Sharks

Newly acquired Hansen brings 'in-your-face' style to Sharks

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USATSI

Newly acquired Hansen brings 'in-your-face' style to Sharks

SAN JOSE – Many players on the Sharks roster are plenty familiar with the way that Jannik Hansen approaches the game. 

The 30-year-old forward, acquired by the Sharks on Tuesday evening for prospect Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth round draft pick, has spent the first nine-plus seasons of his NHL career in the Sharks’ division in Vancouver, playing 29 career regular season games against San Jose and another nine in the postseason.

While Hansen has the ability to contribute offense, with 105 goals and 235 points in 565 career regular games, he can’t be judged on stats alone. Hansen is one of those guys that plays a gritty, mean-spirited, physical style that tends to be particularly effective in the postseason.

Logan Couture had a term for it that he repeated twice on Tuesday night following the Sharks’ 3-1 win over Toronto.

"He's in-your-face. He's one of those guys, he'll play chippy, he'll finish his check on skilled guys,” Couture said. “He plays in-your-face."

How important is it to have those “in-your-face” players in the lineup in the postseason?

“It’s critical,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “There’s nowhere to hide, especially out here and especially in our division. You look at the potential trail through the Western Conference, this is going to be a really tough road. We’re going to need some gritty, character guys to add to the grit and character we already have in the room.”

Brenden Dillon, a Vancouver native who said he knows Hansen a bit off the ice, said: “Obviously, [it’s] nicer to have those kind of [gritty] guys on your team than against them. Especially come playoff time, you know the hits and the after-the-whistle stuff is going to happen."

DeBoer didn’t yet have a place in mind for where Hansen might line up, as he said he only found out about the deal when everyone else did, which was late in the second period of the Sharks-Maple Leafs game at SAP Center. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson hinted to DeBoer before the game that he had “some options that he felt were getting closer, but nothing imminent at that point.”

Still, DeBoer knew that Hansen was a potential target, and the Sharks coach rattled of a laundry list of why he believes it’s a good fit for his club.

“A guy that played both ways, had speed, could kill penalties, could chip in some goals, could play with good players, had a long history in the playoffs, knew the Western Conference,” DeBoer said. “All those boxes checked, and from a character point of view, the reports were fantastic as far as fitting in with our group.”

The NHL trade deadline hits on Wednesday at noon, and the Sharks don’t seem to have any obvious holes. Scoring depth was thought to be the top need (at least according to this writer), and Hansen gives the Sharks a little bit more of that to go with his other aforementioned attributes.

DeBoer would be fine with the current group in teal if no more acquisitions are made.

“I love our group. I’ve said that all along,” he said. “This is a bonus. Credit to Doug, it’s not easy to give up a young prospect like that, especially somebody homegrown. We all like [Goldobin] as a kid and as a prospect and I think he’s got a bright future, but I think we recognize that this group has a chance to do something special. He’s gone out and added to it, which I think we all appreciate.”

Couture was glad that no one off the current Sharks roster had to be sacrificed for the newest addition.

“This group here that's very close,” Couture said. “Talking with Doug, that's one thing that he was focused on. He didn't want to change the dynamic of this group and move a guy from this team. So, we stuck with that. We're a team here that obviously a good year last year, and we're hoping to build on that."

 

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Well, the Sharks certainly made it interesting. Every time the Ducks scored a goal on Friday evening, the Sharks came back and were able to tie things up. They even got the game-tying goal late in the third period that took their contest into overtime – at least, before they lost 4-3.

Perhaps at a different time of year, getting their first point in five games would feel better. Not on this night. 

The focus remains on the work to be done with just seven games left in the regular season. For Team Teal, they need to clean their game up and get back into the win column.

“It’s better than nothing, but overall, we’re just not finding ways to win games now,” Timo Meier told the media in Anaheim regarding the single point. “We’ve got to find a way to win games. It’s an important time of the year. Playoffs are really close.”

San Jose put a better effort on the ice on Friday than they did the previous evening in LA against the Kings, but the opportunistic Ducks were able to bury more of their chances,

"I don’t think we gave them very much," Peter DeBoer said. "Every chance they got, they stuck in the net, though."

DeBoer was more critical of the team a second night in a row, and rightfully so. Despite outshooting the opposition, the Sharks weren’t able to find the back of the net enough times. They allowed two goals while playing on the penalty kill and tallied 14 giveaways. Plus, outside of Meier’s power-play marker, San Jose still went one-for-five on the man advantage. Despite tying the score up three times, the Sharks couldn’t keep the Ducks from responding.

Clearly, all areas of the game need to be tweaked.

“We’ve got to find a way to get an extra save, and on (the other) end we’ve got to find a way to get another goal,” DeBoer said. “We could’ve used a power-play goal tonight -- another one.”

Perhaps the only silver lining, as Meier put it, is that the Sharks are going through this stretch now instead of once they get into the playoffs. San Jose is still trying to get some of its key players healthy and into the lineup so they can make a deep playoff run with the lines and pairs they want. The goal, at least at the moment, is to make sure this five-game skid is a lesson to learn from and not a prelude to the future.

"Get stronger as a team, get tighter as a group, and learn," Meier said. "It’s going to make us stronger going into the playoffs because there are going to be lots of ups and downs coming up. It’s going to make us stronger and we’ve got to react the right way.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

BOX SCORE

All the Sharks needed was a win. Just one win on Friday evening against the Ducks. Two points to salvage the road trip, stop the losing streak, and get back to hunting for first place in the division.

Not surprisingly, Team Teal made things interesting with a game that stayed tied up heading down the stretch. Unfortunately for San Jose, the Ducks were the victors in overtime 4-3.

Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game:

How did the power play look?

In a few words: nonexistent until the third. San Jose had three opportunities on the man advantage through the first 40 minutes of play and couldn’t make anything happen. They even gave up a couple breaks the other way that Dell had to stop. Had the power play converted, the Sharks might’ve been up by two or three goals after two period of play.

Timo Meier came up big with the power-play goal in the third period to tie the score up 2-2. While they couldn’t capitalize on the power-play opportunity immediately followed, Meier’s marker will hopefully open up the flood gates for the power play.

Who else stepped up?

Sharks’ bench boss Peter DeBoer didn’t mince words after Thursday’s loss to the Kings, saying that the team needed someone to step up during this stretch with injured superstars and be a hero.

“You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that,” DeBoer said on Thursday.

In all honesty, the whole team looked better even with the loss. The fourth line had a couple very memorable shifts, cycling low and establishing pressure. Joe Thornton’s line was clicking, which was clear from Kevin Labanc’s goal.

Gustav Nyquist was a solo standout – despite not finding the back of the net, he played a heck of a game and had some incredible looks. Of course, you can’t talk about this game without talking about Justin Braun scoring the big game-tying goal in the third frame, which was his first marker since December 2.

How did Aaron Dell do?

In all fairness, Dell gave the Sharks a chance to win for the majority of the game. No. 30 has looked good in his last couple of outings – save his relief effort against the Golden Knights earlier in the week when he had little defense to help him out – and he made a couple great saves in Anaheim as well, especially when the Ducks had a couple short-handed breakaways.

Unfortunately for Dell, he gave up the two power-play goals in the third frame. While Braun was the hero and scored the tying goal late in the third to help take the game into overtime, Dell still couldn’t hold down the fort in overtime. It doesn’t matter if he’s the backup or not – at this time of the season, playing too loose late in games isn’t good.