Turnovers sink Sharks in 5-3 loss to Florida


Turnovers sink Sharks in 5-3 loss to Florida

SAN JOSE It was an unpleasant Saturday night at HP Pavilion for the Sharks, as their sloppy play in the defensive zone led directly to several Florida goals in a 5-3 loss to the Panthers.

It could be an even more unpleasant Sunday originally a day off for the club, but not anymore.

Unfortunately, if we dont want to work today, well find some time tomorrow to do it, said an ornery Todd McLellan after the game.

The coach had reason to be upset after watching his club lose its third game in the last four. The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but three separate ill-advised misplays by defensemen allowed the Panthers to take a 4-2 lead. Those goals were sandwiched between power play markers from Florida in the first and third periods, as the Sharks' penalty killing struggles continued.

Colin White, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns all had particularly egregious errors in the second period, and the Panthers capitalized on several gift giveaways from the Sharks in what has typically been their strongest period of the season.

First, it was White, who found himself alone with the puck and plenty of time to clear the zone. Instead, he inexplicably flipped it to Marco Sturm, who barreled in alone on net and slipped the puck through Thomas Greiss to tie the game at 5:37.

Less than two minutes later, Kris Versteeg intercepted Burns attempted pass to Joe Pavelski. Burns was caught out of position as Versteeg found Tomas Fleischmann cutting in alone on net, and Fleischmann managed to evade Greiss poke-check and deposit his 12th goal.

The Sharks failed to capitalize on their first power play at 16:14 of the second period, and the Panthers made them pay with another goal late in the frame. This time it was Jack Skille stripping Boyle in the neutral zone and taking it hard to the net.

Skille lost control around the crease, but the puck deflected in off of Jason Demers skate to give Florida a two-goal cushion before the break.

The amount of times that the puck was on our tape and then on theirs and I dont want to discredit their game, they played hard and are a good forechecking team but we were very sloppy, said McLellan. Thats probably as poorly as Ive seen our six defensemen play in four years, all together as a group, with turnovers. The forwards didnt create much of a forecheck, so it was a full team game.

Boyle said: I think we gave them that game. A couple soft plays from us D. Just boneheaded, stupid, soft plays giving them a couple goals. We gave that game away.

San Jose managed to cut the lead to 4-3 on Logan Coutures second goal of the night, when he blasted a one-timer past Scott Clemmensen with 6:21 remaining in regulation. Any thought of a comeback, though, was erased with Dmitry Kulikovs power play goal with 1:35 seconds remaining in regulation and Demers in the penalty box.

The Sharks entered the game with the leagues 28th ranked penalty kill, including the worst in the NHL at home. They allowed two goals on four Florida power plays, dropping their percentage at HP Pavilion to a dismal 70.7 percent.

San Jose scored first for just the eighth time this season, and held a first period lead for just the fifth time. Coutures first of the night put them ahead when his soft wrister deflected in off of Kulikovs glove just 1:16 after the opening puck drop.

Florida tied the game on a man advantage, when Stephen Weiss found a rebound in the slot and slid it along the ice back towards the net. It would have been an easy shot for Greiss to freeze, but Douglas Murray appeared to impede Greiss glove with his stick and it ended up sneaking inside the far post.

Jamie McGinns fourth goal of the year at 11:44 on a feed from Michal Handzus gave San Jose a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. The Sharks had been a perfect 7-0 when scoring first and 5-0 when leading after the opening period, but both of those streaks came to an end.
VIDEO: Jamie McGinn postgame

Greiss, starting for the first time since November 20, finished with 30 saves to drop his record to 4-4-0. The Panthers also started their backup in Clemmensen, who made 23 saves and has now won both of his starts (2-0-0).

While the defense struggled throughout the night, Couture and Ryane Clowe werent willing to let the forwards off the hook, either.

I know there were some turnovers from the d-men, but there was no forechecking from the forwards, either, said Clowe. There was no sustained effort.

Couture said: We just didnt come ready to play. Not a single guy on our team played well, top to bottom. No one had a good game and no one can look at each other and say that they played well tonight.

