Late-season acquisitions make their mark vs. Stars


Late-season acquisitions make their mark vs. Stars

DALLAS The Sharks late-season trades are starting to look a little bit better, after all.

Daniel Winnik, TJ Galiardi and Dominic Moore all played a major role in San Joses biggest win of the season, 5-2 over Dallas on Tuesday night. Winnik and Galiardi scored goals, with Galiardis coming after some shifty moves behind the net by Moore just before a pass in front.

For Galiardi, it was his first point in a Sharks uniform in 12 games since being acquired, along with Winnik, from Colorado at the trade deadline on Feb. 27.

Its been ridiculous how long its taken but its been coming for awhile, said the affable fourth-line winger, who missed six games with a presumed back injury last month. Weve had our chances; I think the thinking is you should be worried when youre not getting your chances. Its been a long time coming, but its nice, and this is a good time to start producing.

It may have been the biggest goal of the game, too. Dallas had just taken its first lead of the game, 2-1, about half a minute earlier on a blast by defenseman Alex Goligoski midway through the second. But the fourth line came out on the next shift, and promptly re-tied it.

It was a reversal of fortunes a bit for the Sharks, who were having a problem surrendering goals on the next shift after they had scored one themselves during their struggles in early March. At one point, it happened a total of five times in just nine games for San Jose.

They go out and win a draw, play in the other teams end, and get a big goal, Todd McLellan said of his fourth-liners. They give us valuable minutes, energetic minutes, hard checking minutes, and ended up rewarding themselves with a goal.

Moore said: Hockey is a game of momentum, and you want to push back when you have a chance to do so.

Couture contributes: At Tuesdays morning skate when I mentioned to Logan Couture that he hadnt scored in 10 games, the All-Star appeared to be caught off-guard a bit.

I didnt know it was 10 games without a goal, so weve got to change that, he said.

Change it, he did. Coutures redirection of Marty Havlats tape-to-tape pass on the power play from the high slot turned out to be the game-winner. For the team-oriented Couture, he was happy to break his personal scoring slump.

You want to contribute offensively. It feels good to score goals, he said. You ask anyone in this room, you come to the rink to score every night. Its nice to get one and help the team. But, weve got to move forward here. Weve got two huge games coming up.

McLellan said: To get the one there to make the difference, and for him to feel good about himselfI thought he had a tremendous game, for him to get rewarded I thought was important, too.

Coutures 31st of the season ties him with Joe Pavelski for the team lead.

Playoff feel prevalent: Its an overused phrase in professional sports, but the Sharks-Stars game on Tuesday night truly had a playoff-type feel from the drop of the first puck.

Thats not exactly astonishing, either, given the stakes for the eighth and ninth place teams in the Western Conference. The first period was frantic, back-and-forth, physical, and virtually non-stop. In fact, there was a stretch of more than six minutes without a single whistle.

Absolutely, said Couture, when asked if the players felt the same playoff-type vibe as all of us watching from above. You look at the first 12 or 13 minutes, there werent many whistles and the pace was up and down. Im sure it was exciting for fans. It was fun to play in.

McLellan has been preaching for weeks that the playoffs have arrived early for his club, and he didnt deviate from his coach-speak message post-game.

The two games against Dallas were the two biggest games of the year, said the coach. Were in a playoff series. Weve talked about that. When you can win back-to-back games in a playoff series, one and home and one on the road, youve usually set yourself up pretty well.

The message now shifts to keeping the momentum the Sharks have built in their convincing wins over Dallas. San Jose visits the Kings on Thursday and hosts Los Angeles on Saturday to conclude the regular season. Two more points assures the Sharks of a playoff spot, regardless of what else happens among the other bubble teams.

Good teams keep their highs and lows at a very even keel, McLellan said. We still have work to do. We cannot let our guards down, and that will be the message again sent to the players Wednesday.

The Sharks practice on Wednesday afternoon in El Segundo.

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.