Sharks-Red Wings: What to watch for

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Sharks-Red Wings: What to watch for

PROGRAMMINGALERT: Watch the Sharks take on the Red Wings on Hockey Day in America on NBC at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

DETROIT The Sharks can achieve two things with a win in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. They can put an end to the Red Wings NHL record 22-game home winning streak, as well as get their longest road trip of the season back on the right track.
Its not hard to figure out which is more important to the players themselves.Were going to approach it like most other games. Obviously, we know whats going on here in Detroit, but we need to get some points on this road trip, Patrick Marleau said. Weve let a couple slip away.

That couple includes losses to two of the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference. The Sharks dropped a 3-2 decision to Carolina on Friday night in Raleigh, following a 6-5 overtime loss to the Lightning the night prior.
Now, theyll enter a building that hasnt seen the home team lose there in more than three months. Detroits last loss at Joe Louis Arena came on Nov. 3 vs. Calgary.

Theyre in your conference. You know theyre an elite team. Theyre in first place overall in the league, so you do pay attention to them, Todd McLellan said. The added awareness is the streak itself.
It would be great to stop their roll and get us going in the right direction, Justin Braun said.
The Sharks are 1-2-1 on their season-long nine-game road trip, which also takes them to Columbus, Toronto, Nashville and Minnesota.
Niemi starting: McLellan wasnt saying, but word in the Sharks locker room after their afternoon skate at Joe Louis Arena was that Antti Niemi will get a chance to rebound from his worst start of the season in Thursdays loss to the Lightning. The Sharks netminder allowed six goals on 25 shots, and has lost four of his last five starts overall (1-3-1).
Its a huge game coming back after the Tampa game, Niemi said.
Hes one of just two goalies to have a regulation win in Detroit, helping the Sharks to a 4-2 victory here on Oct. 28 with 30 saves. Niemi also was in net at HP Pavilion, stopping 40 shots in a 5-2 San Jose win over the Red Wings.
He was asked what he has to do personally to get his game going back in the right direction.
Just see the puck, wait for the puck and stop it. Just be patient, I think thats it, he said. We can make this still a pretty good road trip, so lets go.
Detroit, which beat Nashville on Friday at home, 2-1, will go with backup Joey McDonald. It will be the third time in four games the Sharks face a backup goaltender, as Carolina'a Jason Peters and Washington's Braden Holtby played for their respective teams.

Starter Jimmy Howard has been out since Feb. 2 with a broken index finger, but is available to play.

Changes on D: The Sharks will remain without Douglas Murray. The burly blueliner took a puck to the throat early in the Lightning game and will miss his second straight contest with a fractured Adams apple, although he is with the team here in Detroit.
Meanwhile, Jason Demers appears ready to go. Demers has missed the last nine games, and 11 of the last 13, with an unspecified lower body injury. McLellan said that its very likely Demers will be available against Detroit.
Demers return could mean that Colin White will come out of the lineup. White has been generally ineffective for the Sharks, especially since the All-Star break, and has been on the ice for six of the nine goals that San Jose has surrendered in its last two losses.
More Moore: Sharks forward Dominic Moore had a successful debut with his new team on Friday, setting up the tying goal by Brent Burns before San Jose eventually surrendered the game-winning goal shortly after. Moore began the night as the third line center between Torrey Mitchell and Jamie McGinn, but McLellan drastically shuffled up his bottom three lines before the game was over.
One thing McLellan mentioned after the game was that he liked Moore and Clowe together, after he separated Clowe and Logan Couture early in the second period. Benn Ferriero was the other winger with Moore and Clowe.
Couture finished the game with Wingels and Jamie McGinn, while Michel Handzus centered Mitchell and Andrew Desjardins.
We didnt have much going, so we decided to start flipping guys around, McLellan said after the loss in Carolina.
Whether or not the coach sticks with that lineup or goes back to his original lines to start Sundays game will be something to monitor.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

SAN JOSE – Just in case there was any question as to the grisly nature of Logan Couture’s mouth injury, the Sharks forward shared a picture on his personal Instagram account on Monday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, proceed with caution.

The photo was taken the night of his injury on March 25 in Nashville, showing several top teeth missing in a mouth that can accurately be described as a bloody mess, after he was hit with a defected puck while standing in front of the net in a game against the Predators.

Couture revealed on Tuesday in a conference call that there was more to his injury that just damaged teeth. He also has some facial fractures, including one above his upper lip that extends to his nasal area, and another that is under the bottom row of his teeth.

The one that’s higher in his face is still painful. 

“Still struggle to eat and sleep. … It’s not a comfortable state to be in,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the six-game first round series loss to Edmonton.

As for the next step, Couture has yet to sit down with his dentist, although further work is on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some implants to get the teeth fixed,” he said. “Hopefully get it done in the next few weeks, and then I’ll head back to Canada.”

Couture doesn’t yet know how many teeth need to be replaced.

“All depends on how the teeth respond,” he said.

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Joe Thornton had successful surgery on his left knee on Monday afternoon, NBC Sports California has learned, and according to a team statement released later on Tuesday he is expected to "make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of the 2017-18 season." 

According to a source, the damage to Thornton’s MCL was more significant than his ACL. The team declined to give any details about the surgery in its statement, including who performed it and where it was done. 

Thornton played four playoff games against Edmonton despite damaged knee ligaments, head coach Pete DeBoer revealed on Monday, when he said Thornton was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” after getting hurt in Vancouver on April 2.