Sharks

NHL Gameday: Sharks resume schedule against three-time champs

NHL Gameday: Sharks resume schedule against three-time champs

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

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 31-17-2, 64 points, 1st Pacific Division
Blackhawks: 30-16-5, 65 points, 2nd Central Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks begin their post All-Star weekend schedule tonight, after they had their six-game winning streak snapped by the Oilers last Thursday. This is the rubber match of the three-game season series with the Blackhawks. Each team has defended its home ice.

Playing the club that has captured three of the past six Stanley Cups and remains a contender is a good way to jump back into the season, according to Joe Pavelski.

“Obviously you’ve got to be ready for them,” said the captain. “They’re one of the better teams in the conference, and they’ve got a lot of dynamic players on their team, so it’s a game you’ve got to take care of the puck.” 

Pete DeBoer said: “You never wish to play Chicago I don’t think, but the nice thing about playing them is it immediately grabs the guys’ attention that we’ve got to be dialed in and our attention to detail has to be right, or they make you pay.”

The Sharks are 17-7-1 at SAP Center. They can equal their win total at home from all of last season with a victory.

***Chicago, which had a league-high four players at the All-Star Game, is beginning a six-game road swing tonight. The Blackhawks lost their last two games in regulation before the break, blowing third period leads in both.

"The two losses the way we had [them], we should have those games. A couple of minutes left, it definitely hurts," Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. "We’ve been very busy. Having a nice three days off, it definitely helps to step back from hockey for a second and recharge and get some energy back and continue again." 

The Blackhawks are 12-9-1 on the road.

***The Sharks’ February schedule is not overly taxing, with the bye week coming from Feb. 20-24 and many non-playoff opponents on the horizon after tonight.

For now, they’ll focus on the 10 games in 20 days before their week off.

“We’ve talked like we’ve kind of got two little seasons here within the season in the next two months,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got a nice schedule, the way it lays out here from now until our five-day break, and then really a sprint to the finish line with a real busy March and April.”

After the bye week, the Sharks will have 22 games over the final 43 days.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Tomas Hertl. The forward returned after a 32-game absence on Thursday against Edmonton, and despite him not registering a shot on goal, the top line looked more effective than it had been. Although the Sharks coaching staff would eventually like Hertl to return to the center position, he’ll remain with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski for at least another night while he gets his game legs back underneath him. 

Blackhawks: Duncan Keith. Fresh off of being named one of the NHL’s top 100 players of all-time, Keith will bring a two-game goal streak into tonight’s game. The former Norris and Conn Smythe Trophy winner has just four goals on the season, but is tied for fifth among blueliners with 33 points. He scored his first goal against San Jose on Dec. 18 in Chicago.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Timo Meier – Ryan Carpenter – Melker Karlsson

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Blackhawks
Nick Schmaltz – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman – Tanner Kero – Vinnie Hinostroza
Andrew Desjardins – Dennis Rasmussen – Richard Panik

Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Brian Campbell – Brent Seabrook
Gustav Forsling – Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford (starter)
Scott Darling

INJURIES

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

Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger (illness) and Michal Rozsival (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“I think the pace will be good. It’s the execution after three or four days off that is always off a little bit off. But, you’ve got two skilled groups, I don’t think it will take long.” – Pete DeBoer

Sharks notes: DeBoer sees depth starting to show its full potential

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USATSI

Sharks notes: DeBoer sees depth starting to show its full potential

SAN JOSE -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday night he believed his team really displayed its roster depth in a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders.

"I thought the story of the game was contributions from all 20 guys," he said. "I thought we got a great team effort from everybody."

There was so much talk at the start of the season about how much depth the Sharks had on paper -- and then more talk about how that depth wasn't showing right off the bat. But as this team works its way through the first month of the season and builds chemistry, that depth is starting to show.

"I think every game you start to move around the ice a little more seamlessly without thinking as much," DeBoer said. "I think every game you get a little more comfortable."

Timo Meier agreed with that assessment, saying he felt that kind of line depth even came into play in the previous game -- a win over the Buffalo Sabres.

"Every time we get a win, it's because we have a lot of guys chipping in," the winger said. "And that's how it needs to be. I think the depth of our team is our strength."

Will that strength play a role in the upcoming road trip? DeBoer expressed earlier in the week he felt the Sharks weren't rewarded for the chances they created on the previous roadie.

Meier said the team would just have to keep grinding.

"Sometimes there are tough buildings and tough circumstances," Meier said. "We've just just gotta stick with it."

Joe Thornton is expected to accompany the Sharks on their upcoming three-game road trip this week, although there's no word as to whether or not the center will play. 

Thornton has practiced with the rest of the Sharks all week since they've been at home facing the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders, but he has yet to be in a game lineup. 

***

On the same morning that news of Thornton's plans to go on the road trip came to light, rookie forward Dylan Gambrell was reassigned to the San Jose Barracuda.

Gambrell is expected to suit up for the AHL club on Sunday night when they host the Stockton Heat. 

Gambrell was recalled by the Sharks when Thornton left the previous road trip, but he was reassigned as soon as the team returned home so he could participate in the Baracuda's game Monday night. He has played in two games for the Baracuda so far this season, contributing on the score sheet every time.

Gambrell did not join them in their Saturday night game in Stockton, and instead was a healthy scratch for the NHL club.

DeBoer hinted earlier in the week that Gambrell might play in his first NHL game of the season fairly soon. When NBC Sports California caught up with Gambrell on Tuesday about working with both teams, the 22-year-old said he's embracing the workload that comes with it and that he'll be happy with wherever he's slotted.

Joe Thornton plans to join Sharks on road trip, but his status is unclear

Joe Thornton plans to join Sharks on road trip, but his status is unclear

SAN JOSE -- It's been a little over two weeks since Joe Thornton left the Sharks' five-game East Coast road trip. Now it appears the center might join the team as they hit the road again -- although it isn't clear if he'll see any game action.

Thornton plans to accompany the rest of the team on its upcoming three-game road trip, which opens Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators. He participated in all of the Sharks practices this past week, including Saturday morning's optional skate, and he even slotted in during power play practice earlier in the week. Nevertheless, there has been no further update on Thornton's health.

The 39-year-old top liner was placed on injured reserve Oct. 5 after he experienced swelling in his surgically repaired knee following an overtime win over the Kings in Los Angeles. While Thornton has looked fine during morning skates, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer maintained all week during home practices that the center's status remained day to day.

Joe Pavelski has centered the top line in Thornton's absence. He primarily has skated with Evander Kane and Kevin Labanc as his wings.