Sharks shut out in Phoenix, fall from 8th place

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Sharks shut out in Phoenix, fall from 8th place

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX Radim Vrbata scored twice and the Phoenix Coyotes leapfrogged the Sharks into eighth place in the West with a 2-0 win over San Jose on Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.The Sharks (39-29-10, 88 points) are now on the outside looking in to the playoffs due to their second consecutive regulation loss. Phoenix (38-27-13, 89 points) is one ahead of San Jose, and both have just four games remaining in the regular season.The Coyotes, last in the league in power play percentage, scored a rare goal with a man advantage in taking a 1-0 second period lead.A blast from Oliver Ekman-Larsson rattled around in front of the net before Vrbata slammed it home at 3:49. The goal came with Patrick Marleau in the box on a boarding call in what was the first penalty of the game.The Sharks had a chance to tie it on a power play of their own later in the period, but were generally ineffective and for the final 30 seconds of the advantage didnt have a single player standing near goaltender Mike Smith.San Jose nearly tied the game seven minutes into the third. Logan Couture had a chance in front of the net on a nice pass from Marty Havlat, but couldnt find the handle with Mikkel Boedker defending in front of the crease and tying up Coutures stick.That missed opportunity hurt even more when Joe Pavelskis shot from the high slot was blocked, leading to a two-on-one the other way. Ray Whitney fed Vrbata for an easy tap-in at 8:17, giving the Coyotes a two-goal cushion they would not relinquish.Smith recorded his third shutout against the Sharks this season, as Phoenix ended the season series with a 4-1-1 mark against San Jose. Smith surrendered six goals on opening night to the Sharks in a 6-3 loss at HP Pavilion, but just six goals total in the five subsequent matchups.For the second straight night, the Sharks had the better of the scoring chances in the first period but could not convert.Havlat missed from the side of the net on a nice pass from Ryane Clowe about seven minutes in. Later, Smith stopped a Torrey Mitchell one-timer as well as the rebound attempt by Dominic Moore with less than eight minutes to go in the frame.Smith stopped Pavelski, who was probably the Sharks most effective forward in their 3-1 loss to Anaheim on Wednesday night, on a three-on-one rush with 6:14 to go in the first on a wrist shot from the circle.Phoenixs best chance in the opening period came on a breakaway by Boedker with four and a half minutes left, but Antti Niemi poke-checked it away with the handle of his stick, keeping it scoreless.The Sharks fell to 1-6-2 in their last nine road games. In their last 21 away from home, theyve won just four (4-13-4), all against teams not currently in playoff position.Phoenix welcomed three key players back to its lineup for the game. Vrbata missed five of the last seven with an allergic reaction to penicillin; defenseman Adrian Aucoin was out for six in a row with a lower body injury, while captain Shane Doan missed the last three games due to suspension.The Sharks host Dallas on Saturday, visit the Stars on Tuesday, and end the season with a home-and-home against Los Angeles.

Sharks to support San Jose flood victims with $20,000 donation, raffle

Sharks to support San Jose flood victims with $20,000 donation, raffle

SAN JOSE - The San Jose Sharks announced today that they will support San Jose flood victims with a $20,000 donation from the Sharks Foundation and at upcoming home games on Thursday, March 9, Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12, through the Foundation's 50/50 Raffle.

The $20,000 donation and half of the evening's jackpot, during all three games, will be donated to the San Jose Flood Victims Relief Fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation to support nonprofit organizations providing immediate and long-term relief and recovery assistance to flood victims in San Jose.

The Sharks Foundation will also accept monetary donations during each game at the Sharks Foundation booth located at section 118 on the concourse or to donate now, click here.

A series of heavy rain in the area caused Coyote Creek to rise to a 100-year peak. With widespread flooding as a result, 14,000 residents have faced mandatory evacuations.

About the Sharks Foundation
The Sharks Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth and families in our community with an emphasis in the areas of education, health and safety, and character development. During the 2015-16 season, the Sharks Foundation donated a franchise-record $1.5 million in funding to support the Bay Area. Since its inception in 1994, the Foundation has given nearly $10.1 million to hundreds of high-performing non-profit organizations serving youth and families in need. To learn more about how the Sharks Foundation is helping underserved children and families in the community, visit SharksFoundation.org or read our 2015-16 San Jose Sharks & Sharks Foundation Community Report.

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. As the largest community foundation in the world, we engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here. Learn more at siliconvalleycf.org.

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Analysis: Scoring winger a need for Sharks ahead of trade deadline

Analysis: Scoring winger a need for Sharks ahead of trade deadline

SAN JOSE – There are no glaring holes for the San Jose Sharks to fill ahead of next week's NHL trade deadline on March 1.

Still, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is a notorious tire-kicker, and he’s surely working the phones these days to see if there’s anything out there that could help his hockey club, which has a comfortable five-point lead on the Pacific Division midway through its bye week.

