How Timo Meier makes big impact on Sharks in return to ice

How Timo Meier makes big impact on Sharks in return to ice

SAN JOSE — There was no denying the Sharks missed Timo Meier when he was out of the lineup for three games.

While San Jose has many weapons it can use at its disposal, the mix of speed and physicality that the 22-year-old brings to the team’s forward attack is unmistakable.

In his return to the ice Wednesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, Meier again proved just how valuable he is to Team Teal’s lineup, as he helped the Sharks get in the win column with a 5-1 victory.

“He definitely gives us a boost,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “He brings that speed. He plays a good amount of minutes and fills out certain situations, whether it’s power play or five-on-five time.”

Not surprisingly, Meier was just as happy to be back on the ice as his teammates were.

“You don’t want to be sitting out, watching games with an injury,” Meier told the media after Wednesday’s game. “I was obviously really excited to be playing again.”

Meier tallied one goal and two assists in his return, in addition to joining San Jose’s defensive efforts and blocking three shots. He looked right at home slotted on a line with Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorensen — a pair that has had a ton of chemistry since being put together this season.

The Swiss winger said he thought he meshed well on his new line.

“As the game went on, I think we got better,” Meier observed. “Marcus is a great skater — a lot of speed, a lot of skill out there. And we all know what Jumbo can do with the puck. So, I’m just trying to bring my strength to their line, push the D’s back.”

Meier is no doubt skilled in pushing defensemen off and posting up in those dirty areas, ready to score a goal. But he doesn’t just add positives to whatever line he’s specifically on. Having Meier back in the lineup also helps expand the rest of San Jose’s offense.

With Meier’s return to the ice, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer reconstructed a new fourth line consisting of Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson. The line not only contributed the first goal but continued to generate offense throughout the game.

“I thought our fourth line was very effective tonight,” DeBoer said, “and the reason for that is because you can plug Timo in and put three guys there (on the fourth line) that can play and are veteran guys. I thought they did a really good job for us down there.”

While DeBoer was complimentary of Meier’s return, he also believes the young forward can build onto that performance.

“I still think he has another level he can get to,” the coach observed. “But for his first game back, I thought he was good.”

For Meier himself, of course, it’s all about being healthy so he can stay on the ice and contribute.

“You try to be a difference-maker,” Meier said. “You try to do whatever you can to help the team win.”

Matt Duchene trade: What deal means for Sharks before NHL deadline

Matt Duchene trade: What deal means for Sharks before NHL deadline

The Sharks will see the newest member of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. 

Forward Matt Duchene, who the Blue Jackets acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Friday for a package centered on two prospects and two first-round picks, will suit up against San Jose on Saturday. 

Beyond the immediate implications for their next game, the Blue Jackets trading for Duchene has trade-deadline ramifications for the Sharks -- both good and bad. 

The good news for San Jose is that Duchene won't join a contender in the Western Conference. The Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets were among the teams linked to Duchene in the lead-up to the deadline. Friday's trade takes one of the best available forwards off the market, meaning those teams -- as well as the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights -- will have to look elsewhere for help up front. 

There are still plenty of top-flight forwards available. Duchene's now-former Senators teammate Mark Stone and current Blue Jackets teammate Artemi Panarin come to mind. Beyond them, players like Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds and New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello would figure to make up the next tier of forwards for contenders looking for help at the deadline. 

That's where the downside of Duchene's trade comes in for the Sharks, as the timing of the deal could price San Jose out of making an acquisition. 

As Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman noted earlier this week, the Sharks' lack of a first-round pick in the next two drafts "[limits] what they can do" at the deadline. Friedman figured trade values for players like Simmonds and Zuccarello would drop the longer Duchene, Panarin, and Stone were still on the market, and that would benefit Sharks general manager Doug Wilson as he reportedly looks to add a winger. 

Now, Duchene has a new home and Panarin might not even be on the move. The Blue Jackets reportedly are happy to hang on to the Russian winger in their playoff push, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

Those notions already seem to be affecting teams' asking prices. The Rangers are looking for "high picks or a high pick and a prospect" for Zuccarello, TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Friday.

The Sharks still have second-round picks in each of the next two drafts, but only 10 total selections in 2020 and 2021. Friedman reported on Tuesday that they're telling teams forward prospect Sasha Chmelevski isn't available, and defenseman Ryan Merkley is the only former first-rounder in San Jose's system after Josh Norris was included in the Erik Karlsson trade. 

[RELATED: Sharks were 'happy to olbige' Penguins with scuffles]

In other words, San Jose probably wouldn't be able to win any bidding wars ahead of the deadline, and Duchene's trade makes the prospect of one more likely. 

That's not necessarily a bad thing for the Sharks. They will enter Saturday's game against the Blue Jackets no more than three points back of the Flames for first place in the Pacific Division and the conference. 

But, the Sharks' rivals are still trying to improve, and matching any potential moves might've just gotten more difficult. 

Sharks not surprised by late-game tussles in blowout win over Penguins

Sharks not surprised by late-game tussles in blowout win over Penguins

Even though the Sharks and Penguins only play each other twice a season, things tend to get a bit chippy when they meet up on the ice. The bad blood no doubt stems from when these teams faced off in the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. And boy, did the fists fly in the third period of Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh.

Fans watching at home almost missed the line brawl that took place in front of Pittsburgh’s bench during a TV timeout in the last four-plus minutes of regulation. Evander Kane, Brenden Dillon, and newly-reacquired forward Micheal Haley began pushing and shoving with members of the Penguins, and things quickly escalated. The ordeal ended with Haley coming to Dillon’s defense and shoving Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby down onto the ice. 

Haley -- known for his physicality and holding opposing players accountable for their actions -- chuckled about the scuffle afterward.

“It seems to happen whenever I’m on the ice, which is a good thing I guess,” he told the press after the game. “I have no idea actually how (it started). I saw Kane over there with one of their guys and came over, and it doesn’t take long for things to ignite. And then you’re in the box.”

Haley may not have known how the debacle he was part of got started, but Kane admitted in his postgame interview that he might have gotten the scuffle going when he went by Pittsburgh’s bench.

“I was just checking out the play they were running because I could see the board pretty clearly,” he answered honestly. “I guess they didn’t like that very much and wanted to take exception -- and I was happy to oblige.” 

Whatever the reason was for the escalated incident, Sharks’ head coach Peter DeBoer admitted afterward that he could understand where the Penguins were coming from.

“We’ve been on the other end of those,” DeBoer said. “You’re down three-or-four-nothing and there’s frustration. Those things happen.”

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' shutout victory over Penguins]

The fisticuffs ended with four skaters leaving the ice with game misconduct penalties and Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan getting tossed for inflammatory language. Seconds after the next faceoff, the Sharks drew a penalty and Brent Burns scored the nail-in-the-coffin power-play goal that put the finishing touches on San Jose's 4-0 victory. While the Sharks likely don’t want to be getting in full-on line brawls every evening, at least things went in their favor in the end.