havlat on the bench for a few shifts in the third period.

There was one or two shifts where I held him back a little but because he looked a little gassed, and he knew. We communicated on the bench, McLellan said. But other than that, we were playing him. Hes doing the work for us, hes playing a smart game.

The coach obviously made the right decision in overtime.

Hes a smart, smart player. He doesnt waste a lot of energy on the ice. Positions himself well. I think hes managed himself very good the first two games as far as shift length and putting himself in spots where he can succeed, McLellan said.

Marc-Edourard Vlasic said: Hes a big part of our team. Weve missed him for a long time, he comes back, gets two goals and plays a great game. We needed that offense from him and he delivered tonight.

Goals coming early: For the third straight game, the Sharks have scored a goal before many fans have even had time to buy a hot dog or get their butts to the seats.

Twice its come from the top line, including Joe Pavelskis goal just 48 seconds after the opening faceoff last night.

For whatever reason were just hopping on teams early. Wed like to keep that trend going, but its not going to last forever, I dont think, said Joe Thornton, who set up Pavelski from behind the net.

Pavelski, who tied his career high with his 25th goal, said: It gets the crowd into it, obviously. It gets the guys into it. It establishes our game. We know were ready, we know we can play with them all night. You score early, you definitely have a little extra jump.

On March 13 in Calgary, Logan Couture scored 53 seconds into the game. The previous night in Edmonton, Torrey Mitchells goal came 1:07 into the first period.

From the Wings room: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard had this to say about Havlats overtime goal:

It was a good play by Havlat to scoop it up there. Theres not much you can do when youve got two guys laying on you, but its part of the game. It was a pile out in front. They were able to get the loose puck and put it home.

Howard was a bit tied up with Justin Braun and several other players, including some Red Wings, on the winning goal.

Detroit lost its fourth straight game and sixth of seven. They failed to win on their four-game trip, and were swept in California, dropping decisions to the Kings and Ducks before last night.

This was their best effort, though, according to Brad Stuart.

Obviously it was not the start we wanted, but I thought we battled back hard, found a way to get back in the game and get it to overtime. Weve got to find a way to win, but its a step in the right direction. Weve got to continue to get better and have those types of efforts more consistently on the road coming down the stretch here.

Head coach Mike Babcock said: I thought our game tonight was a step in the right direction. Our two previous games we didnt play hard enough, organized enough, or committed enough to have any kind of success.

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.