Sharks come on strong at end of road trip to stop losing ways

Sharks come on strong at end of road trip to stop losing ways

NEWARK – Sharks defenseman Brent Burns isn’t just outscoring all of his blue line counterparts in the NHL this season. In some cases, he’s outscoring entire teams.
 
A legitimate Hart Trophy candidate, Burns entered Sunday’s afternoon game in New Jersey with 22 goals. The Devils, as a team, had just 22 goals all season from their group of rear guards.
 
Burns added two more, though, while New Jersey got just one from forward P.A. Parenteau in a 4-1 Sharks win at Prudential Center. Both of Burns’ goals came on wrist shots that glanced the iron on their way into the net, as the Wookiee played with the puck high in the zone and eventually found a shooting lane, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 Sharks lead that they would not relinquish.
 
"His shot is unbelievable,” Logan Couture said. “The ability he has to get his shot through, there's nobody in the league that does it better.”
 
Burns said: “Both [goals were] kind of the same. Good work down low, getting it up by the forwards, and then just traffic and shooting.”
 
The Sharks conferred about getting more traffic in front of goalie Cory Schneider after the first period, when they registered 19 shots on goal but none that went in. Despite that inflated total, they didn’t have many great scoring chances while going 0-for-4 on the power play, too.
 
Martin Jones saw just three shots in the first period, allowing Parenteau’s score at 11:42.
 
“The talk is just you’ve got to come out and you’ve got to put that effort in again,” Joe Pavelski said of the first intermission discussion. “We came out, we get a little bit more traffic – that was one of the things we wanted to do. Those shots, you could kind of tell [Schneider] couldn’t really find them, and they got by him.”
 
Jones said: “When pucks started going in, we were in front of the goalie. [Burns has] got a great shot, both are off the bar and in. But, you need to have bodies at the net to score from that distance.”
 
Joe Thornton capped off a strong second period stretch with his second goal in three games, as the Sharks scored three times in 8:55 to take control of the game. 
 
“We got on a little run there,” Thornton said. “We felt we were going pretty good. Our forecheck was working pretty good. It probably sealed the game right there.”
 
Jones still had some work to do, though. He made some key stops on Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen late in the second period to keep it a two-goal lead at the second intermission, and made seven saves on seven shots in the third as the Sharks locked it down.
 
His brief cold streak, starting with the third period in Buffalo last Tuesday and continuing in Boston when he was pulled after one period, appears to be over.
 
“I thought we managed the puck pretty well tonight,” Jones said. “We didn’t turn the puck over, we didn’t give up odd man rushes. That was a big difference, especially in the third period against Buffalo and against Boston, we were giving up some odd man rushes, some looks that we don’t normally give up. Tonight, we did a really good job.”
 
San Jose snapped its winless streak at four games, capturing four of a possible eight points on its road trip.
 
“We feel like we've played a little better than our record so far on the trip, and we wanted the two points,” Pete DeBoer said. “Back-to-back, not having success in the first – it would have been easy to get down, but we stuck with it."
 
Pavelski said: “To end the trip with a win – a good, complete performance – it makes for a nice flight home.”

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.