Sharks newcomer Hansen practices on top line

Sharks newcomer Hansen practices on top line

SAN JOSE – The day before the Sharks acquired forward Jannik Hansen from Vancouver, head coach Pete DeBoer was asked what ingredients he was looking for in a player to skate alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

“You have to play [at Pavelski and Thornton’s] level and [match] their work ethic,” DeBoer said on Feb. 27. “They need somebody that’s going to work at their level and hunt the puck, so that’s got to be part of it.”

Hansen was viewed as that kind of player, and “that was part of the reason he was where he was on our list” of trade targets, DeBoer said on Wednesday.

It was, therefore, no surprise that Hansen was in a white practice jersey with the two longtime Sharks stars for his first skate in San Jose, and will be the eighth winger this season to start a game on that line when the Sharks host the Capitals on Thursday.

Although he had discussions with DeBoer prior to finally arriving in San Jose on Tuesday night after sorting out immigration, he didn’t find out he’d be getting a look right away on the top line until Wednesday morning when he got to the practice facility around 8:00 a.m.

“I want to come in here and help this team any way I can,” Hansen said. “Whatever that is, that’s obviously up to the coaches. This is a very good team that [is] in a position to do something. … Any way I can help them out, that’s fine with me.”

DeBoer pointed out that the 30-year-old Hansen spent lots of time over the years on a line in Vancouver with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

“That doesn’t guarantee that this is going to work, but it definitely gives it a better chance,” said the coach.

If it doesn’t, Hansen has shown to be a versatile guy.

“You think of every time we played Vancouver, it seemed like every time we played them he was on a different line,” Logan Couture said. “He was with the Sedins, then the second line, then the third line – you noticed him every time you played against him. You knew that he was playing. He’s that type of guy that’s hard on other guys’ skilled players.”

Hansen has missed the first three Sharks games after the trade, which happened late on Feb. 28. A Denmark native who had spent his entire career with the Canucks before the deal, which included a conditional fourth round pick and prospect Nikolay Goldobin going to Vancouver, he had to wait until Monday to get an appointment at the U.S. consulate in British Columbia.

More than a week later, he considered Wednesday’s practice “day one” of being a Shark.

“It wasn’t until last night it really sunk in – you’re leaving Vancouver now,” he said, after playing there since the 2007-08 season. “But, obviously I [had] a great deal of time to kind of prepare myself for it and wrap my head around it’s a new team, new challenge, new friendships you’ve got to make. 

"It’s very exciting to come to a team like that, that’s gearing up for the playoffs.”

* * *

Rounding out the expected lines for Thursday’s game were Couture between Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl centering Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi, and a fourth line of Chris Tierney centering Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen. Micheal Haley was the odd man out.

Rookie Kevin Labanc has been reassigned to the AHL Barracuda.

David Schlemko (lower body), who has missed the last two games, did not practice and is considered day-to-day.

Paul Martin rewarding Peter DeBoer's faith in NHL return


Paul Martin rewarding Peter DeBoer's faith in NHL return

When Sharks defenseman Paul Martin confirmed reports in January that he was willing to go elsewhere for more playing time, his head coach was insistent that the team would need the veteran blueliner. 

"I really believe we need eight NHL defenseman here," DeBoer told reporters in January (via The Mercury News). "If it happens that he isn't here, then that'll be disappointing for us. I'm not hoping that's where this goes. I'm hoping this goes to a place where he can maybe go down, play some games and keep himself ready, because I know we're going to need eight defensemen."

That's pretty much exactly what's happened.

After clearing waivers in January and playing with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, Martin was called up ahead of the Sharks' four-game road trip at the end of February. He did not play until last Saturday in Vancouver, when an upper-body injury to rookie defenseman Joakim Ryan, whose play pushed Martin down the depth chart in the first place, created an opening alongside Brent Burns. 

Martin's now played three straight games with Burns, his defensive partner for the vast majority of the previous two seasons. It's the first time Martin's played in three consecutive NHL games all season, and although he hasn't played much (11:53 in average time-on-ice), he's acquitted himself nicely in a sheltered role.

