Sharks' Winchester a study in perseverance


Sharks' Winchester a study in perseverance

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SAN JOSE -- When Brad Winchester came to San Joses training camp back in September, it was on a Pro-Tryout basis, meaning there was no guarantee he would make the team, or that the Sharks would even offer him a two-way contract.

Thats somewhat difficult to imagine now, where more than halfway through the season, Winchester is one of 10 Sharks to have played in every game.

Its a really good thing for Brad as an individual, head coach Todd McLellan said. Initially with the draft (Year 2000) and picked where he was (35th overall) it became a little easy for him. But since leaving Edmonton and moving on to a number of different organizations hes really had to scrap for his career, for his ice time, hes done nothing but that here.

It was both a great fit, and a great find, in terms of the San Jose perspective.

Far as it goes for our organization, its always great to be able to find assets and not have to give anything up to get them, McLellan said. Brad was a great recruit by our management staff, and Im really glad that they brought him in, because he fits our team really well.

Winchester doesnt exactly relish in the fact that his journey this season has been amazingly positive. I asked him frankly about it this morning.

Each night youre coming to play, Winchester said. And certainly my mindset hasnt changed since day one.

He uses his size, hes got a very good shot and a very good set of hands to go with it, McLellan said. In the games played against the boards, and in front of the net, the scrums and the battles for loose pucks, hes very effective for us. So we want that to continue.

But its not always about playing with the puck. Most recently, Winchester dropped the gloves after Dane Byers of Columbus illegally shouldered teammate Andrew Desjardins in the head. He instinctually wasted no time in responding physically with Byers, if nothing else, to send a message.

Were teammates and were like brothers, Desjardins said Tuesday. So obviously thats a thing, but its hard to say you expect it. But he would do it for me ... and I would do it for him.

Winchester credits his consistency and success alongside linemates Desjardins and Andrew Murray to one thing.

Its been a lot of work, Winchester said. Working in practice, working with video. When you play with guys you get chemistry and talking through where guys want the puck. What the strengths are of each other, and playing to those.

As for settling in and enjoying his time so far, Winchester only has great things to say.

Its a great organization, he said. I love being here in San Jose. Its a great place to be and just its exciting and I feel awesome to be here.

Said McLellan: Sometimes when you jump around from team to team, you dont really find a home. Hopefully hes working towards finding his home here.

Follow Brodie Brazil in real time: @brodiebrazilcsn

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


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


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


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.


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.