Sharks-Detroit: What to watch for

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Sharks-Detroit: What to watch for

DETROIT, MI There was a noticeable wrinkle on defense for the Sharks at the pregame skate on Friday at Joe Louis Arena.

San Joses third defense pair, which has had a number of different looks through the first seven games, could be Jason Demers and Justin Braun tonight after they skated together this morning. In the past two games, it was Braun and Jim Vandermeer, and before that, Demers and Colin White.

Todd McLellan would not confirm anything after the skate, of course, when asked if he would go with that new look tonight against the Red Wings.

Well make some game-time decisions. Theres a chance there will be, he simply said.

Demers, who admitted it was tough sitting out after he was scratched in Boston, liked what he saw while practicing with Braun.

Hes a great player, smart with the puck. He competes hard, and if we do keep going together it will be good to see how we do as a partnership, he said. It was good today, really good.

Braun, who was recalled from Worcester before Saturdays win in Boston, knows that facing the Red Wings wont be easy.

You look over there and they have some pretty good hands, he said. You have to just not over-commit, and contain, and wait for them to make a mistake and make good passes all night.

As for other potential roster changes, signs point to Benn Ferreiro staying in the lineup for at least one more game. Ferriero and Torrey Mitchell both took some rushes on the third line, but Ferriero came off the ice much earlier than Mitchell, who has been battling upper body soreness for a week.

Havlat new to rivalry: Martin Havlat will get his first taste of the Sharks-Red Wings rivalry tonight, but it will be pretty familiar territory for him.

It was a pretty big rivalry when I played in Chicago too, so its not that much different, he said. I know the last couple years the Sharks and Red Wings met in the playoffs, and both teams are one of the best in the league.

Havlat has registered one assist in each of his first three games, and the goals have been huge the Sharks essentially won all of them by a goal, with the shootout win against New Jersey and a couple of empty-netters in their last two games.

You couldnt tell by watching, but Havlat says there is still some work to be done in terms of gelling with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe.

We need more games. Its just been three games, he said. Weve started pretty good. They are both good players and very strong on the puck. We just need to get the chemistry going even more, and positioning-wise. Its going to get easier for us.

One other note regarding Havlat in his only shorthanded shift on Tuesday in Nashville, he set up Couture for a goal that that opened the scoring and stood into the third period. But, dont expect he and Couture to get too many shorthanded minutes just yet.

Havlat is into basically exhibition game number four tonight, where basically everybody else is ahead. Were going to manage his minutes, said McLellan.

We talked about trying to take some of the penalty kill minutes away from our bigger players and distribute them evenly. Logan could potentially be one of those guys.

Opposite directions? The logic is simple the Sharks have won three straight, while the Red Wings have suffered two straight ugly losses. That would seem to indicate two teams heading in opposite directions.

Right, Todd McLellan?

I dont know about that, said the Sharks coach. I think both teams are finding their way is probably the best way of putting it. They obviously arent happy with the results in the past two games and I dont think thats indicative of their team on most nights.

Our game is slowly improving. Were finding ways to win now where earlier in the season we probably would have found ways to lose. Were making progress.

Odds and ends: Jimmy Howard will face Antti Niemi in net. Howard missed the last two games while his wife was giving birth, while Niemi will be making his fifth straight start. McLellan was tight-lipped on a couple of topics after practice, when asked about potentially starting Thomas Griess in the second of a back-to-back tomorrow on Long Island, and not having to face an injured Evgeni Nabokov. The Sharks won three of the four regular season matchups with Detroit last season. Joe Thornton has five goals and four assists in his last six regular season games against the Red Wings. Detroit is beginning a stretch of seven home games out of eight. Joe Pavelski has four goals and two assists in the last three games. The Sharks lead the league in shots on goal (38.4 per game), while Detroit is second (36.1).

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

NASHVILLE – Apparently, one wake up call wasn’t good enough for the plummeting San Jose Sharks.
 
Just one day after suffering what was arguably their worst game under coach Pete DeBoer, Nashville put up a touchdown on the Sharks in a 7-2 win, giving San Jose its sixth straight defeat – all in regulation.
 
After getting outscored 13-3 the last two nights, including Friday’s 6-1 loss in Dallas, where do they go from here?
 
“In two years, last year and this year so far, we haven’t had one night like this almost. Now we have back-to-back nights,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s just a reality check. A gut-check time.
 
“It’s on us as players. Bottom line is we haven’t put the effort in that we need to have right now, and it snowballed on us a little bit at times. I think we’ve got to take a deep breath and really take a look in the mirror, refocus a little bit and understand there’s hockey out there, but it’s not going to fix itself.”
 
What has to be fixed immediately is the defensive structure that has been so vital to the Sharks’ success in the Pete DeBoer era. Even when the club was going through stretches of struggling to score, as it was earlier in the season, it was still collecting points in the standings with its ability to limit the opposition’s scoring chances.
 
While the game against the Predators was actually a little better in that regard, believe it or not, it was still nowhere near the level it needs to be for the postseason. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s absence was partly to blame for that, but the Brent Burns-Paul Martin pair has been a disaster lately. Both have a minus-nine rating during the six-game losing streak, and that number is indicative of how they’ve looked, too.
 
“We’re giving up some goals. It’s a combination of things,” DeBoer said. “Obviously it’s not good enough to win games, so we’ve got to figure it out. I don’t have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I’ve ever coached has a tough part of the season. This is obviously ours. We’ll regroup, and figure it out.”
 
Burns, who admitted to a “bad read” on Nashville’s second goal when Roman Josi sped around him, said: “It’s a tough league when you’re not executing little things.”
 
The Sharks actually looked strong early, poised to put the Dallas disaster behind them. The first few shifts, they had the puck in the Nashville end.
 
But Tomas Hertl was outmuscled behind the net by Colin Wilson on Colton Sissons’ goal at 4:14, Burns got beat on the second, and the Sharks never recovered. Patrick Marleau’s second period power play goal offered life, but that was extinguished 24 seconds later when James Neal answered with a power play goal of his own. The Sharks never got closer than two goals after that.
 
“When things are going bad, those are the things that are happening,” Burns said of Neal’s response to Marleau’s marker. “So, you’ve just got work through it."
 
Will they be able to work through it with just seven games left in the regular season, though? That this cold spell is happening in late March doesn’t speak well to the Sharks’ chances in the postseason, which begins in just two-and-a-half weeks.
 
Burns said: “Right now we should be just tightening up everything. … We've got figure it out pretty soon.”

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

NASHVILLE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley could be in line for supplemental discipline from the league, after earning a match penalty in the third period of Saturday’s 7-2 loss in Nashville.
 
After absorbing a borderline hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame, with the Sharks trailing 5-2 at the time.
 
Naturally, there were differing opinions from the two head coaches on the play.
 
Pete DeBoer said: “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth.”
 
Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters: "It's an ugly play. This isn't the wild, wild west. I mean, Calle hit him. We took a penalty. If we start doing that, we're in trouble, so hopefully it gets looked at."
 
Any player who earns a match penalty "shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the commissioner has ruled on the issue,” according to league rules.
 
In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.
 
Jarnkrok did not return after the punch, but told reporters after the game he felt “OK.”
 
"I feel pretty good," Jarnkrok said. "Obviously, I saw him coming. There were a couple other guys coming, too. I didn't really know what to do. He got in a good punch on me.”