Another opportunity for Ferriero


Another opportunity for Ferriero

SAN JOSE Benn Ferriero experienced a pretty big high in his first stint with the Sharks this season, when he scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal against the Bruins on Oct. 22.

A Boston native, his marker in the third period broke a 2-2 tie against the team that has been arguably the NHLs best this season, when he outmuscled Bruins defenseman Steve Kampfer in front of the net to pounce on a rebound in what was a 4-2 victory for San Jose.

Just two games later, though, Ferriero was among a group of Sharks benched at the halfway point of a 4-2 win in Detroit on Oct. 28. He was reassigned to Worcester shortly thereafter, and hasnt been back until now.

With Marty Havlat out for what could be an extended period of time with a left leg injury, the 24-year-old Ferriero has yet another opportunity to establish himself as a regular NHL player. And this may be his best opportunity yet.

Taking a look at the lines from Tuesday mornings skate, Ferriero was on the wing with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Thats likely the look that Todd McLellan will use at the beginning of Wednesdays home game against the Lightning.

Every time Benn has come in to our situation, hes been an effective player. If Marty has any type of long-term injury, this will give Benny a chance to finally establish himself as a legitimate National Hockey League player, said McLellan.

Thats a great opportunity for him. Its his time.

Ferriero is Worcesters leading scorer with 20 points (9g, 11a) in 20 games. Although he seems pretty content with that output, its his defense that has improved this season, he said on Tuesday.

Personally, I feel like Ive been having a pretty solid year. Ive played a little bit more defense and my plus-minus has gone up from the past couple of years, and I think that has to with myself concentrating a little bit more on defense, said Ferriero, who is a plus-6 this season after ending the 2010-11 season in Worcester at minus-17.

Getting recalled to the NHL club is nothing new for him. Ferriero figured hes flown across the country at least 15 times in his three seasons with the organization.

Ferriero has shown some flashes of his offensive ability in the NHL, but has never been able to produce on a night-in night-out basis. Thats something McLellan wants to see from him now that hes back in the lineup, and playing with some of the big boys up front.

His stints over the last couple years have been very strong, said McLellan. What we need from him is to maintain that over more than a five or six game period. When we get to five or six, can it continue on to 10, 12 and 15 games?

When Ferriero plays in his 70th NHL game on Wednesday (including playoffs), he no longer becomes exempt from waivers. That is, if the Sharks decide they want to reassign him back to Worcester this season, he would have to clear.

Thats not something hes thinking about now, though. After all, its completely out of his control.

I knew that I had one more game left, but that doesnt really effect what Im doing here or the way that I approach coming to the rink or approach every game, he said. Thats up to the management, and is way out of my hands. I dont even bother worrying about that.

He is a little worried about something else, though. Ferrieros game sticks were still M.I.A. on Tuesday afternoon after his cross-country flight on Monday.

They were supposed to be in at 4:00 yesterday, but they havent arrived yet, he said.

With Martin waived, holes in Burns' game are his to fix alone


With Martin waived, holes in Burns' game are his to fix alone

Defenseman Paul Martin cleared waivers on Tuesday, and will now get a chance to play regularly with the San Jose Barracuda as his agent and Sharks general manager Doug Wilson attempt to find a trade destination. While he’s in the minors, his former partner, Brent Burns, is now playing with the man that essentially took his spot.

Joakim Ryan has been the reigning Norris Trophy winner's most common defensive partner this year, and the rookie moved back to Burns’ side late in San Jose’s win over Arizona on Saturday. He skated alongside him again during Monday’s win in Los Angeles, and is set to do the same Tuesday against the Coyotes.

In just over 28-and-a-half minutes together at five-on-five play over the last two games, the Sharks controlled 57.89 percent of the shot attempts, according to Natural Stat Trick. They got favorable assignments, starting 73.33 percent of their non-neutral zone shifts in the offensive zone.

Despite this, the pair have given up a worrisome amount of scoring chances in their short reunion. 

In parts of two games together, the Sharks have attempted 46.67 percent of the scoring chances, and 38.46 percent of the high-danger scoring chances with the Wookiee and the rookie on the ice. That's eye-popping, for all the wrong reasons, and points to a larger concern. 

No matter who Burns has played with the Sharks have been largely out-chanced. With Burns on the ice this season, the Sharks have controlled 49.94 percent and 44.52 percent of the scoring chances and the high-danger chances, respectively, with a team-high 65.49 percent of his non-neutral zone shifts starting in the offensive zone.

When Burns has played with Ryan all season, the Sharks have controlled 52.05 percent of the scoring chances, but just 47.97 percent of the high-danger chances, despite starting 65.53 percent of their non-neutral zone shifts in the offensive zone. With Dillon, Burns' second-most common defensive partner, the Sharks have lost the scoring chance and high-danger scoring chance battle, despite starting in the offensive zone 63.35 percent of the time.

