NHL Gameday: Sharks have struggled with lowly Coyotes

NHL Gameday: Sharks have struggled with lowly Coyotes

Programming note – Sharks-Coyotes coverage starts today at 4:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 34-18-6, 74 points, 1st Pacific Division
Coyotes: 20-29-7, 47 points, 7th Pacific Division


***The Sharks have just one win in their last six games, but have managed a point in four of them (1-1-4). That includes Wednesday’s 6-5 overtime loss against Florida in which they were as defensively inept as they’ve been all season. Keeping the puck out of their own net has been an issue lately, as they’ve given up 20 goals over the last five games (4.00 per game), including three goals-against in overtime.

Arizona is 3-0-1 against the Sharks this season.

“They’ve had our number,” Micheal Haley said. “They play well against us, and we’ve got to come ready to play.”

Logan Couture said: “They’re a division team, they’re a young team, a lot of guys are making impressions whether it’s for contracts next year or a job to finish off this year. They’re going to work hard.”

***San Jose will host Boston on Sunday in the second of a back-to-back, in the final game before the bye week. They’d like to maintain their division lead, which stands at four points, going into the five-day break from Feb. 20-24.

“You want to give it [everything] because you know you’re going to have that rest,” Joe Thornton said. 

***Aaron Dell will make his 10th start, after a 33-save performance in a losing effort in Philadelphia one week ago. Dell is 6-3-1 with a 2.05 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, while his .950 even strength save percentage is the best mark in the NHL for goalies that have made at least 10 appearances.

Mike Smith will go for Arizona. In three games against the Sharks this season, he’s 2-0-1 with a 1.93 GAA and .953 SP.

“We know their goaltender is their best player,” Couture said. “For us, we’re going to try and get some shots and get some traffic in front of him.”


Sharks: Nikolay Goldobin. The former first-round pick is set to make his season debut, and will be the seventh forward that started the season on the AHL Barracuda to get in an NHL game. The 21-year-old, who has 37 points in 43 games in the minors this season, will start on the left side of the third line with Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward. It will be his first game with the Sharks since Nov. 22, 2015.

Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes’ top defenseman brings a five-game point streak into tonight’s game, with six assists over that span. The 25-year-old is second on the Coyotes in scoring with 33 points (10g, 23a) while averaging 24:17 of ice time.


Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Nikolay Goldobin – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson

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

Aaron Dell (starter)
Martin Jones

Max Domi – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Brendan Perlini – Christian Dvorak – Shane Doan
Tobias Rieder – Alex Burmistrov – Josh Jooris
Jordan Martinook – Peter Holland – Ryan White

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski – Michael Stone
Kevin Connauton – Connor Murphy

Mike Smith (starter)
Marek Langhamer


Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.

Coyotes: Lawson Crouse (lower body), Brad Richardson (broken leg) and Louie Domingue (lower body) are out.


“We’re a tough team, we’re a big team, we’re a strong team. If we play that way with puck possession, they can chase us around and take penalties if they want.” – Logan Couture, on how to approach the Coyotes’ physicality

Erik Karlsson unveils Sharks' black third jersey with an on-ice skate

San Jose Sharks

Erik Karlsson unveils Sharks' black third jersey with an on-ice skate

Erik Karlsson did not play for the Sharks in Saturday's preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights, but he still managed to suit up. 

Karlsson took the ice in front of the fans at SAP Center as a Shark for the first time, all while wearing San Jose's newest uniform. He officially unveiled a black alternate jersey that the Sharks will wear in 13 home games this season. 

Teal is the only prominent accent color aside from some orange in the shark's eye. It looks like Martin Jones' new mask design offered a bit of a thematic preview of the Sharks' new look.  

The "Stealth" jersey also features a black-and-teal version of San Jose's original secondary logo, a cool nod to the franchise's history. Sharks co-president John Tortora told NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil in February that the logo would "start showing back up again."

In all, it's the third black jersey in the club's history, and the team's first alternate uniform since Adidas took over as the NHL's jersey manufacturer last season. 

