NHL Gameday: Sharks can distance themselves from Ducks

NHL Gameday: Sharks can distance themselves from Ducks

Programming note – Sharks-Ducks coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 42-21-7, 91 points, 1st Pacific Division
Ducks: 37-23-11, 85 points, 2nd Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks and Ducks will get together for the fifth and final time tonight. San Jose has two wins in overtime, while Anaheim has gained a point in all four meetings (2-0-2).

The Ducks could draw to within four points of the Sharks in the Pacific Division with a regulation win (San Jose would still have one game in hand). They are playing the second of a back-to-back, losing in a shootout at home to Buffalo on Friday, 2-1. 

Pete DeBoer said: “They always give us a hard time and a hard game. They're physical. What are you going to say? We know what these games are.”

Anaheim is 4-1-1 in its last six games, and 5-2-1 since its bye week.

***The Sharks are closing out a six-game homestand, having won three of the first five (3-2-0), but coming off of a disappointing 4-1 loss to St. Louis on Thursday in which they managed a season-low 20 shots.

“Any time you get beat in your own rink like that it's a little bit of a wakeup call for the next game,” DeBoer said. “At the same time, we didn't have our A game. It happens at this level with the number of games you're playing.”

Paul Martin said: “I think after [Thursday’s] performance we’re going to want to make sure that we tighten things up and have a better effort and fix some things we should be able to correct.”

San Jose opens a four-game road trip on Monday in Dallas.

“We’ve got one more big game here before we head out on the road, and it will be important for us to play our game,” Joe Pavelski said.

***It’s been more than two months since the Sharks lost back-to-back games in regulation (Jan. 11-14). It's happened just once at home all season (Nov. 3-5).

What has allowed this team to routinely rebound from a poor performance?

“I just think that the guys we have in the room, we have a lot of character, and it’s real good leadership,” Martin said. “I think we push each other to make sure that we’re giving that effort. If we come up short in one game we have to make sure we deliver that effort and the expectations that we have to bounce back, just like that.”

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Brent Burns. The NHL’s leading scorer among defenseman with 70 points, Burns hasn’t scored a goal in his last 11 games despite 43 shots (and 14 in his last two games combined). Burns has failed to find the scoresheet in six of the past seven games, with a minus-two rating over than span. He has three points (2g, 1a) in four games against Anaheim this season.

Ducks: Patrick Eaves. The Ducks acquired the forward from Dallas just before the trade deadline, and in nine games with Anaheim, Eaves has posted two goals and two assists for four points and a plus-two rating. He’s gotten time on the top power play unit, too, and is tied for seventh in the NHL with 11 power play goals.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Jannik Hansen – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi – Tomas Hertl – Mikkel Boedker
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Marcus Sorensen

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Ducks
Rickard Rakell – Ryan Getzlaf – Patrick Eaves
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie – Antoine Vermette – Corey Perry
Chris Wagner – Nate Thompson – Jared Boll

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

Jonathan Bernier
Jhonas Enroth

INJURIES

Sharks: David Schlemko (right knee) and Melker Karlsson (lower body) are out.

Ducks: John Gibson (lower body) is day-to-day. Simon Despres (concussion) and Clayton Stoner (abdominal surgery) are out.

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

NASHVILLE – The Sharks are returning to San Jose on Sunday in a crisis. Nothing good came from Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Nashville, their sixth straight in regulation. Let’s get to the painful three takeaways…

1 – No answers

Neither Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns nor Patrick Marleau – the three players made available to the media after Saturday’s game – offered any kind of in-depth analysis of what’s going wrong. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone really knows. It’s hard to believe that this is the same club that had lost just two games in regulation in its previous 14 before the losing streak began.

“If you’re putting a consistent effort in, battling, competing – it’s tough to lose six in a row,” Pavelski said. “You look at six in a row, and it just seems daunting. Like, how do you get there? So, I think we’ve just got to take a deep breath, really kind of refocus.”

Believe it or not, coach Pete DeBoer thought Saturday’s loss was “a step in the right direction” when asked why Friday night’s 6-1 beat down in Dallas wasn’t enough of a wake-up call. How often do you hear that after a five-goal defeat?

“I liked our game tonight better than I liked [Friday’s game] regardless of the score,” DeBoer said. “I don’t just look at the score. If you want to just judge it on the score than you might not say it’s a wake-up call, but I thought we were much more competitive tonight. 

