Hiller says Ducks 'own' Sharks


Hiller says Ducks 'own' Sharks

ANAHEIM There was a strong sense entering the third period of last nights 3-1 Sharks loss to Anaheim that whoever got the next goal was going to triumph. Scoring chances were at a minimum on both sides of what was a pretty evenly played 1-1 match between two Pacific Division rivals after 40 minutes.

Teemu Selanne got the shaft of his stick on a blast by Luca Sbisa about five and a half minutes into the third period for what turned out to by the game-winner.

They did a good job getting it through to the net. You cant really blame a lot of people on it, Todd McLellan said of Selannes goal. Thats hockey, and thats the way it is.

There werent a lot of momentum swings. It was pretty evenly played. You had a feeling whoever was going to get that next one was going to hold a real distinct advantage. There werent a lot of chances either way.

Although Antti Niemi looked a bit shaky at times throughout the game, there was nothing he could do on Selannes goal. The velocity on the shot from Sbisa offered him no time to react to any sort of redirection.

If its a slower puck than you can read the situation more, but if its a slap shot you have to go there and react, Niemi said. You cant think its going to hit something.

Ducks own Sharks: Jonas Hiller, who made 28 saves in net, didnt hold back when asked about his teams success against the Sharks.

Its a rivalry, and it looks like we own them right now, Hiller said. Everybody is really motivated and we didnt want to eliminate ourselves. We are still trying to play good hockey. We dont want to just give up. That is what we did tonight, and that's why we won."

Anaheims 5-1-0 season mark against the Sharks is a new franchise record, eclipsing a 4-1-0 record vs. San Jose achieved in 1994-95 and 1995-96.

Bruce Boudreau was clearly pleased with Hillers performance, which included a highlight-reel glove save on Joe Pavelski with about five minutes left in the game.

Hes important every night. The save he made when it was 2-1 is what hes been doing since January, Boudreau said. When we have a chance, whether we are behind or not, he lets us have the opportunity to win. That is all you can ask a goalie to do.

Ducks roll four: According to Joe Thornton, the Sharks 1-5 record in their season series with Anaheim was due mainly to their inability to match them line-for-line.

Its probably their depth up front. Theyre a good four-line team, and thats probably been our Achilles heel. We havent been able to match a four-line game with them, said the captain.

Niemi said: Overall, theyre playing with four lines, and it wasnt easy to get in their zone.

The Sharks did, however, have their chances in this one, giving a much better effort than the 5-3 loss at home to the Ducks on March 19.

We played solid," Thornton. "Id like to see us finish a couple more chances. We competed hard, but weve got to get all four lines going. We played good against Colorado with all four lines, but to get in the playoffs were going to need all four.

Playoff chances take a hit: How much did the results of last nights games around the league hurt the Sharks playoff probability?

According to the math on sportsclubstats.com, the Sharks are down to a 64.2 percent chance to make it to the post season down 14.9 percent from Wednesday morning.

Calgary (4.7 percent) and Colorado (3.5 percent) have all but been eliminated, meaning there are four teams competing for three open spots.

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


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.

* * *

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.