It should be no surprise the Sharks have been badly outscored with Burns on the ice at even strength, to the tune of 17 goals for and 38 goals against. With all due respect to Fetty Wap, you don't want to see that. 

No matter who he's played with, Burns has struggled defensively in 2017-18. The problem is that his partners haven't struggled nearly as much without him.

Without Burns, Ryan's shot attempt numbers are worse, but his scoring chance numbers are much better (57.55 percent of the scoring chances, 55 percent of the high-danger chances), despite starting more shifts in the defensive zone (51.39 percent offensive zone starts). Dillon's possession numbers, as well as his scoring chance numbers, are also better away from Burns, and he too starts more shifts away from the offensive zone. 

As a result, it'd be fair to question why the Sharks waived Martin. After all, he was Burns' partner as he ascended into the league's upper echelon of defenseman, right?

But Burns and Martin were ineffective together in limited minutes this season, getting out-possessed, outshot, and out-chanced despite favorable deployment (61.11 percent offensive zone starts). Plus, Burns was actually better away from Martin over the last two seasons, as the Sharks controlled a greater share of the shot attempts, shots, and scoring chances when Burns played with a different partner. 

Perhaps, with more time together, Burns and Martin would have rounded into their defensive form of the last two seasons. Now, one of Martin's skates is out the door, and it's foolish to expect significant improvement from two players on the wrong side of 30 regardless.

Paul Martin's imminent departure, then, should send a clear message to Brent Burns. His security blanket is gone, and it's on him alone to plug the holes in his defensive game. 

Sharks seal season series with win over Kings


Sharks seal season series with win over Kings


LOS ANGELES -- There's nothing like a visit with the Los Angeles Kings to get Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks on top of their game.

Chris Tierney had a goal and an assist, and Jones made 35 saves in the Sharks' third straight victory over their longtime rivals, 4-1 Monday.

Barclay Goodrow and Mikkel Boedker ended lengthy goal droughts for the Sharks, who built a three-goal lead during another strong game by Jones against his former Los Angeles teammates.

The goalie who won a Stanley Cup ring as Jonathan Quick's backup followed up his 2-0 win over the Kings at the Shark Tank on Dec. 23 with another near-shutout of Los Angeles. Jones improved to 9-3-2 in 14 career appearances against his former organization, but he spread the praise for a comprehensive win throughout the Sharks' lineup.

"It's easy to prepare for games against these guys, or any division game," Jones said. "We know what the standings are like, and what these games mean. We play well as a team (against the Kings). When we play in the offensive zone that much, it makes everybody's job easier."

Dylan DeMelo returned from a three-game injury absence with two assists for his second career multipoint game for the Sharks, who were in control from the opening faceoff of a rare matinee at Staples Center. Joonas Donskoi also had two assists, and Joe Thornton added an empty-net goal.

"You battle a bit more when you're playing a rival and a division team that's ahead of you in the standings," Tierney said. "That's what this team is built for, is playing those tight games where you try to lock it down."

Trevor Lewis ended Jones' shutout bid with 7:18 to play, but the Kings lost their fourth straight to match their longest skid of the season. Los Angeles has been outscored 8-3 in losses to its two California rivals since returning from the bye week last Saturday.

"We had some guys that were really off tonight," Los Angeles coach John Stevens said. "I don't know if the break affected us that way or not, but certainly something did. We've got to regroup here. I feel like we got some good efforts out of our key veteran guys, but they cannot do it on their own."

Darcy Kuemper stopped 29 shots in his first start since Dec. 16 for the Kings, who have slumped into third place after leading the Pacific Division for a good chunk of the season. With a 5-7-3 record in division play, LA is just one point ahead of the Sharks, who have two games in hand.

"It's tough. We were ahead of the pack for a while there, and now we're right in the thick of things," Lewis said. "We've just got to figure it out in a hurry here."

The Sharks went ahead just 4:38 in when the Kings lapsed on defense, allowing Donskoi to make a pass across the crease to an unchecked Tierney for his 11th goal into an open net.

Goodrow got his third goal of the season midway through the second period, converting DeMelo's rebound in the slot. The goal was his first since Dec. 7.

San Jose had an extra step on the Kings throughout the first two periods and nearly added to its lead in the closing seconds, but Los Angeles defenseman Christian Folinstopped a shot with his skate on the goal line.

Boedker added his first goal since Nov. 24 in the third period, ending a 12-game drought.

Lewis got help from Marian Gaborik in scoring his 11th goal. The grinding forward scored a career-high 12 goals last season while playing in all 82 games.

NOTES: Kuemper lost in regulation for the first time in his debut season with the Kings. He is 5-1-3. ... Quick got the day off for the Kings after nine consecutive starts. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner gave up three goals in LA's loss to Anaheim last Saturday. ... Sharks D Tim Heed was scratched in DeMelo's place.


Sharks: At the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.

Kings: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday in just their third game in 12 days.