NHL owners, players set to meet without leaders

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NHL owners, players set to meet without leaders

NEW YORK (AP) Traditional labor talks have made little progress in the ongoing NHL lockout, so the league and the players' association are going to try something different in an attempt to save the season that is slipping away.A crew of six owners will meet with a handful of players on Tuesday in New York - one day before the league's board of governors meeting - without Commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr. Bettman proposed the unique meeting on Wednesday when talks broke off following two days of negotiations with federal mediators, and it wasn't agreed to until Sunday.Originally the thought was no one other than owners and players would be in attendance, but each side will have staff and counsel there. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly will likely participate for the NHL, along with union special counsel Steve Fehr.Ron Burkle (Pittsburgh Penguins), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg Jets), Murray Edwards (Calgary Flames), Jeremy Jacobs (Boston Bruins), Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning) will take part in the talks for the league, Daly said."No further details have been confirmed at this point," Daly said in a statement announcing the meeting. "We will provide further details when available and as appropriate."Six players will be picked for the meeting, but that list wasn't expected to be announced on Sunday, a union spokesman said. Neither the NHL nor the players' association had input on who would attend on the opposite side, Daly said in an email to The Associated Press.All games through Dec. 14 have already been wiped off the schedule, along with the outdoor Winter Classic on New Year's Day and All-Star Weekend that was slated for January in Columbus, Ohio.The lockout reached its 78th day on Sunday, and at best, there will only be a shortened season if there is any hockey at all.Many conditions needed to be worked out before this meeting could be scheduled. The sides were in contact over the weekend and finally saw eye to eye on Sunday night. Now they need to figure out how to break through on the financial issues and player contracting disputes that are keeping them apart and putting the entire season at risk.The union has allowed any players who wanted to attend previous bargaining sessions to come, but the NHL has limited which owners could take part."The NHLPA has agreed to a meeting on Tuesday in New York that should facilitate dialogue between players and owners," Donald Fehr said in a statement. "There will be owners attending this meeting who have not previously done so, which is encouraging and which we welcome. We hope that this meeting will be constructive and lead to a dialogue that will help us find a way to reach an agreement."Jacobs, considered one of the hard-line owners, and Edwards are the only members of the group of six to have taken part in previous negotiations.The New York Post reported Sunday that Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan wanted to be included in the talks, as he was last year during the NBA lockout, but he wasn't picked. The Post said that Dolan, who was part of the NBA owners' negotiating committee, hasn't had a personal relationship with Bettman since at least 2007.Dolan's New York Rangers were listed as the NHL's second-most valuable franchise this week, according to Forbes magazine, at 750 million - 250 million behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first hockey team to be valued at 1 billion. Forbes said that the Rangers were the second-most profitable franchise, behind Toronto, generating 74 million of the league's 3.4 billion income.

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

Programming note – Sharks-Canadiens coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 14-9-1, 29 points, 1st Pacific Division
Canadiens: 16-5-2, 34 points, 1st Atlantic Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***It’s a battle of first place teams at SAP Center, as the Sharks lead the Pacific Division and the Canadiens are atop the overall league standings. The Sharks are in the midst of playing eight of 10 at home, and bring a 5-1-0 mark in their last six games into tonight.

The Sharks will wrap up a stretch of 10 games in 18 days before they get a chance to rest before Wednesday’s home game with Ottawa.

“It’s been a lot of hockey. It will be nice to get a couple days after this to relax and recover a little bit,” Joe Thornton said. “We know we don’t play for another five days, so to get this win would be huge for us.”

Montreal is playing the third of a five-game road trip. It began with a 2-1 overtime win in Detroit last Saturday, and was followed by a 2-1 loss in Anaheim on Tuesday.

***The undisputed best goalie in the world will be in net for Montreal, as Carey Price (13-2-1, 1.68 GAA, .947 SP) will face the Sharks for the first time since March 21, 2015. He’s 2-4-1 in his career against San Jose, with a 2.70 GAA and .924 SP.

Goals figure to be hard to come by. The Sharks lead the league with just 2.08 goals allowed per game, while Montreal is third (2.13).

“We have to be prepared to win 2-1 here tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “That has to be the mindset. If we can get more than that, we’ll take it.”

