NHL Gameday: First place Sharks resume schedule in Anaheim

NHL Gameday: First place Sharks resume schedule in Anaheim

Programming note – Sharks-Ducks coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 21-12-1, 43 points, 1st Pacific Division
Ducks: 17-12-6, 40 points, 3rd Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks and Ducks will be meeting for the fourth time this season. San Jose won in overtime at home on Oct. 25, 2-1, but Anaheim has captured the previous two, each by a 3-2 score in regulation.

Due to the mandatory days off for Christmas, the Sharks were not permitted the regular routine of traveling to southern California last night. They held their Tuesday morning skate in San Jose a little earlier than normal before boarding the team charter.

“It’s always tricky getting back into it, flying the same day and playing a game,” Paul Martin said. “I think we know how important these points are, so I’m sure we’ll be focused and ready to go.”

Pete DeBoer believes the key after three days off will be to keep it simple. “The team that makes the fewest mental mistakes usually wins these games,” he said. “I think that the trap is to try and do too much and get a little bit fancy. We’re going to concentrate on that, just trying not to beat ourselves.”

Anaheim is 5-0-1 in the last six head-to-head meetings against San Jose, but 2-3-1 in its last six games overall.

***The Sharks will ice the same lineup they used against the Oilers on Friday, meaning Tommy Wingels and David Schlemko will remain healthy scratches.

San Jose has won six of its last seven, including a 3-2 overtime win against Edmonton in its most recent game in which it had a 31-18 advantage in shots.

“We played I thought one of our better games of the year. We didn’t give up much,” DeBoer said. “No need to change [the lineup].”

***After finishing a run of nine games in 17 days before Christmas, the Sharks will play their only game in a six-day stretch on Tuesday night. They host the Flyers on Friday.

How can one of the older teams in the league utilize that time?

“I’m looking forward to some good practices,” DeBoer said. “We haven’t had much of that.”

Patrick Marleau said: “When you rest up here, you refill the tanks, get some energy back, and now it’s time to go use it to our advantage.”

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Micheal Haley. Now centering the fourth line, Haley will be suiting up for the 15th time in the last 18 games. His role of playing a hard, physical style and dropping the gloves when necessary tends to become more important in certain Pacific Division games, including the Oilers on Friday and, of course, Anaheim, as there is no love lost between the intra-state rivals.

Ducks: Rickard Rakell. The 23-year-old has scored in each of his two games against the Sharks, and leads the Ducks with 14 in just 24 games. The former first rounder from the 2011 draft recently had a career-best six-game point streak from Dec. 3-17. 

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Micheal Haley – Joel Ward

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Ducks
Rickard Rakell – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie – Antoine Vermette – Ondrej Kase
Joseph Cramarossa – Logan Shaw – Jared Boll

Cam Fowler – Sami Vatanen
Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Korbinian Holzer – Kevin Bieksa

John Gibson
Jonathan Bernier

INJURIES

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Ducks: Nic Kerdiles (concussion), Nate Thompson (Achilles surgery), Simon Despres (concussion) and Clayton Stoner (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“They’re always tough games, playing your division rivals. We expect the same tonight. It’s going to be probably a good game to have right after the holiday, you get everybody right back into it. Big points.” – Patrick Marleau

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.

* * *

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.