Sharks

NHL Gameday: Surging Sharks visit slumping Coyotes

NHL Gameday: Surging Sharks visit slumping Coyotes

Programming note: Sharks-Coyotes coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 6-3-0, 12 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Coyotes: 2-6-0, 4 points, 7th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks are coming off of a three-game sweep of their homestand last week, beating the Ducks, Blue Jackets and Predators. On Saturday, it was goals from Joe Pavelski (PP), Joonas Donskoi, Tommy Wingels and Joe Thornton (EN) that led the club to a 4-1 win against Nashville. Pavelski (11 points) is tied for third in the league in scoring, and has four points (2g, 2a) in his last three games.

San Jose is two points behind Edmonton for first place in the division.

“We had a good week of practice last week after we came off our five-game road trip to start the season,” Pete DeBoer told reporters on Monday. “Our game right now is in a pretty good place.”

The Sharks return home to host the Flames and Penguins later this week. They are 4-0 at SAP Center and 2-3-0 on the road.

***Arizona enters with the worst record in the NHL, having lost six of its last seven games while allowing 30 goals over that span.

The Coyotes are last in the NHL in goals allowed per game (4.12) and shots allowed per game (34.1), and have struggled in special teams with the league’s 28th ranked power play (10.7 percent) and 27th ranked penalty kill (72.4 percent).

Second-year forwards Anthony Duclair (1 assist) and Max Domi (six assists) are still searching for their first goals. They had 20 and 18 goals, respectively, last season as rookies.

***Sharks forward Mikkel Boedker will play in Arizona for the first time as a visitor. In 445 career games over parts of eight seasons with the Coyotes organization, Boedker posted 80 goals and 133 assists for 213 points. He was traded to Colorado last Feb. 29.

As a first-year Shark Boedker is still looking to get going with just one point in nine games, a goal in Columbus on Oct. 15. He remains on the left wing of the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line.

On Thursday, Boedker told the local media: “It’s obviously a learning curve, new systems and guys you’ve got to get used to, and [the] puck doesn’t necessarily bounce your way to start with, but it’s going to come. As long as we keep working hard and playing good hockey, we’ll be in good shape.”

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Martin Jones. The Sharks goalie is third in the league in ice time (474:20), and will be making his sixth straight start. He seems to be finding his groove, stopping 70 of 73 shots during the team’s three-game winning streak. Against Arizona, he has a career 4-1-0 record with a 0.80 goals-against average and .965 save percentage.

Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The defenseman leads the Coyotes in goals (5), and time-on-ice (26:01 per game). The 25-year-old has led the team in scoring each of the past two seasons, including 55 points in 2015-16 (seventh among defensemen).

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Mikkel Boedker – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Patrick Marleau – Tomas Hertl – Melker Karlsson
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Tommy Wingels

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

Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Aaron Dell

Coyotes
Max Domi – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Jamie McGinn – Dylan Strome – Anthony Duclair
Tobias Rieder – Brad Richardson – Shane Doan
Laurent Dauphin – Jordan Martinook – Ryan White

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Kevin Connauton
Alex Goligoski – Luke Schenn
Jakob Chychrun – Connor Murphy

Louis Domingue (confirmed starter)
Justin Peters

INJURIES

Sharks: Paul Martin (flu) is questionable.

Coyotes: Michael Stone (upper body) is day-to-day. Mike Smith (left leg) is out. 

QUOTEABLE

“We refocused [after the road trip] and talked about what we needed to do. I think we put [forth] a better effort and paid more attention to the details, and had a higher compete level these last few games." – Tommy Wingels

What rookie Antti Suomela's AHL stint means for the Sharks' forwards

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USATSI

What rookie Antti Suomela's AHL stint means for the Sharks' forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t hold a practice on Tuesday. But there was still news out of the South Bay, as Finnish rookie center Antti Suomela was reassigned to the AHL  Barracuda for the first time this season.

The 24-year-old tallied eight points (three goals, five assists) in 27 NHL games played since making the NHL roster out of training camp. It’s unclear as of right now how much time Suomela – who spent time centering the third and fourth lines – will spend in the AHL. But the reassignment will, no doubt, give the Finn an opportunity to log game time.

Sharks fans likely noticed the absence of that No. 40 sweater recently, since Suomela was scratched two games in a row after Czech winger Lukas Radil was recalled from the AHL club.

Radil, who brings three years of KHL experience to his NHL campaign, scored his first NHL goal on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. He also set up defenseman Radim Simek’s first NHL goal on Monday against the New Jersey Devils.

Given Radil’s current success playing with Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson on the fourth line, it wouldn’t make sense to take the line apart. So, instead of having Suomela practice with the Sharks and then having him post up in the press box on game night, it makes more sense for him to get some games in with the Barracuda. That way, he can stay fresh and get a bit of a boost from playing with the AHL club.

Suomela impressed in his first couple of NHL games as the third-line center, finding success with Evander Kane and fellow countryman Joonas Donskoi on his wings. He scored his last goal on Nov. 13 against the Nashville Predators – one day after being a healthy scratch, no less – and tallied his last assist four days later against the St. Louis Blues. He had not scored a point in his last seven games prior to his reassignment. 

As with the length of Suomela’s reassignment, it’s also not entirely known how the Sharks’ fourth line will shake our going forward. While Radil has found success through a couple of games playing with Goodrow and Karlsson, it’s also possible San Jose could recall another one of its rookie centers to play on that line. Forward Francis Perron, who San Jose acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade, currently leads the Barracuda with 22 points, and hasn't seen any NHL time yet.

There has also been speculation the Sharks could be in search of a fourth-liner ahead of the NHL trade deadline. While Joe Thornton’s move to third-line pivot has helped spread San Jose’s depth throughout the lineup, having another weapon in the bottom six would behoove the Sharks if they want to make a deep playoff run. If that’s the case, we likely won’t see members of this season’s rookie contingent recalled unless there’s an injury to one of the Sharks’ staple forwards.

In the meantime, Suomela will join the Barracuda as they travel down to Southern California this upcoming weekend for games against the San Diego Gulls and Ontario Reign. The Cuda currently leads the Pacific Division of the American Hockey League with 33 points, and a 15-3-1-2 record so far on their 2018-19 campaign.

Sharks ship Antti Suomela to AHL after back-to-back healthy scratches

anttisuomelausatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sharks ship Antti Suomela to AHL after back-to-back healthy scratches

SAN JOSE -- Antti Suomela has been a healthy scratch for the last two Sharks games. Now, the 24-year-old center will spend some time in the AHL.

The team announced Tuesday that the Finnish forward, who made the NHL roster out of training camp, has been reassigned to the San Jose Barracuda.

With the Sharks still toying with finding winning combinations in their bottom six, the move likely is to get Suomela some playing time so he isn’t practicing and then sitting up in the press box every game.

[RELATED: Sharks hope win over Devils is a turning point]

The Sharks have made similar moves with their rookie centers this season, including Rourke Chartier, Dylan Gambrell and the more-recently recalled Lukas Radil -- who scored his first NHL career goal Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes.

Suomela has been a healthy scratch a couple times this season, but he bounced back from the first time by scoring a goal. He has sat out of back-to-back games, however, since Radil was recalled from the Barracuda.

Suomela, whom the Sharks signed last summer, has registered eight points (three goals, five assists) in 27 games played for Team Teal this season. It’s unclear at this time how long his stay at the AHL level will be.