Boys won't stand a chance in Sharks-Blues series


Boys won't stand a chance in Sharks-Blues series

St. Louis -- To figure out the event that sparked the mayhem that defined the second game of this Western Conference quarterfinal is like finding the best piece of hay in a haystack. The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues came to the rink loaded for bear, and came away with handfuls of fur.

Of the game, which St. Louis won, 3-0, to tie the series at one skin apiece, this can be said. The Sharks started, and didnt finish. They didnt finish their chances, they didnt finish their work along the wall, they didnt . . . well, anything, really.

RECAP: Sharks singing the Blues, blanked in St. Louis

But the many incidents that turned the game into a 132-minute fist-fest turned the match into a veritable triumph of physical and even dirty one-upsmanship that San Jose coach Todd McLellan said, is the stuff were trying to get out of this game.

His complaint was the brawl at games end. When asked to cover the game as a general topic, he said, That depends on what you want to talk about -- the instigation, the sucker punch, the blow to the head, the broken nose, all directed at Vladimir Sobotka, who hammered Dominic Moore.

The Blues, on the other hand, were incensed at T.J. Galiardis charge into Andy McDonald 10:10 into the third that McDonald said cracked his helmet; he even held up the damaged equipment as evidence.

Others (well, general manager Doug Wilson) thought that the broken St. Louis bench 5:11 into the game that caused a rhythm-breaking delay seemed, well, convenient.

But finding the match that lit the stick that started the fire is, as always, in the eye of the beholder. The point to be made is that two teams that had produced few enough deeds to rile each other, now have enough to light up the rest of this series.

I dont know what set it off, but if thats gonna happen, theres going to be pushback, Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. If they want to talk about the Galiardi hit, we can talk about when McDonald slue-footed Cooch (Logan Couture). At the end, when we had four and they had five . . . he (St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock) had guys who wanted to do that stuff. I would have loved to have been in there at the end.

The end, as Clowe described what could end up being the start, saw Sobotka throttling Moore while defenseman Roman Polak pounded Justin Braun as the high (or low, as you wish) lights of the 60th-minute 83-minute smackdown.

It ended what Hitchcock called a test of wills that the Blues passed with a better grade than San Jose.

They gave us what a veteran team that knows how to win will do, Hitchcock said. They gave it to us in the first period. They tested our will, big time, in the first period. We had no choice but to respond. They pushed us hard. They have that experience of being a veteran team and knowing what its like at this time of year. They shoved us hard, and I liked the way we responded.

We grew up to the level of what it takes to win against a team that knows how to do it. That part feels good. We have some more knowledge that we need to compete at this level at this time of year. Theres a level out there. Theres a tenacity. Teams like San Jose, Chicago, Detroit they play right through you. And if you dont respond, you get pushed out the back door quick.

For statistical purposes, the game ended 91 seconds in when Marc-Edouard Vlasic knocked a loose puck shot by Sobotka into his own net. Since San Jose didnt score, the third time they havent in this building, that was the odd but deciding score.

But San Jose didnt really lose control of the game until the second period, when St. Louis started winning the smaller battles that led to the biggest one, David Backes game-sealer. T.J. Oshie essentially bullrushed his way past Jason Demers, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski to find Backes alone to goalie Antti Niemis blind right side at 13:49.

And though tempers were already starting to betray the growing animosity between the teams (Kris Russell working Pavelski in the first of the main events), it headed toward hell shortly thereafter when Brent Burns popped Scott Nichol in the head 47 seconds later.

After that, well, you know. Of the 132 minutes of penalties detected by officials Marc Joannette and Brian Pochmara, only six were innocuous a hook by Torrey Mitchell, a hold by Mitchell and a delay-of-game by Nichol for shooting the puck over the glass. And 112 happened after the Backes goal.

In short, as Hitchcock put it, Boys will be boys.

And that, too, is an eye-of-the-beholder thing. Game Three is Monday in San Jose, and boys wont stand a chance.

NHL Gameday: Sharks to ice new lines against Ducks

NHL Gameday: Sharks to ice new lines against Ducks

Programming note – Sharks-Ducks coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN.


Sharks: 3-3-0, 6 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Ducks: 2-3-1, 5 points, 4th Pacific Division


***The Sharks will be playing just their second home game. They beat the Kings at SAP Center on Oct. 12, 2-1, and promptly went on a five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference, going 2-3-0. Tuesday’s game against Anaheim is the first of a three-game homestand, and the Sharks have five of their next six at home overall.

San Jose notoriously struggled in its first home game after a multiple-game road trip last season, going 1-8-1. Their lone win was in a shootout over Edmonton.

The coach welcomes a heated rivalry game.

“I’m actually excited and glad we’re having this type of game coming off the way we played last game,” Pete DeBoer said. “There are no speeches that need to be made, you have to be emotionally invested here tonight in order to win. I think we will be.”

Under new/old head coach Randy Carlyle, Anaheim dropped its first four games (0-3-1, all on the road), but brings a two-game winning streak into tonight. Carlyle led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2006-07, and replaces Bruce Boudreau, who was fired after last season.

