Sharks-Avs: What to watch for


Sharks-Avs: What to watch for

SAN JOSE Monday nights Sharks-Avalanche game at HP Pavilion will have a bit of a different feel as the clubs are meeting for the first time since swapping forwards at the trade deadline, but the objective doesnt change.

The ninth-place Sharks (38-27-10) can greatly increase their already improving playoff chances with a win over 10th-place Colorado (40-31-6). Each team has 86 points, but the Avs have played two more games than San Jose.

KURZ: Reunion night at The Tank

In fact, San Jose could all but kill Colorado's chances with a regulation victory. That should add extra incentive, according to Ryane Clowe.

As much as you can try to bury teams out of this race, the better for us, Clowe said. Obviously, it would be great for us if we beat them tonight and it will hurt their chances, big time. Thats pretty high motivation that we should use tonight.

This is a great chance, the fact that we have a couple games in hand and if we can beat them tonight it kind of separates us, so that would be good.

San Jose could even re-take the Pacific Division lead if everything goes its way. The Dallas Stars visit Calgary and the Los Angeles Kings are in Vancouver in other Monday night action around the league.
REISS: Will the real Sharks please swim forward?

Its an important game for us. We need to take that jump and not fall behind, Joe Pavelski said. We want to keep moving forward.

San Jose is 5-2-1 in its last eight games.

We need everyone in the locker room to play well, and bring to the table what they can bring. I think thats the biggest thing, is weve had more team efforts lately, Pavelski said.

McGinn returns: Jamie McGinn already has eight goals and four assists in his first 13 games with Colorado, and has found good chemistry while playing the wing alongside Paul Stastny. In 61 games with the Sharks, McGinn had 12 goals and 12 assists.

Todd McLellan isnt surprised at McGinns success.

Hes a hell of a player. Hes had a career-type year. He is scoring goals, and hes given an opportunity to play a few more minutes there with a young team, said the coach.

He went there, established himself, and hes a confident player right now. And thats Jamie McGinn. We all liked him when he was here, and our job now is to go beat him when hes over there.

Daniel Winnik, meanwhile, has two big goals in the last two games.

Emotions will probably be running high with those players. It was tough seeing a guy go like Ginner, but its been great having the guys step in and theyve brought a lot to our team, Pavelski said.

Lineup the same: The Sharks are expected to ice the same lineup against the Avalanche that played in wins over Boston and Phoenix. That means Winnik will play with Andrew Desjardins and Tommy Wingels, while Michal Handzus is between Dominic Moore and Torrey Mitchell.

Which one of those lines is the third, and which is the fourth? The Desjardins line, assumed to be the fourth line before the Phoenix game, played more minutes than the Handzus line on Saturday and was very effective.

As a coach you have a memory of last game, and you have to reward that group for doing what they did well, McLellan said. Its on a night-to-night basis. Theyre going to have to go out and establish themselves again.

I expect Zeus line to be much better than they were last game. Its good to have that healthy competition. There is no three, there is no four. Its just two lines that will get some ice time and whoever is playing well, is going to play.

On defense, Colin White and Jim Vandermeer are expected to be the healthy scratches again. TJ Galiardi wont get a chance to play against his former team, as hes still out with an upper body injury.

In the crease: Antti Niemi will make his 15th straight start in net for the Sharks, opposed by Semyon Varlamov.

Niemi is 1-0-1 in two games against Colorado this season, allowing seven goals in 123 minutes (3.39 goals-against average, .883 save percentage).

Varlamov hasnt been any better against the Sharks this season, going 1-1-0 while allowing eight goals in 123 minutes (3.88 GAA, .875 SP), although he recorded the overtime win on Dec. 13, 4-3.

Varlamov is 5-1-1 in his last seven starts.

The Sharks are 2-0-1 against Colorado this season, including a 5-4 win at home on Dec. 15.

Colorado still in the mix: Despite losses in their last two games, the Avalanche are 7-2-2 in their last 11. Mondays game in San Jose is the start of a three-game road trip, with stops on Vancouver and Calgary before a two-game homestand closes out their season.

A lot of speed, balanced scoring and a lot of scoring from different people, very good power play, McLellan said, when asked about the Avs. Varlamov has played extremely well over the last 10 or 15 games, and looks very confident in the net.

I think the game is going to have some tempo to it, and were going to have to be prepared to play that way.
Odds and ends: Patrick Marleau leads all scorers in the season series with five points (4g, 1a) including a hat trick on Nov. 20 in Denver. Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson will return after a five-game absence.

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’


Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

SAN JOSE — There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

"I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange," said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. "It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto."

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

"Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need."

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

"When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them."

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals — his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 — and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

"They feel real strong," he said of his legs. "I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much."

Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks


Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

The boys were back together in San Jose on Thursday for Sharks Media Day, with plenty of smiles and moments of levity. Check out the highlights...

Hey Jumbo, you dropped something. 👖🤷‍♂️

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on

Martin Jones is pretty good at photobombs 📸💣

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on

🤳 Media Day #SJSharks

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on

New season. New commercials. 🕉🚌📺 #ComingSoon #SharksForLife

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on