Sharks

Winchester wants to remain a Shark

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Winchester wants to remain a Shark

TORONTO After a summer of turnover in which the Sharks found themselves in need of depth forwards, they turned to a number of players to compete for open positions on their bottom two lines.

One of those guys was Brad Winchester. The 30-year-old journeyman forward was signed to a professional tryout in early September, made a good impression in training camp, and signed a one-year, 725,000 contract just before the start of the regular season.

Its an experiment thats worked out. Winchester has played in all but one game for the Sharks, contributed six goals and four assists, and is second on the team in penalty minutes with 77. Hes shown a willingness to stand up for his teammates, too, which never goes unnoticed in an NHL locker room.

Winchester has played primarily on the fourth line, but has also taken some top line shifts when coach Todd McLellan either likes the way Winchester is skating or wants to send a message to others. That includes Tuesday in Columbus, when Winchester skated for more than 13 minutes for just the third time in a 6-3 Sharks loss.

My goal was to come in and contribute to this team. Play my style of game, and be a great teammate and be a part of something thats special, Winchester said on Wednesday in Toronto.

Set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Winchester was asked if he thinks he's earned a chance to stay in San Jose past this season. I hope so. I love San Jose. Its a fantastic organization, he said.

Doug Wilson, however, prefers to wait until the year ends before discussing such matters.

What we try and do is get away from any distractions from this team. This is all about trying to win, being ready for tomorrow, and those things. Players know how we try and do business. Theres lots of time at the end of the year, Wilson said.

That doesnt mean Wilson isnt pleased with how Winchester has accounted for himself, though.

Hes played very well. He came in with no guarantees, earned his spot on the team, and has played well every night, the general manager said. Now, the most important time of the year is this point going forward.

Regardless of the way the season ends, Winchester is open to wearing a Sharks uniform for more than just one season.

If that opportunity arose I would definitely be interested in that, for sure," he said.

Practice canceled: The Sharks canceled Fridays practice in Toronto, opting for a workout at the team hotel and an earlier flight to Nashville.

The Sharks visit the Predators on Saturday and Wild on Sunday before hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

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USATSI

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

The San Jose Sharks were shut out for the first time this season on Thursday night, but it sure didn't feel like it.

You’d be forgiven, albeit mistaken, if you didn't think the loss was their first goose egg of the season. San Jose’s been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league this year, and has scored two or fewer goals in all but two of their six games in November.

The Sharks controlled play, but their raw possession numbers were misleading: Through the first two periods, San Jose was outshot 23-18, and poured it on in the third looking for the game-tying goal.

In order to break out of his team’s extended slump, head coach Peter DeBoer appeared to throw his lines in the proverbial blender. The changes weren't very significant, though, as DeBoer worked mostly around the edges.

Joe Thornton remained with Joe Pavelski, while Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier rotated in on their wing. Joonas Donskoi swapped in with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, and on and on.

The core pair of each line remained intact, while DeBoer swapped complimentary wingers. Subtle changes, unsurprisingly, didn't lead to drastically different results.

He’s been amenable to bigger changes at times, briefly breaking up longtime linemates Thornton and Pavelski last Sunday against Los Angeles. The bottom six, especially the fourth line, has mostly been a revolving door.

That's a start, but far from enough. 

As long as the Sharks struggle to score, similarly significant changes are in order.

DeBoer shouldn't want to sacrifice the team’s defensive dominance, or its strong possession game. But, the Sharks haven't scored enough through 17 games to justify using the same forward combinations. 

In Thornton and Pavelski’s case, those struggles date back to last season. For just about everyone else, the sample size is getting increasingly more significant as the season approaches the quarter pole.

The Sharks bench boss expressed a willingness to mix up his power play units earlier this week, and needs to do the same at even strength. It's time to try Pavelski on Couture's wing, Meier on Thornton's, or any number of permutations.

Tweaking around the edges hasn't made much of a difference, so far more comprehensive adjustments are not only welcome, but necessary. Of course, DeBoer may not find the perfect lineup solutions.

At this point, though, it's worth a shot. It's hard to imagine the Sharks scoring any less than they have so far this season, and the Sharks need to explore if any line changes can provide a remedy.

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

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AP

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for his 74th career shutout and the Florida Panthers blanked the San Jose Sharks 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad.

Florida coach Bob Boughner won in his return to San Jose. He served as an assistant coach for the Sharks the last two years.

Luongo earned his first shutout of the season and first in 32 games against San Jose.

Martin Jones was nearly as good for the Sharks. He stopped 26 shots, but that wasn't enough to keep the Panthers from winning for the seventh time in their last eight trips to San Jose.

Sharks defenseman Tim Heed had a goal disallowed on a coach's challenge a little less than five minutes into the second period. Replays showed he came into contact with the puck just behind the blue line, making the play offside.

San Jose had another goal overturned after a replay review. Brent Burns took a hard shot that Luongo nearly caught but couldn't handle and it bounced along his pads. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one of three Sharks trying to poke at the puck and he used his stick to push both the puck and Luongo's pad into the net.

Sceviour scored a minute into the second after digging out the puck along the boards behind the net. He skated around the cage and poked a shot that hit Jones' pads. He took a second shot that got over the goalie's pads and went in.

Sceviour has four points in six games since returning from injury. He had two points in his first six games this season.

The Panthers, who have won three of four, added an insurance goal with less than eight minutes remaining. Radim Vrbata intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and played it to Jamie McGinn, who got Jones to commit before dishing to Bjugstad for the score.

NOTES: Panthers C Michael Haley received a warm ovation from Sharks fans. He played in San Jose the last couple of years. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed his 15th game with a lower-body injury, though he has been skating pain-free for the past two weeks. ... Florida center Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 10 games. ... The Sharks have not scored on their past 15 power plays.

UP NEXT

Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.