NHL Gameday: Sharks open Cup quest against Setoguchi, rival Kings

NHL Gameday: Sharks open Cup quest against Setoguchi, rival Kings

Programming note: Sharks-Kings coverage starts tonight at 7:30pm on NBCSN.
Sharks: 0-0-0, 0 points
Kings: 0-0-0, 0 points


Starting with a rival
The Sharks will open the regular season against the Kings for the third straight year. They’ve beaten them in the previous two, 5-1 last season and 4-0 in 2014-15, but both of those games were in Los Angeles.
Is it good to kick off the campaign against your biggest rival?
“I think that’s the easiest way to get everyone back involved,” Tommy Wingels said. “I think the players like playing in this series. I think the fans like it. I think the league likes it. For numerous reasons, it’s easy to jump right in.”
Pete DeBoer said: “I don’t know that you’d ever wish to play the L.A. Kings. It definitely brings out the best in us. … The guys know that they’re going to have to come out and play a heavy, hard game in order to have a chance. I think it’s appropriate you start the season with a team like that.”
The Sharks knocked off the Kings in the first round of the playoffs last April in five games.
Will quick starts continue?
The Sharks have won at least their first three games in each of the past four seasons, the first time any NHL team has ever achieved that feat. The core group has been together for several years now, so perhaps that’s been a key to their early success.
“I think guys just show up ready to play,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “It’s being excited for a new year. Hopefully that trend will continue.”
DeBoer was only here last season, of course, and the Sharks struggled to find their consistency for the two months following what was a perfect 4-0 start. The coach likes the look of his team headed into the opener.
“I expect we’re going to get off to a good start. I think the guys’ heads are in the right place and I like the feel of practice,” DeBoer said.
“It takes a lot of pressure off your team right away. You’re not talking about chasing a playoff spot from the first day of the season if you can start winning early. Is it essential? No, but I expect we’re going to get off to a good start.”

Avoiding World Cup fatigue, and not looking too far ahead
Many of the big guns only played in one of the Sharks’ six preseason games. Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic all did, however, compete in the World Cup of Hockey.
Will they show some fatigue and rust out of the gate, or will the experience in Toronto only make them game-ready from the drop of the puck? That’s difficult to predict.
The Sharks will also unveil their Western Conference championship banner prior to the game, reminding them all of last season’s accomplishment. Pavelski said on Wednesday that the biggest challenge will be staying focused on the present rather than trying to win the Stanley Cup in October.
“As much excitement as was built up towards the end of the year, there’s a long way to go and a lot of steps along the way you have to [take],” he said.
Sharks: Chris Tierney. The 22-year-old Tierney will get an opportunity to build off of his strong playoff last year by centering his own line in the middle of experienced wingers Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward. The Sharks took advantage of the Kings’ lack of forward depth in the playoffs last year, and Tierney’s line will try and keep that trend going in the first rematch of the rival clubs.
Kings: Devin Setoguchi. The former Sharks forward has caught on with the Kings after a pro tryout, and with Marian Gaborik hurt and Tanner Pearson suspended, Setoguchi will apparently skate on the top line with Anze Kopitar. The 29-year-old former eighth overall pick of San Jose is trying to resurrect his NHL career after spending time in rehab for substance abuse. 
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones
Aaron Dell
Devin Setoguchi – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Teddy Purcell – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Nic Dowd – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Andy Andreoff – Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Brayden McNabb – Alec Martinez
Derek Forbort – Matt Greene
Jonathan Quick
Jeff Zatkoff
Sharks: Timo Meier (mono) is out.
Kings: Nick Shore (undisclosed) is questionable. Marian Gaborik (broken right foot) is out. Tanner Pearson is suspended.
“Same identity. We made it to the Stanley Cup Final. I don’t think speed was as much of an issue as everybody says it was in the Final, [the Penguins] just played really well defensively. We added some good players and we should have a better team than we did last year.” – Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Sharks on longest winning streak since 2013 after extinguishing Flames


Sharks on longest winning streak since 2013 after extinguishing Flames


SAN JOSE -- Evander Kane scored twice to give him six goals in his past two games against Calgary and the San Jose Sharks won their seventh straight game, beating the Flames 5-1 on Saturday.

Kane followed up his four-goal performance in Calgary a week ago with another impactful performance, scoring a short-handed goal in the second period to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead and an insurance goal in the third. He also used his physical play to get into a scrum with Mikael Backlund and a fight with Travis Hamonic.