Martin Jones will go for the Sharks. In his last 10 games, he’s 7-2-1 with a 1.50 GAA and .942 SP with a pair of shutouts. 

***Tommy Wingels, who has missed the last three games with a lower body injury, will be a game-time decision. If he doesn’t play, expect Micheal Haley to remain in on the fourth line.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks’ center is heating up, and has at least one point in six of the Sharks’ last eight games (6g, 2a). He’s tied with Brent Burns for the team lead in goals with nine, and led the way in San Jose’s 4-1 win on Wednesday night in Los Angeles with two goals and one assist.

Canadiens: Shea Weber. The defenseman has had an immediate impact in his first season in Montreal, with 18 points (8g, 10a) and an NHL-best plus-18 rating. Arguably the frontrunner for the Norris Trophy, Weber will be seeing the Sharks for the first time since his miserable performance in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals with Nashville.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Tommy Wingels

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Canadiens
Paul Byron – Alex Galchenyuk – Alex Radulov
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – David Desharnais – Andrew Shaw
Torrey Mitchell – Phillip Danault – Brian Flynn

Alexei Emelin – Shea Weber
Andrei Markov – Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio – Greg Pateryn

Carey Price (starter)
Al Montoya

INJURIES

Sharks: Tommy Wingels (lower body) is questionable. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Canadiens: Nathan Beaulieu (neck) and Charles Hudon (fractured sternum) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“I’m biased but I think [our defense corps] is one of the top back ends in the league. They do a great job moving the puck, play well defensively, and I’m sure it’s tough for other teams to score on us.” – Logan Couture

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

LOS ANGELES – The Sharks jumped out to a first period lead and were never in any real danger after that in a 4-1 win at Staples Center on Wednesday. Three takeaways from the victory over their biggest rival…

1 – Having the Kings’ number

The circumstances were all in the Kings’ favor – they were more rested, one of the best NHL teams at home this season, and entered on a five-game winning streak – but the Sharks managed to beat them fairly handily, even if the game was probably a little closer than the 4-1 final would indicate.

Including the 2016 playoffs, the Sharks have won their last six games at Staples Center. What’s the secret to that success?

“I don’t know if there’s a secret,” Pete DeBoer said. “The one thing about any time we play L.A. is there is no speeches needed. We know it’s going to be a hard game, we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. Our guys have been responding to that challenge. [Martin Jones] has been excellent, too. That’s a big part of it.”

2 – Jones no worse for wear

The Sharks goalie was starting on back-to-back days for the first time this season, and continued his recent run of success. He’ll likely play on Friday against the Canadiens before he and his Sharks teammates get a rare weekend off with no games or practices scheduled.

“I felt fine,” Jones said after the game. “I thought the guys did a really good job keeping it simple tonight. We got pucks deep, and we worked them low.”

Jones and the Sharks’ defenders have been outstanding during their 5-1-0 stretch, allowing just eight goals in their last six games. The Sharks goalie got a major assist in the second period from Brent Burns, who dove into the goal crease to keep Trevor Lewis from cutting the lead to 3-2 when Lewis had Jones beat.

“It was a great play by Lewis and a great play by Burnzie to keep it out there,” Jones said.

DeBoer said: “Burnzie has been playing great. I thought he was very good tonight. … I thought [Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun] shutting down [Jeff] Carter, and Burnzie and [Paul Martin] – I thought our whole defense corps really played well.”

3 – Carpenter showing he belongs

It was another strong outing from 25-year-old Ryan Carpenter, who scored his first NHL goal, had two shots, three hits, and was 5-for-12 in the faceoff circle in 11:38 of ice time.

DeBoer said the Sharks’ fourth line, primarily with Carpenter centering Micheal Haley and either Melker Karlsson or Kevin Labanc, “might have been our best line tonight. They were excellent.”

Carpenter is making the most if his chance to show he’s a full time NHL player.

“Try to take just a simple approach, one day at a time,” he said. “The Sharks are so deep, they’ve got so many established, proven forwards, that any chance you’re in the lineup you’ve got to take advantage of it. Trying to do that. Any time Pete puts me in, I’m going to go all out.”