Sharks-Devils: What to watch for

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Sharks-Devils: What to watch for

NEWARK, NJ Between Martin Havlats season debut, Colin Whites return to New Jersey, and Joe Thorntons 1000th NHL game, the Sharks should be plenty motivated to end their three-game losing streak tonight against the Devils.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said the team should be motivated enough, though, even without all the storylines.

White and Thornton shouldnt be the motivators for our team, said McLellan. It should be getting a win and playing properly for a full 60 minutes. Weve played well in a lot of the games, but not for a full 60. Weve made some errors that have cost us.

Still, there is no shortage of things to look for when the puck drops at the Prudential Center in the only meeting between these two clubs this season.

Havlat watch: Sharks fans have been waiting patiently for Martin Havlat to make his season debut. Hes now recovered from his shoulder surgery and should immediately bring more speed and skill to San Joses offense.

And they need it. The Sharks have just five even strength goals this season, while Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture have yet to find the back of the net in any capacity.

Couture is one player who could immediately benefit from Havlats return. Now that hes one of the focal points of the Sharks offense, Couture has had trouble dealing with the extra attention from top opposing defenders. Havlat is slotted to play in the right wing with Couture and Ryane Clowe.

I think well be quicker on the forecheck, get the pucks first in scrums, and Havlats got an explosive first couple of steps where he can find the loose pucks, said Couture. And, his hands are pretty special. Hes a gifted player. Hopefully we can find some chemistry right away and play well tonight.

Another season debut: We touched on this yesterday, but forward Benn Ferriero will see his first NHL game of the season tonight. Ferriero took line rushes again today with Michal Handzus and Torrey Mitchell on the designated third line, but if the Sharks fail to create much offense early on, McLellan could move Ferriero even higher in the lineup.

We need some production from lines one, two and three, and we think that he could move up a line if he had to or two lines, if he had to, said McLellan.

Containing Kovalchuk: Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk has gotten off to a strong start, registering four points in the first four games. He also leads the league in ice time among forwards with more than 27 minutes a game.

The Russian sniper had a goal and an assist against the Sharks the last time these two teams met on Feb. 11 of last season, breaking a 1-1 tie late in the third period.

Whites return: Sharks defenseman Colin White spent the first 10 years of his career in New Jersey, and therefore had never seen the visiting locker room at the Prudential Center. White has gotten off to a so-so start with the Sharks, but hell be on the ice tonight when they try to pick up victory 2.

Its a little different, White said of being at his former home in a different colored jersey.

Odds and ends: Antti Niemi will start in goal for San Jose. Johan Hedberg will be in net for New Jersey, with Martin Brodeur out with a bruised shoulder. Its the third time the Sharks will be facing a backup. The Devils havent played since last Saturday, when they beat Nashville in a shootout.

In push for playoffs, LA Kings acquire goalie Bishop from Tampa Bay

In push for playoffs, LA Kings acquire goalie Bishop from Tampa Bay

The Los Angeles Kings have acquired goaltender Ben Bishop in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Los Angeles sent Peter Budaj, defensive prospect Erik Cernak, a 2017 seventh-round pick and a conditional pick to Tampa Bay for Bishop and a 2017 fifth-round pick.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced the trade Sunday night, less than four days before the trade deadline.

Bishop, a pending unrestricted free agent, helped the Lightning reach the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Kings now have Bishop and 2012 and 2014 Cup winner Jonathan Quick, who returned Saturday from a long-term lower-body injury that had sidelined him since October.

The 6-foot-7 Bishop, 30, is 16-12-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.

Three takeaways: Sharks stand up for Karlsson; avoiding the mumps

Three takeaways: Sharks stand up for Karlsson; avoiding the mumps

VANCOUVER – It was a successful first game coming out of the bye week for the Sharks, as they won going away against the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday, 4-1. Here are our three takeaways from the evening in British Columbia…

1 – Slow start, strong finish

The league-wide trend of starting slow coming out of the NHL’s newly instituted bye week was on display in the first period, as the Sharks and Canucks played one of the uglier frames of NHL hockey you’ll ever see. San Jose was on its heels early, surrendering the first six shots of the game and looking particularly confused. They didn’t register a single hit in the period, either, which is hard to do.

The Sharks were lucky that Vancouver wasn’t much better, and that Martin Jones – whose performance we focused on in primary the game recap – was looking sharp and well rested.

The message after the scoreless first period, according to coach Pete DeBoer, was just to “try and get better.” That’s what happened.

“We knew it would be a little messy, and it was,” DeBoer said. “Jonesy thankfully was our best player, and gave us a chance to get our legs under us. I thought as the game wore on we got better and better. It wasn’t a pretty win, by any means.”

Chris Tierney said: “After the first 10 minutes [we] started to feel good and then kind of felt back to normal in the second there. It definitely took a little bit. Joner bailed us out in the beginning a couple times. I thought we started to get going in the second and third.”

2 – Standing up for Karlsson

Melker Karlsson was lucky to return in the third period after he took a heavy hit from Joseph Labate. Karlsson had to be helped to the dressing room after the blow, when his head violently snapped back as Labate ran him into the boards in front of the bench.

Micheal Haley pounced on Labate immediately after the incident, earning a two-minute minor that the team was probably happy to kill off. Labate, to his credit, answered the bell in the third period when he was challenged by and fought Brenden Dillon. The Sharks will face the Canucks three more times this season, including on Thursday, so a response to the hit was particularly necessary even if it was clean.

“That sends a good message to the team that everybody has each other’s back,” Mikkel Boedker said of Haley and Dillon’s efforts. “Those guys are real standup guys, and they’ve done it so many times. Every time they do it, it means something special to all of us.”

DeBoer said: “That’s a huge part of our team and our team identity. We’ve got a group that you’re not going to be able to push to of games, and I think we’ve shown that over the last two years here. You don’t even have to say anything, that’s just automatic.”

3 – Avoiding the mumps

Some eyebrows were raised in the press box midway through the game when the Canucks tweeted that defenseman Luca Sbisa would not return with the stomach flu. That’s one of the early warning signs of the mumps, meaning Sbisa could have exposed some Sharks to the virus, which is making its way through the Vancouver dressing room.

“What are you going to do? We’ve just got to cross our fingers and get outta here and hope that he didn’t rub up against anybody,” DeBoer said.

The Sharks coach said after the game that he thought “most of our guys” have had vaccinations, but “I believe there’s a couple that haven’t.”

After the virus invaded several NHL dressing rooms two seasons ago, the Sharks’ training staff will likely be on the lookout for symptoms when the team reconvenes on Monday. Hopefully, the outbreak will begin and end in Vancouver this time.

“Definitely, you want to make sure that you stay away from all that stuff,” Boedker said.