Opportunity knocks for Sharks' young forwards


Opportunity knocks for Sharks' young forwards

SAN JOSE Less than a month ago, Benn Ferriero and Tommy Wingels were teammates on the AHLs Worcester Sharks.

Theyre still teammates today, but now that Marty Havlat and Ryane Clowe are both sidelined, they find themselves among the top six forwards on the NHL club.

Its a tremendous opportunity for two young players trying to establish themselves as NHL regulars, and although they probably realized it themselves, their head coach hammered that point home.

Ive talked to them about that. This is their opportunity, Todd McLellan said. What a great chance for Tommy Wingels and Benny Ferriero right now, to finally come up from the minors and play in the top six or at least in the top nine. They get an opportunity to show their stuff.

For as bad as it is to play without Havlat and Clowe, its also really healthy for us to see what these guys can actually do. For the most part, theyve been contributing. Its up to them to continue to do that. Other teams are getting it from their depth players, and we need it from ours.

We touched upon Wingels this morning after his strong effort against Calgary.

Ferriero, who has five points (4g, 1a) in 13 games since he was recalled on Dec. 20, said: When guys get hurt its time for other guys to step up and keep the train going. Thats why its a team, you need a bunch of people throughout the year.

Its more than just the recent call-ups, of course. Players like Torrey Mitchell and Jamie McGinn will shoulder more of the offensive burden as the Sharks battle the injury bug for what appears to be at least the next four games, leading into the All-Star break.

Mitchell, who scored the game-tying goal on Tuesday, has five points in his last six games and may be playing his best hockey of the year. Hell have to keep his foot on the gas.

We depend on those guys so much to produce offensively, Mitchell said. I dont want to say you have to change your game a little bit on the third or fourth line, but its big if you can produce.

Individually, the Sharks forwards also know that each game night brings a bit of an internal competition, too. McLellan doesnt shy away from drastically reducing the minutes of players he thinks might not be skating their best or showing maximum effort. That will likely be even more evident in the near future as he searches for whomever has the hot hand.

You can kind of tell by the third period who hes going to go with the last 15 or 20 minutes. For guys like us on the third and fourth lines, youve got to try and leave your mark on the game in the first two periods and let him know that youre involved, Mitchell said. Hopefully he sees that, and you get the playing time you want in the third period.

It took McLellan all of 20 minutes to make changes to his top lines against Calgary, swapping Wingels and McGinn.

We know when the lines are on the boards, its whoever is going that night is going to play, McGinn said. It doesnt really matter what it says on the board.

When youre short, you look for nightly heroes, guys that can move up and give you something. Well continue to shuffle it around until we get bodies back, McLellan said.

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights


ANAHEIM -- Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Sunday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of six. Aaron Dell stopped 33 shots.

Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf scored for Anaheim. John Gibson stopped only 17 of 22 shots and was replaced after giving up his fifth goal. Anaheim had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

Four goals came in the third period. First, Anaheim pulled within one when Ondrej Kase stole the puck from behind the net and quickly fed Getzlaf, who fired it past Dell.

One minute later, the Sharks answered when Thornton's slap shot went in.

Boedker's second goal gave San Joe a 5-2 lead, and Karlsson's goal on goalie Ryan Miller made it a runaway.

The Ducks first found the net in the final minute of the second period, but that took a two-man advantage and a bit of luck.

Rakell was camped a few feet below the crease when he snapped a shot. San Jose's Justin Braun stuck out a stick, but it deflected the puck off the back of Dell's arm and into the net.

It was Rakell's team-high 17th goal this season.

San Jose appeared to take a commanding 3-0 lead on a power play in the second period. Boedker fired a shot from the top of the right circle that whistled past Gibson.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Anaheim's No.1 line turned the puck over. Thornton snapped it out to Labanc, who popped free for a breakaway. He beat Gibson on his short side for his fifth goal.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a nifty give-and-go when Tomas Hertl skated down the far side and sent a pass through the legs of Anaheim's Brandon Montour and right to Vlasic in front of the net.

Vlasic snapped it past Gibson for his seventh goal of the season.


Sharks: Return to San Jose on Tuesday night to play the Jets.

Ducks: Remain at home to play the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Sharks take risk as Dell draws Ducks on second night of a back-to-back


Sharks take risk as Dell draws Ducks on second night of a back-to-back

Aaron Dell last started two games in two days on April 29, 2016. Dell, then the starter with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, manned the net in Game 4 of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. 

The Barracuda suffered a season-ending loss to the Ontario Reign that day, and Dell gave up three goals on 34 shots. That was the 20th time in three seasons in the AHL and ECHL that Dell started the first and second half of a back-to-back. 

Dell will end up starting both nights of a back-to-back for the 21st time since 2013 on Sunday. A night after stopping 31 of 32 shots against the reigning champion Penguins, Dell is set to start a pivotal Pacific Division matchup against the Ducks, who are only three points behind the Sharks for the second divisional playoff spot. 

His coach with the Sharks, Peter DeBoer, is no stranger to starting the same goalie on consecutive nights. He's done so seven times in his three seasons behind San Jose's bench, starting Martin Jones in all seven of those games.

Part of that is because of the team's confidence in Jones, who they view as a franchise goaltender. But on some level, these decisions have been driven by an initial hesitancy towards Jones' backups. 

Whatever the reason, DeBoer's been rewarded for rolling the dice and relying on Jones. On the second half of a back-to-back after starting the previous night, Jones has gone 5-2-0 with a .919 save percentage. 

With Jones out due to a lower-body injury, the Sharks once again appear hesitant about Dell's current backup, and rightfully so. Troy Grosenick has made two NHL starts and won the Baz Bastien Award as the AHL's best goaltender last season, but only has a .908 save percentage on 4336 shots in his AHL career, which is enough of a sample to say Grosenick's unlikely to establish himself as a regular NHL goaltender. 

DeBoer's decision to start Dell is thus understandable, but not without its downsides. Eric Tulsky, now the manager of analytics for the Carolina Hurricanes, and Broad Street Hockey associate editor Kurt R. found in 2013 that goalies perform worse on the second half of a back-to-back. That hasn't yet happened when DeBoer's rolled the dice, but it has happened to Dell. 

In his 20 previous starts on the second night of a back-to-back after starting the first half, Dell went 8-9-3, with a .915 save percentage, down from his .921 career save percentage in the AHL and ECHL. That may not seem like a lot, but such a drop in San Jose's save percentage this season would translate to about eight more goals against, which would leave the Sharks in the red in terms of goal differential. 

With only one established NHL goalie on his roster, DeBoer is then left with two bad options. Start Dell, knowing the risks of starting a goalie two nights in a row, or start Grosenick, a minor leaguer without a track record that warrants much confidence.

He opted for the former, and has caught lightning in a bottle before doing the same with Jones. That doesn't mean you can expect it again on Sunday against the Ducks.