Sharks

NHL Gameday: Karlsson returns, Sharks go for first win vs Coyotes

NHL Gameday: Karlsson returns, Sharks go for first win vs Coyotes

Programming note – Sharks-Arizona coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 12-9-1, 25 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Arizona: 8-10-2, 18 points, 7th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks are 0-1-1 against Arizona this season, losing 3-2 on Nov. 1 and by the same score on Nov. 19 in overtime, both on the road. San Jose has outshot the Coyotes 86-56 through two meetings. Goalie Mike Smith made 43 saves in the most recent game, and will go again tonight.

“We’ve outshot them the last two games by quite a wide margin but haven’t gotten results,” Pete DeBoer said. “We have to find a way to turn the effort and the shots into a win. Smith is good, he’s got a great record against us. We’ve got to find a way to get to him, get traffic, get some tough goals.”

Martin Jones will start for the Sharks, who also have a game on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

***Melker Karlsson will return after a seven-game absence from blocking a shot on Nov. 12. He’ll play on the fourth line with Micheal Haley and center Ryan Carpenter. DeBoer mentioned on Monday that Carpenter looks “more confident” than last season, when he managed to get in one NHL game.

The 25-year-od Carpenter agreed. “I’ve been a pro for a little longer so maybe a little more confident. I feel like I had a better training camp this year, too, so maybe that’s where you build confidence there, just by playing well. When you play well at the next level that’s how you build your confidence, naturally.”

The Sharks’ fourth line generated a goal against Anaheim on Saturday when a Dylan DeMelo score capped off a lengthy shift in the offensive zone.

“It was a good feeling,” Carpenter said. “I feel like we got some momentum and some energy there. … It was nice to be able to do that.”

***The Sharks will conclude a five-game homestand tonight, winning three of the first four. They are in the middle of a stretch of 11 games in 18 days, and would like to finish this week off strong before enjoying a rare weekend off.

“This has been a really tough stretch both opponent and number of games and short turnover,” DeBoer said. “We wanted to come back [home] and have a good week last week. We did, we went 3-1. We want to have a good week this week with the three games we’ve got.”

Arizona is in last place in the Western Conference, but is coming off of a home-and-home sweep of the first place Edmonton Oilers. 

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. The Sharks forward was benched for the third period of Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Ducks, and DeBoer indicated that Boedker’s effort has been lagging. The 26-year-old has just two goals, his only points, in 22 games this season. His most recent goal came against Arizona on Nov. 1, 12 games ago.

Arizona: Mike Smith. The Coyotes goalie will face what could be his favorite team to play against, as Smith has always seemed to give the Sharks fits. In his last 16 against San Jose, he’s 10-4-2 with a 1.66 GAA and .954 SP and four shutouts – two of which have come at SAP Center.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Kevin Labanc
Micheal Haley – Ryan Carpenter – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Arizona
Max Domi – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Jamie McGinn – Christian Dvorak – Anthony Duclair
Tobias Rieder – Jordan Martinook – Shane Doan
Lawson Crouse – Laurent Dauphin – Ryan White

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Connor Murphy
Alex Goligoski – Anthony DeAngelo
Mike Stone – Luke Schenn

Mike Smith (starter)
Justin Peters

INJURIES

Sharks: Tommy Wingels (lower body) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.

Arizona: Brad Richardson (broken leg) and Louie Domingue (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“Everybody has expectations, obviously. It’s always hard to keep confidence up when you don’t score [or] don’t do that well. You’ve got to continue to grind at it and continue to try and make good plays, and just play your game.” – Mikkel Boedker

Sharks vow to learn, grow from adversity faced during 2019-20 season

Sharks vow to learn, grow from adversity faced during 2019-20 season

The Sharks aren’t used to losing. Say what you want about the team’s inability to complete a NHL playoff run and hoist a Stanley Cup, but there’s no doubt this team has been an excellent regular-season unit and a perennial contender for more than two decades.

The Sharks last finished the regular season below .500 during 2002-03 season, going on a 15-season run of winning hockey snapped this year. The Sharks were terrible despite plenty of star power, unable to improve on an awful start that got Peter DeBoer fired and left the team languishing in the Pacific Division cellar.

The Sharks didn’t handle it well.

Goalie Martin Jones was honest about that fact in an interview with SportsNet’s Elliott Friedman.

“When it started to spiral, we went our own ways instead of coming together,” Jones said in a column published May 14. “It’s something that will be addressed moving forward.”

Airing dirty laundry, even with a constructive spin, isn’t always welcome in the aftermath of a season gone awry. Jones’ teammates, however, had no issue confirming the fact the Sharks frayed a bit as losses started to mount.

