Sharks

NHL Gameday: Ward out again as Sharks host Flames

NHL Gameday: Ward out again as Sharks host Flames

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

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 19-12-1, 39 points, 1st Pacific Division
Flames: 17-15-2, 36 points, 4th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***After grabbing six of eight points on their road trip, the Sharks finish off their pre-Christmas break schedule with a pair of home games against division rivals that are improved from a year ago. Calgary has been hot lately, winning seven of its last nine, including last night in Arizona, 4-2.

Connor McDavid, Todd McLellan and the Edmonton Oilers will meet the Sharks for the first time on Friday at SAP Center before the NHL shuts down for three days. The Sharks are 10-4-0 at home this season.

***Sharks forward Joel Ward will reportedly be a healthy scratch for the second time in three games, while defenseman David Schlemko will also come out. Micheal Haley will take Ward’s place on the fourth line, and Dylan DeMelo will presumably skate with Brenden Dillon on the third defense pair.

***The Flames have had particular success on the power play, scoring at least one goal with a man advantage in eight straight games. They are 13-for-33 over that span (39.4 percent).

San Jose’s penalty kill is operating at 76.1 percent efficiency in its last 16 games (35-for-46), after allowing just four power play goals against in its first 16 games (34-for-38, 89.5 percent).

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Timo Meier. The 20-year-old rookie will be making his home debut tonight, after playing in his first two career NHL games in Montreal and Chicago. Meier scored in his first game against the Canadiens, and nearly had another against the Blackhawks, hitting the post with a redirection. Linemates Joonas Donskoi and Chris Tierney are also playing better of late, forming an inexperienced but potentially dangerous line.

Flames: Matthew Tkachuk. In the first game between the two teams on Nov. 3, the rookie scored two goals – including the late game-winner – after learning earlier that morning he’d be staying with the Flames for the rest of the season rather than returning in juniors. In 30 games Tkachuk has 17 points (6g, 11a), but just one goal in his last 13 games.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Flames
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
Johnny Gaudreau – Sam Bennett – Alex Chasson
Kris Versteeg – Sean Monahan – Troy Brouwer
Michael Ferland – Matt Stajan – Garnet Hathaway

Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie – Dennis Wideman
Jyrki Jokipakka – Deryk Engelland

Chad Johnson (starter)
Brian Elliott

INJURIES

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Flames: Ladislav Smid (neck) is out.

QUOTEABLE

“I think it was actually a good thing for me to sit out one game and think about it a little bit. Full of energy again.” – Joonas Donskoi, who was scratched on Wednesday in Ottawa

Former Sharks defenseman Paul Martin announces retirement

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USATSI

Former Sharks defenseman Paul Martin announces retirement

After 14 seasons with the Devils, Penguins and Sharks, defenseman Paul Martin has called it a career.

Martin announced his retirement from the NHL in an article published by The Athletic on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old spent the last three seasons in San Jose and was released on June 22.

In three seasons with the Sharks, Martin finished with seven goals and 41 assists.

Martin was defense partners with Brent Burns when the latter won the Norris Trophy during the 2016-17 season.

As you might imagine, Burns had nice things to say about Martin in The Athletic's piece.

“The most special thing about that guy is it didn’t matter how many times you asked him how he was or what was he doing or what was going on, he always just cared about you," Burns told The Athletic's Michael Russo. "We always joked, we know his name, but we know nothing else ’cause he’s always asking if we’re all right, how our kids are doing, how life is. He just cared that much and he really put the ‘Nice’ in the Minnesota Nice. It’s like this guy just exemplifies that. I mean, just look what he’s doing for kids in Minnesota. That says everything you want to know about him. It’s just so genuine of him. I’m not kidding you, he’s the most genuine human being I’ve ever met."

Peter DeBoer talks Erik Karlsson, John Tavares ahead of first showdown

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USATSI

Peter DeBoer talks Erik Karlsson, John Tavares ahead of first showdown

SAN JOSE -- With the Toronto Maple Leafs in town and the Canadian media on the scene, there were two names that popped up a lot at the Sharks’ Wednesday morning practice: Erik Karlsson and John Tavares.

The two veterans were the biggest names on the market last summer -- both captains on their respective teams who had the opportunity to play for a contender. Fast-forward to November, and the two players are facing off for the first time since sporting new sweaters.

So naturally, Sharks’ bench box Peter DeBoer was peppered with questions about the Leafs’ newest forward and Team Teal’s newest defenseman.

You may recall the Sharks were initially in on the John Tavares sweepstakes before the 28-year-old center chose to take his talents up to Toronto. That didn’t stop DeBoer from praising his success since joining the Leafs.

“John Tavares, for me, is one of the best players in the world,” DeBoer said. “Playing with a lot of confidence.”

It’s easy to see why Tavares is playing so confidently, too. He’s leading the team with 11 goals in 18 games and is ranked second on the squad with 22 points. 

“I just love the honesty to his game,” DeBoer continued. “He plays both ends of the rink. He wins battles. He goes to the dirty areas of the rink. And he makes other people around him better.”

Of course, the conversation turned toward the big acquisition the Sharks did make this off-season: two-time Norris Trophy-winner Karlsson. While much of the outside focus has centered on the defenseman not scoring his first goal of the season yet, DeBoer was frank when he said he likes what he’s seeing from the new addition to the roster. He also noted that the number of goals scored isn’t the only number outsiders should be looking at.

“I think his game is trending in the right direction,” he said of No. 65.  “When you look at the underlying numbers of what he’s doing here, they’re as good or better than they were two years ago in Ottawa.

“All those things are there. It just hasn’t (broken) the right way for him yet.”

As far as finding the back of the net, DeBoer acknowledged the pressure on Karlsson can play a role.

“It’s human nature. You want to come in, you want to make an impact," DeBoer said. "For sure, that can weigh on you. But sometimes you have to take a step back and look at what’s actually going on.”

What’s going on now is the Leafs making their one and only season visit to San Jose after defeating the LA Kings 5-1 on Tuesday. The matchup with Toronto won’t be easy, much like the contest the Sharks just played on Tuesday against the conference-leading Nashville Predators.

“We know, like with Nashville, that we have to be on top of our game,” DeBoer summarized. “If you try and cheat, they can put up some goals really quickly on you.”