Sharks-Blues: What to watch for

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Sharks-Blues: What to watch for

Programming note: Blues-Sharks Game 3 coverage begins with Sharks Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. followed by Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda calling Sharks hockey at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California!
SAN JOSE The emotional and frustrating defeat in Game 2 aside, the Sharks have to be somewhat content they are tied with the Blues at a game apiece as their first round playoff series shifts to the Bay Area.

Sure, road teams are 11-8 in the Stanley Cup playoffs so far, but Sharks will take their chances playing in front of what should be a raucous crowd, eager to see its first playoff game of 2012 after the postseason was anything but a certainly in late March.

Its a great place to play. Its fun. Its playoff hockey, and its tough to beat at The Tank, Joe Pavelski said. Hopefully it brings a little speed to our team and we can play that faster game.

Does the home ice really make a difference when the puck is dropped? Pavelski believes it does.

Its definitely extra energy thats brought to you and your team, and were happy to be here right now, he said.

Said Patrick Marleau: It definitely gives you a lot of energy. Our fans are great, and its always so much louder here in the playoffs. Theyre going to be ready, and we have to be the same.

Emotions boiling over: There was a total of 132 penalty minutes doled out in San Joses 3-0 loss in St. Louis in Game 2 on Saturday. Emotions ran high thanks to several hits on both sides that several of the Blues and Sharks labeled as dirty.

The Sharks would like to keep that emotional level at a peak for Game 3, so long as it doesnt mean taking avoidable penalties.

You have to push to that line and find that line and not go over it, Pavelski said. You definitely want to be on the power play more than youre killing.

Ryane Clowe said: You cant go out there and take penalties or do something thats stupid. The ultimate goal is to win four games and win a series. You dont want to put yourself in a hole. Emotions are high and will be tonight, too. Thats just the way it goes.

Dan Boyle has seen it all when it comes to playoff hockey. According to the defenseman, the extracurricular activity diminishes as the games become more and more important.

But, not always.

At the start of playoffs everybody is so energized and I think as the series and stuff goes on, the physical play plays a role, he said. Things tend to taper off a little bit usually. That doesnt happen always, but both teams pride themselves on being physical. Theyre probably saying the same thing, but weve got to keep that going.

Top line scoreless: The Sharks top line of Joe Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau has yet to register a point in the series, primarily matched up against the David Backes-David Perron-T.J. Oshie trio of the Blues.

That didnt matter in Game 1, when St. Louis top line also didnt score and Andrew Desjardins goal in the third period forced overtime, where the Sharks won on Marty Havlats marker. In Game 2, Oshies slick set up of David Backes gave the Blues an important insurance goal, while the Sharks failed to get on the board.

McLellan wasnt giving any hints as to what matchup hell seek now that he gets the last change at home. But, he did talk about how important it will be to get his top guys on the scoresheet.

You can be OK with that when your third and fourth lines find ways to contribute, McLellan said, citing the goal from this fourth line in Game 1. If theyre not contributing offensively, somebody else has to find a way to get it done. Then, playing even isnt satisfactory.

Clowe seemed to suggest that line matchups are a little overrated.

Its not so much who youre playing against, its how you line up against them, and if youre ready to out-compete them, he said. Weve got to do a better job there.

Elliott in goal: The Blues will go with Brian Ellliott, who came in to relieve an injured Jaroslav Halak on Saturday, for Game 3. Elliott was the NHLs leader in goals-against average and save percentage during the regular season, and made 17 saves to preserve the 3-0 win on Saturday. Jake Allen will back him up.

The Sharks saw Elliott and Halak twice each in the regular season, going a combined 0-4. Not surprisingly, they didnt seem too concerned with who is manning the St. Louis crease.

I dont put too much stock in any goalie, really, Boyle said. Goalies are at this level for a reason. Theyre all very good. Its the same answer every time. Get more shots, traffic, rebounds. It doesnt matter.

Clowe would like to see the Sharks test Elliott early. When he entered in the second period of Game 2, San Jose went more than six minutes without a single shot on net.

I thought he came in last game and we gave him a chance to feel comfortable, and we didnt get much action on him early, he said. Tonight, we have to try to sustain pressure and get some second chances, more than anything.

Lineup changes? McLellan predictably wouldnt comment on any potential lineup changes for Game 3. Defenseman Colin White and forward Brad Winchester both came off of the ice earlier than usual, so theres a chance that either or both of them could see their first action of the series.

TJ Galiardi and Dominic Moore did not take part in San Joses optional morning skate on Monday.

The Blues will re-insert Chris Stewart, who was a scratch for Game 2, back into the lineup for Matt DAgostini based on line rushes on Monday morning.

Tommy Wingels saw a lot of the Blues bottom two lines in Games 1 and 2.

I think the players may have changed, but I dont think what they were trying to do changed at all, he said. As the third and fourth lines, your job is to get momentum and wear down the other team. They won the game last game, so it might have been more effective in that sense, but I think well try to play the same way regardless of who were matched up against.

