Sharks

NHL rumors: Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau confident he'll find new team

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USATSI

NHL rumors: Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau confident he'll find new team

Patrick Marleau is not on an NHL roster, but he'll reportedly keep trying to get on one.

Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported Saturday on "Hockey Night in Canada" that the veteran center continues to prepare for the season, and there is "some confidence in [Marleau's] camp" that the former Shark "will indeed find his way back to the NHL."

"[Part of the reason I think he didn't end up with a team to this point is he's being selective about where he goes," Johnston said. "Wants to stay close to home with his family back in San Jose, and he was focused on the Sharks in July, and ultimately they chose to go another direction. But he remains confident that he's gonna get another job this season."

Marleau, who has played more games and scored more points as a Shark than any other player in franchise history, was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes this offseason in a salary dump by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Hurricanes bought out Marleau after they couldn't convince him to play for the team, and the 40-year-old has been a free agent since.

While Marleau said he thought a return to the Sharks would be a "good fit," San Jose general manager Doug Wilson told The Athletic's Kevin Kurz that the team would give its young forwards an opportunity to earn roster spots in training camp. The Sharks opened the season with 21-year-old Lean Bergmann, 22-year-old Danil Yurtaikin and 23-year-old Dylan Gambrell in their lineup in Wednesday's season opener.

Marleau scored just 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 2019-20, by far his lowest total in an 82-game season. He also scored on just 9.9 percent of his shots, the second-lowest conversion rate of his career.

[RELATED: Why Sharks must shake off poor start heading into road trip]

Marleau is not the player he once was, but his experience and durability -- he has not missed a regular-season game since the 2008-09 season -- should end up appealing to some team. Whether or not it's one close enough to Marleau's family, however, remains to be seen. The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have ample salary-cap space, but both SoCal teams are embracing a youth movement up front. The Vegas Golden Knights just out-scored the Sharks 9-2 across two games and also are up against the salary cap, as are the Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks.

If he's focused on the Sharks' closest geographic rivals, Marleau's waiting game might continue.

Sharks' struggles feel familiar on second rough East Coast road trip

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AP

Sharks' struggles feel familiar on second rough East Coast road trip

At the start of the Sharks' recent road trip earlier this week, the team felt like they were in pretty good shape. Despite losing to the Hurricanes in a shootout Thursday evening, San Jose played so well that they appeared primed to pick up a few wins.

But after being outscored 12-2 in back-to-back games against the Lightning on Saturday and then the Panthers on Sunday, the Sharks aren't looking like the team that went 11-4-0 in the month of November. In fact, they're looking like the team that went 1-3-1 the last time they went on a long roadie out East.

Are the Sharks' struggles on this second long road trip just a coincidence, or is it history repeating itself?

"I think every trip is different, you're at different points," coach Peter DeBoer said to the media after the Sharks' 5-1 loss to the Panthers. "My disappointment tonight was a little like last night. I think they scored on their first shot or their first couple of shots and then you're chasing the game right off of the bat. It's tough on the road to do that."

San Jose looked for a moment like they could trade in their bad luck during Sunday's game when Kevin Labanc scored a power-play goal in the first period to cut Florida's two-goal lead in half. But thanks to a lopsided special teams battle and Sergei Bobrovsky outplaying Martin Jones, the Sharks were handed yet another loss.

"I thought we hung in there and kept fighting, but it wasn't enough," DeBoer said. "Their goalie was better. Their special teams were better tonight than ours."

It's a disappointing trend to see from a Sharks team that was starting to turn things around after a solid November. Even after a disappointing loss to the Washington Capitals before the road trip, San Jose was able to put on quite the performance in Carolina -- despite only getting one point -- and had momentum in their favor. In both losses that ensued, that fight was hard to come by.

"I think we're a little too relaxed right now," Sharks winger Evander Kane admitted. "A couple of games where we got off to bad starts and weren't able to fight back. We didn't have much fight after we got down. That's probably the most disappointing part."

The Sharks might be leaving the Sunshine State behind, but their road trip isn't over just yet. They have one more stop before they can return home -- a Tuesday night meeting against the Predators in Nashville -- and one more chance to turn their luck on the road around. Even though the Predators haven't been playing well either, their home barn poses challenges for visiting teams. Given how the Sharks have played over the last couple of road games, a win won't be easy.

The Sharks have no choice but to buckle down and grind for a win.

"It sucks, but you just have to keep working to get out of this slump," Kevin Labanc said. "And make sure that we're getting out of this hole for ourselves."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in lackluster 5-1 loss vs. Panthers

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in lackluster 5-1 loss vs. Panthers

BOX SCORE

The Sharks needed a big turnaround on Sunday afternoon after suffering a 7-1 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning the night before, but they didn't come close.

San Jose played better on the back end of a back-to-back, but the Florida Panthers had all the answers. In the end, the Sharks dropped their fourth game in a row, this time by a score of 5-1. 

Here are three takeaways from Sunday's game:

A goalie made the difference -- again

While Martin Jones didn't get pulled from Sunday's game like he was in Team Teal's loss to the Lighting, he still provided a mixed performance. He made a few saves to take some momentum away from the Panthers' offense, but he also gave up an early power-play goal and let two shots from the blue line find the back of the net. While he didn't receive much support from the defense early on, he still needed to buckle down more later in the game when San Jose was battling to put more points on the board.

The Sharks' offense did try to make up for the damage on the scoreboard and got some really good offensive-zone time as the game went on. Unfortunately for San Jose, Sergei Bobrovsky was in fine form and had an answer for most of the best chances.

Can't blame Kane 

The NHL says they're taking hits to the head more seriously. So it's a mystery as to why Mackenzie Weeger's hit on Evander Kane at the start of the second period didn't at least draw a penalty. Although Kane only left the ice for a quick moment and then returned to the bench, you can't blame him for standing up to Weeger on his next shift to defend himself. With Kane leaving the ice afterward with 17 minutes worth of penalties, Florida created momentum from a power-play opportunity, as the Panthers scored their third goal at even strength almost immediately afterward.

Credit should go to the Sharks for not letting the incident ruin their flow. Even though the altercation led to Kane being penalized for the rest of the period, San Jose continued to build momentum in an effort to even up the score. It's just unfortunate the Sharks couldn't get at least one goal to show for that effort.

[RELATED: Sharks' Simek to miss two weeks for minor knee procedure]

Special teams still struggling 

Yes, San Jose scored a power-play goal in the first period, the team's first in more than 20 attempts on the man advantage over a nine-game span. However, the Sharks were unable to capitalize at the beginning of the third period when they got some extended power-play time and could have trimmed the deficit to one. 

San Jose's No. 1-ranked penalty kill struggled as well, surrendering two goals to the Panthers. Whatever is ailing the Sharks' special teams, they'll have to fix if they want to get back into the win column.