NHL Gameday: Marleau stays on top line as Sharks host Devils

NHL Gameday: Marleau stays on top line as Sharks host Devils

Programming note – Sharks-Devils coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 9-8-1, 19 points, 4th Pacific Division
Devils: 9-5-3, 21 points, 5th Metropolitan Division


***The Sharks wrapped up their longest road trip of the year in Arizona on Saturday, falling 3-2 in overtime. It was their third straight defeat (0-2-1). San Jose has played just six games in its own building, but will play the next five and eight of the next 10 at SAP Center.

“We’re excited to be home now and start a little homestand,” Joe Pavelski said.

The Sharks will ice yet another new look to their lines as they search for more consistent offense. Patrick Marleau will skate on the top line with Pavelski and Joe Thornton, after he helped get that line going in the third period of the Arizona game.

“He did a tremendous job, just working,” Pavelski said. “We turned over a lot of pucks, had some chances, had some looks. That’s how we have to play.”

***Neither team has had much success on the power play lately. The Devils are 0-for-25 over their last eight games, while the Sharks are 1-for-21 in their last seven.

Pete DeBoer said: “Our power play has to get us one. We’ve always been a good power play team, and that’s usually been good for almost a goal a night for us over the course of a season. That’s a critical part of our game, too.

***The Devils will start Keith Kinkaid, who will be making just his fourth start in net as the backup to Cory Schneider. Kinkaid, who is 2-0-1 with a 1.66 GAA and .944 SP this season, shut out the Sharks at SAP Center last season with 30 saves in a 3-0 Devils win on March 10.

“He’s a real capable backup,” said DeBoer, who is familiar with Kinkaid from his time in New Jersey. “He has the ability to come in and steal games. Obviously he played well in here last time in, and we’ve been making goalies look good lately. We have to make sure we get to him and get the appropriate amount of pressure and get inside. He’s a big guy. If he sees it, he’ll stop it.”

Martin Jones starts for the Sharks.


Sharks: Danny O’Regan. A fifth round pick of the Sharks in 2012, O’Regan will make his NHL debut as the fourth line center. The Boston University product is tied for the team lead in scoring on the Barracuda with five goals and 11 points in 11 games. Fellow rookie Kevin Labanc will sit after playing the past six games.

Devils: Damon Severson. The 22-year-old is tied for the Devils team lead with 12 points (3g, 9a), ranking him 10th in the NHL among defensemen. The former second round pick in 2012 has four multi-point games. New Jersey’s blueliners have scored seven of the team’s 12 goals over the past four games, and 11 of 41 overall.


Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Matt Nieto
Micheal Haley – Danny O’Regan – Tommy Wingels

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Beau Bennett – Travis Zajac – P.A. Parenteau
Reid Boucher – Adam Henrique – Nick Lappin
Jacob Josefson – Pavel Zacha – Devante Smith-Pelly
Sergey Kalinin – Vern Fiddler – Blake Pietila

Andy Greene – Damon Severson
Jon Merrill – Ben Lovejoy
John Moore – Kyle Quincey

Keith Kinkaid (starter)
Cory Schneider


Sharks: Melker Karlsson (left foot/ankle area) and Tomas Hertl (lower body) are out.

Devils: Kyle Palmieri (upper body), Taylor Hall (left knee) and Mike Cammalleri (personal) are out.


“First game, don’t be too nervous. Just play your game. Just pretty much do the things that got me here.” – Danny O’Regan, on the message from Pete DeBoer headed into his first NHL game.

Sharks' Logan Couture is a game-time decision Tuesday vs. Predators


Sharks' Logan Couture is a game-time decision Tuesday vs. Predators

SAN JOSE -- Sharks forward Logan Couture will be a game-time decision Tuesday night when San Jose hosts the Nashville Predators at SAP Center.

The second-line center exited Sunday’s contest against the Calgary Flames late in the third period after he collided with forward Michael Frolik and awkwardly fell onto the ice. Couture didn’t offer any specifics other than it being a lower-body ailment. He told the media Tuesday was the first time he had skated “to see how I felt, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Couture is ranked third on the Sharks with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) through 18 games. He recorded two shots on goal against the Flames, which was his 600th NHL game.

Erik Karlsson, Sharks can learn from P.K. Subban's first Predators season


Erik Karlsson, Sharks can learn from P.K. Subban's first Predators season

The Sharks are in a position that’s familiar to the Nashville Predators.

San Jose is 9-6-3 in 18 games after acquiring two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson in a blockbuster trade. Two years ago, Nashville was 8-7-3 in 18 games after acquiring Norris winner P.K. Subban in a blockbuster trade. 

The parallels are obvious. They’re both right-handed, puck-moving defensemen with accomplished resumes who switched conferences. 

But the circumstances -- and the players themselves -- are not identical.

The Sharks acquired Karlsson on the eve of training camp, while the Predators landed Subban before the start of free agency two summers ago. Subban largely filled the role of the defenseman he was traded for (Shea Weber), while Karlsson’s arrival rearranged a depth chart that featured another Norris Trophy winner in Brent Burns. 

[RELATED: Where Sharks stand in Pacific]

What might be the biggest difference, however, is that Karlsson isn’t off to the same offensive start that Subban was.

Subban came out of the gates firing. He scored on his first shot on goal -- and second attempt -- with the Predators. In his first 18 games, Subban scored 13 points, including seven on the power play. 

Karlsson, meanwhile, still is searching for his first goal with the Sharks. He picked up seven assists in his first 11 games, but he was held off the scoresheet in each of his last seven games. That’s not for a lack of trying, though. 

In his first 18 games with the Sharks, Karlsson fired 52 pucks on net. Subban, meanwhile, had 42 shots through his first 18 games. Five-on-five, Karlsson actually is shooting at a higher rate at this point with the Sharks than Subban was with the Predators.

5v5 stats, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick
  Karlsson (2018-19) Subban (2016-17)
Shots/60 7.1 4.55
CF/60 19.12 8.56
FF/60 11.11 6.19
SCF/60 3.46 1.28
HDCF/60 0.18 0.36

What’s been the biggest difference in their respective starts? Individual finishing. 

Subban scored on 8 percent of his five-on-five shots in his first 18 games with the Predators, while his teammates scored on 3.9 percent of theirs with him on the ice. Karlsson, so far, has the opposite problem. He didn’t score on any of his 39 five-on-five shots, and his teammates scored on 8.2 percent of theirs. 

Finishing made the difference on the power play, too. Although Karlsson didn’t shoot nearly as much as Subban on the man advantage through 18 games, he wasn’t as lucky, either. Subban scored on two of his 14 shots, while Karlsson scored on none of his eight. 

Subban and Karlsson's respective starts both show how volatile a small sample size can be. Karlsson scored on 6.8 percent of his shots in all situations entering this season, and already would have about three goals -- 3.6, to be exact, but we’ll round down -- if he converted at that rate. Subban, meanwhile, entered his first season in Nashville with a 5.8 percent career shooting percentage. Yet, he scored on 11.9 percent of his shots at the start of his Predators tenure. 

Ultimately, Subban finished the season shooting closer to what was his career average. He converted on 5.0 percent of his shots in his final 48 games, scoring as many goals (five) as he did in his first 18 appearances.

The best predictor of the rest of Subban’s first season in Nashville proved to be his own career. That doesn’t mean the same thing is guaranteed to happen to Karlsson in San Jose, but the Sharks surely wouldn’t mind to see it turn out that way.