Meier remains on Sharks' top line; Boedker benched again


Meier remains on Sharks' top line; Boedker benched again

SAN JOSE – As a kid growing up in Switzerland, Timo Meier got a chance to see NHL star Joe Thornton in person during each of the last two lockouts. The Sharks center played in the town of Davos in 2004-05 and again in 2012, which is about a one hour and 40 minute drive from Herisau, where Meier grew up.

The 20-year-old Meier was just eight years old that first time he saw Thornton competing, but he remembered it.

“You could definitely see the difference between him and the other guys in the Swiss league,” Meier said. “It was great for me to see him as a kid over there.”
He’ll get an even closer look on Thursday when the Sharks host the Wild. After an effective third period on the top line on Tuesday night against Los Angeles, Meier remained on the left wing of Thornton and Joe Pavelski at practice on Wednesday, and that’s where he’ll presumably line up against Minnesota.

The solid six-foot-one, 210-pound rookie could be a perfect fit on that line, which could use a little more size, speed and physicality, particularly in those dirty areas in front of the net. Meier has shown no fear in going there, and although he’s still sitting on just one goal in eight games, he’s registered a more-than-respectable 24 shots.

He’s a bit similar to their former linemate, Tomas Hertl, another big body who has speed and skill to go with that size. In his rookie year of 2013-14, Hertl had 15 goals in his first 35 games in that spot before getting hurt.

Meier understands the comparison.

“I think [Hertl is] a guy that likes to score goals – he’s a strong guy, strong on the puck,” he said. “Getting [this] chance, I want to make the best out of it. I want to leave it all on the ice, [and] show the coaches that I’m capable of playing with guys like that.”

Pete DeBoer said: “I think Joe and Joe play well – and are complimented by – a guy who pursues the puck and is a little heavy and creates some room for them, like Hertl does. Timo has some of those characteristics.”

Pavelski has been impressed with Meier so far.

“He gets the puck, and he just kind of goes,” Pavelski said. “He attacks, he shoots it. He’s not looking to wait around and make plays. He’s looking to get there, get on the inside. That’s what you need sometimes.”

The Sharks are still waiting for that consistent offensive attack to materialize. They’re playing sound defensive hockey, but it has been a nearly season-long struggle to break out on the scoreboard. They have two or fewer goals in regulation in six of their past seven games, and are still the only team in the NHL yet to score five goals in a game.

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To make room for Meier up top, Patrick Marleau was bumped to the third line with Chris Tierney and Joel Ward, while the second line was Logan Couture between Joonas Donskoi and Kevin Labanc.

Mikkel Boedker, who was benched for nearly the entire third period on Tuesday, was with fourth liners Micheal Haley, Tommy Wingels and Melker Karlsson. It’s the second time this season Boedker has been benched late in a game, with the other on Nov. 26 against Anaheim.

“It’s always your last resort to shorten the bench. I’d like to roll four lines from buzzer to buzzer,” DeBoer said. “Players dictate that. We make decisions with the best interest of winning the game. … We played the guys who I felt could help us win that game last night, and he wasn’t one of them at that point.”

It's unclear if Boedker will be in against the Wild, but perhaps it's his turn to take a night off as a healthy scratch.

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David Schlemko did not practice on Wednesday, skating with the injured Hertl after the rest of the team was through, and although DeBoer did not rule him out for the Wild game, it appears doubtful.

Paul Martin also missed practice on a maintenance day, but is expected to be fine.

After beating Vegas, Sharks can't suffer emotional letdown vs. Avalanche


After beating Vegas, Sharks can't suffer emotional letdown vs. Avalanche

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks and Avalanche enter their second-round series of the NHL playoffs on very different pages. San Jose will be just three days removed from their Game 7 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, while the Avs haven't played since booting the Calgary Flames from the playoffs on April 19. 

When asked if there was an advantage to not having time to get rusty, Sharks’ coach Peter DeBoer tried to suppress a laugh. 

“If you’re asking me if I’d rather have a week off, I’ll take the week off,” he told NBC Sports California with a smile.

Granted, San Jose is dealing with multiple injuries sustained during their contentious first-round bout with the Golden Knights. But more than anything, DeBoer wants his team to be able to keep their intensity high after a come-from-behind series win over Vegas. Extracurriculars, off-ice chatter, and back-to-back games going extra long can really zap the energy out of a team, and San Jose has to be ready to bounce back from that. 

“I’m more worried about our emotional level than our physical,” DeBoer admitted. “You’re fighting for your life for three games in a row, that taxes you emotionally. So we’ve got to get our emotional levels back up when we come out on the ice on Friday night.”

There is one advantage San Jose has over their next opponent, however: getting to start the series in their own building.

“It’s nice to not be traveling today to Colorado,” DeBoer said. “It’s nice, especially after a seven-game series, to not have to travel.”

Defenseman Brenden Dillon agreed. “I think any time you get to play at home and you don’t have to travel three or four hours, different time zones, it’s going to play to our advantage. Especially after a big series like that, a physical series where guys are banged up. Any time you’re able to sleep in your own bed I think is a positive.”

Dillon and the rest of the Sharks’ defensemen have a tall task ahead of them in shutting down Colorado’s speedy offense, which did quite a bit of damage against the Flames in their first-round series. Top-line center Nathan MacKinnon and second-line winger Mikko Rantanen led the charge with a combined 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) against Calgary, while Hobey Baker winner Cale Makar finished his first NHL playoff series with two points (one goal, one assist) and a plus-four. 

[RELATED: Sharks' Pavelski unlikely to play in Game 1 vs. Avs]

Much like shutting down Vegas’ Mark Stone line, San Jose will have to solve the MacKinnon combo if they’re going to be successful. 

“We’ve got to be aware of them,” DeBoer said, explaining that facing the Avs' offense in the playoffs will be different than facing them during the regular season. “The regular season you throw out the window this time of year. We watched them against Calgary and what they did to them against a really good d-corps. We know what we’re dealing with and that’s going to be the challenge of the series.”

Sharks' Joe Pavelski day-to-day but unlikely to play in Game 1 vs. Avalanche

Sharks' Joe Pavelski day-to-day but unlikely to play in Game 1 vs. Avalanche

SAN JOSE – Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is classifying Joe Pavelski as day-to-day after the captain sustained a scary injury during San Jose's Game 7 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Pavelski left Game 7 at the 9:13 mark of the third period after getting cross-checked off a faceoff by Cody Eakin and falling to the ice and hitting his head. No. 8 was bleeding profusely and had to be helped off the ice by a few of his teammates with a towel being held to his head. DeBoer wouldn’t specify exactly what Pavelski’s ailment was, but said the top-line forward was “feeling the effects” of the injury and likely won’t be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Sharks' second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.

“It could’ve been worse, you could’ve been dealing with a fractured skull,” DeBoer told the media after Thursday’s morning skate. “Thankfully, we weren’t.”

Pavelski did not take the ice for practice Thursday, although the press was told he was in the building.

Teammates Melker Karlsson and Tim Heed were also missing from practice Thursday morning. Joonas Donskoi, who missed Game 7 against the Knights with an unspecified injury, skated in a non-contact orange sweater early Thursday morning but left the ice before practice got underway. Micheal Haley returned to practice for the first time since sustaining an injury during Game 3 against the Knights.

When questioned about the status of players missing from practice, DeBoer chalked it up to the team being banged-up just like every other team still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.

“Like anybody this time of year, we have a lot of game-time decisions,” DeBoer said.

[RELATED: NHL apologizes to Vegas for mistake on major penalty call]

The Sharks will open up their second-round series against the Avalanche at SAP Center on Friday.