Sharks notes: Marleau frustrated; Couture amazes

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Sharks notes: Marleau frustrated; Couture amazes

Of all the adjectives used to describe Sharks franchise icon Patrick Marleau over the years, outspoken has rarely, if ever, been one of them.

Thats changed in recent days, though, as Marleau has become a vocal critical of the leagues tactics when it comes to the current labor impasse. It began when I spoke with him myself on Thursday at Sharks Ice and he bluntly stated, If the owners cared about the game, we would be playing. (He later clarified that when he refers to the owners, hes talking about what he believes is a small group of hard-liners, of which Gary Bettman needs just eight to veto any CBA proposal).

Marleau continued to voice his disapproval in a text message sent to Josh Rimer of NextSportsStar.com (via ProHockeyTalk.com) on Saturday.

The league had these games canceled already in the summer. They are just releasing that info now, Marleau said, referring to the NHL cancelling the schedule through November.

Its not hard to see why Marleau might jump to that conclusion. The NHLs opening CBA proposal was an early signal of the leagues draconian approach, and its more recent refusal to meet with the players association in the days leading up to their own Oct. 25 deadline to save a full season was peculiar.

Many have suggested that NHL ownership is following the same guidelines used by NBA owners around this time last year. There were several perceived peaks and valleys during those negotiations, which ended with ownership getting a larger percentage of profits as well as a condensed 66-game season starting on Christmas Day.

So, Marleau could be on to something.

For now, though, the enigmatic forward is one of a few Sharks still in the Bay Area. That could change shortly, though, as he told CSNCalifornia.com on Thursday that hes spoken to his agent about possibly going abroad.

Its definitely an option, he said.

Couture gets fancy

Speaking of overseas, Sharks stars Logan Couture and Joe Thornton went head-to-head in Switzerland for the second time over the weekend, with Coutures first-place Geneve-Servette team coming away with a 5-4 win over Thorntons HC Davos squad.

In a much-tweeted highlight (courtesy of Puck Daddy), Couture managed to score his fifth goal of the season with an incredible between-the-legs shot. He also has 11 assists on the year, including two in the game against Davos, for a total of 16 points in 12 games.

Thornton had one assist in the loss, and has four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 15 games.

Champs for Charity a success

Adam Burish is still waiting for the chance to don a Sharks jersey after signing with San Jose in the offseason, but hes making the most of his time off.

Burish, a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, helped put together a reunion of that team to benefit local Chicago charities, and it was a resounding success. On Saturday at Allstate Arena, home of the AHLs Chicago Wolves, the game brought in more than 323,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.

The biggest thing for me was all these guys deciding to participate. Guys I won a championship with showed up, guys Ive played against showed up. To me, thats what meant a lot, Burish told CSNChicago.com. They were so giving with their time, doing whatever they could to help, because it wasnt easy. I hope everyone had fun, because I did.

The vocal crowd, presumably desperate for the lockout to end, exceeded 12,000.

It brings you right back to the regular season and playoffs. And its all for a great cause, Patrick Sharp said. Whenever you score a goal you get a good feeling. You play to win and be a part of a team. We were messing around out there but we were still playing hockey. There were a lot of antics going on but it was fun to be a part of a game again.

There were more than just Blackhawks that suited up. Opponents of the former champs included Bobby Ryan, Jordan Staal and Ryan Suter.

Worcester update

After a slow start in which they failed to win any of their first four games, the Worcester Sharks collected four of a possible six points over the weekend. Goaltender Alex Stalock was in net for wins on Friday and Sunday, stopping 51 of 54 shots total in the two games.

A quick look at the stats shows Tim Kennedy leading the Worcester offense with three goals and five assists for eight points, while Sebastian Stalberg (4g, 2a) and Bracken Kearns (1g, 5a) have six points apiece.

James Sheppard, perhaps the most intriguing player on Worcesters roster, has cooled off. After recording three points in the first two games, he has just one assist in the last five.

The Sharks (2-4-0-1, 5 pts.) are in fourth place in the five-team Atlantic Division.

Coyle impressing in AHL

In other minor league news, former Sharks first round pick Charlie Coyle is impressing for Minnesotas farm team in Houston. Coyle was part of the package the Sharks sent to the Wild in order to acquire defenseman Brent Burns.

Coyle, drafted 28th overall by San Jose in 2010, leads all rookie forwards in the AHL with five goals, prompting this tweet from Wild beat writer Michael Russo. He could very well be a part of the Wilds roster if the NHL and NHLPA get their act together to salvage a season.

Minnesotas roster already has a number of former Sharks, including Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell, the latter of whom signed there this past offseason.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

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Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – The Boston Bruins skated past the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at SAP Center, 2-1 in overtime.

Brad Marchand’s breakaway goal after the Bruins won a defensive zone faceoff gave Boston the win, as Torey Krug found the forward charging towards the San Jose net. Marchand slipped the puck through Martin Jones’ five hole at 2:36.

San Jose has dropped its last four games decided in the three-on-three.

The Sharks lost for the sixth time in their last eight games (2-1-5), headed into the bye week. They will not play or practice from Monday through Friday, and resume their season on Saturday in Vancouver.

Boston extended its winning streak to four games since firing Claude Julien and naming Bruce Cassidy the interim head coach. The streak began with a 6-3 win over the Sharks at TD Garden on Feb. 9.

The Bruins were just the fourth team of 20 to win the first game after their bye week (4-12-4).

Boston scored the only goal in the first period, while the Sharks answered with a second period tally.

Ryan Spooner’s marker at 11:05 of the opening frame put Boston ahead. An Adam McQuaid point shot found Jimmy Hayes in the slot, and after Hayes fired wide of the net, Spooner tucked in the loose puck.

San Jose turned up the pressure late in the second, finally resulting in a goal by Patrick Marleau. During a four-on-four situation, Brent Burns’ wrist shot deflected right to Marleau’s tape, and he easily flipped in his 502nd career goal at 17:37.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer shortened his bench for the third period, leaving Mikkel Boedker and Nikolay Goldobin planted on the pine. Melker Karlsson took Boedker’s place on the second line, while Chris Tierney skated on the third line with Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward.

The Sharks are 6-3-1 in the second half of back-to-backs.

Special teams

Each team had just one power play in the game, failing to convert.

The Sharks are 3-for-24 on the power play over their last eight games (12.5 percent), but a perfect 8-for-8 on the PK in their last five.

In goal

Jones was facing the Bruins just 10 days after he was pulled to start the second period in Boston when he allowed three goals on 12 shots. He allowed two goals on 27 shots.

Tuukka Rask made 29 saves for the win.

Lineup

The Sharks’ lineup was unchanged from Saturday’s win in Arizona, other than the goaltender. Goldobin played in his second game of the season.

Joe Thornton remains two assists away from 1000 in his career. His five-game point streak came to an end.

Burns had 20 shot attempts, including seven on net.

Up next

Saturday’s game in Vancouver begins a stretch where the Sharks will play their final 22 games over a 43-day span. On Feb. 2, they won the first of five meetings with the Canucks, 4-1 at Rogers Arena.

Vancouver, which hosted Philadelphia on Sunday, also has its bye week from Feb. 20-24.