NHL Gameday: Sharks seek higher 'compete level' in Game 3 vs Oilers

NHL Gameday: Sharks seek higher 'compete level' in Game 3 vs Oilers

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

SERIES SCHEDULE

The best-of-seven series is tied, one game apiece

Game 1: Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT)
Game 2: Oilers 2, Sharks 0
Game 3: Sunday, April 16, Oilers @ Sharks (7 p.m.)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 18, Oilers @ Sharks (7 p.m.)
Game 5: Thursday, April 20, Sharks @ Oilers (7:30 p.m.)
*Game 6: Saturday, April 22, Oilers @ Sharks (TBD)
*Game 7: Monday, April 24, Sharks @ Oilers (TBD)

* - if necessary

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***Tonight is the Sharks’ first home game of the series. They went 8-4 at SAP Center in the playoffs last season, and were 26-11-4 at home in the 2016-17 regular season.

“We’re excited. I think we realize what it was to us last year,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’re looking forward to getting out there in front of our crowd and kind of just feeding off that energy, because it does give you a little bit of a boost.”

***The Oilers playing a more physical game then San Jose has become the biggest storyline in the series. Edmonton not only has a 90-54 advantage in hits through the first two games, many of them have been of the heavy and punishing variety.

The Sharks, though, don’t appear to be making any lineup changes other than Joe Thornton’s potential return. Pugilist Micheal Haley won’t draw in.

“For me, it’s not about big hits. We’re not a big hit team,” Pete DeBoer said. “Our physical play is puck possession, and being heavy and hard to play against. That’s the physical side of the game, for me.”

“If you define physicality by dropping the gloves and fighting someone, no, we don’t have that. But, I think we’ve got plenty of physicality in our lineup for what I would consider physicality.”

***The first thing that needs improving from Game 2, according to Pavelski, is, “probably just our compete level a little bit. … Whether it’s on our power play or five-on-five, we can be a little better there.”

The power play, of course, will have to be better after going 0-for-6 in Game 2 while allowing two shorthanded goals. Scoring a goal or two with a man advantage also might prevent the Oilers’ from taking so many runs as Sharks players, too.

“The only way to punish teams for taking too many penalties is to put a puck in the net,” Jannik Hansen said. “You score a couple early, maybe it backs them off a little bit.”

“That being said, you need to create offensive five-on-five, too. … The penalties have been called, but everybody knows the deeper [the series] goes that harder it is to get power plays. That’s where the five-on-five has to step up.”

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Brent Burns. After he was a force in Game 1 with 18 shot attempts, Burns was held to just five attempts (and two on goal) in Game 2. The Sharks’ leading scorer in the regular season is still looking for his first point in the series, and if the Sharks power play is going to start producing, Burns will have to play a role in that, too.

Oilers: Zack Kassian. The Oilers’ forward was the star of Game 2, scoring a shorthanded goal and delivering six hits, including a pair of heavy blows on Brenden Dillon and Logan Couture. The Sharks had no response for Kassian, who was permitted to run around in creating havoc all over the ice.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Melker Karlsson – Logan Couture – Joe Pavelski
Jannik Hansen – Tomas Hertl – Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Timo Meier

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Oilers
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Iiro Pakarinen

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit

INJURIES

Sharks: Joe Thornton (left knee) is questionable.

Oilers: Oscar Klefbom (lower body) is probable. Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL) is out.

SHARKS PLAYOFF RECORD WHEN…

The Sharks are 9-5 all-time when a series is tied 1-1. They are 10-4 when leading a series two-games-to-one, and 3-10 when trailing a series two-games-to-one.

The Sharks have an all-time Game 3 record of 22-13, including 13-6 at home.

When teams are tied 1-1 in a series, the winner of Game 3 wins the series 67.6 percent of the time (202-97 record).

QUOTEABLE

“It’s big boy hockey, but our guys were hanging in, sacrificing. That’s what the playoffs are about.” – Brent Burns

 

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.