What makes the loss even tougher to swallow is that the Sharks were in an upbeat mood following a come-from-behind win against Montreal on Thursday night, in which Clowe tied it late and they prevailed in a shootout, 4-3.

In the midst of a four-game homestand, the Sharks wanted to keep the momentum from that game with matches against Minnesota and Dallas on the horizon next week. It didnt happen.

After the win against Montreal, you expect to come out and start to get on a roll at home, said Couture.

Instead, Sundays day-off-turned-practice could be of the variety where pucks arent necessary.

Its time for one of those days, said McLellan.

Odds and ends: The Sharks fell to 7-5-1 at home. Whites assist on McGinns goal was his first point as a Shark. White had been a scratch in five of the last six games, including the last four. He missed several days of practice and Mondays game in Los Angeles for personal reasons. Handzus has the primary assist on each of McGinns four goals. Handzus won 13 of 14 faceoffs, while the Sharks won 36 of 54 as a team (67 percent). The Sharks out hit Florida, 28-10.

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?


Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

No one asked, but I’m going to begin this week’s mailbag with my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final – Preds in six. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to a few of your questions…

Most likely to be moved this off-season? (Nik @niknisj25)

If the Sharks do make a move – and I’ve argued here that I think it may be time for a shakeup – they’ll surely be looking for someone up front to boost the offense. In that case, they’d likely have to sacrifice a defenseman or two.

The Sharks defense is the strength of the organization at the moment, as they had one of the best one-through-seven groups in the NHL this season. But it’s also an expensive one. The Sharks have nearly $27 million committed to their top seven defensemen next season, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is due for a hefty raise beginning in 2018-19.

One name that could be intriguing to other teams is Justin Braun. The 30-year-old has been a part of the Sharks’ top shut down pair with Vlasic for several seasons now, and is signed for the next three years at a reasonable $3.8 million cap hit. The Sharks could potentially move him for offensive help, and slot in a guy like David Schlemko alongside Vlasic, while finally giving Dylan DeMelo a chance to play on a nightly basis on the third pair. A Vlasic-Schlemko pair could be more offensive than Vlasic-Braun, too, because as adept as they were at keeping the puck out of their own net, the Sharks didn’t get many goals from their defenders outside of Burns.

Of course, the upcoming expansion draft all but assures that nothing will happen until Las Vegas selects its team on June 21. If the Sharks lose a defenseman to the Golden Knights, they’ll be more reluctant to move another one. Still, with guys like Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, Julius Bergman, Mirco Mueller and now Radim Simek in the pipeline, the club might be able to handle a couple departures.

How do we fix the power play next season? Bring in a coach that could help us? Change up the lines, or style of play? (adam smith @kickback408)

One thing that won’t be happening is a new coach, as Doug Wilson recently confirmed that Steve Spott would be back alongside Pete DeBoer. Bob Boughner could move on if he gets hired as a head coach elsewhere, but Boughner’s focus is the team’s defense and penalty kill.

Obviously, the future of the power play depends on who is on the roster, beginning with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both saw their power play production dip this season.

Thornton went from 29 power play points in 2015-16 to 19 this season (he had eight power play goals in 2015-16, and just one this season). Marleau saw a decline from 25 power play points in 2015-16 to 16 last season. Even if both return, it may be time to try other bodies on the top unit.

Do you see Meier, Labanc and/or Sorensen having a breakout season next year? Or anyone else on the Barracuda? (Colin Dunn @ColinDunnACA)

Someone better had, because this team needs to start getting younger, and soon. One of the bigger disappointments of the 2016-17 season is that none of them apparently showed the coaching staff that they were prepared to play on a nightly basis at the NHL level.

Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, I would surmise, are at the top of the depth chart as far as forwards go. Their line in the playoffs with center Chris Tierney was the Sharks’ best through the early part of the series with Edmonton. As for Kevin Labanc, I think he’s fallen a bit since he had a brief run of success for the Sharks in December.

While the Sharks did a good job stockpiling some young players through the 2013-15 drafts, they’ve traded away a number of picks in recent years. In last year’s draft they didn’t have a first or third round pick; this year they don’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds; and in 2018 they are already without their second and third round picks. 

It’s great to accumulate young players, but at some point they have to break through. Now is the time.

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.