With blue line recovering, Sharks look to end homestand on high note


With blue line recovering, Sharks look to end homestand on high note

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks might be dealing with some bumps and bruises on their blue line. But after playing a good game last weekend against the Predators, head coach Peter DeBoer isn't too worried about penciling another defenseman into the lineup.

Tim Heed will file back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers with Mario Ferraro and Dalton Prout not quite ready to return to game action. Heed has been in the dog house after a slow start to the season, getting glued to the bench for long stretches of games. But after playing what DeBoer called his "best game of the season" last Saturday against Nashville, having to put No. 72 back out there doesn't seem as daunting.

"Those decisions become easy when you play like that," DeBoer said.

The Swedish defenseman clocked 13:25 minutes of ice time on Saturday -- a stark contrast to how little he played in games over the Sharks' road trip at the end of October. Heed also tallied three shots-on-goal and a hit while not allowing any goals against the Sharks. DeBoer explained that, like other players who have underperformed, it's up to Heed to play better if he wants to stay in good standing.

"Coaches don't make those decisions, players make those decisions on whether they're going to play again or how quickly they're going to get back in there again," the head coach said.

It also helps that San Jose's blue line has found its groove since Radim Simek came back into the lineup last week, in part due to the fact that he eats up more minutes and takes some of the pressure off of heavy hitters Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. If Heed plays another solid game right out of the gate on Tuesday, that gives DeBoer even more room to space out responsibilities among his d-corps. 

It doesn't hurt either that San Jose's skaters are individually getting their game together. So even with Ferraro getting injured, the Sharks' defensive pairs haven't looked completely out of sync.

"For me, it's been about guys individually finding their own games," DeBoer continued. "I think that's what you're seeing."

As far as Ferraro is concerned, DeBoer said the rookie is "really close" to a return and is considered day-to-day. Prout will play one more game for the Barracuda as he rounds out his AHL conditioning stint. 

[RELATED: Win-streak captures Sharks' old form]

Regardless of who is in the lineup, San Jose is looking to end their six-game homestand on a high note with the Edmonton Oilers playing a visit on Tuesday night. After a dismal first month of the season, DeBoer said he's finally seeing some positive patterns in his team's game., even if their record is still below .500.

"At least I'm seeing some consistency to our style of play and our identity, and that's stretching now probably to the beginning of the homestand," DeBoer said. "That's a good thing. I know our record doesn't show it like you wish it would, but I think that's coming. There are some good signs there."

Hurricanes poke fun at Petr Mrazek after fighting Sharks' Joe Thornton

Hurricanes poke fun at Petr Mrazek after fighting Sharks' Joe Thornton

Thursday night’s matchup between the Sharks and the Carolina Hurricanes featured quite a ruckus, which began when Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek slashed Sharks veteran Joe Thornton after a play, prompting Thornton to put Mrazek on his back with a vicious forearm shiver.

During Friday morning’s practice, the Hurricanes decided to have some fun with their goalie by drawing an outline of where their net-minder gracefully hit the ice.

Mrazek remained on his back for several minutes after the blow but remained in the game.

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' shootout loss vs. Hurricanes]

The Sharks and Thornton may have won the fight, but the Hurricanes won the game 3-2 in a wild shootout.

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton


Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

There was no shortage of electricity in Thursday night's rumble between the Sharks and Hurricanes, which San Jose got a point out of after falling 3-2 in the shootout

But the game really went on the verge of exploding when Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek went after Joe Thornton -- which unleashed some next-level fury that Sharks fans on social media like to refer to as "Angry Joe."

"Jumbo plays hard, and the goalie went after him," Logan Couture said after Thursday's loss. "So, I don't know if the goalie expected to get pushed like he did, but if you're going to go at someone you're probably going to get pushed."

Thornton went to give the puck a nudge as he skated by Carolina's net, realizing a bit late that Mrazek already had frozen it. But it was enough to irk the Canes' netminder, who then attempted to violently slash Thornton and subsequently stood up out of the crease as if to square off with the future Hall of Famer. 

Thornton responded with a half-push, half-punch to Mrazek's face, sending the goalie toppling over backward to the ice. Mrazek remained there as a scrum ensued behind Carolina's net. 

[RELATED: Watch Jumbo send 'Canes goalie to ice with forearm shiver]

"I think it definitely gets your group emotionally engaged in the game when you have a goalie swinging a stick at a guy like, but, as you saw, Joe can take care of himself," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer chuckled. 

Even after Thornton was ushered over to the penalty box to serve two minor penalties, Mrazek was slow to get up off of the ice. The long delay in play left some wondering if Mrazek had a concussion, but he stayed in the game. 

This, of course, raised a couple of mid-game questions. Should Mrazek have come out of the game and gone straight into the league's concussion protocol? Was it actually the fall and not Thornton's force that caused him to labor on the ice for so long? Or, was Mrazek waiting things out so Thornton would receive more discipline?

Sharks goalie Aaron Dell offered up his two cents after the game. "He either got hit really hard and should have gone into concussion protocol or he flopped a bit, but I guess that's the ref's call," Dell said with a shrug.

Mrazek didn't offer up much to the media after the game, calling it a "cheap shot" by Thornton before saying he has suffered hits "worse than those, so it's not bad." So, perhaps we'll never know the real story.

While there is a lot of attention on his tiff with Mrazek, Thornton also deserves credit for playing an incredible game. He led the third line along with Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc to one of its most impactful games so far this season, and set up Sorensen for San Jose's first goal on the evening. With the Sharks' road trip continuing with a back-to-back this weekend against the Floridian teams, getting that kind of bottom-six contribution is vital.

"He's playing well," Couture said of Thornton. "We need [the third line]. Can't win with only the top six scoring. Some nights you need the bottom six to score, and I think that line's looked really good."