Sharks -- All-Star break comparison: 2012 vs. 2011

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Sharks -- All-Star break comparison: 2012 vs. 2011

At the NHL All-Star break last season, the Sharks had played 50 games, sported a record of 25-19-6 for 56 points, sat in fourth place in the Pacific Division, and were tied for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference.

This year, the Sharks enter the All-Star break having played 47 games, boast a record of 27-14-6 for 60 points, lead the Pacific Division, and sit in third place.

What's different about this year? Let's take a deeper look at the stats.
Amazingly enough, through 50 contests a season ago the Sharks averaged both 2.72 goals per game, and 2.72 goals allowed per game. Those figures ranked 15th and 18th in the NHL, respectively.

This year the Sharks' scoring output has slipped marginally to 2.66 goals per game, which is good for 13th among the 30 teams.

If the Sharks have four more points at the All-Star break this year compared to last year, and have played three fewer games, it must mean that Antti Niemi and the defense have improved, right?

Ding ding ding.

The Sharks are currently sixth in the NHL, allowing just 2.28 goals per game.

In 37 starts, Niemi is 21-10-5 (he was pulled early once) with a 2.30 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage.

Last season, he didn't fare so well before the All-Star break, compiling a 13-3-3 record, with a 2.69 goals against average, and a .912 save percentage in just 29 games (Remember -- the season prior Niemi helped lead the Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup title, and aside from the fact was learning a new system in San Jose, he was probably a little worn out with the title run extending into June).

Niemi's backup, Thomas Greiss, has arguably been even better. In 11 games, he is 6-4-1 with a 1.98 goals against average, and a .927 save percentage.

It's no wonder the Sharks reportedly placed Antero Niittymaki on waivers earlier today.

But what about the key guys who score the goals and play defense?

- Joe Thornton: 8 goals, 30 assists, 38 points (44)
- Patrick Marleau: 17 goals, 19 assists, 36 points (36)
- Logan Couture: 21 goals, 15 assists, 36 points, All-Star (33)
- Joe Pavelski: 17 goals, 17 assists, 34 points (31)
- Dan Boyle: 4 goals, 25 assists, 29 points (32)
- Ryane Clowe: 9 goals, 17 assists, 26 points (38)
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic: 3 goals, 14 assists, 17 points (10)
- Brent Burns: 7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points (31 -- with Minnesota)
- Michal Handzus: 3 goals, 14 assists, 17 points (19)
- Jamie McGinn: 9 goals, 7 assists, 16 points (6 points)
- Martin Havlat: 2 goals, 13 assists, 15 points, missed 21 games (44 -- with Minnesota)
(points at All-Star break last season)

From a pure numbers standpoint, the Sharks' two big acquisitions in the offseason, Burns and Havlat, have clearly underperformed.

Ryane Clowe is also well below his scoring pace from a season ago, but has missed the past five games with a facial fracture.

Dan Boyle is pretty much status quo, and something tells me his numbers would be better had he not been using sticks that were an inch longer than last year's for the first 24 games of the season, or if he hadn't been playing on a broken foot the first 15-20 games.

Patrick Marleau is ahead of last year's numbers, as is Joe Pavelski. Joe Thornton and Michal Handzus are slightly below, but Jamie McGinn and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have improved significantly.

Then there's Logan Couture. The Calder Trophy runner-up from a season ago leads the Sharks with 21 goals and is the lone member who will not use the All-Star "break" as its name insinuates. Instead, he will be in Ottawa making his first All-Star appearance.

The Sharks are in a good position right now. Their first four games following the break are against teams who would not be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

However, after the Blackhawks come to town on Feb. 10, the Sharks embark on a nine-game road trip spanning 14 days.

We will know a lot about this team on Feb. 26.

But for now, get your rest guys. You're going to need it.

Except you, Logan.

Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

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.