The Sharks will wear the jersey in every Thursday night and Friday night home game -- as well as one Saturday. The full schedule for the uniform is as follows:

  • Thursday, Oct. 18 vs. Buffalo
  • Thursday, Nov. 1 vs. Columbus
  • Saturday, Nov. 3 vs. Philadelphia
  • Thursday, Nov. 15 vs. Toronto
  • Friday, Nov. 23 vs. Vancouver
  • Thursday, Dec. 13 vs. Dallas
  • Thursday, Dec. 20 vs. Winnipeg
  • Thursday, Dec. 27 vs. Anaheim
  • Thursday, Feb. 14 vs. Washington
  • Friday, March 1 vs. Colorado
  • Thursday, March 7 vs. Montreal
  • Thursday, March 14 vs. Florida
  • Thursday, March 28 vs. Chicago

After Erik Karlsson trade, Sharks in line for new defenseman pairings

After Erik Karlsson trade, Sharks in line for new defenseman pairings

SAN JOSE -- Since Peter DeBoer took over as Sharks coach ahead of the 2015-16 season, defenseman Brenden Dillon has played with plenty of partners. Seven defensive pairings have played 500 minutes of five-on-five hockey together in the regular season and playoffs during that stretch, according to Corsica Hockey, and Dillon has played for four. 

He’ll likely join a fifth this season. Dillon’s most regular partner over the last three seasons, Dylan DeMelo, now is in Ottawa after being traded to the Senators in the massive deal that brought two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to San Jose last week. 

Dillon, like the rest of the Sharks' defensive corps, doesn’t know who he’ll skate with to start the season. But, he said, his experience regularly playing alongside many different players will prove beneficial when he does.

“I think it’ll be to my advantage for sure,” Dillon said Friday at the Sharks' practice facility. “I’m definitely excited. We don’t really know what the lineups are going to kind of shake out as exactly. I think even during the regular season in past years, too, you might start out with a certain guy and finish the game having played with all five guys. … There’s so many different variables.”

Dillon skated with defensive prospect Jeremy Roy on Friday. Marc-Edouard Vlasic paired with Karlsson for the third consecutive practice. Justin Braun, Vlasic’s regular partner to the tune of nearly 3800 regular-season and playoff minutes over the last three years, skated with Burns. 

At least in the Braun and Burns’ case, that was due to availability. Burns’ most common defensive partner last season, Joakim Ryan, played in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks, and thus skated in the second session. 

Still, it’s possible Braun will regularly play with someone other than Vlasic for the first time in years. The eight-year veteran last played with someone else for more than 500 five-on-five minutes during the 2013-14 season, when he logged just under 505 such minutes with now-retired defenseman Brad Stuart. 

Braun said there won’t be a big learning curve if he plays with someone other than Vlasic, since he’s played spot minutes with just about everyone else (other than Karlsson). Braun said he’d hope to play a couple preseason games with a new partner, but that practice might be an ideal time to learn their tendencies and develop chemistry. 

“You can learn anywhere,” Braun said. “There’s drills set up where there’s a lot of forechecking. You might chip [the puck], and he’s not there, and you kind of talk about it after. That might be the best place since they’re not scoring goals on you where it counts.”

It might be awhile before DeBoer provides a glimpse into his potential pairings. Karlsson will not play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights at SAP Center, and the Sharks will not cut camp down to one group of up to 26 players (five forward lines, four defensive pairs, and three goaltenders) until Tuesday or Wednesday. 

After Saturday, San Jose will play three more preseason games before hosting Anaheim in the regular-season opener Oct. 3. Who Karlsson, and the rest of the defense, play with then is still to be determined, according to DeBoer. 

“We’ll see,” DeBoer said when asked if he envisioned Karlsson and Vlasic as a long-term possibility. “We’ve had a couple practices, but honestly I’ve got a bunch of different things rolling around in my head. The nice thing about getting [Karlsson] now is that it’s not a trade deadline where you’ve basically got six weeks to figure it out.”

DeBoer added that he hopes his pairings that open the season will stick together stick throughout the season, but he knows the nature of a long schedule will require changes. As Braun and Dillon both noted, that can happen during the ebb and flow of an individual game, too.

No matter who plays with whom, Dillon said he’s confident any new-look pairings will be able to become comfortable. 

“I think that’s just going to come with time,” Dillon said. “But, for us as a group, I think we can all cover for each other if we’re struggling a bit. At the same time, I think when we’re all going well, it’s going to be a tough group to beat.”