Sharks-Ducks: What to watch for


Sharks-Ducks: What to watch for

Sharks (20-11-4) vs. Anaheim (10-21-6) at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California.

ANAHEIM The Sharks are feeling confident after a 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver on Monday. Theyll try to keep building upon that tonight against another team they've struggled with recently.

Anaheim, in 29th place overall in the NHL standings, has beaten San Jose all three times this season. That includes a 3-2 win less than two weeks ago at HP Pavilion.

Anaheim has basically owned us all year, Jamie McGinn said after Wednesdays morning skate at Honda Center. "Also, I think theres a lot of pride on the line. You dont want to lose every single game against a division rival.

RELATED: Sharks dominate lesser teams -- except Ducks

"With such a big rivalry at Anaheim, we know were going to have Sharks fans here tonight, and we need to get a win.

Get the first goal: The Ducks have scored first in each of the three games vs. the Sharks, which for them, is huge. Anaheim is 1-16-2 when giving up the first goal but a respectable 9-5-4 when taking a 1-0 lead.

Confidence is a huge thing in any sport or life. When you feel good about yourselves individually and collectively, things tend to go better, Todd McLellan said. When you earn that opportunity or that right to feel good as the game goes on, the likelihood of success goes way up. Playing with the lead is something we all want to do in the league.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau liked what he saw from his club the day after Christmas at HP Pavilion. That was Anaheims only win in its last seven games (1-5-1).

The Ducks were able to maintain a slim lead, after Andrew Cogliano's goal midway through the second period held up as the game-winner.

Our work ethic against them was great. We worked hard for 60 minutes and we had a solid goaltending game, Boudreau said. You add that with the fact that we got the lead, and we never relinquished the lead. When you dont relinquish the lead when youre mentally fragile, thats a real big thing.
Limit the mistakes: The Sharks havent necessarily played terribly in their three one-goal losses to Anaheim, but key errors at inopportune times have cost them. That includes Joe Thorntons turnover that led to a Bobby Ryan breakaway goal early in the second period on Dec. 26.

We havent played poorly, we just havent been on top of those one-goal games, Thornton said.

The last time San Jose was in this building, a missed assignment by Andrew Desjardins led to a goal by the Ducks fourth line in the only marker of the game.

When you look at the opportunities that weve given them, there havent been many. When were erred, weve erred ugly, McLellan said.
Tracking Teemu: Boudreau had nothing bad to say about the Ducks leading scorer, Teemu Selanne, on Wednesday morning.

And why should he? The 41-year-old Selanne leads Anaheim with 36 points (11g, 25a) and has done nothing but impress his new head coach since Boudreau took over in late November.

When you call it a freak of nature at 41 when hes doing what hes doing, it is, Boudreau said. He still skates as well as anybody, doesnt want to miss any optional skates, doesnt take time off. Hes definitely one of a kind.

Selanne has 13 points in the 15 games Boudreau has been behind the bench.
Niemi vs. Hiller: Sharks goalie Antti Niemi will make his 13th straight start in net, opposing Anaheims Jonas Hiller.

Hiller, who has lost five of his last six decisions, has two wins against the Sharks this season with a 1.00 goals-against average and .971 save percentage. Hes 5-0-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average with two shutouts in his last six appearances against San Jose.

Niemi is 5-1-1 in his last seven starts, but 3-4 career against Anaheim.

Thomas Greiss will backup Niemi.

Odds and ends: Jason Blake is returning for Anaheim. Blake hasnt played since he was accidentally stepped on the arm by Brent Burns on Oct. 14. Colin White remains out for the Sharks with a lower body injury, and is not on the trip. The Sharks have points in eight of their last nine games (5-2-3).

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Editor's Note: The above video is from March 2, 2017

One of the Sharks’ young forwards expected to challenge for a full time roster spot this season has been re-signed.

Marcus Sorensen, who started the year in the AHL before working his way up to the Sharks, signed a two-year contract extension the team announced on Tuesday. A source told NBC Sports California that the deal is worth $700,000 at the NHL level for each of the next two seasons.

In 19 regular season games with the Sharks, Sorensen, 25, posted one goal and three assists. He appeared in all six playoff games against Edmonton, posting one goal and one assist.

In 43 games with the AHL Barracuda, Sorensen had 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points.

"The time he spent with the Sharks this season, and the positive impact he had, proved that he can be an effective player at the highest level,” assistant general manager Joe Will said in a statement.

Sorensen originally signed with the Sharks as a free agent on May 13, 2016. He was originally drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, but spent six seasons playing in Sweden before joining San Jose.

Sorensen was a restriced free agent. The Sharks have just one RFA left to sign in forward Barclay Goodrow.

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Now that the dust has settled on the draft and free agency, here’s a meaty offseason Sharks mailbag before my vacation…

Who will replace Patty's leadership? (philip malan‏ @pmalan1979)

Patrick Marleau was a good example for other players in that he always came to camp in great shape and took care of himself between games, allowing him to be very productive into his later years. 

