San Jose Sharks

Scoring binge masks deeper issues for Sharks' third line

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Scoring binge masks deeper issues for Sharks' third line

Once again, Sharks’ third line seemed to click during Tuesday night’s win against the St. Louis Blues.

Mikkel Boedker scored his sixth and seventh points in four games. He now has two more goals than he did all of last season, his first in San Jose, and is only two points shy of matching his total from last year.

Chris Tierney continued his career year, and picked up his fourth point in three games. His 16th assist of the season marks a new personal-best, with 22 games to go. 

Jannik Hansen, meanwhile, continued to show signs of life. After managing only five assists in his first 31 games of the season, he now has three assists in his last three games. 

In all, the new-look third line has outscored opponents five-to-one during the last four games, in a little over 40 five-on-five minutes together. That level of production should encourage the Sharks, especially in the absence of Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton. 

The problem is that it isn’t exactly sustainable. 

For one, they’ve benefited from plenty of puck luck. Over the last four games with Boedker, Hansen, and Tierney on the ice in five-on-five situations together, the Sharks have scored on a sky-high 26.32 percent of their shots, and the team’s opponents have only scored on 3.12 percent of theirs, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

The trio hasn’t played well enough to earn that disparity. In the last four games, they’ve been out-attempted 52-37, outshot 32-19, and out-chanced 33-25 in five-on-five situations. 

For the analytically inclined, their five-on-five corsi-for percentage in those games is 35.96 percent, shots-for percentage is 37.25, and scoring chance-for percentage is 43.1. With them off of the ice, the Sharks’ numbers in those respective metrics are 49.81 percent, 51.29, and 56.69 percent. 

Tuesday was a near-perfect representation of the discrepancy between their play and their production. The Sharks only attempted 27.27 percent of the five-on-five shots and generated 35.71 percent of the scoring chances with them on the ice, but still managed to score a goal and hold the Blues scoreless in the process. 

In all, Boedker, Hansen, and Tierney have been on the ice for half of the team’s goals over the last four games, despite not playing all that well together. The Sharks will surely take those results no matter how ugly the process, especially as Thornton and Hertl remain on the mend. 

The longer they’re out, though, the less likely it is that the new third line will be able to maintain this level of scoring. San Jose will have to hope the puck luck doesn’t begin to go the other way if the trio can’t start tilting the ice in their favor. 

Sharks hang on to beat Blues and open road trip with win

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Sharks hang on to beat Blues and open road trip with win

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS -- Logan Couture and Mikkel Boedker each had a goal and an assist, sending the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the slumping St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

Joonas Donskoi also scored and Martin Jones made 30 saves for San Jose, which has won five of its last six games.

Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tarasenko had the goals for the Blues, who have lost a season-high four straight.

After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for five goals in the second.

San Jose took a 1-0 lead when Couture knocked in a loose puck at 6:35. Boedker fired in a shot from the point that goalie Carter Hutton blocked but couldn't corral. Couture was on the spot and scored his 24th of the season.

St. Louis answered at 8:23 when Barbashev scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that sailed over Jones' arm.

Donskoi beat Hutton on a wrist shot from the left circle at 12:05. Couture assisted on Donskoi's first goal in 17 games.

Boedker gave San Jose a 3-1 lead at 15:54 when he scored from the left side of the net. Boedker has five goals in his last four games.

Tarasenko cut the margin to 3-2 on a power play when he fired in the rebound of a shot by Vince Dunn at 19:36 for his 24th of the season. Tarasenko has 10 points in his last nine games (four goals, six assists) against the Sharks.

San Jose's Brent Burns prevented a goal with less than five minutes left. During a scramble in front of the net, the puck hit the post and was sliding along the goal line when Burns knocked it out.

This was the first meeting between St. Louis and San Jose this season. The Blues swept the three-game season series last year, outscoring the Sharks 11-3 overall, and had won four straight against the Sharks.

Hutton made his second start in the last five games and stopped 20 shots. Previously against the Sharks, he was 4-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, a .968 save percentage and two shutouts in five career starts.

NOTES: The Sharks acquired C Eric Fehr from Toronto for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft. ... Blues C Vladimir Sobotka was out of the lineup with an illness. It was the first game he has missed this season. ... The Blues have recalled forward Sammy Blais from the AHL for the fourth time this season. Blais, who leads the San Antonio Rampage with 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists), last played for St. Louis on Dec. 16, when he got hurt against Winnipeg. ... San Jose forward Tomas Hertl missed another game with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Blues: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Fehr or Foul: Sharks acquire a fourth-line center, but is he the solution?

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Fehr or Foul: Sharks acquire a fourth-line center, but is he the solution?

UPDATE (3:57 PM PST): Fehr will join the Sharks in Nashville on Wednesday, according to the Bay Area News Group's Paul Gackle. This article has been updated to reflect that. 

Trade season has arrived in San Jose, after the Sharks acquired a veteran center on Tuesday. 

Six days before the NHL trade deadline, the Sharks traded a 2020 seventh round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Eric Fehr. 

The 32-year-old center has spent the bulk of his season on loan to the AHL's San Diego Gulls, after he went unclaimed on waivers in October. In 34 games with the Gulls, who play in the same division as the Sharks' AHL affiliate, Fehr scored 28 points (17 goals, 11 assists). 

The Bay Area News Group reported last month that the Sharks were in the market for a fourth-line center, and Ryan Carpenter, Barclay Goodrow, and Danny O'Regan all got looks at the position. Carpenter was waived after scoring an assist in 16 games, but has scored seven points (five goals, two assists) in 13 games since the Vegas Golden Knights claimed him in December.

Goodrow had not played the position professionally prior to this season, but acquitted himself reasonably well, all things considered: He's posted the best five-on-five possession numbers of his career (51.1 percent corsi-for percentage), and scored a career-high five goals in 30 games. O'Regan, the Barracuda's leading scorer last season, hasn't been able to seize a regular role and has seemed overmatched at times. 

Fehr, meanwhile, is a more proven option, with some utility to boot. He's not played less than a minute-and-a-half on the penalty kill since 2013-14, according to Natural Stat Trick, and suppresses opposing shots pretty well for a fourth line center, per Own The Puck

It's also fair to question whether or not his best hockey is behind him. As mentioned previously, he's 32 and spent the majority of his season in the AHL, plus he hasn't been a positive five-on-five possesion player relative to his teammates since 2013-14.

The Sharks didn't give up much, as their last pick in a draft two years away is close to nothing. But, they had an opportunity to acquire the forward at no cost when he was first placed on waivers in October, and he went unclaimed. 

Fehr will join his new teammates Wednesday in Nashville. He's spent all but one of his 13 NHL seasons in the Eastern Conference, but does have some familiarity with San Jose. 

He scored against the Sharks in game four of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, and played alongside Joel Ward in Washington from 2013-15.