How Sharks rookie Lean Bergmann could be fourth-line forward they need


How Sharks rookie Lean Bergmann could be fourth-line forward they need

SAN JOSE -- The time for many of the Sharks' roster hopefuls to showcase their talents is over, and most of the new faces have been reassigned to the AHL's San Jose Barracuda. Well, except for Lean Bergmann. 

The 20-year-old German forward has made the most of his time with the Sharks since signing as a free agent in May. With two games remaining in San Jose's preseason, Bergmann has an extended opportunity to show the skill and physicality entity he can bring to the Sharks' offense -- and, possibly, how he can be a key to filling out their bottom six.

One of San Jose's biggest issues last season was finding a fourth-line combination that could get the job done on a nightly basis. While Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson were mainstays on that line, there was an almost constant rotation of skaters who played alongside them, whether it was a center or a winger when Goodrow manned the middle.

Bergmann, with the mix of speed and grit he has shown so far this preseason, could become a constant.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward stood out in Saturday's game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Despite not getting on the scoreboard, Bergmann -- who scored 29 points (20 goals, nine assists) in 50 games last season for the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) -- ended Saturday night with two blocked shots and five shots on goal. He also had a nifty between-the-legs pass that, had it been in a regular-season game, unquestionably would've made the postgame highlight reel.

After the game, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer made it clear that Bergmann was on the shortlist of young players who really stood out to him during the preseason, calling him "one of the guys who I think has jumped out as really trying to make an impression."

Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of Bergmann's game is the high level of physicality. He also tallied five hits in Saturday's game and seemed completely unphased by Vegas' physicality. 

That physical presence is something any team could benefit from having in their bottom six, and the Sharks are no exception.

While San Jose's offense has plenty of size in the way of power forwards Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, the Sharks don't have as much snarl up front outside of Goodrow and Evander Kane. If Bergmann can generate offense at the NHL level while maintaining some of that fighting spirit, he can give the team a different look.

As for exactly where Bergmann could pencil into the Sharks' lineup, it looks like he will, in fact, get a look on San Jose's fourth line.

With the majority of players from training camp already reassigned to the Barracuda, San Jose will likely roll out lines and pairs in their final two preseason contests that will closely resemble a regular-season lineup. DeBoer had Bergmann on Goodrow's wing in Wednesday's practice opposite of Karlsson, and the German skated in a spot that often was filled in in last year's playoffs by gritty winger Micheal Haley or Lukas Radil. 

Keep in mind, Bergmann's standout performance Saturday came on Logan Couture's wing. Since DeBoer is prone to throwing his lines in the blender when the team is struggling, he potentially could shuffle Bergmann up the lineup as needed. 

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Granted, the regular season is still a week away. There even is a chance that Bergmann doesn't continue to impress.

For the time being, however, he appears to be seizing a role the Sharks have been looking to fill.

Sharks lament 'poor, poor effort' in third period of loss to Lightning


Sharks lament 'poor, poor effort' in third period of loss to Lightning

For the first 40 minutes of Saturday's game in Tampa Bay, the Sharks had the Lightning within their reach. Sure, San Jose went into an early 1-0 hole, but they kept grinding in an effort to even up the score.

But after finding themselves down 3-0 in the waning minutes of the second stanza, the Sharks' effort took a backseat on their way to losing 7-1. It collectively became a game San Jose wants to put in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible, but also served as an important lesson as the Sharks continue to iron out mistakes.

"It was a strange game," head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters at Amalie Arena after the loss. "At the end of 40, I was pretty happy with how we were playing. I didn't think we deserved to be down 3-0, but that was the reality. The third period was just unacceptable. A poor, poor effort. I think instead of sticking with it we started feeling sorry for ourselves after that fourth goal and maybe started thinking about tomorrow and you can't do that in this league. Throw that one out."

Logan Couture agreed with DeBoer's assessment.

"I thought we played pretty well through two, I thought we had some good five-on-five looks," Couture said. "I didn't like our third period. We gave them some many freebies and let our goalies down. For the first 40 I thought we played hard, it could have been a one or two-goal game."