Odds and ends: McLellan would like to see his club improve on faceoffs. The Sharks lost the battle in the circle in each of the first two games. The Blues are 2-for-9 on the power play in the series, while San Jose is 1-for-7. Havlat, Boyle and Clowe each have two points in the series, leading the Sharks. Patrik Berglund, Oshie and Andy McDonald lead the Blues with two points each.

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

CHICAGO – After nabbing a center in the first round on Friday, the Sharks added four more forwards and one defenseman to conclude the second day of the annual NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, held this year at United Center.

The Sharks weren’t explicitly trying to restock their forward cabinet, according to general manager Doug Wilson and scouting director Tim Burke, although the club did make two separate moves in surrendering some later round picks to move up in the fourth round (to take center Scott Reedy) and sixth round (to take left wing Sasha Chmelevski).

First, though, it was defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round at 49th overall. The offensive defenseman was a player that the Sharks targeted, using the pick they acquired from New Jersey last Friday as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

“He’s got a lot of speed, offensive guy, exciting,” Burke said. “Puck-moving type of guy.”

Wilson said: “We’re very pleased with the d-man. He’s a very dynamic, athletic guy, great skater. He was a guy that we moved up a little bit aggressively to get because that round, you could see people going after who they wanted. He is a guy that we identified.”

After moving up from the fifth round to the fourth round last Friday, again because of the Mueller trade, the Sharks jumped up 21 more spots in the fourth round by obtaining the Rangers pick at 102nd overall for the 123rd and 174th selections.

Center Scott Reedy is a player that Burke has high hopes for, projecting the Minnesota native as a “second line right winger [with] high-end potential.” Burke pointed out that Reedy, who is friends with first round pick Josh Norris, occasionally played on the same line with Norris for each of the last two seasons with the U.S. Under-18 team.

“He’s a big, strong forward that can play both positions (center and right wing),” Burke said.

Right wing Jacob McGrew, an Orange, CA native, went to the Sharks in the fifth round despite missing all of his first season in junior with a lower body injury suffered in training camp with Spokane (WHL).

“We knew about him before he went up there,” Burke said. “He’s a California kid. … If he was healthy he probably would have gone earlier.”

The Sharks again moved up to snag Huntington Beach native and center Chmelevski at 185 overall, and made their sixth and final pick in the 212th position by taking left wing Ivan Chekhovich in the seventh round. Both players look to have some offensive skill, based on their numbers and Youtube highlights.

Burke was surprised that both players were around so late.

“I thought they had pretty good years and they kind of slipped in the draft,” he said. “We weighed that versus some other more project-type guys, and we thought they had more offense and finish to their game. They just kept sliding, so we took a chance on them.”

Wilson said: “We moved up for the guys we wanted, and then there were some skilled guys at the end that we were surprised were still there. … We’ll go back and take a look how it all went, but we feel, I think, really good about where we ended up with this.”

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

CHICAGO – Ilya Kovalchuk is still reportedly mulling over a return to the NHL, four years after he surprisingly walked away from a monstrous contract with the New Jersey Devils to play in the KHL.

The Sharks have been linked to Kovalchuk, in large part because of Pete DeBoer, who was Kovalchuk’s most recent head coach. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk was a dangerous scoring winger under DeBoer, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

It was apparently a good working relationship between the player and the coach for the two seasons they were together, DeBoer said on Friday at the NHL Entry Draft at United Center.

“I loved Kovy in New Jersey,” DeBoer said. “We went to a Stanley Cup Final together. He was a huge piece for us there. I really enjoyed coaching him. I haven’t seen him in four or five years now. I’m sure there’s still a lot of game left there.”

DeBoer said he’s had no contact with the 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who would have to be traded by New Jersey before signing a new contract with any other NHL club. Still, it seems like the Sharks’ coach might welcome a reunion with Kovalchuk, who posted 78 points in 60 games with SKA Saint Petersburg last season, and has 816 points (417g, 399a) in 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey.

“I had a really good relationship with him. I had a lot of respect for him as a player and a person,” DeBoer said.

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DeBoer seemed as uncertain as everyone else as to whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks or move on to other clubs as free agents.

But, naturally, it’s on his mind.

“You think about it all the time,” DeBoer said. “They’re obviously important pieces in the history of the franchise, and in our group. I also understand the business side of this, and there’s always tough decisions to make. The way I approach these type of things is I’m going to go to Canada and relax, and Doug [Wilson] is going to make those decisions. I’m sure we’ll have a good group come training camp.”

“We’ve got a really good core group of guys and some tough decisions that have to be made. The one thing Doug and his group has shown over the years is their ability to stay competitive, to find a way even after making tough decisions. I have all the faith in the world in that, and I’m excited about training camp.”

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The Sharks lost David Schlemko in the expansion draft earlier in the week. Vegas then flipped him to the Canadiens for a fifth round pick in 2019.

“I think for David, it’s a great opportunity for him, especially going to Montreal,” DeBoer said. “For us, it’s an opportunity for a young guy to jump in. The one thing we have in the organization is some depth. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, and guys hungry to grab that job.”