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.”

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.

* * *

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.”

* * *

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.”