San Jose generated a couple of good looks in the first 40 minutes, with a Kevin Labanc chance in the second being the best. But through two periods -- and most of the third period -- San Jose was unable to find the back of the net.

"I don't think we started as bad as maybe the score was telling us," Erik Karlsson said. "That's the way it goes sometimes."

Bolts' netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall as he came within minutes of handing the Sharks their first shutout loss of the 2019-20 season, but Couture insisted San Jose didn't put enough pressure on him.

"He played well, he made saves, but I think we could have done a better job with traffic," Couture said. "There were second opportunities around him and they did a good job of boxing us out. We've got to be hungrier around their net to score goals."

Even though the Sharks seemed content overall with how they play through the first two periods, there's no denying that the first five minutes set a tone for the rest of the evening. The Sharks were granted six minutes of power-play time thanks to a tripping penalty on Ondrej Palat 15 seconds into the game and then high-sticking double minor on Mathieu Joseph a little over five minutes later. San Jose couldn't convert on any of their chances, stretching their power-play goal drought to a ghastly 0-for-22.

While the power play isn't the only thing the Sharks have to correct after Saturday's loss, it has definitely raised concern.

"I've been trying to be patient through it," DeBoer admitted, "but it hasn't been good and it's getting to the point now where, tonight a big difference in the game was special teams. Especially when we get those early ones, that's a chance to grab some momentum on the road."

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The Sharks are fortunate enough to have a quick turnaround after Saturday's loss, heading to Sunrise to face the Panthers in a Sunday matinee.

"Overall, I think this is a game we're going to have to learn from," Karlsson summarized. "We've got to figure out a way to be successful no matter who we are playing. Today was a tough one on the score sheet, but we have a game again tomorrow. We have to fix the things that make us successful."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-1 blowout loss to Lightning


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-1 blowout loss to Lightning


The Sharks' Saturday night faceoff against the Lightning wasn't nearly as fast-paced as their previous game against the Hurricanes. And, unfortunately for the Sharks, it wasn't as good of a performance.

While the Tampa Bay squad has struggled this season, they overpowered San Jose thanks to a strong performance from their netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, handing the Sharks a 7-1 loss.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game.

The other guy was better

It wasn't as if Martin Jones didn't make a couple of big saves early in the game. (At least, up until he was pulled from the game.) However, Vasilevskiy was superior on the other end of the ice.

The reigning Vezina Trophy winner was a brick wall against San Jose, coming within minutes of handing the Sharks their first shutout loss of their season.

It wasn't as if the Sharks weren't trying. They got good o-zone time and outshot the Lightning through the first 40 minutes of play. But even with a ton of pressure from San Jose's third line in the second period, Vasilevskiy remained un-phased. By the third period, the wind had been taken out of the sails of the Sharks' offense.

Doomed by special teams

This isn't the first time this season that the power play has come under scrutiny. Far from it, actually -- San Jose entered Saturday's game on a 0-for-19 stretch. But things got worse against the Bolts, as the Sharks got three opportunities in the first frame -- one minor penalty 15 seconds into the game and double minor later in the period -- and couldn't capitalize on any of them. Being on the man advantage almost looked to zap San Jose's energy.

When the Bolts got their own chance on the four-minute power play in the second stanza, they didn't have the same problem that the Sharks did. San Jose's league-leading penalty kill was almost all of the way through a Kevin Labanc high-sticking double minor when Steven Stamkos's shot picked the corner and beat Jones for Tampa's third goal on the evening.

Back on the hunt for a four-line effort

This one might seem obvious since the Sharks almost got shutout, but the effort put out by all lines needs to be noted. For a second straight game, the Joe Thornton-led third line was the strongest in San Jose's forward attack. But unlike in the Sharks' previous game, the other lines didn't generate too many good looks.

Simply put, the Sharks aren't going to win games if the majority of their team is playing a passive game like they did on Saturday. Even against a middle-of-the-pack team like the Bolts, San Jose's collective effort just wasn't good enough.