Sharks

Subtle role change allowing Tierney to thrive

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USATSI

Subtle role change allowing Tierney to thrive

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is using Chris Tierney in a subtly different role this season, and it’s allowing the fourth-year center to enjoy perhaps the best season of his career.

Over the last two years, Tierney was given difficult assignments. He wasn't mistaken for Patrice Bergeron, as he was still used in a bottom six role just as he is now, but he consistently started the majority of his shifts outside of the neutral zone in the defensive zone.

Often, coaches will start their most trusted defensive players on defensive zone faceoffs, thinking they’ll be able to recover the puck and break out of the zone. Similarly, their most trusted offensive players often start in the offensive zone, in order to establish puck possession.

In DeBoer’s first two seasons behind the San Jose bench, Tierney fell in the former camp. Only three Sharks that played at least 1000 minutes started more non-neutral zone shifts in the defensive zone, and only one was a forward (Long Beach native Matt Nieto, according to Corsica Hockey).

Although Tierney was drafted and developed with his defensive prowess in mind, that didn’t really square with his game. He wasn’t able to turn the tide with those assignments, posting the second-worst five-on-five possession numbers (49.09 corsi-for percentage) among forwards that played 1000 minutes in DeBoer’s first two seasons as head coach.

But he often showed flashes of offensive ability, even as he wasn’t scoring at the half-a-point per game clip that he began his career with in Todd McLellan’s final season as Sharks coach. This season, the Sharks seem to have that in mind.

Through 22 games, Tierney’s started a career-high 59.54 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone, per Corsica. He’s never started more than 50 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone in a full season.

Tierney’s gotten a corresponding bump in his possession numbers, and is up to what would be a career-high 51.67 corsi-for percentage. He’s also shooting more and attempting more shots during five-on-five play than he did last season, albeit not as much as he did in his first two seasons.

He’s converting at a high clip, but this teammates aren’t: San Jose’s only scored on a little over three percent of their shots with Tierney on the ice at even strength. He may not convert on 14 percent of his five-on-five shots all season, but his teammates are due for better luck.

A corresponding bump in his teammates’ finishing means Tierney, who’s already on pace for his second-best offensive season in all situation, could far surpass his offensive totals from last season.

If he does, he’ll have DeBoer to thank for putting him in a position to succeed.

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

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USATSI

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sam Gagner scored at 4:34 of overtime and the Vancouver Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

Gagner beat Martin Jones with a nice backhand move on a breakaway for his fourth of the season after a feed from Alexander Edler. It was Gagner's first goal in nine games.

Markus Granlund scored twice and Brock Boeser also had a goal in regulation for Vancouver (15-14-4). Henrik Sedin and brother Daniel Sedin each added three assists. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves.

Brent Burns scored two goals and Marcus Sorenson had one for San Jose (17-10-4). Martin Jones stopped 36 shots for the Sharks, who were playing their second game in two nights after Thursday's 3-2 road victory over the Calgary Flames.

San Jose had won 11 straight at Rogers Arena dating back to the Canucks' last victory on home ice over their Pacific Division rivals all the way back on Jan. 21, 2012. Vancouver was 0-9-2 over that stretch while getting outscored 41-14.

Leading 3-2 through 40 minutes, the Canucks nearly restored their two-goal lead four minutes into the third, but Jones stretched to make a great pad save on Thomas Vanek.

The Sharks mustered only one shot through the first 13 minutes of the final period, but got the equalizer with 5:49 left in regulation when Burns' point shot went off the skate of Canucks defenseman Alex Biega in front and beat Markstrom for his second of the night, sixth of the season and fifth in five games.

Coming off Wednesday's embarrassing 7-1 loss at home to Nashville, the Canucks stormed out of the gate against the Sharks and led 2-1 after the first period before Boeser stretched the lead to two.

The NHL's rookie scoring leader ripped a shot over Jones' shoulder on the power play at 11:56 of the second for his 17th, moments after slicing through the Sharks' defense and ringing a shot off the post.

San Jose got that one back with 1:44 left in the period when former Canucks forward Jannik Hansen started a sequence that ended with Sorenson netting his first past Markstrom.

Already minus five regulars, including two-thirds of their top line with Bo Horvat (broken foot) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) out long-term, the Canucks announced Friday morning that shutdown defenseman Christopher Tanev will miss two to three weeks with a groin strain.

Granlund, who came in with one goal in his last 12 games, opened the scoring 44 seconds in on the power play. Daniel Sedin redirected a slap pass in the slot from Henrik Sedin right to Granlund at the side of the net, and he beat Jones between the legs for his fifth.

Vancouver could have easily been up by two or three moments later as the Canucks led 10-0 in shots after just five minutes.

San Jose, which came in 7 for 21 on the power play over its last four games to climb from tied for 24th overall to tied for 11th, tested Markstrom five times on its first man-advantage opportunity before finally breaking through after Vancouver took another penalty.

The Sharks won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Burns, who snapped his fifth past Markstrom at 10:45.

Markstrom stopped San Jose's Chris Tierney on a short-handed breakaway later in the period before Granlund scored his second of the night seconds after the penalty expired. Daniel Sedin's initial shot fell at the top of the crease to Henrik Sedin, who tapped it over for Granlund to put into a wide-open net at 14:27.

NOTES: Canucks center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Erik Gudbranson remain sidelined with upper-body injuries. Vancouver is also without wing Derek Dorsett, who ended his playing career late last month due to spinal problems. ... San Jose forward Joel Ward got an assist on Burns' second goal of the night for his 300th career point in his 700th NHL game.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Monday night at Edmonton.

Canucks: Sunday at home against Calgary.

Check out this hilarious Sharks Christmas music video

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Check out this hilarious Sharks Christmas music video

Everyone knows the classic Christmas songs. Your family probably plays the same tunes year in and year out. 

It's time for the something fresh. 

The San Jose Sharks are here to bring some new flavor to Christmas spirit. On Friday, the team re-released the music video you all need to see, with their song "Holiday Sweater." Turn the volume up for this one.

Merry Christmas and good luck getting that jingle out of your head.