Sharks-Ducks: What to watch for


Sharks-Ducks: What to watch for

Anaheim (9-19-6) vs. Sharks (19-10-3)
at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE The two-day Christmas break could probably have come at a better time for the Sharks.

The team was on a roll after winning its fourth straight game on Friday night, extending the Sharks point streak to six consecutive games (4-0-2). The Sharks, along with every other team in the league, had Saturday and Sunday completely off from hockey.

Theyll try to recapture that momentum tonight at home against the Anaheim Ducks after a 2-1 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.

Its just about re-establishing our game and the intensity level. Thats the big one, we dont want to waste minutes and want to have a good start, said Joe Pavelski. Just get right back into the flow of things.

The players know these two days are coming up, and as soon as youre done that last game they turn everything off -- which they should. Theyve earned the right to do that, said Todd McLellan. Then, you have to think about all the goodies over Christmas that everybody seems to consume.

RELATED: Ducks stats roster injuries depth chart

"Physically, it will take a little while for them to adjust, I believe. Most players will tell you one day off is fine, but two days off it takes a little bit longer to get the engine going.

One advantage the Sharks should have over the Ducks is that they didnt have to fly in on the morning of a game, as Anaheim did today -- a rarity for NHL road teams, which are typically required to be in the cities in which they are playing the night before the game.

Other than the two-day break, its just another normal game day for the Sharks. The same can't be said for Anaheim.

Its always nice because you can have a typical game day. You dont have to travel and play on the same day, said Pavelski.

Patrick Marleau said: Im glad Im not the team flying, but I think were all pretty much in the same boat. Everybodys had two days off coming in, and you have to get back in that mindset right away of a hard hockey game.

McLellan, though, pointed out some advantages to being the road team tonight.

Id maybe prefer to be on the road. I think theres too many distractions at home right now, said the coach. Everybody goes home to the Christmas tree again, and there are still toys to be put together and leftovers to finish off. Being on the road and being in a hotel away from everything is sometimes a nice thing.

Still a perfect homestand: The Sharks will try and remain perfect on their six-game stretch at HP Pavilion after winning the first four. San Jose has won three one-goal games over Colorado, Edmonton and Los Angeles in a shootout, as well as a convincing 7-2 victory against a bad Tampa Bay team.

How have they been able to do it?

Were had some pretty good games, I think. Good starts, which were kind of a problem early in the season, said Dan Boyle. Were finding ways to win. Whether it was Tampa, winning 7-2, or grinding it out until the very last second in the L.A. win the other night.

The four-game winning streak comes after the team returned from a 0-1-2 road trip. McLellan saw signs of improvement even then, despite the losses.

We played well enough to win those games, but didnt. Its the old saying that youre coming out of it, but still losing, he said. Weve carried that over here to the homestand.

It cant end now because of a break. It feels like a long time ago since we played, but we have to continue on. Were in no position to give ourselves permission for an extended vacation.

Rivals reunited: The Ducks have just nine wins this season, but two of those came over the Sharks in October. Jonas Hiller shut them out in the Sharks second game of the season, 1-0, on Oct. 14 at Honda Center and won 3-2 at HP Pavilion just three nights later.

That may have been the high point of their season, though. Since that win at HP Pavilion, the Ducks have won just five games and replaced head coach Randy Carlyle with Bruce Boudreau. They also bring a 0-9-4 losing streak on the road into tonights matchup, having not won away from home since Oct. 27 in Minnesota.

Although its been months since theyve seen Anaheim, the Sharks remember those early matchups against their in-state rivals.

It was a little while back, but I just remember that we lost. At the end of the day thats what we all remember, said Boyle. Although theyre struggling in the standings, they seem to get up and get ready to play us all the time so we have to be ready.

McLellan isnt worrying as much about what adjustments the Ducks have made since their coaching change, as he is his own club after the two-day layoff.

Systematically Im sure there are some minor changes that theyve been able to implement that well have to watch out for, but this is probably a game and Im sure Boudreau will tell you this, too you just have to try and establish your own game for at least the first 20 minutes and worry about the other team after that.

Roster update: Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi will make his 14th start in the last 15 games, and will be backed up by Thomas Greiss. Antero Niittymaki will not dress.

In his last 17 stars, Niemi is 11-4-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. In six career games against Anaheim, hes 3-3-0 with a 2.19 GAA and .905 SP.

Jonas Hiller is expected to start for the Ducks. In 14 career regular season games against the Sharks, Hiller is 5-8-0 with a 2.21 GAA and .933 SP.

Sharks defensemen Jim Vandermeer (hand) and Douglas Murray (hand) remain on injured reserve.

Odds and ends: The Ducks are 2-6-2 under Bruce Boudreau. The Sharks lead the NHL in shots per game with 34.5. The Sharks are tied with St. Louis for fewest goals allowed 5-on-5 (42). San Jose has killed off nine of the last 10 power plays against. The Ducks are 1-14-2 when their opponent scores first.

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.