Sharks

After stale start, Sharks have the need for Heed

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USATSI

After stale start, Sharks have the need for Heed

For the second straight day, defenseman Paul Martin missed practice, according to our own Brodie Brazil on Facebook Live.

Absence creates opportunity, and the beneficiary over the last two days was 26-year-old Swedish defenseman Tim Heed. Heed, who led the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda in scoring from the blueline last season, made the team out of camp as the seventh defenseman.

His track record from the AHL and an accomplished career in Sweden are impressive, but what Heed represents is arguably more important: A fresh approach.

Yes, Kevin Labanc is playing in a top-six role and fellow second-year forward Timo Meier made the team out of camp. Patrick Marleau’s gone, too, but for all intents and purposes, the roster that was bounced out in six games in the first round last spring has remained intact.

Through two games this season, things have already started to look stale.

The Sharks have only scored twice at even strength. The power play’s looked listless. The penalty kill’s bled chances. Martin Jones has struggled.

Head coach Peter DeBoer’s juggled the lines in an effort to change things up, but Heed’s potential entry into the lineup on Thursday against Buffalo represents a much realer opportunity for change.

Heed also skated on the first power play unit on Tuesday. His presence there fundamentally changes the approach of that group, which would feature two capable, puck-moving defensemen and three forwards, instead of the usual one and four.

It’s a much more notable difference than plugging Mikkel Boedker in for the departed Marleau. Such a revamp is probably also overdue, given San Jose’s drop from third to 25th in power play percentage last season. The previous approach hasn’t worked lately, and a subtly different one could get the power play going again.

Now, that’s not to overstate Heed’s importance. He skated with Brenden Dillon at practice on Wednesday, meaning he’ll begin the season on the third pairing. His potential may be considerably higher, but he’s currently a bottom pairing defenseman potentially set for some time on the power play. And, in all likelihood, he’ll leave the lineup once Martin’s healthy.

But for the first time this season, it feels like the Sharks are taking a different approach. Playing the youth is one thing, but deploying the roster differently has proven to be another. Heed could start to change that.

Alone, Heed won’t be enough to cure what’s ailed the Sharks so far. What he represents, though, just might be the start of what does.

Sharks hang on to beat Blues and open road trip with win

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USATSI

Sharks hang on to beat Blues and open road trip with win

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS -- Logan Couture and Mikkel Boedker each had a goal and an assist, sending the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the slumping St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

Joonas Donskoi also scored and Martin Jones made 30 saves for San Jose, which has won five of its last six games.

Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tarasenko had the goals for the Blues, who have lost a season-high four straight.

After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for five goals in the second.

San Jose took a 1-0 lead when Couture knocked in a loose puck at 6:35. Boedker fired in a shot from the point that goalie Carter Hutton blocked but couldn't corral. Couture was on the spot and scored his 24th of the season.

St. Louis answered at 8:23 when Barbashev scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that sailed over Jones' arm.

Donskoi beat Hutton on a wrist shot from the left circle at 12:05. Couture assisted on Donskoi's first goal in 17 games.

Boedker gave San Jose a 3-1 lead at 15:54 when he scored from the left side of the net. Boedker has five goals in his last four games.

Tarasenko cut the margin to 3-2 on a power play when he fired in the rebound of a shot by Vince Dunn at 19:36 for his 24th of the season. Tarasenko has 10 points in his last nine games (four goals, six assists) against the Sharks.

San Jose's Brent Burns prevented a goal with less than five minutes left. During a scramble in front of the net, the puck hit the post and was sliding along the goal line when Burns knocked it out.

This was the first meeting between St. Louis and San Jose this season. The Blues swept the three-game season series last year, outscoring the Sharks 11-3 overall, and had won four straight against the Sharks.

Hutton made his second start in the last five games and stopped 20 shots. Previously against the Sharks, he was 4-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, a .968 save percentage and two shutouts in five career starts.

NOTES: The Sharks acquired C Eric Fehr from Toronto for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft. ... Blues C Vladimir Sobotka was out of the lineup with an illness. It was the first game he has missed this season. ... The Blues have recalled forward Sammy Blais from the AHL for the fourth time this season. Blais, who leads the San Antonio Rampage with 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists), last played for St. Louis on Dec. 16, when he got hurt against Winnipeg. ... San Jose forward Tomas Hertl missed another game with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Blues: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline

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AP

Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE --Brent Burns and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday for their third win in four games.

Mikkel Boedker and Marcus Sorensen also scored for the Sharks, who improved to 3-0-1 against the Canucks this season. Martin Jones stopped 29 shots.

Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks, who lost their sixth in seven games. Anders Nilsson made 40 stops.

Boedker scored at 8:41 of the first period, picking up a soft rebound from Tierney's shot.

Burns scored his 10th goal, tops among NHL defensemen, taking a pass from Joakim Ryan and sending a laser shot into the net just under five minutes into the second.

Sorensen scored his first goal since Dec. 23, punching it in with an assist from Justin Braun at 3:06 into the third. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had an assist in his third straight game, getting the second assist on Sorensen's goal.

Sedin scored at 6:43, taking a nice pass from Thomas Vanek that gave him clear shot into the net. It was Sedin's 14th goal, one shy of his total last season.

Tierney made it 4-1 after taking a nice pass from Burns with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

NOTES:Tim Heed was recalled from the AHL and joined a makeshift Sharks lineup, allowing Burns to play up front at times. ... Sharks C Logan Couture has points in four of his last five games. ... Boedker recorded games in consecutive games for the second time this season, and the first since Jan. 15-16. ... Sedin has five points against the Sharks this season and 45 in 69 games. He's recorded points in three straight.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Host Boston on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Dallas on Sunday.