NHL Gameday: Hansen doubtful as Sharks begin road trip in Dallas

NHL Gameday: Hansen doubtful as Sharks begin road trip in Dallas

Programming note – Sharks-Stars coverage starts today at 5:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 42-22-7, 91 points, 1st Pacific Division
Stars: 28-33-10, 66 points, 6th Central Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***After a so-so homestand in which they went 3-3-0, the Sharks kick off a four-game-in-six-day road trip tonight in Dallas. In an odd quirk to the schedule, San Jose will visit Minnesota on Tuesday before going right back to Dallas for a game on Friday, and closes out the trip on Saturday in Nashville.

“It’s never easy going on the road,” Joe Pavelski said after Saturday’s loss, “but we’ve had a nice little homestand here. We’ll be excited to get in a few cities and bring our game there, and just get together and keep playing.”

San Jose has lost its last two games in regulation to St. Louis and Anaheim. While the 4-1 loss to the Blues on Thursday was a poor performance, the team was much more pleased with its effort in a 2-1 defeat to the Ducks on Saturday.

The Sharks have 11 games remaining, including seven away from home, as they try to lock down first place in the Pacific Division.

“We’ve never shied away from tough rinks or tough trips,” Pete DeBoer said. “We’ve just got to make sure we build on [Saturday]. If we play like we did, most nights we’re going to win.”

***Dallas has lost four of its last five games in regulation, including a 5-1 defeat at SAP Center just eight days ago. The Stars have been outscored 22-9 over that span, in what has been a hugely disappointing season for a club that made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

Still, at home, the Stars are a respectable 18-12-6. The Sharks have a 19-12-3 mark on the road, including 4-1-0 in their last five.

***Jannik Hansen is reportedly doubtful for the game with an upper body injury, as he took an apparent stick to the head in the third period of Saturday’s loss. Danny O’Regan and Timo Meier were recalled on Sunday, so one or both will play.

Tomas Hertl skated with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski after Hansen was forced to leave.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks’ lone goal scorer on Saturday with a power play marker in what was his 500th career game, Couture has 25 points in his last 25 games (11g, 14a) after accumulating just 27 points in his first 44. He leads the team in scoring since his hot streak began on Jan. 19, and is third on the team in goals (25) and points (52).

Stars: Kari Lehtonen/Antti Niemi. Despite spending more money on goaltending than any other club, the Stars have the worst combined save percentage in the league (.892). On 13 occasions the Stars have pulled their starter, including against the Sharks on March 12. Lehtonen was removed for Niemi after allowing three goals on eight shots, although Niemi’s entrance was delayed when he was nowhere to be found.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Micheal Haley – Danny O’Regan – Marcus Sorensen

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

Aaron Dell (starter)
Martin Jones

Stars
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie – Tyler Seguin – Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore – Radek Faksa – Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie – Adam Cracknell – Jiri Hudler

Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis – Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth – Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen (starter)
Antti Niemi

INJURIES

Sharks: Jannik Hansen (upper body) is doubtful. David Schlemko (right knee) is questionable. Melker Karlsson (lower body) is out.

Stars: Jason Spezza (back spasms) is doubtful. Mattias Janmark (knee) and Antoine Roussel (hand) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“When you play well and come up [short] – those games are going to happen. But, excited to attack this last road trip.” – Joel Ward, after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Anaheim

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

SAN JOSE – All four of the Sharks’ lines have been in a blender for much of the season. 

Now, with Logan Couture out for at least one game and probably longer, and Micheal Haley getting tagged with a one-game suspension, the coaching staff has no choice but to mix and match the remaining forwards in time for Tuesday’s home game with the Rangers.

They’ll hope it’s the right recipe to snap out of what has been a miserable six-game losing streak in regulation, including the last two in which the Sharks have been outscored 13-3 by Dallas and Nashville.

The most notable player to be shifted is Patrick Marleau, who will apparently be centering the second line against New York. It will be just the fifth game he starts at center this season, and first since Feb. 11 in Philadelphia, when he was filling in for an ill Couture.

