Sharks

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Timo Meier excited by Erik Karlsson trade to Sharks

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Timo Meier excited by Erik Karlsson trade to Sharks

The Sharks caught everyone off guard Thursday morning when they acquired two-time Norris Trophy winner and four-time All-Star Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators for a package of players and draft picks.

San Jose included two players off its current roster in the trade, Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo, which came as a shock to current Sharks players.

"Significant player to add, yes. It's a bizarre time to make a trade when I had just come in and seen the guys, especially Tierney and DeMelo and they leave the next day," Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic told NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil in an exclusive interview Thursday. "But it's part of the business, but we're getting an elite defenseman, an elite player in the league, and he can only help us and make us better."

Sharks forward Timo Meier came up with Tierney and DeMelo, and is disappointed to see them leave the organization, but he's excited for the opportunity they are about to get.

"It's definitely tough to lose guys like that," Meier told Brazil in San Jose on Thursday. "They are younger guys, I kinda came with them here, obviously got to hand around with them and get to know them pretty well, so it's tough seeing guys like that leaving, but I think it's a great chance for them to go somewhere else and show what they can do. They are obviously great hockey players.

"So it's tough seeing them go, but I'm really excited for their chance that they get there, and we'll definitely stay in contact with these guys, and it's going to be fun playing against them."

[RELATED; Thornton reacts to Karlsson trade]

News of the trade came while Sharks players were taking part in Media Day festivities.

"It all happened so quick," Meier said. "I think I was out on the ice doing some pictures and stuff, and came back and the big news came that we got Erik Karlsson, which is obviously really exciting for the whole organization, for San Jose. I think getting a player of this caliber, is huge for us. We're all real excited to get him here."

The Sharks already possessed a formidable defense with Vlasic, Brent Burns, Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon. Now they have added one of the top defensemen in the NHL to that group.

"I think we've always been good. We just keep getting better," Vlasic said. "Even with DeMelo last year, we were good. Now we're even better. At one point, me, Burnsie, Karlsson or even Braun will be on the ice, so I'm not worried about our D-core, I think we're really good, and then add Karlsson to the mix, we're even better."

Vlasic and Meier might be disappointed to see DeMelo and Tierney go, but they are both excited to see what Karlsson will bring to the Sharks, who now are major contenders in the Western Conference.

"It's a big boost when you add a guy like that, a guy that's won a lot of accolades and has established himself as one of the best in the league, it'll help," Vlasic said.

Added Meier: "It's definitely going to help us, a guy that brings that much creativity to the offense, being a defenseman. Power play, all that kind of stuff, he's going to help out team big time. I talked to Burnsie and these guys, and they're real excited to get him here, and I think we just got a lot better."

Sharks point to botched third-period penalty kill after loss to Panthers

Sharks point to botched third-period penalty kill after loss to Panthers

In a steep loss, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong. In the Sharks' 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday night, though, there was one point late in the game where the wheels really seemed to come off. 

For the most part, the game wasn’t completely out of San Jose’s reach. Heck, after the Sharks tied the game up 2-2 ahead of the second intermission, they looked primed to grab the lead in the third period and get back into the win column. Then, they gave up two power-play goals at the start of the final frame, and the game got away from them.

“That was the difference,” captain Joe Pavelski told reporters in South Florida after the loss. “They came out and scored two quick power-play goals, and sometimes it can happen as quick as that.”

“Quick” is right. The game was still tied when Evander Kane was sent to the penalty box 1:56 into the third for high-sticking Panthers center Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad drew bad and San Jose needed four minutes of lockdown hockey – of the stellar effort their penalty kill put on the ice night after night earlier in the season.

Instead, they gave up two power-play goals in nine seconds.

“We were in a good spot,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of heading into the penalty kill with the tie, adding he didn’t think Kane was making an undisciplined play when he got penalized. However “at that point, we need a big kill, we need a big save. We didn’t get either.”

[RELATED: Karlsson will miss final games before NHL All-Star break]

Through their recent seven-game winning streak, the Sharks were able to minimize their mistakes. Whether playing against the highly-competitive Vegas Golden Knights or the less-adequate Ottawa Senators, San Jose played a detailed and defensive game that helped exploit their opponents’ weak spots. In Monday’s loss to Florida, the Sharks didn’t play up to that same level for a full 60 minutes. 

“We weren’t doing the little things right (and) that hurt us at the end,” Timo Meier acknowledged. “I think we were sloppy at some points of the game that cost us some goals.”

This is, without question, an area of San Jose’s game that has changed as of late. Over their current three-game skid, they’ve allowed six power-play goals on 12 opportunities and 18 goals overall. Through the seven games before that, the opposition only scored twice in 17 opportunities on the man advantage, and just 14 goals overall. The tight defensive and disciplined game they were playing hasn’t been put forth for a full game, and those mistakes are costing them.

San Jose has one last chance to get in the win column on this road trip as they visit the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The Caps are another top team on a losing skid looking to turn things around before the break, and one that can make the opposition pay dearly for their mistakes. If the Sharks are going to go into the break on a high note, that part of their game has to be tighter. 

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 6-2 loss to struggling Panthers

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 6-2 loss to struggling Panthers

BOX SCORE

No, the start to Monday’s meetup between the Sharks and the Florida Panthers wasn’t the most thrilling hockey ever played. But boy, did things get heated in the end.

San Jose settled in after going down 1-0, and took over the pace of the game in the second period But a lackluster start to the third frame did them in yet again, and their frustration boiled over in a big way as the Sharks dropped their third straight, 6-2.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:

What’s going on in the third period?

Certain aspects of San Jose’s game against Florida mirrored the contest against Tampa Bay just a couple days prior, namely how the third periods of both games got away from the Sharks. It made for a disappointing scene on Monday against the subpar Panthers, particularly because San Jose fought from behind to tie the game up 2-2 in the second period.

One of the problems plaguing the Sharks as of late has been that their penalty kill hasn’t been the shutdown force it was earlier in the season. Both the Lightning and the Panthers were able to capitalize on San Jose’s late-game mistakes by putting them in the penalty box, and scoring on the power play. 

[RELATED: Erik Karlsson will miss final games before NHL All-Star break]

You can’t hang all your hope on one player, but …

It has really shown over the last few games how much the Sharks need their defensive corps healthy down the stretch. Their blue-line depth has been tested through the month of January with injuries to Justin Braun, Radim Simek, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and now Erik Karlsson. While other players stepped up to help San Jose en route to a seven-game winning streak, it has become evident through the last few losses they could really use their top defensemen healthy sooner rather than later.

It doesn’t help the Sharks’ all-around team defense – which had improved greatly through December and the first half of January – hasn’t been quite as tight since San Jose defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins about a week ago. This is an area the whole team has to tighten back up, no matter who’s in the lineup.

On a positive note …

About darn time for Timo Time

You really have to hand it to Timo Meier for hanging in there through a frustrating goal drought. While he was visibly showing frustration in his last couple of contests, he continued to grind and create chances.

He looked primed for breakthrough on Monday night on a line with Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski – a line that created some of the Sharks’ best chances on the evening. The line cycled and cycled again trying to create chances in the second period, before Meier finally poked in his first goal in 17 games. Of course, that goal was also initially waved off and then challenged, creating even more drama. Lucky for Meier, the goal withstood both and the 22-year-old finally got off the schneid.