Sharks

Boyle: Both sides holding up CBA progress

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Boyle: Both sides holding up CBA progress

SAN JOSE Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle has been one of the more vocal and outspoken NHL players when it comes to the current labor battle between the league and its players association. Already one of the more open and honest voices in the Sharks locker room when actual hockey is taking place, the 36-year-old couldnt hide his disappointment on Thursday that the two sides have yet to make an agreement.

Maybe it was the fact that hes battling a cold and not feeling 100 percent. More likely, its because he knows hes at the tail end of a fabulous career, and desperately longs to compete for his second career Stanley Cup on what is still a very solid team.

It sucks. Even though I went through it once it doesnt make it easier, said a glum Boyle, referring to the 2004-05 lost season. If anything, its just more frustrating to lose possibly a second year of my career. Careers are so short to begin with, to just have that taken away is pretty frustrating.

There was hope last week that the two sides would be able to forge an agreement and save a full season, after the league submitted an offer on Oct. 17 that included an immediate 50-50 revenue split. The players, still concerned that current contracts would be affected and rolled back in some form, responded with three proposals of their own that Gary Bettman and the owners shot down in a matter of minutes.

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That the league didnt even really consider what the NHLPA put on the table irked a number of players, including Boyle.

Sleep on it, look it over, discuss among the other 29 owners and then come back with a no, if thats the case, Boyle said.

Somewhat surprisingly, Boyle didnt admonish his own side from helping to contribute to the stalemate.

Its supposed to be a negotiation, and I think right now both sides kind of think its their way or the highway. I think youre got to give to get, and I dont know that were at that point yet, he said.

Patrick Marleau seemed especially annoyed with the leagues tactics.

The owners proposal started talks, and then they kind of shut them down as soon as we started talking," Marleau said. "They wanted 50-50, we got to 50-50, and they took 10 minutes to disregard three proposals where we actually took their offer and took some time to dissect it.

They come out and they say they want whats best for hockey, but then their actions dont back that up. Its kind of happened throughout the whole negotiations, so at this point we dont expect anything less, I guess, out of them.

Should there be no progress over the next couple of days, it's not hard to predict the immediate future. It was widely reported that the league has since taken its last proposal off of the table, now that its Oct. 25 deadline to get in a full, 82-game season beginning on Nov. 2 will quietly pass. The fear now is that the league will soon cancel another months worth of games, never to be made up, as well as the Winter Classic and All-Star Game.

When the two sides actually sit down at the negotiating table again is anyones guess, and either could retreat into the shadows.

I think thats what they want, and thats what they plan on, Marleau said. They are obviously going by a playbook that they have, otherwise wed be playing. They say they want one thing, then we come to common ground, and then they want something else. I think they are working off of some timetable that they have.

Boyle agreed, and has said in the past that he believes the leagues hard-line owners want the players to miss some paychecks. Thats all but a certainty now.

It seems that way. Again, Im not in their locker room, but it seems like theres a script there, he said. I told you months ago that I didnt think anything was going to get done until we started losing some checks. How many, is the question. I dont know. It seems like they are following some sort of guidelines, or whatever, but Im not in their heads, either. Im just speculating.

If they cared about the game, we would be playing, basically, Marleau said of the hard-line owners.

The obvious objective of having the players miss out on a few paydays is the hope that the union will begin to fracture, and internal dissent will lead to more concessions for the league when a deal is finally signed.

Boyle hasnt sensed any discord amongst the union, though.

Thats the thing is, I dont really hear that, he said. Theres escrow money coming back from last year. Obviously, everyone would like to be making money, but I just dont hear about guys whining about it, really.

Marleau said: Theres no fear of that happening.

And so, the wait continues still with no end in sight.

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

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USATSI

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

The San Jose Sharks were shut out for the first time this season on Thursday night, but it sure didn't feel like it.

You’d be forgiven, albeit mistaken, if you didn't think the loss was their first goose egg of the season. San Jose’s been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league this year, and has scored two or fewer goals in all but two of their six games in November.

The Sharks controlled play, but their raw possession numbers were misleading: Through the first two periods, San Jose was outshot 23-18, and poured it on in the third looking for the game-tying goal.

In order to break out of his team’s extended slump, head coach Peter DeBoer appeared to throw his lines in the proverbial blender. The changes weren't very significant, though, as DeBoer worked mostly around the edges.

Joe Thornton remained with Joe Pavelski, while Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier rotated in on their wing. Joonas Donskoi swapped in with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, and on and on.

The core pair of each line remained intact, while DeBoer swapped complimentary wingers. Subtle changes, unsurprisingly, didn't lead to drastically different results.

He’s been amenable to bigger changes at times, briefly breaking up longtime linemates Thornton and Pavelski last Sunday against Los Angeles. The bottom six, especially the fourth line, has mostly been a revolving door.

That's a start, but far from enough. 

As long as the Sharks struggle to score, similarly significant changes are in order.

DeBoer shouldn't want to sacrifice the team’s defensive dominance, or its strong possession game. But, the Sharks haven't scored enough through 17 games to justify using the same forward combinations. 

In Thornton and Pavelski’s case, those struggles date back to last season. For just about everyone else, the sample size is getting increasingly more significant as the season approaches the quarter pole.

The Sharks bench boss expressed a willingness to mix up his power play units earlier this week, and needs to do the same at even strength. It's time to try Pavelski on Couture's wing, Meier on Thornton's, or any number of permutations.

Tweaking around the edges hasn't made much of a difference, so far more comprehensive adjustments are not only welcome, but necessary. Of course, DeBoer may not find the perfect lineup solutions.

At this point, though, it's worth a shot. It's hard to imagine the Sharks scoring any less than they have so far this season, and the Sharks need to explore if any line changes can provide a remedy.

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

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AP

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for his 74th career shutout and the Florida Panthers blanked the San Jose Sharks 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad.

Florida coach Bob Boughner won in his return to San Jose. He served as an assistant coach for the Sharks the last two years.

Luongo earned his first shutout of the season and first in 32 games against San Jose.

Martin Jones was nearly as good for the Sharks. He stopped 26 shots, but that wasn't enough to keep the Panthers from winning for the seventh time in their last eight trips to San Jose.

Sharks defenseman Tim Heed had a goal disallowed on a coach's challenge a little less than five minutes into the second period. Replays showed he came into contact with the puck just behind the blue line, making the play offside.

San Jose had another goal overturned after a replay review. Brent Burns took a hard shot that Luongo nearly caught but couldn't handle and it bounced along his pads. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one of three Sharks trying to poke at the puck and he used his stick to push both the puck and Luongo's pad into the net.

Sceviour scored a minute into the second after digging out the puck along the boards behind the net. He skated around the cage and poked a shot that hit Jones' pads. He took a second shot that got over the goalie's pads and went in.

Sceviour has four points in six games since returning from injury. He had two points in his first six games this season.

The Panthers, who have won three of four, added an insurance goal with less than eight minutes remaining. Radim Vrbata intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and played it to Jamie McGinn, who got Jones to commit before dishing to Bjugstad for the score.

NOTES: Panthers C Michael Haley received a warm ovation from Sharks fans. He played in San Jose the last couple of years. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed his 15th game with a lower-body injury, though he has been skating pain-free for the past two weeks. ... Florida center Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 10 games. ... The Sharks have not scored on their past 15 power plays.

UP NEXT

Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.