But let’s not overblow it. From what I understand, Marleau preferred to avoid confrontation, and was never the guy in the dressing room challenging other players to step up. That was left more to guys like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, with Logan Couture growing into that role in recent years, too. When it comes to veteran leadership there are other guys still in the dressing room of more value than Marleau. His leaving town shouldn’t change the dynamic.

Will Thornton be bumped from the top line center role? Who do you think will replace Marleau on the PP? (Elle‏ @LikeShiningOil)

The whole “top line” designation is something that us writers and broadcasters like to use, and I’m going to keep using it for Thornton so long as he and Pavelski are on the same line. That said, there will be plenty of games where the Couture line gets more even-strength ice time than the Thornton line. I guess my point here is don’t read too much into the labels. I don’t expect Thornton’s ice time to go down from what it was last season. He’s averaged 18 minutes and change in each of the past five seasons, and probably will again.

As for replacing Marleau on the power play, I would tab Tomas Hertl as the frontrunner, but I’m sure the Sharks will try a number of different looks there in training camp. After finishing 25th in the NHL last season they pretty much have to, right?

How will the lines roll this season, if you were to prognosticate now? (Erik Kuhre @Puckguy14)

It seems like we say this every year, but it depends on where the Sharks see Hertl slotting in. Last season Hertl started out on the wing of the top line after offseason knee surgery before moving to center fairly quickly. I know he battled through yet another knee injury during the season, but Hertl’s 22 points in 49 games was a disappointing total.

If the season were starting today, I’d put Hertl on the wing of the Thornton line again with, of course, Pavelski on the other side. Here’s what I’ve got in that scenario:

Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Jannik Hansen – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Joel Ward

Extras: Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow

(One guy who is really going to have to fight to keep his spot is Ward. I could see him getting pushed out, but for now I’m leaving him in).

Will there be a tough guy in the lineup to protect the kids? (Jim Kelley)

The Sharks signed free agent Brandon Bollig a couple weeks ago to replace Micheal Haley, but I don’t seem him as a regular in the NHL lineup. Bollig could be a guy they recall if they think it’s necessary to dress a pugilist, like when Pete DeBoer brought up Haley late in the 2015-16 season for the sole reason of fighting Darnell Nurse, who had jumped Sharks defenseman Roman Polak just two weeks earlier for no real reason.

Do you think Chris Tierney is capable of more point production at this point in his career? (Ian Stephenson)

Count me among those that thought Tierney was ready to have a better season last year after his strong performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, he’s just 23 years old, and his line in the series against Edmonton with Meier and Sorensen was a very effective one for long stretches of play. This is a huge year for Tierney, who had to settle for the Sharks’ one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer. Perform, and he’ll get paid. Struggle, and he could be on the move.

Do you think the Sharks will trade either Grosenick or Dell? Doesn't seem Grosenick has much more to prove in AHL. (Chris Greni)

No, they’ll hold on to all three for the time being. Getting Troy Grosenick re-signed to a one-year deal was a nice move on the Sharks’ part, considering Aaron Dell still has just 20 games of NHL experience. Perhaps if they both continue to play well the Sharks could dangle one as trade bait later in the year, but it wouldn’t make sense at this point. 

Any thoughts on DW using the offer sheet to bring in scoring help? There’s several serviceable RFAs out there still waiting for contracts. (Tony Martinico)

Keep in mind that some of those high end RFAs, like Colton Parayko, Nino Niederreiter and Tomas Tatar are currently headed for arbitration, which takes the offer sheet off the table.

Purely speculation here, but I have to wonder if the Sharks have at least kicked around trying to ink Leon Draisaitl to an offer sheet. You have to think Berlin native Hasso Plattner would love to add the “German Gretzky” to the roster. I know we're settling into the part of the NHL offseason where typically nothing happens, but it was July 19 when the Flyers signed Shea Weber to a monster offer sheet five years ago.

And, of course, Doug Wilson has used the power of the offer sheet in the past, signing Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2010 and then using the threat of an offer sheet with Boston to acquire Martin Jones.

Which Cuda player, aside from Meier, Labanc and Sorensen, would you expect to be a dark horse and could make the big team out of camp? (olin @sleepymofo)

Keep in mind that the sixth and defensemen spots are open, too. I would presume that Dylan DeMelo is the frontrunner to replace David Schlemko, but Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan are coming off of strong seasons in the AHL. Perhaps one of them overtakes DeMelo in training camp.

As for other forwards than those you mentioned, Goodrow could end challenging for a spot on the fourth line. I get plenty of questions about Danny O’Regan, too, and perhaps he makes a push. The issue with O’Regan is that although he’s a skilled player in the minors, he’s probably not quite skilled enough to make up for his small frame at the NHL level. I view him more as a fill-in guy.

Any word on [Barclay] Goodrow and [Marcus] Sorenson? I'm assuming they didn't sign their QO's? (DaveBPilot‏ @DaveBPilot)

Yes, that’s safe to assume, since the deadline was Saturday. They remain RFAs, and negotiations will surely continue.

Still, it’s worth mentioning what happened last year with Matt Nieto. The forward didn’t sign his qualifying offer, as he was pushing for a multi-year deal, and ended up signing for one year for less than he would have made had he accepted the original offer. He was waived and claimed by Colorado.