Three takeaways: Pavelski dominant despite Sharks loss

Three takeaways: Pavelski dominant despite Sharks loss

SAN JOSE – The legs were there, but the heads were not in the Sharks’ 6-5 overtime loss to the Panthers on Wednesday at SAP Center. Here’s what we’re taking away from the game…

1 – Pavelski has a game

It came in a loss, but Wednesday’s game might have been Joe Pavelski’s best of the season. The captain had four points, including those two late goals, four shots, 10 shot attempts and a plus-two rating. He drew a penalty shot, too, that he didn’t convert on in the second period.

Pete DeBoer mentioned after the game that he thought Pavelski was “the best player on the ice.”

It’s worth noting because Pavelski’s line featured a new player on the left wing in Kevin Labanc, who played most of the New Jersey game there on Sunday, and was starting in that spot for the first time since Nov. 19. There’s probably nothing DeBoer would like better than to see a winger finally lock down that spot on the top line, so Wednesday’s game was another step in the right direction there.

Pavelski has now reached 20 goals in each of the last eight full seasons (he had 16 in the 48-game season in 2013). Oddly, both of his four-point games this season have come in losses (Oct. 17 at the Rangers).

2 – Power play slumping again

After showing signs of coming out of its season-long slump about a week ago, the power play was miserable against Florida, going 0-for-3 and generating just four shots in nearly six minutes. They went 0-for-2 in the second period when they were dominating the game, and then got just one shot on a third period advantage – a slap shot from 54 feet out by Logan Couture – with a chance to take the lead in a 3-3 game.

“Obviously, we could have used a power play goal. The power play has struggled,” Couture said.

The Sharks sit 22nd in the league in the power play at 16.8 percent. The only team in postseason position with a lower percentage is Ottawa (24th, 16.4 percent).

3 – Looking ahead to the bye week?

We discussed the Sharks’ mental errors in last night’s recap, and it’s fair to wonder if that’s partly due to the bye week starting after the two weekend games coming up against Arizona and Boston.

One player in particular that looks like he needs a rest is Martin Jones. The goalie made his 49th start in 58 games last night, and his save percentage is down to .882 for the month of February. Although he was hung out to dry a couple times, Jones took some blame for the loss.

“Obviously, we want to be tighter [defensively], but sometimes you need a big save from your goalie. I just couldn’t make the big one tonight," Jones said.

Does he feel like he needs a break?

“A break’s going to be nice, for sure,” he said. “Anybody in the league will tell you a break’s going to be good. I mean, I’ve been healthy, so yeah, I’m fine.”

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.

* * *

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.