Sharks-Capitals: What to watch for


Sharks-Capitals: What to watch for

SAN JOSE Now that NHL realignment has been postponed for at least a year, there are no guarantees that Alex Ovechkin will make an appearance here at HP Pavilion in the 2012-13 season.

The superstar Capitals forward is here tonight, though, and will try to help his team win in San Jose for the first time since 1993. Washington brings a four-game overall winning streak into the game, and Ovechkin has led the way with 11 points in his last seven games (7g, 4a), including four consecutive two-point efforts.

They have a number of superstars and you cant zero in on any on individual, although, hes the kingpin there, Todd McLellan said of Ovechkin on Saturday morning. Hes the guy that pulls the trigger and makes things happen.

The Sharks will likely try and get Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic out against Ovechkins line, which includes Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer as much as possible.

Its fun. I enjoy playing against the top guys. Ive said that before, Boyle said. He sees good matchups every night, so its nothing new for him. Hes playing real well right now so hopefully well get the job done defensively.

Ovechkins take: While the Sharks were busy talking about how dangerous Ovechkin is on the ice, the man himself knows that the Capitals have 10 losses and one tie since their last win at HP Pavilion, and have lost 14 of 15 overall since the start of the 1999-2000 season.

Its always nice to have a winning streak and you always want to continue what youre doing. But, its a hard building for us to play in and win here, in I dont know how many years, Ovechkin said. We just have to not think about it and play a little better than we played a couple years ago.

In seven career games against the Sharks, Ovechkin has four goals and two assists.

What do the Caps need to do to beat the Sharks?

We dont play a lot against these guys so we just have to play our game and play most of the time in their zone and not ours, because they have pretty good skilled guys and use our mistakes to get chances," Ovechkin said.

Mitchells return: Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell appears set to return tonight after a one-game absence. Mitchell was healthy-scratched on Thursday night in the Sharks 2-1 win over Columbus.

At Saturdays morning skate, he was on the wing with Michal Handzus and Jamie McGinn. McLellan explained what went down with the 26-year-old forward.

I talked to Torrey, and he gave me all the answers that I needed. He explained to me what his strengths were as a player and what his assets were that he thought he needed to bring to the table on a nightly basis, said the coach. It was a pretty simple conversation; I didnt even need to say anything. You have to give him credit for very good self-evaluation. Sometimes players dont see it like that.

The Sharks fourth line will likely be Brad Winchester, Andrew Desjardins and Tommy Wingels, making Andrew Murray the odd man out.

Niemi vs. Vokoun: After watching from the bench for the first time in more than a month, Antti Niemi will return tonight to face the Capitals. Thomas Greiss got the start and the win against Columbus on Thursday, after Niemi had started the previous 13 games.

In three games against Washington, Niemi is a solid 2-0-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

While those numbers sound pretty darn good, Washington expected starter Tomas Vokouns run against the Sharks is even more impressive. In his last 11 starts against San Jose, Vokoun is 10-0-1 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .932 save percentage and one shutout. His last regulation loss against the Sharks came on Dec. 23, 2003 when he was still with the Nashville Predators.

Odds and ends: Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom is out with an injury. After tonight, 17 of the Sharks next 23 games are on the road. The Capitals have a 14 goal differential in the third period. Washington has nine 4-on-4 goals, the most in the NHL. Capitals defenseman John Carlson leads NHL defensemen with 44 giveaways. Brent Burns is second with 43. ... San Jose visits Washington on Feb. 13.

Sharks begin second day of draft by selecting a defenseman


Sharks begin second day of draft by selecting a defenseman

CHICAGO – The Sharks used their first pick on the second day of the draft to select defenseman Mario Ferraro at 49th overall.

The Sharks acquired the second round pick from New Jersey earlier in the week as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

Ferraro, a five-foot-11, 185-pound Toronto native, will attend the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) in the fall. The 18-year-old posted 41 points (8g, 33a) in 60 games for Des Moines of the USHL last season.

