Thornton, Pavelski thriving since All-Star break


Thornton, Pavelski thriving since All-Star break

TAMPA Youd be hard pressed to find hotter linemates since the All-Star break than Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

In the seven games since the NHL shut down for its midseason celebration, the two Joes have combined for 22 points (9g, 13a) while playing together in both even-strength and power play situations. Thornton has four goals and eight assists for 12 points, while Pavelski has five goals and five assists for 10 points.

After All-Star break we just kind of picked up our play a little bit. For whatever reason we just needed some rest, or whatever, Thornton said. I like playing with Joe. He sees the ice well and has a knack for being around the net and putting in timely goals. We enjoy playing with each other.

Pavelski agreed, admitting that the complete week between the Sharks last game before the break and first one after was beneficial.

I think that was really important. The legs were getting a little heavy there, he said. You just freshen up, and get that jump back in your step you had there at the beginning of the season.

There are a couple more distinct factors at play when it comes to the uptick in production from Pavelski and Thornton. The most obvious is the power play. Dating back to the Sharks game in Vancouver on Jan. 21, when Pavelski was moved back to the point, San Jose is 13-for-32 with a man advantage (40.6 percent).

In fact, three of Pavelskis five goals have come on the power play, and Thornton had an assist on all of them.

That ended a brutal two-month stretch for San Jose, which had just 26 power play goals in the first 44 games before the recent surge. After a 3-for-6 performance on Monday night in Washington, the Sharks find themselves fourth in the league on the power play (21.0 percent).

To climb from where we were, and we reminded them of this after the St. Louis game, to where we are now, is a credit to them. It became real important to them and real important to our team that we fix that area, said Todd McLellan, referring to an 0-for-4 performance against the Blues on Sunday night.

When youre playing well in that area, it should translate over to feeling good about your game and having some confidence elsewhere.

By elsewhere, McLellan meant five-on-five play, and Pavelski agreed that power play success has helped his even-strength play.

When you get to play a little bit on the power play you get the puck a little more, it just might change your feel, like the puck is coming to you tonight and youre around the net a little bit more. That feeling of confidence can definitely cross over.

The power play has had its up and downs this year but recently, its been really, really good. Were really confident with it, Thornton said.

There's more. Thornton has made a decision, likely influenced by the coaching staff, to shoot the puck.

In the first four games after the break, Thornton had 18 shots on goal. To put that number in context, he had a total of three shots in five games immediately preceding the break.

I think theyre doing some things offensively that maybe they didnt do as much of earlier. A lot is the power play polishing itself up a little bit which is nice to see, but the other is Jumbo is shooting the puck a lot more, McLellan said.

We have better net presence, were in and around the blue paint a little bit more, and theyre getting rewarded with offense because of it. You look at some of the goals weve scored, they have been second and third pokes in and around the blue paint. Even the best players in the world have to be reminded to go there sometimes.

By breaking from his typical pass-first mentality, Thornton may be able to take advantage of opponents who are used to seeing him scan the ice for an open winger or defenseman by firing it on goal and letting players like Pavelski sift through the traffic in front of the net.

I think Jumbo has made a real effort to get more pucks on the net, and the rest benefit off of it, McLellan said. Its unpredictable, and not everybodys playing the pass. It does change the dynamic of an offensive play.

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

After five seasons with the Sharks, Larry Robinson is leaving the organization.

Robinson, 65, spent the last three seasons as the club's director of player development. He served as an associate coach from 2012-14.

TSN in Montreal and the Montreal Gazette originally reported the news.

The Sharks confirmed that Robinson's contract would be expiring, and general manager Doug Wilson told NBC Sports California that the divorce was amicable, and "because of geography." Robinson lives in Florida.

According to the Montreal Gazette

Robinson’s contract with the Sharks expires on July 1, but agent Donnie Cape said Thursday that San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has given him permission to speak with other teams. Robinson lives in Bradenton, Fla., and the long travel distance to San Jose is one of big the reasons he’s looking for a new team to work for.

Robinson seemed to ponder retirement in 2014, but signed a three-year extension to remain in the Sharks' front office. He worked mostly from his home in Florida the past two seasons, making occasional trips to San Jose, including during training camp.

In the summer of 2015, Robinson underwent surgery for skin cancer.

Recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Robinson won six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, and holds the NHL record for playing 20 straight seasons in the playoffs. A 10-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson was the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99, and the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002 and again in 2005-06. He led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson has nine Stanley Cup rings as a player and coach.

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The Sharks did not renew the contract of pro scout Jason Rowe, who had been with the organization for the past nine seasons. Rowe focused on eastern NHL and AHL teams.

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

The Sharks officially announced the signing of defenseman Radim Simek to a one-year contract on Tuesday, as well as Swedish forward Filip Sandberg to a two-year contract.

Simek’s deal was reported on Monday and confirmed by NBC Sports California. The contract is valued at $925,000 for the 2017-18 season, a source confirmed. The 24-year-old defenseman spent the past five seasons in the Czech league, posting 24 points (11g, 13a) and 30 penalty minutes with a plus-18 rating last season. A left-handed shot, he is listed at five-foot-11 and 196 pounds on the IIHL website.

In 211 career games in the Czech league, he posted 91 points (37g, 54a) and a plus-51 rating.

"Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America."

Sandberg, 22, has 71 points (25g, 46a) in 204 career games in the Swedish league. Last season, he posted 25 points (8g, 17a) and a plus-17 rating in 52 games.

Sandberg is set to make $742,500 in 2017-18 and $792,500 in 2018-19, a source confirmed.

The five-foot-nine, 180-pound Stockholm native also competed in the World Jr. Championships in 2013 and 2014, helping Sweden win silver both years.

"Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space," Wilson said. "He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players. We are excited for him to join our organization."

The contracts for Simek and Forsberg are two-way deals, allowing them to play for the AHL Barracuda next season.