“It was a step in the right direction. Every team goes through tough parts of the season, and this is ours. We’ve got a lot of character in the room. We’ll get through it.”

2 – Couture injury would spell doom, as Hertl still MIA

Let’s face it – if Logan Couture is out for any extended period of time, this team is DOA once the playoffs begin. Couture has been the Sharks’ best player since the All-Star break, and they don’t have anyone on the current roster or in the system that could replace him. As of Sunday morning, there was still no word as to the severity of his injury after taking a puck to the mouth and going to a local Nashville hospital.

If Couture were to miss time, Tomas Hertl would likely become the team’s second line center. Lately, though, Hertl doesn’t even resemble an effective third line center. He was victimized on Nashville’s first goal, which was similar to one of the Wild goals on Tuesday, when he was just too slow and not strong enough on his skates in getting outworked for a loose puck. He is scoreless in his last 12 games.

3 – Haley shows some emotion that others lack

It’s understandable that Micheal Haley didn’t like getting hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok in the third period. But, you can’t just make a beeline for a guy and punch him in the face. Haley will almost certainly get suspended for the play.

At least, though, Haley showed a little bit of emotion in the game, including his first period fight with Cody McLeod. Perhaps guys like Hertl, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker could take a lesson from the fiery Haley. Those three, in particular, have been virtually useless during this six-game stretch. 

If I’m DeBoer, I’d get on the phone with Doug Wilson and Roy Sommer and ask for a few guys from the Barracuda so I could – depending on the team’s health situation – scratch all three of them for Tuesday against the Rangers, or at least remove Boedker and Donskoi and put Hertl back on the wing. Drastic times call for drastic measures, do they not?

 

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

NASHVILLE – Apparently, one wake up call wasn’t good enough for the plummeting San Jose Sharks.
 
Just one day after suffering what was arguably their worst game under coach Pete DeBoer, Nashville put up a touchdown on the Sharks in a 7-2 win, giving San Jose its sixth straight defeat – all in regulation.
 
After getting outscored 13-3 the last two nights, including Friday’s 6-1 loss in Dallas, where do they go from here?
 
“In two years, last year and this year so far, we haven’t had one night like this almost. Now we have back-to-back nights,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s just a reality check. A gut-check time.
 
“It’s on us as players. Bottom line is we haven’t put the effort in that we need to have right now, and it snowballed on us a little bit at times. I think we’ve got to take a deep breath and really take a look in the mirror, refocus a little bit and understand there’s hockey out there, but it’s not going to fix itself.”
 
What has to be fixed immediately is the defensive structure that has been so vital to the Sharks’ success in the Pete DeBoer era. Even when the club was going through stretches of struggling to score, as it was earlier in the season, it was still collecting points in the standings with its ability to limit the opposition’s scoring chances.
 
While the game against the Predators was actually a little better in that regard, believe it or not, it was still nowhere near the level it needs to be for the postseason. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s absence was partly to blame for that, but the Brent Burns-Paul Martin pair has been a disaster lately. Both have a minus-nine rating during the six-game losing streak, and that number is indicative of how they’ve looked, too.
 
“We’re giving up some goals. It’s a combination of things,” DeBoer said. “Obviously it’s not good enough to win games, so we’ve got to figure it out. I don’t have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I’ve ever coached has a tough part of the season. This is obviously ours. We’ll regroup, and figure it out.”
 
Burns, who admitted to a “bad read” on Nashville’s second goal when Roman Josi sped around him, said: “It’s a tough league when you’re not executing little things.”
 
The Sharks actually looked strong early, poised to put the Dallas disaster behind them. The first few shifts, they had the puck in the Nashville end.
 
But Tomas Hertl was outmuscled behind the net by Colin Wilson on Colton Sissons’ goal at 4:14, Burns got beat on the second, and the Sharks never recovered. Patrick Marleau’s second period power play goal offered life, but that was extinguished 24 seconds later when James Neal answered with a power play goal of his own. The Sharks never got closer than two goals after that.
 
“When things are going bad, those are the things that are happening,” Burns said of Neal’s response to Marleau’s marker. “So, you’ve just got work through it."
 
Will they be able to work through it with just seven games left in the regular season, though? That this cold spell is happening in late March doesn’t speak well to the Sharks’ chances in the postseason, which begins in just two-and-a-half weeks.
 
Burns said: “Right now we should be just tightening up everything. … We've got figure it out pretty soon.”