Sharks

Handzus set to face former team

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Handzus set to face former team

SAN JOSE Michal Handzus spent the previous four years of his career with the Los Angeles Kings, and will face his former team for the first time since signing with the Sharks tonight at HP Pavilion.

He expects his old teammates, many of whom were on the team that the Sharks eliminated in the first round last season, to be pretty pumped up.

Its always been a great game here, especially when you play in the playoffs against them, its a little bit of a bigger rivalry, he said. So, yeah, theyre going to be fired up.

The Kings made some significant moves in the offseason, and its generally thought that they are the biggest threat to the Sharks in the Pacific Division (even with Dallas' impressive 10-3 start). They have struggled to score goals of late, but its a pretty safe bet that the Kings will be challenging for a top seed in the Western Conference come April.

If Handzus has any bitter feelings towards the Kings, who decided to let him walk as an unrestricted free agent over the summer, you wouldn't know it. He was very complimentary of the roster that Los Angeles has put together.

They have some very good players, especially offensively, he said. I think defense, they are very good there. I think theyre a better team.

They dont have many breakdowns in the defense, so you have to play a patient game with them. You cant open up too much, because they can hurt you. But, you have to work for your chances, thats for sure.

Among the Kings additions are forwards Mike Richards, Ethan Moreau and Simon Gagne. Surprisingly, the team has failed to score more than two regulation goals in 11 of its 13 games.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick, though, has been among the NHLs best. Hes fifth in the NHL with a 1.68 goals-against average and seventh with a .941 save percentage, playing in front of defensemen like Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and Willie Mitchell.

Quick is playing great this year and backup Jonathan Bernier is very good, too, said Handzus. They play very good defense, and when they make a mistake the goalie is there. Theyre a very good team, and its going to be a good challenge for us. Its a division game, and you need those.

Despite all the changes, Todd McLellan sees a very similar style of play from the Kings. Could he get some inside information on how to beat them from Handzus?

Well talk to Michal a little bit about what their goals are, but its still early in the season, he said. Its going to be about us and our game plan. I dont imagine they are going to re-tool their whole game just because Michal is here.

Sharks erase three-goal deficit, but fall to to Golden Knights in OT

Sharks erase three-goal deficit, but fall to to Golden Knights in OT

BOX SCORE

The Sharks used a huge second period to storm back and tie it up in Vegas vs. the Golden Knights. But, their luck turned in overtime.

San Jose lost in overtime to Vegas, 5-4. 

The Sharks are now 11-9-1 on the season.

Sharks have tall task avoiding holiday hangover in Vegas

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AP

Sharks have tall task avoiding holiday hangover in Vegas

Once they entered the league, many joked that the Vegas Golden Knights would have the best home-ice advantage in the league.

Sure, the novelty of a new team would get fans excited, but it was the team’s presence on the Las Vegas Strip that would give the expansion team an edge. After all, they call it “Sin City” for a reason, and it’s not for the ride in.

Nobody could have expected them to be this good at home.

The Golden Knights are 8-1-0 at T-Mobile Arena, and have the league’s highest winning percentage at home. They’ve outscored opponents by 18 goals, and their 4.33 goals per home game is the third-best mark in the entire league.

The Sharks will thus face their toughest road test of the season on Friday night, in a game that they’re almost designed to lose. Early afternoon games mean there’s no morning skate, but an early afternoon game the day after Thanksgiving? In Las Vegas?

Blackjack players have better luck hitting on 20.

In fact, Vegas’ home slate is littered with early starts: 12 of their 41 home games occur before the traditional 7-or-7:30 p.m. slot. Some of that is undoubtedly due to travel, of course, as the Sharks will play on the first night of a back-to-back on Friday.

But the effect is nonetheless apparent: T-Mobile Arena has become a fortress.

The same can be said about any number of arenas in cities known for their nightlife, such as the Miami Heat’s home at American Airlines Arena, located less than 10 miles from South Beach. Vegas is another matter entirely.

It doesn’t help that the Golden Knights have, home ice advantage aside, played like a playoff team. Adjusting for score effects and venue, Vegas ranks 13th and ninth, respectively, in the two major puck possession metrics: corsi-for percentage (shot attempts) and fenwick-for percentage (unblocked shot attempts).

They’ve also had luck that gamblers on the strip would envy, thriving despite being down to fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace because of injuries to the goalies ahead of him. Vegas has played extremely well in front of him in spite of that, and have won three straight since getting shellacked in Edmonton 10 days ago.

In spite of almost every piece of available logic heading into the season, the Vegas Golden Knights are good. Almost every piece, of course, because their home-ice advantage is simultaneously the most logical thing in the world.

In Las Vegas, it usually doesn’t pay to bet against the house.