Sharks

Sharks get first look at Kings Richards

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Sharks get first look at Kings Richards

SAN JOSE The Los Angeles Kings made arguably the biggest single acquisition this summer, when they landed Mike Richards in a blockbuster trade. L.A. sent highly regarded prospect Brayden Schenn, along with forward Wayne Simmonds and a draft pick, to Philadelphia in exchange for the player who was the Flyers captain at the time.

Tonight, the Sharks will get their first look at Richards in a Kings sweater. Along with Anze Kopitar, he provides L.A. with a superb one-two punch at center.

Hes a great passer, and obviously he can play a physical game, too, said Colin White, who has the most experience of anyone on the Sharks roster playing against Richards, as a long-time member of the New Jersey Devils. Hes a great player. He makes people around him better, and calms the play down. He knows when to slow it down and speed it up.

Even though he played on the East Coast for the first six years of his career, a couple of Sharks stars are pretty familiar with Richards from the Olympics. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were teammates of Richards when they won gold together at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Thornton, especially, was surprised when Richards was dealt from Philadelphia.

I thought he did a great job in Philly, said Thornton. When I saw that trade, I was kind of like, Wow. They traded Mike Richards? I was kind of surprised.

Thornton has something in common with Richards. Both were named captains of their respective teams when they were just 23 years old, and both were scrutinized, either fairly or unfairly, for not living up to the expectations of wearing the C.

Thornton was asked if it was harder for a young guy like Richards to be a captain in a hockey-crazed town, as he was.

I dont think so. He has a pretty good personality where nothing fazed him, from what I saw at the Olympics, said Thornton. I think being a captain in a good hockey town wouldnt affect him at all.

Regardless, Richards is now on the other side of the country, trying to help the Kings unseat the Sharks as reigning Pacific Division champs. Hes off to a good start, with 10 points (2g, 8a) in his first 13 games, tying him with Justin Williams for second on the team.

Kings head coach Terry Murray thinks Richards is adjusting well to the West Coast and to his new team.

Its always a difficult move for a player of that caliber, and he was an impact player with the Flyers, said Murray. Now, you join a new hockey club, and its an emotional roller coaster you have to go through from the time that happens.

"But, his adjustment has been good. Hes settling in every day. I think hes really becoming a confident player with the L.A. Kings and hes having a big contribution to our hockey club now.

Richards himself admitted to not knowing a whole lot about the rivalry, but is looking forward to his first Sharks-Kings matchup.

When you have a divisional game and play each other this many times, with two good teams, it obviously becomes a rivalry. Im looking forward to getting my feet wet tonight, he said.

And, as for playing in HP Pavilion? Hes a little used to hostile environments when he was still in the highly competitive Atlantic Division.

Its a tough building to play in, and from what Ive heard it amps up that much more. I dont think its going to be any difference to what Im used to playing in Pittsburgh and New York, but its going to be nice just to get in this building to see what its all about, he said.

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

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USATSI

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

The San Jose Sharks were shut out for the first time this season on Thursday night, but it sure didn't feel like it.

You’d be forgiven, albeit mistaken, if you didn't think the loss was their first goose egg of the season. San Jose’s been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league this year, and has scored two or fewer goals in all but two of their six games in November.

The Sharks controlled play, but their raw possession numbers were misleading: Through the first two periods, San Jose was outshot 23-18, and poured it on in the third looking for the game-tying goal.

In order to break out of his team’s extended slump, head coach Peter DeBoer appeared to throw his lines in the proverbial blender. The changes weren't very significant, though, as DeBoer worked mostly around the edges.

Joe Thornton remained with Joe Pavelski, while Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier rotated in on their wing. Joonas Donskoi swapped in with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, and on and on.

The core pair of each line remained intact, while DeBoer swapped complimentary wingers. Subtle changes, unsurprisingly, didn't lead to drastically different results.

He’s been amenable to bigger changes at times, briefly breaking up longtime linemates Thornton and Pavelski last Sunday against Los Angeles. The bottom six, especially the fourth line, has mostly been a revolving door.

That's a start, but far from enough. 

As long as the Sharks struggle to score, similarly significant changes are in order.

DeBoer shouldn't want to sacrifice the team’s defensive dominance, or its strong possession game. But, the Sharks haven't scored enough through 17 games to justify using the same forward combinations. 

In Thornton and Pavelski’s case, those struggles date back to last season. For just about everyone else, the sample size is getting increasingly more significant as the season approaches the quarter pole.

The Sharks bench boss expressed a willingness to mix up his power play units earlier this week, and needs to do the same at even strength. It's time to try Pavelski on Couture's wing, Meier on Thornton's, or any number of permutations.

Tweaking around the edges hasn't made much of a difference, so far more comprehensive adjustments are not only welcome, but necessary. Of course, DeBoer may not find the perfect lineup solutions.

At this point, though, it's worth a shot. It's hard to imagine the Sharks scoring any less than they have so far this season, and the Sharks need to explore if any line changes can provide a remedy.

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

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AP

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for his 74th career shutout and the Florida Panthers blanked the San Jose Sharks 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad.

Florida coach Bob Boughner won in his return to San Jose. He served as an assistant coach for the Sharks the last two years.

Luongo earned his first shutout of the season and first in 32 games against San Jose.

Martin Jones was nearly as good for the Sharks. He stopped 26 shots, but that wasn't enough to keep the Panthers from winning for the seventh time in their last eight trips to San Jose.

Sharks defenseman Tim Heed had a goal disallowed on a coach's challenge a little less than five minutes into the second period. Replays showed he came into contact with the puck just behind the blue line, making the play offside.

San Jose had another goal overturned after a replay review. Brent Burns took a hard shot that Luongo nearly caught but couldn't handle and it bounced along his pads. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one of three Sharks trying to poke at the puck and he used his stick to push both the puck and Luongo's pad into the net.

Sceviour scored a minute into the second after digging out the puck along the boards behind the net. He skated around the cage and poked a shot that hit Jones' pads. He took a second shot that got over the goalie's pads and went in.

Sceviour has four points in six games since returning from injury. He had two points in his first six games this season.

The Panthers, who have won three of four, added an insurance goal with less than eight minutes remaining. Radim Vrbata intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and played it to Jamie McGinn, who got Jones to commit before dishing to Bjugstad for the score.

NOTES: Panthers C Michael Haley received a warm ovation from Sharks fans. He played in San Jose the last couple of years. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed his 15th game with a lower-body injury, though he has been skating pain-free for the past two weeks. ... Florida center Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 10 games. ... The Sharks have not scored on their past 15 power plays.

UP NEXT

Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.