“I describe myself as an offensive defenseman that takes pride in the d-zone,” Ferraro said. “Obviously, I like to get involved offensively. I think I’m a good skater, and I transition the puck up the ice quick. I also like to be physical in the d-zone and use my body.”

Ferraro said he needs to work on "my shot, especially. Getting pucks through to the net to create scoring chances, and I also want to work on when and when not to get up in the play, and reading the play better.”

Ferraro, the 78th-ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting and a left-handed shot, had about 20 friends and family in attendance at the draft.

“I’m very honored to be wearing this jersey right now. It was amazing. It’s been an amazing day so far.”

The Sharks chose center Josh Norris with their first round pick (19th overall) on Friday.

Sharks' draft pick Norris possesses 'Logan Couture attributes'


Sharks' draft pick Norris possesses 'Logan Couture attributes'

CHICAGO – Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is typically restrained in his public praise for players in the system. “We don’t like to over promote our prospects” is a phrase he’s used countless times.

That’s what made his instant comparison of Sharks first round pick center Josh Norris to a current core player so unexpected.

“We think – I hate doing this, but I’m going to – [Norris has] a lot of the Logan Couture attributes to him,” Wilson said on Friday at United Center, shortly after presenting Norris with a teal sweater.

Wilson also made note of Norris’ confidence, which was evident in the 18-year-old’s media availability. Norris described himself as “a 200-foot player. I think I can give you a little bit of everything: power play, penalty kill, faceoffs, can chip in offensively. I think I kind of do a little bit of everything.” He added that he attempts to pattern his game to Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak.

Like most players that aren’t top five selections, Norris isn’t likely to make the NHL roster in the fall. He’s set to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

Still, Wilson suggested that it might not take long for the six-foot, 189-pound Oxford, Michigan native to make the leap.

“He’s a kid, the way he plays and the way he thinks, he potentially could fast track. So, we’ll see,” Wilson said.

Norris had some familial help on his journey to draft day. His father Dwayne had a few cups of coffee in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques more than two decades ago, playing 20 career games from 1993-96.

Dwayne Norris was right there to congratulate his son, who was no sure thing to go in the first round as the 34th ranked North American skater, according to NHL Central Scouting.

“He just said how proud of me he was, and it was kind of a big moment we had that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Norris said about his conversation with his father.

Norris’ stats suggest he has an ability to create offense, as he posted 27 goals and 61 points in 61 games for the U.S. National Under-18 team last season, and added 12 goals and 26 points in 25 games in the USHL.

“I think I’m a little bit of a goal scorer and a playmaker,” Norris said. “I think I’m really good in my defensive zone. I think I have a lot of upside on the offensive side of my game that I’m going to continue to work on.”

Wilson said: “We think he’s a mature player.”

Norris had a strong showing at the NHL combine, leading all 104 draft-eligible players in attendance in five of the 14 fitness tests. Those results, along with a strong interview, made Norris an appealing target for San Jose.

“He’s arguably one of the most athletic guys in the combine,” Wilson said. “His interview was phenomenal. If you go back in his history in big games he’s stepped up in a big way, and that’s the type of guy we’re looking for.”

Norris, who played baseball as a shortstop until age 13, said: “I wasn’t too nervous going to the combine. … I just tried to make good impressions on teams. The physical testing aspect of it, I’ve always been a pretty good athlete.”

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Norris will make his first-ever trip to California in early July to take part in the Sharks’ development camp.

* * *

Just before the Sharks’ contingent made its way to the stage to select Norris, Wilson was spotted talking with Washington general manager Brian MacLellan. After a brief exchange, MacLellan shook his head, and Wilson went back to the San Jose table and gathered his group to head to the podium.

Asked about the chat, Wilson said it was not about the 19th overall pick.

“We were actually looking at some other things, some other picks that we had,” Wilson said. “Some teams had reached out to us, and we’re planting our seeds a little bit for tomorrow already.”

The draft concludes on Saturday, with the second round beginning at 7 a.m. PT.