Stamkos talks Sharks, Lightning trap

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Stamkos talks Sharks, Lightning trap

SAN JOSE Steven Stamkos will make just the third appearance of his young career tonight at HP Pavilion when the Sharks host the Lightning.

Stamkos, the NHLs leading goal scorer with 20, was asked his thoughts of the Sharks after the morning skate.

Obviously, San Jose is arguably one of the best teams in the NHL for the past five or 10 years, it seems, said Stamkos, who has a goal in each of his first two games in San Jose. Theyre always up at the top of the Western Conference standings and they have some really talented players on the front end and the back end.

Its a game where the defensive game is going to have to be almost perfect in order to give ourselves a chance to win. We need to stay out of the penalty box. Theyve got great offensive weapons, and its attention to detail like in playoff hockey that is going to be important for us tonight.
KURZ: Sharks-Lightning, what to watch

Lightning head coach Guy Boucher has been shuffling his lines frequently lately, trying to spark the 13th place team in the Eastern Conference. With winger Martin St. Louis likely unavailable due to injury, Boucher has generally kept Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier on separate lines to balance out his attack.

Against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, though, Boucher ended up putting Stamkos and Lecavalier on the same line with winger Dana Tyrell. They generated a second period goal from Stamkos that ended up being the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets.

Dont be surprised to see Stamkos and Lecavalier together on the ice if things arent going the Lightnings way early.

Weve got three guys that are scorers. The other guys, you know, are secondary scorers. When youre missing one of them, there are only two left, so obviously if you feel like the lines are not producing I have a tendency to not wait too long and try to get something going, said Boucher. Last game, thats what we did. Stamkos and Vinnie looked good together, and thats something to keep in the back of my mind.

The Lightning have come under fire a bit this season for their 1-3-1 defensive system, most notably when the Philadelphia Flyers exposed a non-existent forecheck during a nationally televised game in October. Click here if you need a refresher on what happened in that game, courtesy of our friends at NBC.

Stamkos said on Wednesday morning that the Lightnings sometimes sleep-inducing style of play has been unfairly criticized.

I think a lot of it got blown out of proportion a little bit with that Philly game that was on Versus. If no one had brought that up, no one would be talking about our system as much, he said.

A lot of teams play that trap style in the neutral zone when they cant get a forecheck. For us, we have a very quick team and we like to utilize our speed. When we cant get in on the forecheck and create pressure, then you drop back. Weve done that now for a year and a half and its proved that it works, in the playoffs last year, especially. We had a pretty good run.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan will approach the Lightning the same way he does every other team.

I think they get a knock sometimes. Theyre an aggressive team; theyll come after you. There are other times where theyll sit back. Were not going to change the way we play, he said.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

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.”