Sharks

Aftermath of Hansen-Goldobin trade shows risks of playing it safe

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AP

Aftermath of Hansen-Goldobin trade shows risks of playing it safe

When the Sharks traded prospect Nikolay Goldobin and a fourth-round pick to the Canucks for Jannik Hansen in February, they thought they were getting a player to put them over the top. 
 
Things didn’t work out entirely as planned, as the Edmonton Oilers eliminated San Jose in the first round, but Hansen was solid enough with seven points in 15 regular season games. He’s struggled to find that form this year.
 
Hansen skated on the third line at Friday’s practice ahead of Saturday’s rematch with his old club, according to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, but he’s been surplus to requirements for much of his first full season in San Jose.
 
He was scratched for six consecutive games before re-entering the lineup in Wednesday’s loss to the Lightning, and hasn’t played more than 16 minutes in a game. The latter isn’t much of a concern, as the two-way forward was an acquisition to bolster the team’s depth, but his lone point in eight games this season is. 
 
The Danish forward, then, has been replaceable from night to night, in large part because the Sharks have so many forwards like him. Ryan Carpenter, Barclay Goodrow, and Joel Ward all play the “gritty, versatile” game that drove general manager Doug Wilson to acquire Hansen, and all three have played in Hansen’s absence. 
 
Meanwhile, his counterpart in the trade has also had difficulty cracking the NHL lineup with his new organization, but for vastly different reasons. Goldobin’s offensive ability has never been questioned, but his defensive game has. 
 
“We thought [Goldobin] had an average camp,” Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning told The Province after Goldobin was sent down to their AHL affiliate in Utica. “His three-zone game, his overall game (needs improvement).”
 
So far, the 22-year-old appears to have responded to that message. Ryan Johnson, Vancouver’s director of player development and Utica’s general manager, told Sportsnet 650 this week that he “[sees] the details in his game getting better,” all while Goldobin is ninth in the AHL in scoring with 13 points in 11 games. 
 
It makes one wonder why the Sharks couldn’t have been a little more patient with the former first-round pick. 
 
Goldobin clearly had a long way to go in the eyes of San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer, playing less than 19 minutes combined in two games with the Sharks last season. He may not have been ready to contribute to a team in win-now mode, but his departure left an organization starving for players with offensive upside even hungrier. 
 
Really, the Hansen-Goldobin swap was a neat encapsulation of the skillsets the Sharks value. Two-way responsibility is of the utmost importance, and that’s why San Jose is one of the NHL’s best defensive teams. 
 
But that can come at the expense of high-end skill, and that’s why they’re also one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams hovering around .500. With Goldobin traded, Kevin Labanc in the AHL, and Timo Meier skating in the Sharks’ bottom six, that shouldn’t be a surprise.  
 
When you value safety, you run the risk of failing to stand out. Since the trade, Hansen hasn’t, and neither have the Sharks. 

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Sunday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of six. Aaron Dell stopped 33 shots.

Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf scored for Anaheim. John Gibson stopped only 17 of 22 shots and was replaced after giving up his fifth goal. Anaheim had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

Four goals came in the third period. First, Anaheim pulled within one when Ondrej Kase stole the puck from behind the net and quickly fed Getzlaf, who fired it past Dell.

One minute later, the Sharks answered when Thornton's slap shot went in.

Boedker's second goal gave San Joe a 5-2 lead, and Karlsson's goal on goalie Ryan Miller made it a runaway.

The Ducks first found the net in the final minute of the second period, but that took a two-man advantage and a bit of luck.

Rakell was camped a few feet below the crease when he snapped a shot. San Jose's Justin Braun stuck out a stick, but it deflected the puck off the back of Dell's arm and into the net.

It was Rakell's team-high 17th goal this season.

San Jose appeared to take a commanding 3-0 lead on a power play in the second period. Boedker fired a shot from the top of the right circle that whistled past Gibson.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Anaheim's No.1 line turned the puck over. Thornton snapped it out to Labanc, who popped free for a breakaway. He beat Gibson on his short side for his fifth goal.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a nifty give-and-go when Tomas Hertl skated down the far side and sent a pass through the legs of Anaheim's Brandon Montour and right to Vlasic in front of the net.

Vlasic snapped it past Gibson for his seventh goal of the season.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Return to San Jose on Tuesday night to play the Jets.

Ducks: Remain at home to play the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Sharks take risk as Dell draws Ducks on second night of a back-to-back

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AP

Sharks take risk as Dell draws Ducks on second night of a back-to-back

Aaron Dell last started two games in two days on April 29, 2016. Dell, then the starter with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, manned the net in Game 4 of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. 

The Barracuda suffered a season-ending loss to the Ontario Reign that day, and Dell gave up three goals on 34 shots. That was the 20th time in three seasons in the AHL and ECHL that Dell started the first and second half of a back-to-back. 

Dell will end up starting both nights of a back-to-back for the 21st time since 2013 on Sunday. A night after stopping 31 of 32 shots against the reigning champion Penguins, Dell is set to start a pivotal Pacific Division matchup against the Ducks, who are only three points behind the Sharks for the second divisional playoff spot. 

His coach with the Sharks, Peter DeBoer, is no stranger to starting the same goalie on consecutive nights. He's done so seven times in his three seasons behind San Jose's bench, starting Martin Jones in all seven of those games.

Part of that is because of the team's confidence in Jones, who they view as a franchise goaltender. But on some level, these decisions have been driven by an initial hesitancy towards Jones' backups. 

Whatever the reason, DeBoer's been rewarded for rolling the dice and relying on Jones. On the second half of a back-to-back after starting the previous night, Jones has gone 5-2-0 with a .919 save percentage. 

With Jones out due to a lower-body injury, the Sharks once again appear hesitant about Dell's current backup, and rightfully so. Troy Grosenick has made two NHL starts and won the Baz Bastien Award as the AHL's best goaltender last season, but only has a .908 save percentage on 4336 shots in his AHL career, which is enough of a sample to say Grosenick's unlikely to establish himself as a regular NHL goaltender. 

DeBoer's decision to start Dell is thus understandable, but not without its downsides. Eric Tulsky, now the manager of analytics for the Carolina Hurricanes, and Broad Street Hockey associate editor Kurt R. found in 2013 that goalies perform worse on the second half of a back-to-back. That hasn't yet happened when DeBoer's rolled the dice, but it has happened to Dell. 

In his 20 previous starts on the second night of a back-to-back after starting the first half, Dell went 8-9-3, with a .915 save percentage, down from his .921 career save percentage in the AHL and ECHL. That may not seem like a lot, but such a drop in San Jose's save percentage this season would translate to about eight more goals against, which would leave the Sharks in the red in terms of goal differential. 

With only one established NHL goalie on his roster, DeBoer is then left with two bad options. Start Dell, knowing the risks of starting a goalie two nights in a row, or start Grosenick, a minor leaguer without a track record that warrants much confidence.

He opted for the former, and has caught lightning in a bottle before doing the same with Jones. That doesn't mean you can expect it again on Sunday against the Ducks.