Sharks

Once a Sharks pest, Hansen excited to join his new teammates

Once a Sharks pest, Hansen excited to join his new teammates

When Jannik Hansen walks into the Sharks’ dressing room he’ll see a very familiar face in Mikkel Boedker, as the two Denmark natives have known each other since they were kids.

He’ll also see a whole slew of players that he’s battled with for the better part of a decade while playing in the Pacific Division for the Canucks since the 2007-08 season. That includes Brenden Dillon, who fought the gritty Hansen to a draw on March 7, 2015.

Of course, that’s just part of the business in the NHL, and there won’t be any hard feelings. Those battles with Dillon and the other Sharks veterans didn’t prevent Hansen from putting the Sharks on the list of eight teams that he was reportedly willing to join.

“A lot of the stuff that happens on the ice, you step off the ice and it’s bygones,” Hansen said on a conference call Wednesday morning. “Obviously it’s always weird to walk into a dressing room and [for] the first time you shake hands with a guy that you fought with, but it’s almost normal, I think.”

The drive to win a Stanley Cup far outweighs any awkward feelings of joining a longtime rival. The Sharks have that chance, while the Canucks are seemingly beginning a rebuild. Hansen, who turns 31 late this month, was ready to move on.

“That was a big thing for me, going to a team that has the opportunity [to win],” Hansen said. “San Jose obviously has that. That being said, I also have a lot of knowledge of the team playing against them for a lot of years. I feel like I have a pretty good sense as to how they play.”

On Tuesday night a few Sharks players, including Dillon, spoke about how Hansen is a pest to play against. He’ll finish his checks, try to get underneath the other team’s skin, isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the middle of a post-whistle scrum, and can contribute offensively, too. Hansen has experience playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin on Vancouver’s top line, and was frequently in the top six.

He’s the type of player whose value tends to increase in the postseason.

“Everything intensifies once playoff roll around,” Hansen said. “Every inch is so important, and you fight for everything. I think that’s just how I’ve always played. It’s how I’ve found that I’m most successful. If I’m not successful, that’s one of the first areas that I tend to look at, is probably not doing the things I’m supposed to. It’s definitely a part of my game, and something you try to bring on a nightly basis.”

Although he’s played just 28 games this season with 13 points (6g, 7a), battling through rib and knee injuries, Hansen had been in Vancouver’s lineup for the past three-and-a-half weeks before he was held out on Tuesday for precautionary reasons.

“I feel like it’s turning a corner here now and have played for almost a month,” he said.

Hansen revealed he will not be available to skate against the Canucks on Thursday at SAP Center due to the paperwork required to work in the United States for the first time, so his debut will have to wait until Sunday in Minnesota, at the earliest.

He’s now in a position, though, to play much later into the spring than had he remained in Vancouver.

“It’s been cut short a little bit, my season here, so to say,” Hansen said. “Hopefully I get to extend it quite a bit now.”

Sharks vs. Penguins watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

Sharks vs. Penguins watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

SAN JOSE – The Sharks have been rolling since the start of 2019. They will face another tough challenge in their last home game before the All-Star break when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

San Jose was busy last week, playing five games in an eight-day span. But, they won each of them. After a slow start on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, the Sharks cruised to a 4-1 victory and extended their winning streak to six games.

The Pens are 8-2-0 in their last 10 contests. Pittsburgh has caught fire after a slow start to the season – including a five-game losing skid in November – and has been playing some of their best hockey of the season. They are 7-2-1 against Pacific Division teams this season.

This is the first of two games the Sharks and Penguins will play against each other this season. In 39 total franchise meetings, San Jose is 19-15-3-2 against Pittsburgh.

Sharks projected lines and pairs

Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Lukas Radil – Logan Couture – Timo Meier
Evander Kane – Tomas Hertl – Joonas Donskoi
Kevin Labanc – Barclay Goodrow – Melker Karlsson

Radim Simek – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Tim Heed – Justin Braun

Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

[RELATED: Thornton to notch 'great accomplishment' vs. Penguins]

Penguins projected lines and pairs

Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Tanner Pearson – Evgeni Malkin – Dominik Simon
Riley Sheahan – Derick Brassard – Phil Kessel
Derek Grant – Matt Cullen – Garrett Wilson

Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta – Jamie Oleksiak
Marcus Pettersson – Jack Johnson

Matt Murray – projected starter
Casey DeSmith

Sharks practice notes: Joe Thornton to hit milestone vs. Penguins

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USATSI

Sharks practice notes: Joe Thornton to hit milestone vs. Penguins

SAN JOSE – The Sharks only play the Penguins twice a season. But they are well aware of how tough the Eastern Conference contingent can be.

“We’ve played a lot of good teams lately, and these guys coming into town, they’re playing as good as anyone right now,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said after Tuesday’s morning skate ahead of Team Teal’s first contest of the season against Pittsburgh.

Much like the Sharks, the Pens had an uneven start to their 2018-19 campaign, winding their way through a couple losing skids and only tallying four wins in the month of November. They’ve since turned things around, however, and had an eight-game winning streak going before they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks on January 6. 

“I think when you’ve had the deep runs they’ve had, I think it’s natural that you have some lulls in the regular season," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "But you can see they’re starting to pick it up and find another level." 

The Pens enter Tuesday’s contest with a 7-2-1 record against Pacific Division teams this season, using depth scoring and elite special teams play to find success. San Jose is going to have to play a disciplined game if they want to keep Pittsburgh from running away with the game, Pavelski said.

“When they’re playing well, they can beat you in a lot of different ways,” the captain summarized. “It’s a game we’ve got to be ready for. We’ve had a couple days off so (we’ll) get back out there early and re-establish what we were doing.”

“They’re starting to put it together and it’s a great test for us,” DeBoer said.

Big night for Jumbo

Speaking of Joe Pavelski, his linemate Joe Thornton will be skating in his 1,000th game as a member of the Sharks on Tuesday night. 

“I’m sure he’ll say it’s another game,” Pavelski said with a smile. “But obviously it’s a great accomplishment.”

A great accomplishment indeed, given the ups and downs Thornton has had health-wise over the last couple of seasons. The magnitude of his accomplishments isn’t lost on the rest of the team.

“It’s amazing, his career,” DeBoer reflected. “First ballot Hall of Famer. Still playing at a really high level. His greatness is in what he does for other players, how good he makes other people around him. That’s a rare thing.”

One of those special players is 26-year-old Marcus Sorensen, who has spent a good chunk of his breakout 2018-19 season on Thornton’s wing. Sorensen, who just signed a two-year contract extension with San Jose, expressed how happy he was to get to play on a line with the seasoned veteran.

“I play with one of the best players in the world,” Sorensen said. “I’m honored to play with him and Pavs right now. Love playing with those guys. It’s so easy to play with them.”

Tuesday’s game is just one of Thornton’s milestones Sorensen has been part of. The Swedish winger also set Thornton up for his 400th career goal earlier this season.

“It’s special,” Sorensen said. “I was here when he played his 1,500th (NHL) game. I was able to pass (to) him for his 400th goal. I’m going to keep those memories for my whole life.”