Odd praise for Pavelski after win

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Odd praise for Pavelski after win

SAN JOSE The praise was plentiful if not a bit unconventional for Sharks winger Joe Pavelski after the winger scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season in San Joses important 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Hes just a dirty player. He gets in dirty areas and wills himself in front of the net, said Joe Thornton, who assisted on both of Pavelskis goals. A lot of guys dont want to necessarily go there, but hes made a living going to the front of the net like tonight with that tip from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Hes just a dirty player.

Todd McLellan said: Hes a little bit like Gumby. He slithers into spots, and his sense of timing is really good. We talk about going to the net, but arriving at the net at the right time is probably a little more important than always going to the net. Pav has that knack and great hockey sense.

Pavelski became just the ninth player in Sharks franchise history to record at least 30 goals in a season, and the first American, for what thats worth.
RELATED: NHL Standings

His first period goal ended up being the game-winner, thanks to Antti Niemis sixth shutout of the season (and 19th of his career). Pavelski is making a habit of getting on the board early, too. He has five goals in the first two minutes of a game, the most of any NHL player this season according to Elias.

Its important to score early, regardless. Get the lead, Pavelski said. The last few games weve had so many good looks not just decent scoring chances, but it feels like open nets.

They were able to get one to drop this time, something that didnt happen in disheartening losses in Anaheim and Phoenix, putting the tired Stars behind the eight ball early.

Weve been stressing our starts, Thornton said. I dont know if theres a secret or not, but we have to be prepared to start every night, and we have been.

Pavelski, incidentally, has 18 career two-goal games but no NHL hat tricks. Thats the fourth-longest active streak of its kind. Pavel Datsyuk, believe it or not, has the most (26).

Niemi feeling good: Hes made 18 starts in a row, and it will almost certainly be 21 by the time the regular season comes to a close next Saturday, but Antti Niemi is feeling just fine, thank you very much.

I feel great. I think its all about balancing the practice time and playing time, he said after Saturday nights game. We play on Tuesday next, so thats good, too.

The Sharks will resume practice at 10:00 a.m. on Monday after a complete day off on Sunday. Their 17 games in March was tied for the most in the league last month with three other teams.

Stars unhappy with effort: It wasnt exactly surprising that the Dallas Stars didn't have their A-game last night, regardless of how tight the playoff race is. The Stars arrived in San Jose in the early morning hours on Saturday after a flight from Vancouver where they lost 5-2 the night before.

That wasnt a valid excuse, according captain Brenden Morrow, who saw his club fall to an abysmal 1-11-2 in the second half of back-to-backs.

It was a big game, and I dont think fatigue can be an excuse when you have whats on the line what we had tonight, Morrow said.

Morrow hopes the animosity these two teams clearly have for one another can benefit his club at home on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

Its nice to be able to get them again while the bloods hot a little bit, get a little redemption, Morrow said. But, if we do the same thing we did tonight, were not going to have the success that we want.

Head coach Glen Gulutzan said: Weve got to move on. Weve got a big game against this team on Tuesday. Our fates in our own hands still. At this junction of the season, thats what you have to focus on.

Checking the race: The Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes both got points in the standings last night; LA in a 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota and Phoenix with a 4-0 win over Anaheim.

The Sharks improved their playoff chances by 16.6 percent according to the math, and now have a 62.4 percent probability to make the postseason, according to sportsclubstats.com.

None of the teams in the playoff race is in action on Sunday. On Monday, Edmonton visits the Kings.

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.

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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.