Sharks

Sharks notes: Marleau frustrated; Couture amazes

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Sharks notes: Marleau frustrated; Couture amazes

Of all the adjectives used to describe Sharks franchise icon Patrick Marleau over the years, outspoken has rarely, if ever, been one of them.

Thats changed in recent days, though, as Marleau has become a vocal critical of the leagues tactics when it comes to the current labor impasse. It began when I spoke with him myself on Thursday at Sharks Ice and he bluntly stated, If the owners cared about the game, we would be playing. (He later clarified that when he refers to the owners, hes talking about what he believes is a small group of hard-liners, of which Gary Bettman needs just eight to veto any CBA proposal).

Marleau continued to voice his disapproval in a text message sent to Josh Rimer of NextSportsStar.com (via ProHockeyTalk.com) on Saturday.

The league had these games canceled already in the summer. They are just releasing that info now, Marleau said, referring to the NHL cancelling the schedule through November.

Its not hard to see why Marleau might jump to that conclusion. The NHLs opening CBA proposal was an early signal of the leagues draconian approach, and its more recent refusal to meet with the players association in the days leading up to their own Oct. 25 deadline to save a full season was peculiar.

Many have suggested that NHL ownership is following the same guidelines used by NBA owners around this time last year. There were several perceived peaks and valleys during those negotiations, which ended with ownership getting a larger percentage of profits as well as a condensed 66-game season starting on Christmas Day.

So, Marleau could be on to something.

For now, though, the enigmatic forward is one of a few Sharks still in the Bay Area. That could change shortly, though, as he told CSNCalifornia.com on Thursday that hes spoken to his agent about possibly going abroad.

Its definitely an option, he said.

Couture gets fancy

Speaking of overseas, Sharks stars Logan Couture and Joe Thornton went head-to-head in Switzerland for the second time over the weekend, with Coutures first-place Geneve-Servette team coming away with a 5-4 win over Thorntons HC Davos squad.

In a much-tweeted highlight (courtesy of Puck Daddy), Couture managed to score his fifth goal of the season with an incredible between-the-legs shot. He also has 11 assists on the year, including two in the game against Davos, for a total of 16 points in 12 games.

Thornton had one assist in the loss, and has four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 15 games.

Champs for Charity a success

Adam Burish is still waiting for the chance to don a Sharks jersey after signing with San Jose in the offseason, but hes making the most of his time off.

Burish, a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, helped put together a reunion of that team to benefit local Chicago charities, and it was a resounding success. On Saturday at Allstate Arena, home of the AHLs Chicago Wolves, the game brought in more than 323,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.

The biggest thing for me was all these guys deciding to participate. Guys I won a championship with showed up, guys Ive played against showed up. To me, thats what meant a lot, Burish told CSNChicago.com. They were so giving with their time, doing whatever they could to help, because it wasnt easy. I hope everyone had fun, because I did.

The vocal crowd, presumably desperate for the lockout to end, exceeded 12,000.

It brings you right back to the regular season and playoffs. And its all for a great cause, Patrick Sharp said. Whenever you score a goal you get a good feeling. You play to win and be a part of a team. We were messing around out there but we were still playing hockey. There were a lot of antics going on but it was fun to be a part of a game again.

There were more than just Blackhawks that suited up. Opponents of the former champs included Bobby Ryan, Jordan Staal and Ryan Suter.

Worcester update

After a slow start in which they failed to win any of their first four games, the Worcester Sharks collected four of a possible six points over the weekend. Goaltender Alex Stalock was in net for wins on Friday and Sunday, stopping 51 of 54 shots total in the two games.

A quick look at the stats shows Tim Kennedy leading the Worcester offense with three goals and five assists for eight points, while Sebastian Stalberg (4g, 2a) and Bracken Kearns (1g, 5a) have six points apiece.

James Sheppard, perhaps the most intriguing player on Worcesters roster, has cooled off. After recording three points in the first two games, he has just one assist in the last five.

The Sharks (2-4-0-1, 5 pts.) are in fourth place in the five-team Atlantic Division.

Coyle impressing in AHL

In other minor league news, former Sharks first round pick Charlie Coyle is impressing for Minnesotas farm team in Houston. Coyle was part of the package the Sharks sent to the Wild in order to acquire defenseman Brent Burns.

Coyle, drafted 28th overall by San Jose in 2010, leads all rookie forwards in the AHL with five goals, prompting this tweet from Wild beat writer Michael Russo. He could very well be a part of the Wilds roster if the NHL and NHLPA get their act together to salvage a season.

Minnesotas roster already has a number of former Sharks, including Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell, the latter of whom signed there this past offseason.

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

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USATSI

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

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AP

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.