NHL Gameday: Sharks seek higher 'compete level' in Game 3 vs Oilers

NHL Gameday: Sharks seek higher 'compete level' in Game 3 vs Oilers

Programming note – Sharks-Oilers coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on NBC Sports California


The best-of-seven series is tied, one game apiece

Game 1: Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT)
Game 2: Oilers 2, Sharks 0
Game 3: Sunday, April 16, Oilers @ Sharks (7 p.m.)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 18, Oilers @ Sharks (7 p.m.)
Game 5: Thursday, April 20, Sharks @ Oilers (7:30 p.m.)
*Game 6: Saturday, April 22, Oilers @ Sharks (TBD)
*Game 7: Monday, April 24, Sharks @ Oilers (TBD)

* - if necessary


***Tonight is the Sharks’ first home game of the series. They went 8-4 at SAP Center in the playoffs last season, and were 26-11-4 at home in the 2016-17 regular season.

“We’re excited. I think we realize what it was to us last year,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’re looking forward to getting out there in front of our crowd and kind of just feeding off that energy, because it does give you a little bit of a boost.”

***The Oilers playing a more physical game then San Jose has become the biggest storyline in the series. Edmonton not only has a 90-54 advantage in hits through the first two games, many of them have been of the heavy and punishing variety.

The Sharks, though, don’t appear to be making any lineup changes other than Joe Thornton’s potential return. Pugilist Micheal Haley won’t draw in.

“For me, it’s not about big hits. We’re not a big hit team,” Pete DeBoer said. “Our physical play is puck possession, and being heavy and hard to play against. That’s the physical side of the game, for me.”

“If you define physicality by dropping the gloves and fighting someone, no, we don’t have that. But, I think we’ve got plenty of physicality in our lineup for what I would consider physicality.”

***The first thing that needs improving from Game 2, according to Pavelski, is, “probably just our compete level a little bit. … Whether it’s on our power play or five-on-five, we can be a little better there.”

The power play, of course, will have to be better after going 0-for-6 in Game 2 while allowing two shorthanded goals. Scoring a goal or two with a man advantage also might prevent the Oilers’ from taking so many runs as Sharks players, too.

“The only way to punish teams for taking too many penalties is to put a puck in the net,” Jannik Hansen said. “You score a couple early, maybe it backs them off a little bit.”

“That being said, you need to create offensive five-on-five, too. … The penalties have been called, but everybody knows the deeper [the series] goes that harder it is to get power plays. That’s where the five-on-five has to step up.”


Sharks: Brent Burns. After he was a force in Game 1 with 18 shot attempts, Burns was held to just five attempts (and two on goal) in Game 2. The Sharks’ leading scorer in the regular season is still looking for his first point in the series, and if the Sharks power play is going to start producing, Burns will have to play a role in that, too.

Oilers: Zack Kassian. The Oilers’ forward was the star of Game 2, scoring a shorthanded goal and delivering six hits, including a pair of heavy blows on Brenden Dillon and Logan Couture. The Sharks had no response for Kassian, who was permitted to run around in creating havoc all over the ice.


Melker Karlsson – Logan Couture – Joe Pavelski
Jannik Hansen – Tomas Hertl – Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Timo Meier

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Iiro Pakarinen

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit


Sharks: Joe Thornton (left knee) is questionable.

Oilers: Oscar Klefbom (lower body) is probable. Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL) is out.


The Sharks are 9-5 all-time when a series is tied 1-1. They are 10-4 when leading a series two-games-to-one, and 3-10 when trailing a series two-games-to-one.

The Sharks have an all-time Game 3 record of 22-13, including 13-6 at home.

When teams are tied 1-1 in a series, the winner of Game 3 wins the series 67.6 percent of the time (202-97 record).


“It’s big boy hockey, but our guys were hanging in, sacrificing. That’s what the playoffs are about.” – Brent Burns


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific

About a month ago, the Sharks appeared locked into the Pacific Division's second, third, fourth, or fifth spot. At the end of trade deadline day, they were 12 points back of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, and only two points up on the fifth place Calgary Flames.

24 days later, thanks to an 8-2-0 record over the last 10 games (second-best in the NHL), San Jose's still in second place. Now though, those margins are eight points and 11 points, respectively. 

The latter's pretty much locked the Sharks into a playoff spot, while the former's created a path for a late run at the Pacific Division crown. Beginning Thursday night, they will play the Golden Knights twice over both team's final nine games. 

What does the path look like to the Sharks' first division title since 2011? To start, they'll have to beat the Golden Knights twice in regulation to even have a shot. 

That is the foundation of any run at the Pacific's top spot. If the Sharks win both remaining games in regulation, they'll trail the Golden Knights by four points, leaving aside results against other teams for now.

They have to win in regulation, however. A win in overtime or the shootout on Thursday would only cut the gap to seven, and a subsequent win in regulation would leave it at five. Two losses, in any situation, would create a gap of 10-12 points, which would be nearly impossible to overcome this late in the season. 

One point doesn't seem like a lot, but this late in the season, it makes a world of difference. A five-point gap means they'll need to earn six more than the Golden Knights in those other seven games, while a four-point gap means they'll need to earn five in order to pass them. 

The simplest way to five extra points, is for the Sharks to have a record that's two wins and an overtime loss better (2-0-1) than the Golden Knights in the seven games where they don't play each other. That's impossible if Vegas earns at least 10 points in those seven games, so a 5-2-0 or 4-1-2 record would ensure a division banner raising in Sin City.

Taken all together, then, the Golden Knights' 'magic number' is 10 points. Even if the Sharks win on Thursday, their path to a Pacific title remains difficult, if not improbable. 

If a season with an expansion team leading their division has taught us anything, though -- it's that improbable is not impossible.  

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.