Sharks

Sharks prospects to play in World Juniors

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Sharks prospects to play in World Juniors

A pair of Sharks prospects will suit up for their respective countries for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.

Tomas Hertl, a first round pick from 2012 (Czech Republic) and 2011 fifth round pick Sean Kuraly (USA) were named to their team’s final roster on Sunday. The annual tournament begins on Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 5.

It will be the second appearance at the World Juniors for Hertl, 19, who had three goals and two assists for the Czech Republic in last year’s tournament and was one of his country’s best performers. One of the top prospects in the Sharks’ organization, Hertl has a team-leading 12 goals for HC Slavia Praha in the Czech Extraliga, and is tied for the team lead with 22 points.

The 6-2, 200-pound Hertl was selected 17th overall by the Sharks at the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh in June.

In early August, Kuraly opened some eyes at the National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, New York, when the 19-year-old had four goals and two assists for six points in three games. He’s currently a freshman at the University of Miami (Ohio), and has three goals and one assist in 18 games.

The NHL Network is carrying much of the preliminary action, including Team USA’s first game against Germany at 6:00 a.m. PST on Dec. 27 (with a replay at 5:00 p.m. PST). None of the Czech Republic’s preliminary games will appear on the network.

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While many of his Sharks teammates are on their way home for the holidays or have already returned from their European adventures, captain Joe Thornton remains in Switzerland with HC Davos. He’ll partake in the upcoming Spengler Cup, an annual tournament hosted by his current team. Thornton helped lead HC Davos to the Spengler Cup during the last NHL lockout in 2004-05.
 
HC Davos won the tournament last year, but repeating may prove to be difficult as Team Canada’s roster features several locked-out NHL stars. They include John Tavares, Jason Spezza, Sam Gagner, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Thornton’s teammate with the Sharks, defenseman Jason Demers. The tournament begins on Dec. 26.

The Sharks captain will also have plenty of family around for Christmas, as his wife, whom he met during the last lockout, is a Swiss native.

Sharks erase three-goal deficit, but fall to to Golden Knights in OT

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AP

Sharks erase three-goal deficit, but fall to to Golden Knights in OT

BOX SCORE

The Sharks used a huge second period to storm back and tie it up in Vegas vs. the Golden Knights. But, their luck turned in overtime.

San Jose lost in overtime to Vegas, 5-4. 

The Sharks are now 11-9-1 on the season.

Sharks have tall task avoiding holiday hangover in Vegas

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AP

Sharks have tall task avoiding holiday hangover in Vegas

Once they entered the league, many joked that the Vegas Golden Knights would have the best home-ice advantage in the league.

Sure, the novelty of a new team would get fans excited, but it was the team’s presence on the Las Vegas Strip that would give the expansion team an edge. After all, they call it “Sin City” for a reason, and it’s not for the ride in.

Nobody could have expected them to be this good at home.

The Golden Knights are 8-1-0 at T-Mobile Arena, and have the league’s highest winning percentage at home. They’ve outscored opponents by 18 goals, and their 4.33 goals per home game is the third-best mark in the entire league.

The Sharks will thus face their toughest road test of the season on Friday night, in a game that they’re almost designed to lose. Early afternoon games mean there’s no morning skate, but an early afternoon game the day after Thanksgiving? In Las Vegas?

Blackjack players have better luck hitting on 20.

In fact, Vegas’ home slate is littered with early starts: 12 of their 41 home games occur before the traditional 7-or-7:30 p.m. slot. Some of that is undoubtedly due to travel, of course, as the Sharks will play on the first night of a back-to-back on Friday.

But the effect is nonetheless apparent: T-Mobile Arena has become a fortress.

The same can be said about any number of arenas in cities known for their nightlife, such as the Miami Heat’s home at American Airlines Arena, located less than 10 miles from South Beach. Vegas is another matter entirely.

It doesn’t help that the Golden Knights have, home ice advantage aside, played like a playoff team. Adjusting for score effects and venue, Vegas ranks 13th and ninth, respectively, in the two major puck possession metrics: corsi-for percentage (shot attempts) and fenwick-for percentage (unblocked shot attempts).

They’ve also had luck that gamblers on the strip would envy, thriving despite being down to fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace because of injuries to the goalies ahead of him. Vegas has played extremely well in front of him in spite of that, and have won three straight since getting shellacked in Edmonton 10 days ago.

In spite of almost every piece of available logic heading into the season, the Vegas Golden Knights are good. Almost every piece, of course, because their home-ice advantage is simultaneously the most logical thing in the world.

In Las Vegas, it usually doesn’t pay to bet against the house.