“We’ll see, but we do feel really good about this group,” Wilson told CSN earlier this month. “We believe in our players and we believe in our guys on the Barracuda, because they’ve earned that.

“Having said that, our history speaks for itself. If there’s a way to help this hockey team or add something, we’ve always done it, and we’ll always explore it.”

So, what might the Sharks be exploring? There are two areas that make the most sense – a backup goaltender, and a scoring winger.

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No question Aaron Dell has exceeded expectations in his first NHL season. He’s 7-3-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .934 SP in 12 games, and his .953 even-strength save percentage is tops in the league among goalies that have played at least 10 games.

Still, it’s unknown if Dell would be able to handle the day-to-day grind, if anything were to happen to Jones. Even in the minors last season when he earned the number one job with the Barracuda, he wasn’t playing three and four games a week due to the AHL’s Pacific Division having fewer games than the rest of the league. He’s also not been overly tested at the NHL level – of Dell’s 10 starts, only one has come against a team currently in playoff position, and the Calgary Flames are only barely in the second Wild Card spot.

There are some goalies thought to be trade bait as pending unrestricted free agents. They include Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavalec, the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak, or Philadelphia goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. All could likely be gotten for some combination of young players and/or draft picks.

But is it worth it for the Sharks to make a move for a player that might not even be needed in the postseason? According to one NHL analyst, the Sharks should just take their chances with the inexperienced North Dakota product.

“I probably wouldn’t put a whole lot of resources in [finding a backup goalie],” NBCSN analyst Keith Jones told CSN on the latest Sharks Insider Podcast. “If Martin Jones was injured you’d have a real problem, it would be tough to find a goalie to replace what he brings to the table. I know they tried James Reimer last year, and the book is out on him. … I’m not sure that that’s a major upgrade on Aaron Dell.”

That said, Keith Jones would like to see Martin Jones – who’s on pace to play 69.5 games – get more time off after the schedule resumes. That means increased playing time for Dell.

“I think you might just want to take a chance with your backup a little more frequently,” Jones said. “You may want to sacrifice a few games along the way. [Dell] gains some experience, and Jones gets some rest.”

The impression here is that the Sharks will probably stick with Dell. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has been nothing short of glowing in his reviews of Dell lately, as well he should be. The goalie has earned his place on this team, and none of the other goalies that the Sharks could acquire would be obvious upgrades at this stage of the season.

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A much stronger case can be made that the Sharks are in need of another scoring winger. 

While the offense has been more dangerous in recent weeks than it was over the first half of the season, it still doesn’t look as effective as it was last season going into the playoffs, when it finished fourth in the league. Yes, the power play has been relatively power-less, but there’s more to it than that.

Mikkel Boedker has been a disappointment after signing a four-year deal as a free agent, and was benched yet again on Sunday. Joonas Donskoi, still out with what looks like a shoulder injury, hasn’t taken that next step after his strong playoff run last season. Joel Ward is off his scoring pace from last year. Patrick Marleau has been outstanding, but remains streaky. Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier have done some nice things as rookies, but neither of them has “arrived” yet, to borrow a word commonly used by DeBoer. Nikolay Goldobin failed in his two-game tryout last week, too.

Finding a winger to play on the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line should be a priority, as DeBoer has tried seven different wingers there this season without finding a permanent fit. 

Among the veterans that could be available are Dallas’ Patrick Sharp or Patrick Eaves, Arizona’s Shane Doan, Colorado’s Jarome Iginla, Detroit's Thomas Vanek, or even Vancouver’s Alex Burrows or Jannik Hansen, if the club is looking for a more agitating type.

Sharp is perhaps the most intriguing name on that list. Although he’s been hurt off and on this season and his numbers are down on a bad Dallas team, he’s a veteran scorer that has won three Stanley Cups as part of Chicago’s dynasty. He’s an obvious upgrade over the players that have rotated through the Thornton line.

Bringing in one of those aforementioned forwards would require some salary cap juggling (especially Sharp, who carries a $5.9 million cap hit) and perhaps a salary from the current roster going the other way, as the Sharks don’t have a whole lot of room right now. But it’s worth exploring, as a consistent offensive attack should be this team’s biggest worry right now with seven weeks until the postseason.

* * *

If the Sharks don’t make a move, DeBoer and company are still confident with the team in the dressing room. After all, most of those players were a part of the team’s run last season, when the Sharks were just two wins from capturing the Stanley Cup.

“For us, it’s not whether a piece comes in or whether we don’t bring any pieces in, I think we’re confident in our group,” DeBoer said. “It’s about us…playing to our identity for as long a stretch as is possible, because that’s what wins in the playoffs. Whether we don’t do anything or whether a piece comes in here, I don’t think that mindset changes.”

Justin Braun said: “Management is going to do what they’re going to do, but if they don’t do anything, we have confidence with everyone in here to get the job done.”