Goalies have been good but Sharks, Oilers both lacking chances

Goalies have been good but Sharks, Oilers both lacking chances

SAN JOSE – If you’re just joining the Sharks-Oilers first round series ahead of Game 4 and you take a quick glance at the league stats, you might think that both goaltenders have been playing some lights-out hockey. Edmonton’s Cam Talbot has a 0.98 goals-against average and .964 save percentage through three games, while Martin Jones’ 1.66 GAA and .935 SP are also impressive.

But despite those numbers, goaltending hasn’t played a huge role in the series so far. Sure, Talbot and Jones have been excellent, but neither team has generated an abundance of outstanding chances. 

“I don’t think a goaltender has been asked to steal a game,” Pete DeBoer said. “Probably the closest was Talbot in Game 1. But, you’ve got two of the top goalies in the league. I think they’ve both been solid. It’s pretty much been a non-factor because they’ve both just been really solid.”

Todd McLellan said: “They’re both quality goaltenders. They’re at the top of their games right now. I think that’s a big part of it, but both defensive mindsets of the teams have been detailed. There haven’t been many chances.”

Both teams will try to break out in Game 4 on Tuesday at SAP Center, with the Oilers holding a two-games-to-one lead. 

The Sharks, of course, haven’t scored in either of the past two playoff games for just the second time in franchise history. They need to make life harder on Talbot, but they also have to stop missing the net. Their two best chances in the first period of Game 3 – arguably the only period in which they’ve outplayed Edmonton since Game 1 – came when Joe Pavelski missed an open net with a backhand from the slot, and Chris Tierney fired high and wide on a partial breakaway.

Getting enough bodies in front of and around Talbot, too, has been missing. The Sharks have just 39 combined shots in the last two games, and not many second chances. 

“[Talbot is] in a groove right now so that's on us to get traffic,” Logan Couture said. “There's definitely rebounds sitting around. I think [in Game 3] he was having trouble catching the puck in the first, and we just didn't get there for the rebounds. Their D did a good job boxing guys out. It's on us to get to the net, get to those tough places and score on those rebounds."

Pavelski said: “We haven't tested him enough.”

Jones has allowed five goals to Talbot’s three, but the Sharks’ netminder has seen the better of the Grade A chances. While Zack Kassian’s game-winning goal in Game 3 was probably a stoppable shot, Jones denied Connor McDavid on a wraparound with 3:38 to go in the second period when the game was still scoreless, and 30 second later quickly went from his right to his left to deny McDavid on a one-timer from the top of the circle.

After he was a rock for the Sharks in the 2016 playoffs, Jones has picked up right where he’s left off.

“He’s been solid,” Pavelski said. “There haven’t been any questions there about him for us. That’s what he’s always shown us.”

They just need to find him some goals, and they need to do it quickly.

“We’ve just got to give him some run support here going forward,” Justin Braun said. “Just got to get in Talbot’s eyes and whack home some rebounds here. I think the forwards are up to the challenge.”

Joe Thornton said: “It’s going to be those 1-0, 2-1 games. That’s just how our mindset is right now. … Just cash in what you get the chance.”

Marleau shows off his Maple Leafs colors at Sharks' practice facility


Marleau shows off his Maple Leafs colors at Sharks' practice facility

There was a dash of blue among the teal and white sweaters at the Sharks captain’s ice session on Wednesday.

Patrick Marleau, who signed a three-year, $16.75 million deal with Toronto in the offseason, was among the dozen or so skaters that were on the ice at the Sharks’ practice facility with training camp a little more than three weeks away. The 37-year-old was dressed head to toe in his bright blue Maple Leafs attire, likely a shocking sight for longtime Sharks fans that saw in a San Jose sweater for the first 19 seasons of his career.

It’s not uncommon for the Sharks, or other teams, to allow players from other teams to utilize their local practice facilities before training camp begins.

Among Sharks skaters also taking part in the skate were Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi, Aaron Dell, Ryan Carpenter and Kevin Labanc. 

Thornton, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery on his ACL and MCL, looked to be moving well. He signed a one-year, $8 million contract extension with the Sharks in the offseason.

The Sharks will hold their first on-ice training camp session on Friday, Sep. 15.

Marleau makes his first appearance as a visiting player at SAP Center on Oct. 30.

Five months after taking puck to face, Sharks' Logan Couture 'still pretty sore'


Five months after taking puck to face, Sharks' Logan Couture 'still pretty sore'

Nearly five months after taking a puck to the mouth that resulted in major damage, Logan Couture is still dealing with the aftereffects of his surgically repaired mouth, which now features several false teeth.

Appearing on the NHL Network this week, Couture was asked how he’s feeling with less than one month to go before the Sharks open training camp on Sep. 14.

“There’s good days and bad days,” Couture said. “My bottom teeth are still my real teeth. They’ve tried to keep them so I don’t lose them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, they’re still pretty sore. My top teeth are all fake now – my front six, I think. So, it’s different. It just feels different in my mouth. 

“But everything else with my face and all that is healed. I’m lucky that it’s an injury that didn’t affect my training, and hopefully won’t affect me going forward.”

Couture was injured on March 25 in Nashville. He was set up just outside the crease in the offensive zone when a Brent Burns point shot hit a stick before squarely battering the now 28-year-old’s mouth.

After missing the final seven games of the regular season, Couture returned for the Sharks’ playoff opener. He managed to play in all six games of the first round loss, posting two goals and one assist for three points, although he struggled at times and was seemingly targeted by the Oilers.

Couture is currently in his hometown of London, Ontario where he’s staging a casino event for brain research. Fellow Sharks Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo will take part, as will other NHL stars like the Kings’ Drew Doughty.