The Sharks improved to 10-2 since acquiring Kane just before the trade deadline last month, including this current streak that is the longest for San Jose since a seven-gamer from March 25 to April 5, 2013.

Brenden DillonJannik Hansen and Justin Braun also scored for the Sharks, who moved six points ahead of Los Angeles in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Kings played later Saturday in Edmonton. Martin Jones made 37 saves.

Michael Stone scored the lone for the Flames, who have lost five straight to fall out of the playoff race. Calgary trails Anaheim by nine points for the final playoff spot with just six games remaining. David Rittich made 28 saves.

The Flames were controlling the play in the second period before Kane's goal turned the momentum back in San Jose's favor. Calgary held San Jose without a shot on goal for more than six minutes to start the period and had just started a power play when Kane struck for his goal.

Chris Tierney skated into the offensive zone and held the puck near the net as Johnny Gaudreau skated past Kane, who was set up in front of the crease. Tierney then slid a pass to Kane, who knocked it into the open net for his sixth goal with the Sharks and 26th on the season.

Kane then had his run-ins with the Flames late in the second and early in the third before the Sharks broke it open with goals from Braun and Kane midway through the third period.

Dillon, who assisted on Kane's second goal, then got into a fight late in the game with Garnet Hathaway to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick.

The Sharks started fast and scored twice in a span of 74 seconds midway through the first period. San Jose took advantage of a turnover by Calgary in the offensive zone to go on a rush. Timo Meier fed Chris Tierney, who gave a behind-the-back pass to Dillon, who beat Rittich from the high slot.

The Sharks kept the pressure up and quickly added to the lead when Hansen redirected Brent Burns' point shot off defenseman Mark Jankowski's skate and into the Calgary net.

The Flames got one back with a blast from the point through traffic by Stone.

NOTES: The Sharks honored Jonathan Cheechoo, who recently announced his retirement. ... Burns' assist on Hansen's goal was his 49th of the season, breaking the record he set two years ago for Sharks defensemen. ... Flames F Matthew Tkachuk (upper body) and D TJ Brodie did not make the trip for the two games in California.


Flames: Visit Los Angeles on Monday

Sharks: Visit Chicago on Monday.

Paul Martin rewarding Peter DeBoer's faith in NHL return


Paul Martin rewarding Peter DeBoer's faith in NHL return

When Sharks defenseman Paul Martin confirmed reports in January that he was willing to go elsewhere for more playing time, his head coach was insistent that the team would need the veteran blueliner. 

"I really believe we need eight NHL defenseman here," DeBoer told reporters in January (via The Mercury News). "If it happens that he isn't here, then that'll be disappointing for us. I'm not hoping that's where this goes. I'm hoping this goes to a place where he can maybe go down, play some games and keep himself ready, because I know we're going to need eight defensemen."

That's pretty much exactly what's happened.

After clearing waivers in January and playing with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, Martin was called up ahead of the Sharks' four-game road trip at the end of February. He did not play until last Saturday in Vancouver, when an upper-body injury to rookie defenseman Joakim Ryan, whose play pushed Martin down the depth chart in the first place, created an opening alongside Brent Burns. 

Martin's now played three straight games with Burns, his defensive partner for the vast majority of the previous two seasons. It's the first time Martin's played in three consecutive NHL games all season, and although he hasn't played much (11:53 in average time-on-ice), he's acquitted himself nicely in a sheltered role.

His five-on-five possession numbers (52.78 percent corsi-for; 53.33 percent fenwick-for) are the second-best marks among Sharks defensemen over the last three games. Burns, too, has posted better possession numbers with Martin (47.62 percent corsi-for; 50 percent fenwick-for) during the last three contests than without his longtime partner (43.40 percent corsi-for; 41.67 percent fenwick-for). 

The Sharks have also outscored (3-0) and outchanced (17-16) opponents with Martin on the ice, neither of which was the case in Martin's first three appearances earlier this season. The former is owed to a decent amount of puck luck, as the Sharks have converted on 17.65 percent of their shots with him on the ice, but the latter is an extension of his solid underlying numbers. 

Martin's played the least amount of total minutes among Sharks defensemen since coming back, even as Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed time in two of the last three games, and has barely been used in special teams. His days of averaging 20-or-more minutes a night are likely behind him, but the 37-year-old has played well in a limited role. 

Considering Martin's NHL days appeared to be behind him as recently as last month, his play has been a pleasant surprise. With the exception of his head coach, that is.