Sharks

Sharks need to reverse road trends

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Sharks need to reverse road trends

DALLAS Now would be a fine time for the Sharks to get their road act together.

San Joses lack of success away from HP Pavilion may be the biggest single reason it finds itself on the playoff bubble, rather than comfortably leading the Pacific Division with a week to play. The nine-game road trip in late February (in which the Sharks were just 2-6-1) stands out, but really, it started much earlier than that.

Since Jan. 15, San Jose is just 4-13-4 in road games, and three of those wins came against teams that wont be in the playoffs (Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton). The fourth was against the Capitals, who are also fighting for their playoff lives.

Since a 2-1 over the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 23, the Sharks are 1-6-2.

For the season, San Jose is 15-17-7 on the road with a -14 goal differential, compared with a 25-12-3 mark at home and an impressive 24. After winning seven of the first nine on the road, including an early road trip in late October when the club won five of six on an East Coast swing, San Jose is just 8-15-7.

The Sharks have already been shut out on the road six times, tying a franchise high set in 1991-92.

The good news is a vital two-game jaunt to Dallas and Los Angeles this week provides the opportunity for the club to reverse some of its road frustrations and go out on a high note. The playoffs would be a virtual certainty if the Sharks can win both in regulation, and some road confidence would probably do them some good if they end up as the seven or eight seed.

Take a look at some of the stats below regarding the Sharks struggles on the road since Jan. 15, a span of 21 games.

General
4-13-4 record
-24 goal differential
Scored three goals or fewer 19 times (3-13-3)

Special teams
Power Play: 15-for-56 (26.8 percent)
Penalty Kill: 43-for-54 (79.6 percent)

Shots
101 combined shot differential
2-9-4 when out-shooting opponents (only wins: Jan. 24 at Flames & Mar. 12 at Oilers)

Goaltending
3.28 goals-against average, .885 save percentage
Allowed three goals or more 16 times (1-12-3)

Antti Niemis last 12 road starts (since Jan. 10):
3-6-2, 3.22 goals-against average, .887 save percentage
Allowed four-plus goals five times (two shutouts)

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Antoine Vermette beat goalie Martin Jones in the ninth round of a shootout to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour also scored during the tiebreaker for Anaheim.

Joonas Donskoi, Tim Heed and Brent Burns had shootout goals for the Sharks. Tomas Hertl missed his attempt in the ninth round, leaving Vermette a chance to win it.

Perry and Rickard Rakell scored in regulation for the Ducks. Reto Berra made 40 saves in his first start of the season.

Donskoi had two goals for the Sharks, including the tying score in the third period. Jones stopped 28 shots.

Donskoi helped create his own goal by knocking the puck away from a Ducks defender and getting it to Logan Couture for a give-and-go as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead 3:31 into the game.

The Ducks came back in the second period to even the score 45 seconds in. After winning a faceoff in the San Jose zone, Brandon Montour sent a sharp pass to Perry's stick. Perry settled it and fired into the net for the equalizer.

Rakell gave the Ducks a 2-1 advantage midway through the second, just as a power play ended. Perry took a shot that bounced off Jones' pads, and Rakell knocked it into the net before Jones could cover up.

The Sharks snapped an 0-for-17 streak on the power play with a goal midway through the third to tie it. Donskoi tracked down a rebound and flipped it off Berra's right pad and into the net for his second career multi-goal game.

NOTES: Ducks D Cam Fowler returned to action after missing 12 games with a knee injury. ... Sharks C Melker Karlsson missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... Sharks forward Kevin Labanc, who hasn't played much recently, started on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Donskoi was moved to the second line. ... Ducks G Ryan Miller missed the game with a lower-body injury. Berra made his fourth appearance this season. ... Perry has seven points in his last five games. ... Rakell has a point in seven of his past eight games, with a total of 11 during that span. ... The Sharks scored their second power-play goal in eight November games.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Sharks: Play at the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.

Young Sharks fitting in, not neccessarily standing out

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USATSI

Young Sharks fitting in, not neccessarily standing out

 

The message for the San Jose Sharks’ prospects was quite clear this offseason.

After general manager opted not to re-sign Patrick Marleau, or sign any free agents of consequence, it was readily apparent the Sharks would need to rely on their young players to fill any holes.

Before the quarter mark of the season, that youth movement is underway. Five first or second-year players will suit up at SAP Center Monday night against Anaheim. 

Partially, the infusion is due to injury, as Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson, and Paul Martin are all on the mend. But as the season wears on, the young players’ presence is becoming a necessity. 

Joakim Ryan looks like a natural fit alongside Brent Burns, and the Sharks are a decidedly better puck possession team with him on the ice than when he’s not. Tim Heed leads Sharks defensemen in scoring, and Danny O’Regan assisted San Jose’s lone goal in his season debut on Saturday. 

That assist set up the goal that ended Timo Meier’s drought, and he looks primed to break out: he’s third on the team in five-on-five shots despite playing the ninth-fewest five-on-five minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey.  Kevin Labanc’s cooled off since his scorching start, but is still tied for sixth on the team in scoring and skated on the top line at Monday’s morning skate, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Curtis Pashelka.

There’s still room for improvement, of course. Labanc and Meier could stand to score more, but the same can be said about most everyone else. Ryan’s made his fair share of mistakes, but Burns has struggled plenty of times alongside him, too. 

So the young players are fitting in, even if all of them aren’t necessarily standing out. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. 

Meier’s the only first-round pick of the lot, but he’s also only been able to legally buy a beer for a month. Ryan and Heed have made the best adjustment, in no small part because they’re the oldest (24 and 26, respectively) of the Barracuda call-ups, and thus have the most professional experience. 

Of course, fitting in isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is, however, far from ideal, when that’s what many other players on the roster are doing. 

Having all of their young players stand out is what will ultimately make the Sharks stand out from the rest of the pack. It hasn’t quite happened yet, and San Jose’s one of 22 teams separated by six points or fewer. 

And if it doesn’t, the middle of the pack is where the Sharks will remain.