Marleau, of course, has played plenty of center over the years, including the second half of last season and first handful of playoff games when he was in the middle of the third line.

“I don’t think there’s been a year where I haven’t played center, so it’s just one of those things, move in and out,” Marleau said. “We’re interchangeable throughout the whole lineup, anyway.”

Marleau has been one of the few effective Sharks players lately, with three of the team’s last five goals. He has 26 goals on the season, third on the team, and is fifth on the Sharks in points with 44.

“Patty is playing great. I don’t think we could ask for more from him,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “Arguably a lot of nights this year he’s been our best forward. He’s playing hard, he’s playing strong. He’s been a real valuable piece for us. We wouldn’t be in the spot we’re in this year without him and the way he’s played this year.”

Marleau is set to skate with Melker Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker, as Karlsson is good to go after missing the last eight games with a lower body injury. The 26-year-old Swede is having a nice season with 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games.

The third line featured Tomas Hertl between Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen, while Chris Tierney will center the fourth line with Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi.

Karlsson, who confirmed he was ready to return, said: “Cooch is out, and we’ll see how long he’s going to be out, but I’ll do my best. I’m going to work hard, and hopefully can get going here.”

Marleau described Karlsson as “tenacious on the forecheck, causes a lot of turnovers. He’s hungry on that puck. He’s going to get his opportunities, and I’m sure he’ll put a few in the back of the net.”

* * *

Of course, the Sharks don’t care who scores the goals, just as long as it’s someone. It’s been a season-long issue for them to get their depth scorers to do more, and if they want any chance at reclaiming first place in the Pacific Division while Couture is out, that will be a necessity.

Among the players that will bring their scoring woes into Tuesday’s game will be Donskoi (no points 13 games), Hertl (no points in 12 games), Boedker (no points in 10 games), Ward (no points in six games), Sorensen (one assist in 10 games) and Tierney (one goal in 12 games).

Could Couture’s absence be a wake up call for those guys?

“I would hope it doesn’t take an injury to get that. That’s something we’re looking for, it’s something we’ve challenged the group to get more out of them,” DeBoer said. 

“They’re the first guys to recognize they’ve got to give us a little bit more. That’s been an ongoing process. The good news is they’ve all done it before. I feel that they all have the ability to raise their level another notch here before the playoffs. I think they have enough character that we’ll see that.”

Time is growing short, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in a little more than two weeks.

Marleau said: “When you go into playoffs, [secondary scoring] is usually what makes a difference. We need everybody contributing and guys stepping up at different times. We know that in this room, and guys are looking forward to doing that.”

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley has been suspended one game for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday in San Jose’s 7-2 loss, and will miss Tuesday's home game with the Rangers.

After absorbing a borderline hit from behind into the glass by Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame. He received a match penalty for intent to injure on the play.

According to the video released by the league, Haley “was seeking retribution” for the hit by Jarnkrok, who was already being penalized for boarding, and delivered a “forceful punch on an opponent who was not able to defend himself at the time.”

The 30-year-old Haley, who has never been fined or suspended before in his career, gave his perspective of what happened on Monday.

“We were breaking out there and next thing I know I was face first in the glass,” Haley said. “Just emotions [took over]. Kind of scared from the hit and I just went after him. Looked at him right in the eyes. He saw me. By the time I swung at him his face might have turned a bit. When I went at him I saw him clearly look at me, and I thought he knew I was coming.”

Haley expected Jarnkrok to engage him after the Predators forward delivered the bad check.

“I thought it was a pretty dirty hit, and I thought I gave him ample amount of time. I think he [had] enough time to know what I was trying to do, and trying to get him to fight.”

He added: “In hindsight, I wish none of it happened. I wish I didn’t get hit and I wish I didn’t punch him, but it happened. I don’t think I started it. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. If I missed that punch then we probably don’t have this conversation.”

In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.