Wrapping up a wild one at Staples Center

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Wrapping up a wild one at Staples Center

LOS ANGELES Logan Couture was the first to find out that the Sharks were in the playoffs.The Sharks center had just been blindsided by the Kings Kyle Clifford at the end of the first period of San Joses 6-5 shootout win last night. He had to be helped up the tunnel and into the locker room after the hit, which earned Clifford a five-minute boarding major.He watched from the trainers room at Staples Center as Columbus iced its 5-2 win over Colorado with an empty net goal, but I didnt say anything to anyone, at the first intermission, he said.It didnt matter. The Sharks found out one way or another that they were in the playoffs after the first 20 minutes, no matter the result of their game with the Kings. Early in the first, there was an announcement made on the jumbotron at Staples Center that Dallas had lost, too.Todd McLellan didnt make ay sort of announcement to his club that the Blue Jackets booked the Sharks ticket to the postseason. There wasnt anything said, McLellan said. I think when they announced that LA had made the playoffs because of Dallas loss, everybody was aware of that. There wasnt anything mentioned between periods or on the bench that Colorado had lost, and we just kept playing.Dan Boyle said: We knew after the first that both Dallas and Colorado had lost. A little bit of relief, but obviously we wanted to win this game and give ourselves a chance at getting that third seed. And, were giving ourselves a chance. Theres obviously no guarantees with Phoenix, but weve got to win a game our next game and see where were at.The Sharks need to beat the Kings on Saturday and hope that Phoenix finishes with less than three points in order to win the Pacific. The Coyotes season concludes with games in St. Louis on Friday and Minnesota on Saturday.RELATED: NHL conference standings Division standings
Kings upset on Clowes interference: Yep, the Los Angeles Kings were disconcerted that Ryane Clowe got away with breaking up an odd-man rush from the bench late in the third, when he tipped the puck away from Jarret Stoll.Here are a few of their post-game comments on the subject.Darryl Sutter: What do you think my thoughts are? You cant call too many men on the ice. What do you call it - too many sticks?Im surprised because Jarret Stoll was carrying the puck and nobody else saw it. Its not the question of whether Ive seen it before. Im just surprised it didnt get seen.Dustin Brown: Im not sure how all four of them missed it I dont know; I dont know what to tell you. They missed it and none of them said they saw it. I thought it was pretty evident, but when youre in the game sometimes you arent going to see everything. It is what it is; we cant sit there and dwell on it. We had plenty of opportunities on the power play. Our power play came up big. The PK wasnt the strongest part of our game.Drew Doughty: Ive never seen that before. That could have been the difference in the game if the refs would have caught that. Sometimes they arent going to see things; Im sure its hard for them to catch that but if they got that it would have been a 5-on-3 and another good chance for us to capitalize. The game is over now and they didnt and now we just have to look forward to the next game and we have to win.Fixing the PK: The Sharks allowed four power play goals to Los Angeles, and scored three of their own in the wild win. That will be one area of their game that McLellan will be sure to address before Saturdays rematch, and he expects his counterpart to do the same.Im sure both of us, Darryl Sutter and myself, will be looking at the penalty kill aspect of it. We gave up far too many goals there, and theyre normally very strong in the penalty kill situation so were fortunate to beat them there a few times.The Kings have the fourth best penalty kill in the league (87.2 percent), while San Joses is 28th (77. 0 percent).RELATED: NHL stats leaders
Conversely, the Sharks now own the second best power play in the league (21.0 percent), while the Kings are 21st. (16.4 percent).

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

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AP

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.