Sharks responding well to adversity


Sharks responding well to adversity

SAN JOSE The Sharks have picked up a pair of wins in their last two games at what is the most important time of the season, but that doesnt mean theyve been perfect.

Of course, a flawless 60-minute game is hard to come by at any point in the year, and there are bound to be moments where things dont go the right way. Its how a team responds to that adversity that can define whether or not it wins or loses.

In the victories over Boston on Thursday and Phoenix on Saturday, the Sharks have not let mistakes or letdowns that end up in the back of their net get them down. On Thursday it was a late goal by Zdeno Chara that the Sharks brushed aside in winning, 2-1. Saturday's game against Phoenix featured a goal with half a second left in the first period to tie it, and then another early in the second to give the Coyotes the lead. Daniel Winnik re-tied it shortly after.

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Its a positive sign for the remaining seven games, and something that was missing during the teams 4-11-3 run from Feb. 4 to March 10.

Were finding ways to win games when a couple weeks ago we were finding ways to lose games. Thats changed, Logan Couture said on Sunday. You go through ups and downs in a period or entire games, but weve dealt with it better as of late.

Torrey Mitchell said: Theres been good responses at those times where weve been down, so thats been a plus lately.

Is that a reflection that the Sharks, 5-2-1 in their last eight games, are a more confident club from as recently as two weeks ago?

Possibly, Couture said. A lot of guys in this room have been through a lot in the playoffs and down the stretch. They know how to handle that, so I think that has something to do with it, as well.

When youre playing well and youre winning, it just feels like theres no doubt, Mitchell said. When we get down a goal or they score, we feel a little more confident like were going to come back as opposed to being in a slump and thinking here we go again.

As Couture alluded to, one thing the Sharks have in spades is veteran experience. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and others have seen just about everything there is to see in their years as professionals.

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That was on display after the first period against the Coyotes, after several mental lapses led to a game-tying goal that could easily have taken the wind from the Sharks sails. The early goal in the second giving the Coyotes a 3-2 lead only compounded the potential problem.

But, San Jose answered back with Winnik's goal and went on to collect a shootout victory.

When we walked off after the first period, youre always concerned about where the team is going to go when we start again, Todd McLellan said. I liked what our leadership group was saying. You could hear them on the way in. It was almost like the coaches didnt need to go in a lot and talk to them, they were taking care of it and saying the right things.

"Now, we go out and get scored on right away and then youre really worried, but we still found a way to respond, and that was a good thing.

Its a trait that will be necessary in the final two weeks of the season, starting with Monday night against Colorado.

McLellan said: It probably is about feeling better about yourself, and knowing that you can recover from those mistakes. Really, right now, we have no choice but to recover. We cant wallow in pity and feel sorry for ourselves when something doesnt go our way. Weve got to respond immediately and get back at it.

Having a short memory isnt just for losses or bad goals, either, Mitchell pointed out.

When it goes wrong you want to forget about it, but even when you win a game we need to turn it around and focus on Colorado now, he said. Every game is a playoff game; its do or die for us pretty much. You need to turn the page as soon as you wake up the next morning.

Odds and ends: The Sharks held an optional skate on Sunday at Sharks Ice. The players that did not skate were Brent Burns, Dan Boyle, Marty Havlat, Dominic Moore, Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski. The Coyotes host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night in the only other Western Conference game involving a bubble team. Phoenix is then off until Thursday, when it hosts the Sharks. ... Coyotes forward Alexandre Bolduc was fined 2,500, the maximum allowed under the CBA, for his slew-foot of Clowe in the second period on Saturday.

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.