Sharks have struggled with Arizona; Goldobin expected to play

Sharks have struggled with Arizona; Goldobin expected to play

SAN JOSE – The Coyotes are buried in last place in the Pacific Division, but that shouldn’t mean a whole lot to the Sharks as they prepare for the season series finale on Saturday at Gila River Arena.

Arizona has a 3-0-1 record against San Jose so far, including a 3-2 shootout win at SAP Center on Feb. 4. In that game, the Coyotes ramped up the physicality and seemed to be targeting some of the Sharks’ younger players like Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl. It’s safe to assume that the Coyotes, 4-1-1 in their last six games, will try and employ similar tactics on Saturday.

“Any time you play a team a good amount throughout the year there’s going to be a little chippiness,” said Micheal Haley, who has 12 penalty minutes and a pair of fighting majors against Arizona this season. “I don’t know if they were targeting [our young players], but they were definitely a little more chippier than usual.”

Pete DeBoer said: “Obviously, they play us well [and] they play us hard. We know that. … We’re deep enough into this with them that we know what to expect.”

San Jose has just one win in its last six games (1-1-4). Defensive blunders and mental miscues cost them on Wednesday in a 6-5 overtime loss to Florida at SAP Center.

“We were soft in coverage, we turned the puck over too much, we were loose – that’s probably the best word for it,” DeBoer said. “Historically, we’ve always been able to respond to those type of games and fix it. But, that’s on us to do that.”

The Sharks will likely have one new player in the lineup for Arizona, as former first round pick Nikolay Goldobin skated on the third line in Friday’s practice with Hertl and Joel Ward. Meier had been there previously, but he was reassigned to the Barracuda.

Goldobin has not played an NHL game since Nov. 22, 2015. He will be the seventh forward that started the season on the Barracuda to play a game with the Sharks.

The Sharks have just two games left before the bye week from Feb. 20-24, including Sunday’s home game with Boston. Although wins have been hard to come by lately, they’ve gained a point in 13 of their last 15 overall (9-2-4).

They maintain a four-point lead in the division over Anaheim and Edmonton, with 24 games remaining for all three.

“These last two games are important, we can really separate ourselves from the other two teams in our division,” Joe Thornton said. “It’s a big two games before we get this rest.”

DeBoer said: “We’ve worked really hard to build a little bit of a lead here in the division, but it’s small. We talked today that at the end of the weekend we could be up six or eight, or we could be even with somebody going into the break.”

Aaron Dell will start in net, his second in a week after he stole the Sharks a point last Saturday in a 2-1 overtime loss in Philadelphia.

* * *

Meier is expected to play for the Barracuda on Friday night in Stockton, as the Sharks’ AHL affiliate goes for its 10th straight win.

What was the message to Meier, who has just one point in his last 12 NHL games?

“Timo has just got to work on some things,” DeBoer said. “Like all young guys, I think there’s a lot to like, and there’s also some things you have to continue to work at to be a consistent contributor up here. We love the potential of him and I love a lot of what I’ve seen, but there’s still a lot of work [to do], like a lot of young guys.”

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.