Sharks

Sharks-Senators: What to watch for

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Sharks-Senators: What to watch for

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SAN JOSE Since the calendar turned to 2012, the Sharks and Ottawa Senators have been among the two hottest teams in hockey. In fact, both are 7-1-1 since the New Year began.

The Sharks were expected to be in prime playoff position, as they continue to lead the Pacific Division, but the Senators? Not so much. Ottawa finished in 13th place last season, just two points out of dead last in the Eastern Conference. Now, they find themselves in fifth place in the conference, and are surging with a 9-1-1 mark in their last 11 overall.

RELATED: Sharks place Clowe on IR

Theyre arguably the biggest surprise. Especially in the east, for sure, Dan Boyle said. They went from being one of the worst teams to one of the best right now. Theyre coming in hot, and we expect a pretty fast-paced game.

Theyre all the way up to the fifth spot in the east, so theyve been playing well. Its going to be a good test for us, Joe Thornton said.

The Senators play a fairly wide-open style. They are seventh in the league with an even 3.0 goals-per game, led by Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek and defenseman Erik Karlsson, but allow 3.08 per-game, 27th in the NHL.

Familiar coaches: Sharks head coach Todd McLellan and Sens bench boss Paul MacLean spent three seasons together as assistants in the Detroit Red Wings organization from 2005-06 through 2007-08. McLellan left to coach the Sharks, while MacLean took over the Senators this summer after three more seasons with the Red Wings.

Hes done such a good job in instilling a system and getting the players to believe in it, McLellan said of MacLeans Senators. I think when you watch the pre-scout its pretty evident. Obviously, spending time with him and Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, I have a good idea of how they want to play, and you can see it. I think thats a sign of a coach doing a tremendous job.

Both coaches see similarities not just between the Sharks and Senators, but the Red Wings, too.

It looks like theyre having fun playing the game. It looks like they have in identity, McLellan said. They are a very dynamic offensive team when they are on the entries. Their defense it up on the rush. Very much like a Red Wing team.

There are similarities between all three teams, Id say, but each person also brings their own little tweak or own thing that they might think is a little bit more important, MacLean said.

Top lines: Injuries to Ryane Clowe and Marty Havlat leave the Sharks down two of their top six forwards, and based upon his game on Tuesday night against Calgary and rushes in practice on Wednesday, Tommy Wingels will remain on the teams top line with Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Hes a pretty calm guy in general, and it didnt really phase him, Thornton said of the rookie Wingels being on his line. Hopefully we get some chemistry, and get er going.

That leaves a second line of Logan Couture-Patrick Marleau-Benn Ferriero; a third line of Michal Handzus-Jamie McGinn-Torrey Mitchell; and a likely fourth line of Andrew Murray-Brad Winchester and Andrew Desjardins, who is returning from a two game absence due to a head injury.

Rare meeting: This is the one and only time the Sharks and Senators will see each other this season. The previous time they played, over a year ago on Dec. 10, 2010, was a memorable one, though.

Couture scored twice for the first two-goal game of his career; Antti Niemi recorded his first shutout with the Sharks; and Justin Braun tallied his first career NHL goal in a 4-0 San Jose win at Ottawa.

This is Ottawas first visit to HP Pavilion since Dec. 1, 2009.
Niemi vs. Anderson: Niemi will get the call in net for the Sharks, facing Ottawas Craig Anderson.

In his last 26 starts, Niemi 16-6-4 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. Last years shutout was the only time hes faced Ottawa in his career.

Anderson has not fared well against San Jose. In eight career games, hes 2-6-0 with a 3.42 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

Anderson will be making his sixth straight start, and has not allowed more than two goals and has a .960 save percentage over that span, though.

Odds and ends: Ottawa allows the second-most shots per game in the league, at 32.1. The Sharks lead the NHL in that category with 34.6. The Senators have 67 third period goals most in the NHL. Ottawa is third in the league with 14.5 penalty minutes per game. Erik Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen with 44 points, 10 more than Brian Campbell. Jason Spezza leads Ottawa with 48 points (20g ,28a). San Jose is 5-1-1 against Canadian teams this season. The Sharks have won their last five meetings overall with the Sens.

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.

https://twitter.com/sorensenmarcus/status/887412566447628288

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.