Sharks

What the Sharks must do better vs. the Blues

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What the Sharks must do better vs. the Blues

When Todd McLellan, the guy with the double-bagged eyes, said he could think of 15 things the Sharks needed to improve before their series with the Blues opens in St. Louis, he probably was overestimating.By two, maybe.But of all the troubling things that being swept by the Bluenotes meant for the San Jose Sharks, the most disturbing would be that the Sharks played their best game of the four losses in October before Davis Payne had been replaced as coach by Ken Hitchcock.They outshot the Blues, 36-20, had more chances and possession time, controlled the faceoff circle, and lost in considerable part because the Blues blocked 26 shots to go with Brian Elliotts 34 saves.REWIND: Box Score -- Blues 4, Sharks 2 Play-by-play
The other three games were played at a more Hitchcockian pace, and the Sharks struggled mightily to dissect the new system and play with the patience required to handle it.In other words, the matchup got worse rather than better, so when McLellan sells the final four games of the season as being indicative of the teams true level, he is omitting the fact that there are horses for courses, and the Blues are a horse the Sharks have struggled to saddle, let alone ride.More immediately, the Sharks got one break when goalie Brian Elliott went down in Tuesdays practice with an upper-body thing (day-to-day, of course), but that was negated by the late-season return of second-line winger Alexander Steen, who missed all of January and February and most of March with a concussion.But more to the point, the Sharks never really did solve the Blues at their best their ferocious ability to surround the puck and remove time and space from the carrier, their devotion to detail in the defensive end, and their shot-blocking capability even in the face of teams like the Sharks, who try to do with volume that which they do not always do with precision.Even the things the Sharks do best most notably faceoffs they didnt do as well against St. Louis.Fact: Joe Pavelski was 32 of 45 in the circle in three games against the Blues (he missed the opener), and Joe Thornton, who played all four, was 34 for 51. For you math-deprived types, thats an absurd 69 percent.But it means that the rest of the lineup gimped in at 46 percent, or nearly 10 percent below their season average.Fact: They were second in the league in shots at 33.8 (only six total below Pittsburgh), but averaged nearly eight less per game against St. Louis. And thats just what got to goal. They attempted 75 shots in the opener, and averaged 53 per game in the three Hitchcock games; in total, they tried 235, and the Blues blocked 79 of those, an average of 1 of every three.Given that St. Louis was slightly below the league norm in blocked shots, this speaks pretty clearly to San Joses lack of patience offensively.And those who are not patient do not control the puck, and those who do not control the puck do not control the pace, and blah blah blah-de-blah blah. They got three goals, lost four games, and finished seventh.This is not as lopsided a series as it seems to be on its face, but the Sharks have to crash-course the Blues, breaking them down as quickly as possible, and then breaking them down consistently. First goal wont pull St. Louis out of its system; second might.But beyond that, the Sharks have to be dramatically better disciplined systemically against the Blues than against any other Western Conference team. That has been their greatest failing of McLellans Unholy 15. When things dont go well, they tend to go solo, trying to break down the opponent alone Dan Boyle cycling in his own end, Brent Burns caught below the red line as the play takes off the other way, Joe Thornton trying to split three players.And then they lose, ignominiously. Like they did four times against St. Louis. Lesson learned? Well see.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Editor's Note: The above video is from March 2, 2017

One of the Sharks’ young forwards expected to challenge for a full time roster spot this season has been re-signed.

Marcus Sorensen, who started the year in the AHL before working his way up to the Sharks, signed a two-year contract extension the team announced on Tuesday. A source told NBC Sports California that the deal is worth $700,000 at the NHL level for each of the next two seasons.

In 19 regular season games with the Sharks, Sorensen, 25, posted one goal and three assists. He appeared in all six playoff games against Edmonton, posting one goal and one assist.

In 43 games with the AHL Barracuda, Sorensen had 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points.

"The time he spent with the Sharks this season, and the positive impact he had, proved that he can be an effective player at the highest level,” assistant general manager Joe Will said in a statement.

Sorensen originally signed with the Sharks as a free agent on May 13, 2016. He was originally drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, but spent six seasons playing in Sweden before joining San Jose.

Sorensen was a restriced free agent. The Sharks have just one RFA left to sign in forward Barclay Goodrow.

https://twitter.com/sorensenmarcus/status/887412566447628288

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Now that the dust has settled on the draft and free agency, here’s a meaty offseason Sharks mailbag before my vacation…

Who will replace Patty's leadership? (philip malan‏ @pmalan1979)

Patrick Marleau was a good example for other players in that he always came to camp in great shape and took care of himself between games, allowing him to be very productive into his later years. 

But let’s not overblow it. From what I understand, Marleau preferred to avoid confrontation, and was never the guy in the dressing room challenging other players to step up. That was left more to guys like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, with Logan Couture growing into that role in recent years, too. When it comes to veteran leadership there are other guys still in the dressing room of more value than Marleau. His leaving town shouldn’t change the dynamic.

