Micheal Haley a regular in Sharks lineup of late

Micheal Haley a regular in Sharks lineup of late

SAN JOSE – You won’t find Micheal Haley’s name at the top of any advanced stat geek’s Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

But the five-foot-10, 205-pound forward has been a mainstay in the Sharks lineup lately, while other players have seemingly fallen out of favor. On Tuesday against Anaheim, Haley suited up for the 15th time in the last 18 games, while guys like Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels remained healthy scratches.

Just don’t tell Haley he’s a regular.

“In my line of work I tend not to think you’re regular at anything, you know? Things can change,” he said. “My job is to come to the rink, and if you’re in, do the best you can, and if you’re not, be ready for the next time you are.”

Tuesday’s game was a typical one for Haley. He took exception to Jared Boll’s hit of Dylan DeMelo behind the net, dropping the gloves and engaging the Ducks’ tough guy in the first period. He played eight minutes and 50 seconds, registering a shot on goal and a plus-one rating.

In 22 games this season, Haley has three assists and a team-leading 42 penalty minutes, including six fighting majors. More importantly, though, the Sharks are 15-6-1 when he dresses.

“I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” Pete DeBoer said recently. “You can’t underestimate the effect of having a guy that you know has your back, and everyone else’s, in the lineup. That’s important. We can say all we want that fighting’s getting out the game and intimidation’s getting out of the game – it’s still a part of the game.”

Haley has dropped the gloves in each of the last two Sharks games. On Friday against Edmonton, it was Zack Kassian – who was running around all night – that went toe-to-toe with the San Jose brute.

It could be argued that Haley’s role is more important against the heavier teams like Anaheim and Edmonton. That Sharks-Oilers game was the first of five meetings between the sudden rivals, so having Haley in the active lineup is perhaps DeBoer’s way of showing that his team won’t be pushed around in the season series.

“This is still a physical, hard game where players can be intimidated,” DeBoer said. “You need guys like that. The difference now is you need guys like that you can actually play so you can play four lines and he’s one of those guys whose improved his game and he’s been great all year for us.”

Haley, too, relishes the types of games like last Friday’s physical, bitter affair with Edmonton.

“That’s just the first one, so it’s exciting,” he said. “Hopefully that competition will be there, and it’s definitely a game that we seem to get up for.”

At 30 years old, Haley’s experienced enough to know when he’s needed. He’s not simply looking for a fight, or to instigate someone just for the sake of doing so.

But when the opportunity presents itself, he won’t back down. He can’t, if he wants to keep playing.

“You’ve got to read the situation. How they come out and how we come out will dictate how rough the game might be, but you don’t go in there every time hoping for a melee or anything,” Haley said. “As long as we’re going good, that’s all that matters.”

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.