Erik Karlsson's absence could have drastic impact on Sharks vs. Blues


Erik Karlsson's absence could have drastic impact on Sharks vs. Blues

While the Sharks made a big push late in an effort to at least tie Game 4 and force overtime for a second consecutive contest against the St. Louis Blues, one glaring detail caught everyone's attention: Erik Karlsson spent an awful lot of time on the bench.

Karlsson played only one shift in the latter half of the third period Friday night at Enterprise Center, taking the ice right at the end of the frame when Sharks goalie Martin Jones was pulled for an extra skater. Karlsson spent the rest of the period posted on the bench, frequently opening the door for his teammates as they exited the ice, and the defenseman’s long absence was noticed.

Taking into consideration the long stretch of time he missed during the regular season with a groin injury, the Sharks defenseman’s long stint on the bench understandably raised a few eyebrows. When asked about Karlsson's status after the 2-1 loss that evened the Western Conference final at two games apiece, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer simply said he didn't have an update to provide.

Karlsson has been a staple of the Sharks' success throughout their current playoff run. When healthy, he's been a big difference-maker. If something is ailing him, it could have a severe impact on how the Sharks play in their upcoming games.

As Sharks analyst Jamie Baker pointed out on NBC Sports California's postgame show, Karlsson didn't appear to play with as much jump in Game 4 as he had in the previous contest. Sure, fatigue is a factor, as he's played significant minutes through 18 playoff games. But sitting out for nearly half a period could be a sign that he aggravated his previous injury.

Given that the Blues have tried to rough up Karlsson at every opportunity throughout the series, there's a number of instances where he could have potentially gotten a little extra banged up. 

The Sharks no doubt hope Karlsson isn't suffering from something major. In addition to logging big minutes on the blue line -- his 25:09 of ice time was second most among all Sharks in Game 4 -- he is responsible for setting up big plays for San Jose, as evidenced by the fact that he currently leads all playoff participants in assists (14). If something keeps Karlsson from using his speed to break out against St. Louis, San Jose could be short a weapon on both offense and defense. 

Plus, if Karlsson isn't able to skate those big minutes, that time will end up being put on Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who already are carrying a lot of responsibility defending against a heavy Blues offense. The absence of a healthy Karlsson on the blue line could give St. Louis' offense room to muscle down the ice with more ease.

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' series-tying loss in Game 4]

Before anyone gets too worried, there's a chance Karlsson is perfectly fine and will get right back to helping the Sharks when the series returns to San Jose on Sunday afternoon for Game 5. The Sharks have shown they can rally when one of their big guns is hurt, but there's no denying that Karlsson's long stint on the bench at the tail end of Game 4 raises serious concerns.

Sharks' Evander Kane announces daughter's birth after 'tough journey'


Sharks' Evander Kane announces daughter's birth after 'tough journey'

Just over a year after losing their daughter during pregnancy, Sharks forward Evander Kane and his wife, Anna, welcomed another daughter into the world.

The Kanes announced the birth of their daughter, Kensington Ava, on Thursday on social media. Evander Kane said his daughter was born on July 3. 

"My wife Anna is a rockstar, the strength and love she has displayed over the last 18 months," Kane wrote on Twitter. "We want to thank everyone who has reached out during this period in support of our family and (we) appreciate the kind words throughout this journey. I'm so proud of my daughter, it's tough to put into words how much she means to me."

Kane thanked the Sharks, their fans, his friends and family "for their overwhelming love" during a difficult time. Last March, Kane announced that their daughter, Eva, passed away 26 weeks into Anna's pregnancy.

"You gave us all, especially your mom and I, something to be excited about," Kane wrote of Eva on Twitter on March 14, 2019. "And though we are devastated that you couldn't stay with us longer, your mom and I will always cherish the time we had with your beautiful soul. Your spirit will give us strength, your love will give us comfort. We will love you forever."

The Sharks, San Jose teammate Mario Ferraro and Hockey Diversity Alliance co-founder Akim Aliu all commented on Kane's Instagram post on Thursday.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Tomas Hertl has a huge year ahead of him. As he returns from ACL and MCL surgery, he and his wife Aneta are expecting the birth of their first child in November.

Sharks fans everywhere can't wait for No. 48 to get back on the ice. But how did he pick that number? It’s quite simple.

“They give it to me,” he wrote in a recent NHLPA questionnaire.

Enough said.

But before Hertl was the Sharks’ All-Star center, he had other aspirations.

Believe it or not, he wrote in the questionnaire that he wanted to be an architect if he wasn’t going to be a hockey player. But he was born to play hockey.

His dad, Jaroslav, during the winter in his native in Prague, would create nets (measuring the perfect size) on the frozen ponds near where he lived. Hertl’s dad would even kick off skaters if they were recreationally using the area where he wanted to play hockey.

[RELATED: Sharks avoid nightmare scenario in 2020 NHL Draft lottery]

As much as Hertl could have thrived as an architect, his career as a hockey star was destined.