“When you’re losing and things aren't going your way, frustrating builds and it builds quickly,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said. “With us, a lot of guys in our room have never gone through a season like that. Some may have years ago, but not recently. From top to bottom I don’t think anyone handled it the best possible way. I’m obviously in that group. There’s a lot that I think I can learn from.”

[RELATED: What Couture learned from first season as Sharks captain]

The Sharks were tested during a difficult campaign and they didn’t always pass, but the veteran leaders are determined to use it as a teachable moment to handle adversity better in the future.

“It’s easy for guys to be good guys if everything’s going well, but you don’t really grow from that,” defenseman Brent Burns said. “You know what this feels like now. A lot of guys hadn’t been through a lot of that before. It’s not easy. Guys here know it’s hard. They have grown through a culture that has been very successful through a lot of work and a mental edge. It’s important not to lose that mental edge. It was not fun. There aren’t a lot of positives you can take from [season], other than not wanting to go back there. It’s frustrating. There’s nothing great about it.”

[RELATED: Sharks GM Doug Wilson discusses odd end of season, coaching search]

Defenseman Erik Karlsson wasn’t happy about the team’s response to adversity, but he didn’t consider it out of the ordinary or something that frayed relationships that could linger into future seasons. The Sharks’ goal is to contain a bad campaign and make it the outlier their history suggests it could be.

“When things don’t go your way individually and as a team, it’s nothing more than natural that you start thinking in different directions and looking for solutions that might not be there,” Karlsson said. “Overthinking is one of the biggest mistakes you can make but something we all do in tough situations. That’s especially true when you don’t feel like you are doing enough or playing up to your own standards.

“Anything that happened this year was a normal reaction you would’ve gotten on any team in any sport. … I didn’t see anything alarming, and I don’t really judge the things that happened this year. You get to see a lot of different sides of people you hadn’t seen before, and you learn a lot about yourself. This year is something for each individual to learn from when looking at the situation and what they could do differently if a situation like this creeps up again.”

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Sharks' Logan Couture speaks up on racism, in support of Evander Kane

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USATSI

Sharks' Logan Couture speaks up on racism, in support of Evander Kane

Sharks captain Logan Couture thanked Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu for speaking out against racism in hockey, tweeting a note Saturday that said the sport and society "are only scraping the surface in what desperately needs fixing."

"Racism exists in society, it also exists in hockey," Couture wrote. "That's a fact. Growing up in this game is a privilege. [At times,] I think most of us have been at fault for turning a blind eye when it comes to racism. It cannot continue."

Kane later tweeted his appreciation of Couture's message.

Kane, who is black, has become increasingly vocal speaking out against racism within -- and beyond -- the sport in the past year. In September, Kane told TSN 1040 in Vancouver that hockey lagged behind other professional sports in diversity and addressing racism after fan told him to "stick to basketball" in an Instagram comment. Kane called a story in "The Players Tribune" earlier this month authored by Aliu, whose revelation that Bill Peters directed racial slurs towards him in the AHL led to the Calgary Flames firing their now-former coach late last year, a must-read for everyone involved in hockey.

George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody Monday outraged Kane, tweeting that video of the incident made his "[f---ing] blood boil." Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, could be heard on video saying "I can't breathe" as former officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck while three other officers at the scene looked on. Chauvin and the three officers were fired Tuesday, and Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

[RELATED: Kerr says he, white people have to do more to fight racism]

Kane said Friday in an interview on ESPN's "First Take" that white athletes couldn't leave speaking up against systematic racism to their black peers. While Kane felt supported by his teammates, he told "Writers Bloc" on CJCL in Toronto later that day that hockey's team-first culture often encourages silence on a wide range of issues in the sport and outside of it.

“Is it going to change? I hope," Kane said (H/T Sportsnet's Sonny Sachdeva). "I’m going to try to be a part of the solution and process in creating that change. But … when it comes to social injustices and racism in hockey, it requires change at the top. Because, you know, that’s the only way true change is going to take place. At the top. Because it’s going to have a trickle-down effect.

“And until things change at the top ... until they make the necessary change to condemn these sort of acts and mindsets … and really weed out that type of thought process, we’re going to be stuck in the same position we are today, and that’s unfortunate.”

Sharks owner Hasso Plattner, who doesn't often publicly comment, said in a rare statement Friday that the Sharks applauded Kane's "rational and thoughtful response to the terrible tragedy" of Floyd's death. Defenseman Mario Ferraro retweeted the statement, and Couture's note is the first tweeted by one of Kane's San Jose teammates in support.