Sharks

Pavelski heating up thanks to recent line change

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USATSI

Pavelski heating up thanks to recent line change


Sharks captain Joe Pavelski is the last person the struggling Arizona Coyotes want to see. Well, unless the lottery-bound desert dogs are more concerned about fallin’ for (surefire No. 1 pick and Swedish defenseman Rasmus) Dahlin, then he might be the first person they want to see. 

Pavelski’s scored more points against the Coyotes (53) than any other franchise in his career, and is tied with Henrik Zetterberg for the seventh-most points against the Coyotes among active players. The bad (good?) news for Arizona is that Pavelski is red-hot.

In nine games without Joe Thornton, who remains out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair his right MCL, Pavelski has scored eight points (four goals, four assists). He scored seven since head coach Peter DeBoer moved Joonas Donskoi to one of Pavelski’s wings, opposite second-year winger Timo Meier, on Feb. 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

They’ve been nothing shy of dominant in six games together. With the trio on the ice, the Sharks controlled nearly two-thirds of the five-on-five shot attempts (65.32 percent corsi-for) and almost two-thirds of the five-on-five scoring chances (66.15 percent scoring chances-for) in just under an hour together, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

The Sharks scored as many five-on-five goals (six) when Donskoi, Meier, and Pavelski were on the ice as when they weren’t. They new-look top line did it in half the time as the rest of the lineup, which played just over two hours without them. 

Oh, and San Jose won four of those six games.

Pavelski, in particular, benefitted over that stretch. His five-on-five scoring rate (2.76 points per 60 minutes), shot rate (12.4 per 60), and individual scoring chance rate (11.71 per 60) not only lead the team over the last six games, but would be the highest such rates of his career if projected over an entire season. 

The 33-year-old, on pace for his fewest points since 2011-12 (61), has been in need of an offensive boost all season, particularly in Thornton’s absence. The Sharks have, too, and both they and Pavelski are getting one thanks to the new-look top line. 

DeBoer briefly broke up the trio in the third period of Sunday’s win in Anaheim, moving Donskoi to the third line and Jannik Hansen in his place with Meier and Pavelski. But at the morning skate on Tuesday, Donskoi was once again back on the first line, according to reporters.

That's the right call. It’s only been six games, but so far, Pavelski’s results alongside Meier and Donskoi speak for themselves. 

Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal

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Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal

Just two days before one was scheduled, the Sharks avoided an arbitration hearing with center Chris Tierney, and re-signed the restricted free agent to a two-year deal on Wednesday, the team announced. The deal is reportedly worth just shy of $2.94 million annually, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman

"Chris had his best season as a professional last year and stepped up his level of play in multiple areas," San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We've always known he was a responsible, defensive-minded player, but he took his offensive game to the next tier and showed that he can be a productive player in all three zones. We look forward to watching him continue his evolution in 2018-19." 

Last season, the 24-year-old Tierney set career-highs in goals (17), assists (23), points (40), shots on goal (118), and ice time (16:00). Tierney also generated expected goals at the highest rate of his career (0.62 per hour), according to Corsica Hockey. 

A 2012 second-round pick, Tierney entered last season in an uncertain place. He signed his one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer last summer, and head coach Peter DeBoer challenged him to improve. 

“I came into the year wanting to prove a point. I believe in myself. I think I’m a good hockey player,” Tierney told the San Jose Mercury News in December. “I wanted to come in and show people that I could play an offensive role on the team.”  

DeBoer used Tierney slightly differently this season, as the forward started a career-high percentage of five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone (31.12 percent) and a career-low percentage of defensive zone starts (29.68 percent), per Corsica Hockey. Tierney responded in kind with his aforementioned career-best offensive numbers, and seized the third-line center role after versatile forward Tomas Hertl stayed on the wing.  

With Tierney back in the fold, the Sharks now have just under $4.4 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly. That’s for a roster carrying 14 forwards, seven defenseman, and two goaltenders, and San Jose’s actual cap space may change depending on the outcome of various positional battles in training camp. 

This summer, Tierney became the fourth Sharks player since 2008 to file for arbitration. In every case, including with Tierney on Wednesday, a settlement was reached prior to a hearing. 

The Sharks also signed a pair of prospects to entry-level contracts on Wednesday. Defenseman Ryan Merkley, San Jose’s first-round pick this June, and 21-year-old forward Alexander True, who scored 28 points in 68 games with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda last season, both inked deals with the organization.

Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double

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Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones won't just enter the season with a different paycheck, the result of entering the first year of a five-year, $34.5 million contract extension that he signed last July. He'll also have a new mask.

Toronto-based artist Steve Nash unveiled a look at Jones' mask design for the upcoming season Monday morning on Twitter. The design again features San Jose's secondary logo but with some subtle differences.

Eagle-eyed mask afficionados will notice a couple of tweaks. First, there now are two sharks on the side, compared to only one last season. Those sharks boast orange eyes seen on the back of his mask last season

For comparison, here's a look at Jones' mask from last year.

The 28-year-old netminder is entering his fourth season in San Jose's crease. Jones posted a .915 save percentage in 60 regular-season starts and followed that with a .928 in 10 postseason starts as the Sharks advanced to the second round. 

We'll get our best look at Jones' new mask in action when training camp opens in mid-September, and, assuming he plays, in a game as soon as the Sept. 18 preseason opener against the Ducks.