Wingels returns as Mitchell sits


Wingels returns as Mitchell sits

SAN JOSE When Marty Havlat sustained a partially torn hamstring in late December, shelving the winger for six-to-eight weeks, it vacated a place on the Sharks roster. Benn Ferriero and Tommy Wingels, the best forwards on the teams AHL affiliate in Worcester, were the two most logical choices for general manager Doug Wilson.

The first thing I thought was, I felt bad for Marty, Wingels said on Friday. Hes worked hard and its unfortunate to see someone go down. At the same time, thats why we have that team down there. Its a bunch of guys who are ready to step in if their name is called.

Wilson went with Ferriero, recalling the Boston native on December 20. But with some recent Sharks forwards struggling, Wingels joined his friend on Thursday with the big club.

Its Wingels second stint with San Jose, after he made the opening night roster and played in three of the team's first four games while Havlat was recovering from shoulder surgery.

He was reassigned on Oct. 22, though, trading places with defenseman Justin Braun at the time.

We wanted Tommy to go down and work on his game, play a lot of minutes, and not be up here and get fewer minutes, Todd McLellan said. Hes done that. Hes gone there for the first 25 or 30 games of the season, become one of the top players on their team and one of the better forwards in the American League. Now, its his reward to be up here.

Wingels, who leads Worcester with 13 goals, said: When you get sent down you have to focus on what gets you back up there. That gave me the opportunity to do that.

Theres another reason Wingels is here, though. McLellan has not been overly pleased with all of his forwards, mentioning as much after the 3-1 win in Anaheim on Wednesday. While Wingels played against the Blue Jackets alongside Michal Handzus and Andrew Murray on Thursday night, a healthy Torrey Mitchell was a spectator.

It gives us an opportunity to push some others here and let them know that if theyre not playing well or not producing, we have assets down there were prepared to use, said McLellan.

Mitchell who has three goals and four assists in 33 games, including just one assist in his last 11, and was asked if hes satisfied with his season so far.

Nope, Im not. I wish I had a few more points offensively and I wish I had a little more impact on some games, but the only thing I can do right now is keep working hard, he said.

As for what hes working on to get back into the lineup, Mitchell said: Not anything specific, just maybe try to be a little more creative in the offensive zone and be a little harder on pucks.

When Mitchell returns to the lineup is anyones guess, as McLellan seemed pleased with Wingels performance in the 2-1 Sharks win over Columbus.

He gave us good minutes, created some stuff on the forecheck, was responsible defensively, McLellan said. Its sometimes hard to play that first game coming back, just to fit in again. Im sure he felt good about it.

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Saturday’s loss to the New York Islanders is one with which Sharks fans have become all too familiar.

The Sharks held a decided 41-23 edge on the shot count, but trailed 3-1 on the scoreboard. Since 2005, no team in the league has lost more games (59) in which they shot 35 or more times, and held their opponent to 25 or fewer shots.

No, your instincts haven’t deceived you over the Joe Thornton era: San Jose has lost a lot of games where they’ve otherwise outplayed their opponent. Of course, they’ve won plenty of those games too. More often than not, in fact, winning 72 of 131 times under those circumstances.

Frustration under those circumstances became readily apparent in the second period on Saturday, when Joe Pavelski broke his stick over Thomas Greiss’ net. The captain had plenty of reason to be unhappy, as his goalless drought to start the season has mirrored his team’s inability to finish at even strength.

So far this season, only Dallas and Montreal have scored on a lower percentage of their shots at even strength than San Jose, according to Natural Stat Trick. Both the Stars and Canadiens, unsurprisingly, are seventh in their respective divisions. The Sharks are sixth in the Pacific, thanks only to the still-winless Coyotes.

This early in the season, bad results can mask a strong process. They can’t finish, but the Sharks have been, statistically, one of the league’s best puck possession teams at even strength. That can happen over such a short stretch, but that’s easy to lose sight of when the team’s sitting in the division’s basement.

Right now, the Sharks just aren’t scoring enough at even strength, even as they’re playing well elsewhere. The power play’s begun to find an identity, particularly on the Kevin Labanc-led second unit. The penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal since allowing three in the season opener, and have climbed all the way to 13th in the league.

If the Sharks continue to play this way, the goals, and wins, should come. They may not, of course, especially if Peter DeBoer struggles to find combinations that click for more than a game at a time. But eventually, the results should align with the process.

Saturday night was “one of those games” that have been surprisingly common in recent Sharks history, but it shouldn’t be chalked up as anything more than an amusing anomaly. Sometimes, one team is better, and still finds a way to lose.  

Sometimes, it truly is that simple.

Greiss strong in net as Islanders hand loss to Sharks


Greiss strong in net as Islanders hand loss to Sharks


SAN JOSE -- Thomas Greiss guided the New York Islanders on a night when they played it a little bit too safe.

Greiss stopped 40 shots, Brock Nelson scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the New York Islanders rallied to beat the slumping San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Saturday.

The Islanders improved to 1-1 on their three-game, five-day West Coast trip. The Sharks are 1-3 on their season-opening five-game homestand.

Nelson made it 2-1 at 13:33 of the second period, capitalizing on an open look in front of the goal after Joshua Ho-Sang's pass from behind the net.

"After we got the lead we just kind of held on, we bent but we didn't break and we needed some big saves from Thomas," Islanders coach Doug Weight said.

"These teams, when they're down, they're gonna push. ... You don't want to sit back but I think it's human nature. We have to get it out of our heads. We want to play aggressive and we want to put the puck in good spots. We started making some shoddy decisions, our feet stopped moving for a while, but give (the Sharks) credit, they made a good push. Tommy was great."

The Sharks led after Kevin Labanc's power-play goal at 4:16 of the first. Labanc was in the left circle when he rebounded a deflection and fired a wrist shot that slipped through Greiss' pads.

The Islanders tied it when Anders Lee tipped one in at 17:02 of the first.

Cal Clutterbuck scored an empty-net goal at with 1:10 left in the game.

"It's nice, first road win of the year, a good bounce back," Nelson said, referencing a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

"I thought we did some good things in Anaheim and weren't rewarded. It's nice to come out on top here."

The Islanders failed to score on three power plays. The Sharks penalty killing unit hasn't allowed a power-play goal in 12 chances over its last three games.

The Sharks had a short-handed scoring chance after Joakim Ryan was called for holding at 14:33 in the third period, when Greiss turned away Chris Tierney's shot in front of the goal.

Greiss survived relentless pressure in a third period in which the Sharks had 15 shots on goal.

"It felt like it was going to break, it just never did," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "A little bit of credit to Greisser over there, but with us, we've got to keep pushing and find a way.

"I thought we were going to tie it, but encouraging to see the way guys played for a second straight game here. Wanted a better result, for sure, but guys played hard."

NOTES: Islanders C Alan Quine (wrist) is with the team on its West Coast trip and has been practicing. He'll likely go to Bridgeport of the AHL on a conditioning assignment if he's ready when the team returns home on Monday. ... RW Clutterbuck (hip) was in Saturday's lineup after missing the last three games and C Jordan Eberle was on the ice a day after missing Friday's practice with an injury he suffered in practice the previous day. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. Coach Pete DeBoer said the injury is day-to-day.


Islanders: At the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.

Sharks: Host the Montreal Canadians on Tuesday night.