Reunion night at The Tank

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Reunion night at The Tank

SAN JOSE Its reunion night at HP Pavilion.

For the first time since a trade on Feb. 27 that sent Jamie McGinn to Colorado and brought Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi to San Jose, the Avalanche and Sharks will meet in what is just the latest key matchup between Western Conference bubble teams on Monday night.

Winnik played it down on Sunday after the Sharks optional skate.

Im sure Ill be excited near the game, but right now its just kind of like any other game, he said.

Winnik is playing some of his most effective hockey of the season, on a line with Tommy Wingels and Andrew Desjardins, and has a goal in each of his last two games. In fact, that threesome may have been San Joses most effective line of the night in the 4-3 shootout win over Phoenix on Saturday.

I believe were starting to see some real good signs from Daniel Winnik, scoring two great big goals for our organization the last two nights, Todd McLellan said. We talked a lot about the effect that line has had, and how its played, and hes a big part of that. I see him being able to use his size and strength along the boards.

Hes not a 25-goal scorer. Were well aware of that and he knows that, too. But, the goals he does score are big goals.

McGinn, on the other hand, could end up being a 25-goal scorer. He already has eight goals and four assists in 13 games with Colorado, and has reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his brief career, leading many to assume that the Avalanche got the better of the deal.

Winnik, who went 43 straight games without a goal before his recent streak, is aware of McGinns success. But, he doesnt let that get in his head.

Just watching them seeing how theyre doing, obviously hes been hot for them since hes been there. Its good for him. Im happy for him, Winnik said. Its a great organization, and the way head coach Joe Sacco plays guys like Jamie, hes gotten a lot of opportunity.

As for all the goals McGinn is scoring?

I cant control that, Winnik said. I dont really think about it. Im not going jeez, hes got that many goals. You cant think like that.

Logan Couture has been a friend of McGinn since they were teenagers, and had plans to meet up with him on Sunday night.

Im happy for him. Hes one of my better friends. Its good to see him be successful, obviously. Were battling those guys to get in the playoffs, so it is a little tough to see him do well, but Im still really happy for him, Couture said.

Still, he likes what he sees from the Sharks latest additions.

Winnik is really starting to play well right now, Couture said. He was learning the system and learning how to play. Hes done a great job lately obviously, scoring a couple goals, being physical, holding onto pucks. TJ has been hurt lately but hes a quick player. Hes like a little rat out there. Theyre a good addition for us.

Galiardi wont get a chance to face his former team, as hes still out with an upper body injury.

As for McGinn, who is playing on a line with Paul Stastny and David Jones, he told the Denver Post:

"I've felt pretty comfortable here from Day One. It'll be different (tonight) against them I'm sure. I'll probably most feel it when we get to the rink. They've got a lot of talented players and we need to make sure we bring our best effort against them."

Blues help Sharks: The St. Louis Blues did the Sharks a huge favor on Sunday night with a 4-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. The Sharks (38-27-10, 86 points) trail Phoenix by one point, but have two games in hand. San Jose could move back into the top eight with a win over the Avalanche, and could conceivably re-take the Pacific Division lead by the time Monday night is over. In other games to watch, Dallas visits Calgary while Vancouver hosts Los Angeles.

The Coyotes are off until they host San Jose on Thursday. The Sharks visit Anaheim on Wednesday.

According to the latest math on sportsclubstats.com, the Sharks have a 63.4 percent chance of making it to the postseason.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

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.”