Sharks

Boyle bothered by NHL owners' tactics

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Boyle bothered by NHL owners' tactics

SAN JOSE When the National Hockey League declared on Thursday that the first two weeks of the regular season were canceled, no one spit out his or her pumpkin spice latte in utter shock. Games through Oct. 24 are now wiped out, including five Sharks games (three at home).

RELATED: NHL cancels first two weeks of games

In what had been an anticipated move since collective bargaining talks broke off on Monday, the NHL made it official with a short press release and later a statement from deputy commissioner Bill Daly, that finished with a sentence that read the league is committed to getting this done.

Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, though, thinks its just the opposite at least right now, doubling down on comments he made that week that the owners want the players to miss some paychecks. Players were to be paid for the first time this season on Oct. 15.

I dont think theyre serious about doing anything until we start missing some checks, Boyle repeated, after skating at Sharks Ice on Thursday morning.

Thats not all that irks the veteran defenseman.

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has a rule in place that he needs just eight of 30 votes to veto any CBA proposals that he doesnt himself approve of, while the NHLPA needs just a simple majority in order to ratify or reject one.

Boyle, therefore, seems to believe that there is a select group of owners the big money makers, especially that are willing to hold up the entire process, ignore other owners that would be more open to the players' proposal, and cancel more and more games until they get exactly what they want. That includes, of course, an immediate reduction in current player salaries and contracts, something that the union has emphatically stated it would not accept.

I think when players make comments, sometimes its directed towards 30 owners, but I think a lot of us feel that its not across the board. Its a certain group of teams that are controlling 30 others, Boyle said.

It doesnt make any sense to me that eight teams can control the fate of 22 other ones.

Theres more. Boyle and Ryane Clowe stated last week that the players are ready and willing to make concessions, but that the NHL doesnt seem to want to listen. That includes possible caps on contract lengths, or perhaps stricter rules to prevent teams from circumventing the salary cap.

I think we have to give back. There are a lot of things that we need to fix, and we want to give back, he said.

For now, though, the two sides continue to play a childish, high stakes game of chicken. Both have stated that they are waiting for the other side to make a proposal, so the standstill persists.

Boyle is not optimistic that anything will get done before more cancellations are made official, as each side has stated its waiting for the other to make another proposal.

They say its our turn, or whatever, but they dont want to negotiate until we start missing some checks, he said.

I dont see anything happening for the next couple months. I know thats very pessimistic of me, and I really hope Im wrong. But the eight guyswhat if theres 22 teams out there that want to play right now? How do eight teams control their fate? That bothers me the most.

Light turnout at Sharks Ice

Boyle, Brad Stuart and Antti Niemi were the only current Sharks that skated on the rented ice at their practice facility on Thursday. Stuart, acquired from Detroit over the summer, had been skating separately with Brent Burns after recovering from a minor, unspecified injury.

Like Boyle, Stuart wasnt shocked to hear that the league has, at the very least, pushed back the start of the season.

Im as disappointed as anyone, but even if we started today were not going to start the regular season by next week, anyway, he said. Its no surprise given where were at. Its very disappointing. I guess the NHL has their plan and theyre putting it into effect.

Like anyone, you want it to get resolved. Its frustrating that I even have to say this, but these things take time, I guess. We put our support behind the guys in charge, and the other side is doing what they feel they have to do. At this point, were just waiting it out. Well see what happens.

According to Boyle, Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau will return to practice next week. But, Niemi could soon be departing. Hes been in discussions with teams overseas, including in his home country of Finland.

Im thinking about it all the time, but it takes the right place, Niemi said.

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

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USATSI

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

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AP

Sharks seal season series with win over Kings

BOX SCORE

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.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.

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