Will Thornton be bumped from the top line center role? Who do you think will replace Marleau on the PP? (Elle‏ @LikeShiningOil)

The whole “top line” designation is something that us writers and broadcasters like to use, and I’m going to keep using it for Thornton so long as he and Pavelski are on the same line. That said, there will be plenty of games where the Couture line gets more even-strength ice time than the Thornton line. I guess my point here is don’t read too much into the labels. I don’t expect Thornton’s ice time to go down from what it was last season. He’s averaged 18 minutes and change in each of the past five seasons, and probably will again.

As for replacing Marleau on the power play, I would tab Tomas Hertl as the frontrunner, but I’m sure the Sharks will try a number of different looks there in training camp. After finishing 25th in the NHL last season they pretty much have to, right?

How will the lines roll this season, if you were to prognosticate now? (Erik Kuhre @Puckguy14)

It seems like we say this every year, but it depends on where the Sharks see Hertl slotting in. Last season Hertl started out on the wing of the top line after offseason knee surgery before moving to center fairly quickly. I know he battled through yet another knee injury during the season, but Hertl’s 22 points in 49 games was a disappointing total.

If the season were starting today, I’d put Hertl on the wing of the Thornton line again with, of course, Pavelski on the other side. Here’s what I’ve got in that scenario:

Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Jannik Hansen – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Joel Ward

Extras: Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow

(One guy who is really going to have to fight to keep his spot is Ward. I could see him getting pushed out, but for now I’m leaving him in).

Will there be a tough guy in the lineup to protect the kids? (Jim Kelley)

The Sharks signed free agent Brandon Bollig a couple weeks ago to replace Micheal Haley, but I don’t seem him as a regular in the NHL lineup. Bollig could be a guy they recall if they think it’s necessary to dress a pugilist, like when Pete DeBoer brought up Haley late in the 2015-16 season for the sole reason of fighting Darnell Nurse, who had jumped Sharks defenseman Roman Polak just two weeks earlier for no real reason.

Do you think Chris Tierney is capable of more point production at this point in his career? (Ian Stephenson)

Count me among those that thought Tierney was ready to have a better season last year after his strong performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, he’s just 23 years old, and his line in the series against Edmonton with Meier and Sorensen was a very effective one for long stretches of play. This is a huge year for Tierney, who had to settle for the Sharks’ one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer. Perform, and he’ll get paid. Struggle, and he could be on the move.

Do you think the Sharks will trade either Grosenick or Dell? Doesn't seem Grosenick has much more to prove in AHL. (Chris Greni)

No, they’ll hold on to all three for the time being. Getting Troy Grosenick re-signed to a one-year deal was a nice move on the Sharks’ part, considering Aaron Dell still has just 20 games of NHL experience. Perhaps if they both continue to play well the Sharks could dangle one as trade bait later in the year, but it wouldn’t make sense at this point. 

Any thoughts on DW using the offer sheet to bring in scoring help? There’s several serviceable RFAs out there still waiting for contracts. (Tony Martinico)

Keep in mind that some of those high end RFAs, like Colton Parayko, Nino Niederreiter and Tomas Tatar are currently headed for arbitration, which takes the offer sheet off the table.

Purely speculation here, but I have to wonder if the Sharks have at least kicked around trying to ink Leon Draisaitl to an offer sheet. You have to think Berlin native Hasso Plattner would love to add the “German Gretzky” to the roster. I know we're settling into the part of the NHL offseason where typically nothing happens, but it was July 19 when the Flyers signed Shea Weber to a monster offer sheet five years ago.

And, of course, Doug Wilson has used the power of the offer sheet in the past, signing Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2010 and then using the threat of an offer sheet with Boston to acquire Martin Jones.

Which Cuda player, aside from Meier, Labanc and Sorensen, would you expect to be a dark horse and could make the big team out of camp? (olin @sleepymofo)

Keep in mind that the sixth and defensemen spots are open, too. I would presume that Dylan DeMelo is the frontrunner to replace David Schlemko, but Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan are coming off of strong seasons in the AHL. Perhaps one of them overtakes DeMelo in training camp.

As for other forwards than those you mentioned, Goodrow could end challenging for a spot on the fourth line. I get plenty of questions about Danny O’Regan, too, and perhaps he makes a push. The issue with O’Regan is that although he’s a skilled player in the minors, he’s probably not quite skilled enough to make up for his small frame at the NHL level. I view him more as a fill-in guy.

Any word on [Barclay] Goodrow and [Marcus] Sorenson? I'm assuming they didn't sign their QO's? (DaveBPilot‏ @DaveBPilot)

Yes, that’s safe to assume, since the deadline was Saturday. They remain RFAs, and negotiations will surely continue.

Still, it’s worth mentioning what happened last year with Matt Nieto. The forward didn’t sign his qualifying offer, as he was pushing for a multi-year deal, and ended up signing for one year for less than he would have made had he accepted the original offer. He was waived and claimed by Colorado.