Melker Karlsson

Melker Karlsson's scoring masks deeper problem


Melker Karlsson's scoring masks deeper problem

In the Sharks’ bid to find consistent offensive production, Melker Karlsson is the latest winger to skate alongside Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. He’ll get another look there in San Jose’s tilt with the Calgary Flames on Thursday, the first of a three-game road trip through western Canada.

It’s not his first Joe-deo. The trio has played over 700 five-on-five minutes together dating back to Karlsson’s rookie season in 2014-15, per Corsica Hockey. 

Familiarity hasn’t necessarily bred success, however. Of the 23 lines that have played at least 100 minutes together since 2014-15, Karlsson-Thornton-Pavelski ranks 13th in goals per 60 minutes (2.5). 

If you only look at head coach Peter DeBoer’s tenure, the line is 12th, but out of 18 combinations that spent 100 minutes together (2.15). That’s, at least in part, because the trio doesn’t generate a lot of shots together.

Their 26.86 shots per 60 is the fifth-worst rate among those same lines. In fact, Karlsson’s skated on four of the five-worst lines by that metric. 

The 27-year-old has legitimate finishing talent, converting on at least 10 percent of his shots in each of his four NHL seasons. The problem is that he doesn’t shoot all that much. 

He’s shooting at an individual rate of 5.69 shots per 60 minutes during five-on-five play, which represents an improvement over last season (5.42). Should that hold, it’ll be the first time he’s shot at a higher rate than the previous season. 

A few more pucks are getting on net, but Karlsson is actually attempting less shots (10.24 individual corsi-for per 60) than he did last season (10.34). That’s the third straight season of year-over-year decline. 

Despite that, Karlsson’s scored two goals in his last three games, and has five on the season. Now, he’s on pace for a career-high in goals, on the back of a career-high 17.2 percent shooting percentage. 

His ability to convert on limited opportunities masks just that: Karlsson doesn’t generate a whole lot of opportunities. He’s shown himself to be a good enough shooter to mitigate his lack of shot generation, so long as he’s not mired in a slump. 

An injection of finishing ability may be what the top line needs, and Karlsson’s hard-working, puck-retrieving style seems like an on-paper fit alongside Thornton and Pavelski’s respective skillsets. But as long as the trio struggles to generate shots, it’s not a given that they’ll be able to make the most of limited chances.

Sharks exorcise MSG demons, take down Rangers


Sharks exorcise MSG demons, take down Rangers


NEW YORK — Logan Couture had a goal and an assist, Martin Jones stopped xx shots and the San Jose Sharks beat the struggling New York Rangers 4-1 on Monday night.

Tim Heed, Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson also scored to help the Sharks win for the third time in four games. Jones got his fourth straight win after losing his first two starts.

Mika Zibanejad scored and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 20 saves for the Rangers, who fell to 2-6-2 on the season. New York finished 0 for 6 on the power play and is 3 for 25 over the last six games.

With the Sharks leading 3-0 after two periods, Couture took the puck away from Lundqvist behind the goal and sent it to Karlsson, who put it in for his second of the season at 2:51 of the third. Couture got his 200th career assist on the play.

San Jose turned the puck over in its defensive zone and Zibanejad snapped a shot into the top right corner to spoil Jones' shutout bid at 4:23 of the final period.

Donskoi increased the Sharks' lead to 3-0 with 38 seconds left in the second as he skated into the right circle and beat Lundqvist glove-side inside the right post.

The Rangers controlled the play for most of the first period while outshooting the Sharks 16-8, but trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes.

Couture, who had his second career hat trick in a loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday night, got San Jose on the scoreboard 1:56 into the game. With Jones pulled for an extra skater on a delayed penalty, Brent Burns sent pass from the right circle up top to Couture, who fired a slap shot from straightaway past Lundqvist.

Jones had two nice saves on back-to-back attempts in close by Pavel Buchnevich with a little more than nine minutes left in the first.

Heed doubled the Sharks' lead with 7:15 left as he brought the puck up the right side and sent a bad-angle shot from near the goal line along the boards. The puck trickled through Lundqvist's pads for the 26-year-old's first career goal in his seventh NHL game.

The Rangers had a two-man advantage for 25 seconds late in the opening period, but Jones stoppedZibanejad's shot from top of the left circle, and Rick Nash missed with an attempt in close.

NOTES: Couture has six goals and three assists in his last four games. ... The Sharks are 30 for 31 on the penalty kill in seven games since giving up three power-play goals in the season- opener against Philadelphia. ... The teams conclude the season series Jan. 25 at San Jose. ... Rangers D Kevin Shattenkirk played in his 500th career regular season game. ... New York F Rick Nash played in his 999th game. ... D Marc Staal played in his 699th game — all with the Rangers — and passed Mark Messier and Steve Vickers for sole possession of 12th place on the franchise list. ... New York has given up 15 goals in the first period this season.


Sharks: At Boston on Thursday night in the fifth of a six-game trip that concludes at Buffalo on Saturday.

Rangers: Host Arizona on Thursday night in the finale of a season-high six-game homestand.

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip


NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.


Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.