Notes: Sharks can't take Columbus lightly; DeBoer talks Torts


Notes: Sharks can't take Columbus lightly; DeBoer talks Torts

Programming note: Blue Jackets-Sharks coverage starts tonight at 7pm with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California.

SAN JOSE – There has been no bigger disappointment in the NHL this season than the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After a strong finish to the 2014-15 campaign and some offseason additions like Brandon Saad from Chicago, the Blue Jackets were picked by many as a playoff team, if not a contender to win the Metropolitan Division. Instead, they sit at the bottom of the NHL standings with just two wins in their first dozen games.

Joel Ward saw the Blue Jackets plenty of times with the Washington Capitals, a Metro rival.

“Kind of surprised, for sure,” Ward said of Columbus’ struggles. “They’ve got a lot of quick forwards, guys that can put the puck to the net, and a lot of good two-way players. … We’ve got to limit their space and shut them down as best we can.”

[KURZ: Morning Skate: Sharks host NHL's worst team]

The Sharks shouldn’t take the Blue Jackets lightly. In the last eight head-to-head meetings, San Jose has won just twice – including one in a shootout. Columbus won both games of the season series last year.

Joe Thornton said: “At the beginning of the year, everybody expected big things out of this team. You look at this team on paper, they’re a very dynamic team and very talented team. It’s going to be a good test for us to beat this club tonight.”

San Jose will be opening up a four-game homestand, looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since reeling off four straight to open the season.

“We’re [6-5-0]. We’ve got to go,” Thornton said. “We’ve got to win some games and put a streak together, and we realize that. We know they’re a desperate team, but so are we.”

“I’ll be disappointed if our [desperation] doesn’t match theirs,” Pete DeBoer said.

The coach is hopeful that the his club can build off of Sunday’s 4-3 win in Denver, which in his opinion was the Sharks’ best game since week one.

“That’s the first time I think we played 60 minutes like that since the first three games of the year. We’re finding out what we have to do in order to be successful, and I think we know now. Now, it’s on our group to bring that every night.”

* * *

The Blue Jackets were the first team to make a coaching change, hiring John Tortorella to replace Todd Richards on Oct. 21. Columbus is 2-3-0 under Tortorella.

DeBoer and Tortorella have some history, including a shouting match in the 2012 playoffs when DeBoer’s Devils were on their way to the Stanley Cup Final.

While the Sharks coach was complimentary of former Sharks asst. coach Richards, calling him a “really good coach,” he also expressed his contentment that Tortorella, who had a disastrous one-year stint in Vancouver in 2013-14, is back in the NHL.

“I’m happy Torts got back in. He’s a guy that belongs in this league,” DeBoer said. “He’s won a Stanley Cup, his teams play hard. We had some great battles when he was in New York. He always manages to get his teams to play with a workmanlike identity. That’s hard to establish and it’s hard to play against.”

The Blue Jackets have improved their defense under Tortorella, according to DeBoer. Although they sit 29th in the NHL with a 3.83 goals-against average and have the league’s worst penalty kill, Columbus has surrendered 12 goals over their last five games since the coaching change.

“You know at some point this group is going to get it figured out, you just hope it’s not tonight,” DeBoer said.

* * *

In goal, Martin Jones will go for the Sharks against Sergei Bobrovsky. The Sharks’ lineup appears unchanged from Sunday, with Bryan Lerg staying in as the fourth line center.

Ben Smith has experienced a setback from his head injury, although DeBoer said that his benching in the third period of the loss in Dallas was not due to health. Smith is day-to-day after some “light exercise” on Tuesday, according to DeBoer. He did not skate.

Karl Stollery was recalled from the Barracuda as an extra on defense.

2020 NHL All-Star Game live stream: How to watch tournament online

NBC Sports

2020 NHL All-Star Game live stream: How to watch tournament online

The players put on a show at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in St. Louis on Friday night. On Saturday, they'll go head-to-head in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center.

Sharks forward Tomas Hertl didn't win any events on Friday, but he'll be one of the talks of the town heading into Saturday's exhibition due to the stunt he pulled against Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington in the Bud Light NHL Save Streak competition. It's unlikely he'll have a Justin Bieber mask stowed away under his jersey during Saturday's All-Star Game, but based on his personality, it wouldn't come as a shock if he had any other surprises in store.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl brings fun to NHL skills event with Bieber mask]

As San Jose's lone All-Star representative, Hertl will team up with the other members of the Pacific Division squad in an attempt to claim divisional supremacy over the rest of the league. The 2020 NHL All-Star Game will feature a two-round, three-game tournament in which the league's four divisions will square off. Each 20-minute game will be played 3-on-3, with teams changing sides at the 10-minute mark. Any game tied after 20 minutes of play will be decided by shootout.

In Round One, the two Eastern Conference divisions (Atlantic and Metropolitan) will face off, while the two Western Conference divisions (Central and Pacific) will battle in Round Two. The two winners then advance to Round Three where they'll face each other to determine the overall champion.

Here's how to watch the 2020 NHL All-Star Game online:

When: Saturday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m. PT
Live Stream:

Sharks' Tomas Hertl brings the fun to NHL All-Star Skills Competition


Sharks' Tomas Hertl brings the fun to NHL All-Star Skills Competition

Leave it to Tomas Hertl to put a smile on everyone's face.

The self-described "smiley guy" is the Sharks' lone representative at NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis, and he didn't take long to show the Enterprise Center crowd why he fills that role so well during the All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night.

Hertl participated in two events on the evening, and got the crowd on its feet both times. But it was his first event -- the Bud Light NHL Save Streak -- during which he created one of the highlights of the entire night.

The Save Streak competition pits goalies against one another to see how many consecutive breakaway saves they can make. Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy held the lead with nine consecutive stops with only the hometown Jordan Binnington left to go. The Blues goaltender recently challenged musician Justin Bieber to a breakaway competition on Twitter, in which he said he would die his hair platinum blonde if Bieber scored at least once on 10 breakaway attempts.

Clearly, Hertl was paying attention, because he had a surprise for Binnington on his own breakaway attempt.

See for yourself:

Hertl didn't score on his hilarious attempt, but it's tough to blame him for two reasons. For one -- and perhaps most importantly -- he had a gigantic Justin Bieber mask over his entire face. Secondly, Binnington would go on to stop six more shots in a row after Hertl to win the event with a streak of 10.

[RELATED: Sharks' Karlsson named to NHL's All-Decade Second Team]

The 26-year-old forward wasn't done for the night, though. He participated in the next event -- the Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting -- as well.

The Accuracy Shooting competition involves a series of shooters attempting to hit five targets on a digital board. Hertl might have the best mits on the Sharks, and he wasted no time showing them off in St. Louis, knocking down four targets on his first four shot attempts. The crowd got louder and louder as it appeared Hertl might complete a perfect round in very short order, but unfortunately, the crescendo had to wait. Hertl struggled to hit the final target, requiring nine more attempts to close it out. Carolina's Jacob Slavvin ultimately won the event, hitting all five targets in only 9.505 seconds, considerably faster than Hertl's time of 17.161.

So, Hertl wasn't victorious in any one event at the Skills Competition, but he undoubtedly will be remembered as one of the big winners of the night. After all, as he likes to say, "Fun must be always."