Sharks

Is Braun taking minutes from Burns?

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Is Braun taking minutes from Burns?

SAN JOSE During the majority of Thursday nights win over the Minnesota Wild, the Sharks used a couple of new defense pairs.

Brent Burns skated with Colin White, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic was paired with Justin Braun. A quick look at the scoresheet says that the new pairs allowed Sharks coach Todd McLellan to balance out his minutes among the six blueliners, as they all played between 13:36 (White) and 22:08 (Vlasic) if you dont include time on the power play.

Heres the complete time on ice breakdown among the six against the Wild, again, taking out power play time.

Douglas Murray: 19:54
Colin White: 13:36
Dan Boyle: 18:07
Marc-Edourard Vlasic: 22:08
Justin Braun: 16:02
Brent Burns: 15:27

The end result, of course, was a good one. The Sharks held the Wild to just one goal and 22 shots, although Minnesota does score the second fewest goals-per-game in the NHL.

McLellan had been mixing things up a bit for portions of the win against Los Angeles on Monday, and explained his reasoning behind it.

We tinkered with it a few games ago, said the coach. Whitey and Brent Burns are both very big men and both veteran guys who can play against anybody, whether its a grinding line or offensive line. Vlasic and Braun continue to play real well. We like that.

We know were not going to finish the year with pairs that are stuck together. Were going to have to break them up. They do get stale. Right now, we like what we see.

One interesting take from that time-on-ice breakdown is that Burns and White saw less ice than their teammates during even-strength and shorthanded situations. Brauns strong play since he was recalled early in the season from Worcester has something to do with that.

In fact, Burns saw a season-low in ice time with 19:34 total - three minutes below his season average. Braun's ice time against Minnesota, on the other hand, was 19:23, just two seconds off his season high set the previous game vs. Los Angeles and two-and-a-half minutes above his average.

Now, that's not to say that Braun is cutting into anyone's ice time. Burns, of course, gets lots of time on the power play. It does mean that Braun is allowing the minutes to be more balanced out among the six defensemen in general.

McLellan gave a glowing review of the 24-year old after Thursdays morning skate.

We had hoped that some of those players (recalled from Worcester) could come in and steal jobs and take jobs away, and Brauny has been one of them. Hes forced some players out of the lineup because of his good play, and theres absolutely nothing wrong with that in my mind. Its a great thing to have in your organization and very healthy. His minutes have gone up because hes earned them. Hes a hell of a good young d-man.

Theres also a distinct difference between last years version of Braun and the one everyone is seeing now.

He feels like he fits in here now and should be playing. Last year he hoped he should play, said McLellan. Hes very confident and understands the league more. He understands his opponent a lot more and has played against a lot of these players and understands their tendencies. And, hes a lot more familiar with what were doing as a team and system-wise.

I feel very good about moving him all over the place.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

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AP

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

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AP

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

The San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens could not be more different in terms of tradition. But, on the ice this season, they couldn’t be more similar.

Both teams have placed their faith in a goalie that wears #31. The top defensemen on each team, Brent Burns and Shea Weber, are 32 and signed until 2025 and 2026, respectively. Tomas Hertl and Alex Galchenyuk are 2012 first round picks playing on the wing after being drafted as centers. Tomas Plekanec and Joe Thornton are favorites on the wrong side of 30, who may head elsewhere next summer.  Heck, both teams miss defenseman David Schlemko, who San Jose lost in the expansion draft and was eventually traded to Montreal, where he hasn’t yet played due to injury.

And both have struggled mightily so far. San Jose and Montreal have combined to win just two games, and sit 29th and 30th, respectively, in goals scored this season. It’s hard to imagine the Sharks and Canadiens scoring so little with all of that talent, but they can’t bank on good fortune, either.

Something’s got to give when the two face off at SAP Center tonight. After tonight, one team will feel much better about themselves, and the other team will be much closer to hitting the panic button.

That’s where the critical difference lies: Montreal’s already hit it, and San Jose probably won’t.

Last season, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien in February. Seven months after essentially siding with Therrien and trading star defenseman P.K. Subban, Bergevin ended Therrien’s time in Montreal, too. He surely can’t fire another coach, but a Galchenyuk trade is reportedly a possibility, according to TSN.

The Sharks, on the other hand, likely won’t do any of that. Even with the burden of high expectations in his tenure, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s never traded away a star player or fired a coach midseason. Even though Vegas pegs Peter DeBoer as the odds-on favorite to lose his job, it’s hard to envision Wilson making a change behind the bench during the year. He didn’t in 2015 when Todd McLellan seemed to lose the room, so why would he now?

Patience is what truly separates the Sharks and Canadiens, and that difference will likely determine how each front office reacts if their teams continue to struggle. Wilson’s shown a willingness to swing for the fences under these circumstances. He acquired Joe Thornton in 2005, after all.

But if you’re waiting on Wilson to take a page out of Bergevin’s book and fire the coach or trade away a key piece approaching their prime? Don’t hold your breath.