Both the Sharks and Ducks have scored exactly 14 goals through their first six games, and both are just 3-for-20 on the power play.

***The Sharks are last in the NHL in faceoff percentage (42.9 percent). That’s not typical, as San Jose finished seventh last season, which was actually its lowest overall finish in the Joe Thornton era.

Tomas Hertl (47.6 percent) will replace Chris Tierney (31.9 percent) as the third line center, while Tierney gets bumped to the fourth line.

“Hopefully I’ll be strong and win a lot of faceoffs for guys, and everybody will be better,” Hertl said. “If you’re losing it’s hard, because you’re chasing the puck all game.”

DeBoer pointed out that faceoffs are harder to win on the road, where the Sharks have played five of their first six games, but “it’s definitely a concern.”

“It mimics our five-on-five game a little bit,” DeBoer said. “It’s a compete area for me, and we’ve got to get better at it.”

***Micheal Haley will return to the Sharks’ lineup in place of Matt Nieto on the fourth line. In the final preseason game on Oct. 9, the Sharks and Ducks combined for 86 penalty minutes, including four fights – two involving Haley. 

“They obviously have a few guys that can play a physical style, so we'll be ready,” Haley said. “I don't think it will be like that game (preseason) necessarily, but we're a heavy team, too, so we'll match them.”


Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. The offseason addition is off to a slow start with just one goal, no assists and four shots through six games, but will get a look on the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. San Jose will go with four all new lines after getting shut out in Detroit on Saturday, 3-0.

Ducks: Nick Ritchie. The 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ritchie scored the game-winning goal on Sunday in a 4-2 Ducks win over Vancouver at home. He’s playing on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and has two points (1g, 1a) through the first six games.


Mikkel Boedker – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Patrick Marleau – Tomas Hertl – Melker Karlsson
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Aaron Dell

Nick Ritchie – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Ryan Garbutt – Antoine Vermette – Chris Wagner
Joe Cramarossa – Michael Sgarbossa – Jared Boll

Cam Fowler – Josh Manson
Clayton Stoner – Sami Vatanen
Shea Theodore – Kevin Bieksa

John Gibson
Jonathan Bernier


Sharks: None.

Ducks: Nate Thompson (Achilles surgery) and Simon Despres (concussion) are out.


“I don’t know if speed is the biggest thing we’re missing right now. With us it’s compete and battle and playing the right way that we need to worry about. We didn’t play well in Detroit, there’s no way around that. … We just didn’t compete. That’s a frustrating thing, but it’s an easy thing to fix.” – Logan Couture

Notes: DeMelo will play for Sharks soon; Couture battling illness

Notes: DeMelo will play for Sharks soon; Couture battling illness

SAN JOSE – Dylan DeMelo may finally be coming to a San Jose Sharks game near you.

The 23-year-old defenseman, who has yet to play in any of the first six games, will likely make his season debut shortly, coach Pete DeBoer indicated on Monday.

“That’s something we discuss every day,” DeBoer said. “We like him, we’re very comfortable with him. We’d have no problem putting him in. I know Bob [Boughner] has no problem playing him, and not worrying about playing him against anybody out there. It’s a nice luxury to have. 

“We can get to the point where it’s too many games where he’s sitting out. We’re getting close to that. We’re going to have to get him in soon here.”

DeMelo has not played for the Sharks since the final game of the 2015-16 regular season on April 9. He served as the seventh defenseman in the playoffs, but the Sharks dressed the same six blueliners throughout their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

In the preseason, DeMelo – who would have to clear waivers in order to be reassigned to the Barracuda – beat out Mirco Mueller for the seventh job on the Sharks. He signed a two-year contract extension in the offseason.

A former sixth round pick of the club in 2011, DeMelo had a breakthrough season in 2015-16, playing in 45 games and establishing himself as an NHL defenseman. He finished the season with two goals and two assists for four points and an even rating.

* * *

While the Sharks shook up their forward lines at Monday’s skate, the top power play unit remained the same. Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still together and will try to work out the kinks to their game.

The Sharks are 3-for-20 on the power play, with just one of those coming on a five-on-four.

“We’re not shooting the puck enough, that’s the big thing,” Couture said. “We’ve got to shoot the puck, get traffic. We always have a guy in front of the net and we’ve been getting away from that.”

* * *

Couture has managed five points (2g, 3a) through the first six games, all while battling a persistent cold that he just can’t shake. It’s obvious he’s dealing with some sort of sinus issue when hearing him speak the past few days.

“It’s like a month, it won’t go away,” Couture said. “It’s crazy.”

* * *

Breaking with standard practice, the Sharks opted to stay in Detroit the night after Saturday’s game, rather than immediately flying home on the team charter.

The Sharks were a miserable 1-8-1 in their first home game after a multiple-game road trip last regular season, with their lone win coming against Edmonton in a shootout, so DeBoer figured he would try something different this year.

“When we sat down in the summer and looked at areas to improve, our record coming back from road trips was not good last year,” he said. “We looked at opponents when we came back, our travel schedule. We’re just looking for answers to fix some of the areas that maybe we weren’t real good at last year.”