His five-on-five possession numbers (52.78 percent corsi-for; 53.33 percent fenwick-for) are the second-best marks among Sharks defensemen over the last three games. Burns, too, has posted better possession numbers with Martin (47.62 percent corsi-for; 50 percent fenwick-for) during the last three contests than without his longtime partner (43.40 percent corsi-for; 41.67 percent fenwick-for). 

The Sharks have also outscored (3-0) and outchanced (17-16) opponents with Martin on the ice, neither of which was the case in Martin's first three appearances earlier this season. The former is owed to a decent amount of puck luck, as the Sharks have converted on 17.65 percent of their shots with him on the ice, but the latter is an extension of his solid underlying numbers. 

Martin's played the least amount of total minutes among Sharks defensemen since coming back, even as Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed time in two of the last three games, and has barely been used in special teams. His days of averaging 20-or-more minutes a night are likely behind him, but the 37-year-old has played well in a limited role. 

Considering Martin's NHL days appeared to be behind him as recently as last month, his play has been a pleasant surprise. With the exception of his head coach, that is. 

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights


SAN JOSE -- Seconds after almost costing the San Jose Sharks a game with a turnover, Logan Couture ended it with his backhand.

Couture scored 39 seconds into overtime after getting bailed out by goalie Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks won their season-high sixth straight game, 2-1 over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

"I was able to make a move on their guy," Couture said. "(Marc-Edouard Vlasic) did a good job of driving their backchecker back and I was able to go far side."

Couture's goal came at the end of an opening shift of the overtime that started with him losing the puck in his own zone, giving Jonathan Marchessault a chance alone in front. Jones got enough of the shot to stop it, and then Vlasic sent the puck ahead to Couture for the winning goal that moved San Jose within seven points of first-place Vegas with eight games remaining in the regular season.

Brent Burns also scored and Jones made 24 saves to help the Sharks open a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with a game in hand as the Sharks close in on home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"For us to get a win tonight was important," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Plus, just plant that seed. If we stay hot, you never know, we might be able to catch them and get home ice. We took care of business tonight and we'll try to keep playing well."

Tomas Tatar scored the lone goal for the Golden Knights, who were kept in the game by a sterling performance by goalie Malcolm Subban. He stopped 42 shots but it wasn't enough for Vegas to come up with the win, although he helped earn a point that gave the expansion team 100 this season.

"It's impressive," forward James Neal said. "It's a great season for our guys. Guys came together real quick. A great job so far but we're not done yet."

The Golden Knights struck first on a pretty passing play early in the first period that ended when Marchessault found Tatar cutting through the slot ahead of Justin Braun. Tatar skated past Jones and backhanded the puck into the open net.

Vegas has been dominant when getting off to a lead, posting an NHL-best 31-5-1 record when scoring first heading into this game. But the Sharks carried the play in the second period, outshooting the Golden Knights 18-4 and getting the equalizer on a blast by Burns from the point after another strong shift by San Jose's fourth line.

"We want to be playing really good hockey this time of year and heading into the playoffs. I think that's the goal," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Whether we would have won tonight or lost, I like how we played for most of the game, so that's what I'm concentrating on."

Vegas managed to keep it tied despite the lopsided shot totals, killing off a four-minute penalty to Colin Miller and another late power play that started late in the second.

That penalty carried over until the third period and the Sharks got 25 seconds of a two-man advantage after Brayden McNabb was called for throwing his stick but still couldn't get anything past Subban.

The Golden Knights squandered a power-play chance later in the period when Miller was called for cross checking with the man advantage. That nearly led to a power-play goal for San Jose but Subban appeared to get a piece of a shot from in close to Joe Pavelski to keep the game tied at 1.

"He's the main reason we got the point," coach Gerard Gallant said. "He looked comfortable."

NOTES: Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury didn't make the trip to San Jose with an undisclosed injury but is expected to join the team for Saturday's game in Colorado. ... Burns became the 15th player to play 500 career games with the Sharks.

Golden Knights: Visit Colorado on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Calgary on Saturday.