Sharks hope for offensive boost vs. Predators in Evander Kane's return

Sharks hope for offensive boost vs. Predators in Evander Kane's return

The Sharks may already have three regular-season contests under their belt, but the team's starting lineup will have a slightly different look on Tuesday as winger Evander Kane returns to game action. And, needless to say, San Jose hopes that Kane's return to the lineup will be part of the jumpstart it needs to get win No. 1 on the season.

Kane was suspended for the first three games of the regular season after a debacle in the Sharks' preseason finale against the Vegas Golden Knights. While San Jose no doubt missed Kane's grit and physicality in the first week of the season, the team is also hoping he can offer a much-needed boost to a struggling offense, which has only scored three goals in as many games.

As head coach Peter DeBoer told Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News on Monday, he also wants to see how having Kane back in the lineup affects the Sharks defensively, given the team has allowed 12 goals through the first three games.

"He’s a very good NHL player, helps offensively for us, but he’s also a reliable guy,” DeBoer explained. “He knows how to play both ends of the rink. Right now, through three games, we’re doing a lot of teaching. The way we want to play as a five-man unit is if one guy is out of place, then things break down.” 

It doesn't hurt that Kane has also played well against the Predators in the past. The gritty winger has 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) and is a plus-3 through 18 career games against the tough Nashville squad. 

Unfortunately, even with Kane's return, San Jose will still be short one of its starting left wings for Tuesday night's contest. Marcus Sorensen is now out of the lineup and considered day-to-day after he collided hard into the boards during Saturday's game against the Anaheim Ducks and has to go through concussion protocol.

The Sharks have yet to put their expected starting roster on the ice -- in addition to being without Kane for three games, San Jose was without Erik Karlsson for the season opener in Las Vegas and have been shuffling its defensive pairings due to injuries. 

Nevertheless, the Sharks don't have room to dwell on who isn't in their lineup Tuesday. They need to get into the win column for the first time this season. At least having a veteran like Kane back in a lineup featuring a handful of young players still learning the ropes should help. 

[RELATED: What we learned as Sharks fall to 0-3-0 with loss to Ducks]

"We’ve got some young players that are learning the systems, and that takes some time," DeBoer continued on Monday. "We’re dealing with a little bit of that. But dealing with a veteran guy that knows what he’s doing out there and where he’s supposed to be is important.” 

The Sharks are 36-29-2-6 all-time through 73 regular-season meetings versus the Predators. They have a 14-19-1-2 record all-time at Bridgestone Arena.

Sharks must avoid letdown vs. Red Wings to keep winning streak alive


Sharks must avoid letdown vs. Red Wings to keep winning streak alive

SAN JOSE - Sharks fans can breathe a sigh of relief now that head coach Peter DeBoer has confirmed that Tomas Hertl and Mario Ferraro are back in the lineup for Saturday's matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.

But just merely having these two pieces in the lineup doesn't mean the Sharks can sit back and take this game lightly. 

San Jose has strung five consecutive wins together, the most recent coming on Thursday night against a tough division rival in the Anaheim Ducks. The key now is to not get comfortable -- especially with the team still trying to climb their way up the standings.

"We talked to our group this morning," head coach Peter DeBoer told the media Saturday morning. "Human nature, (after) you've won five in a row and a big road win against a division rival is to kind of take a deep breath. And we can't fall into that trap."

Sure, San Jose has gotten points in five straight games and has defeated tough Western Conference competition in the Predators, Oilers, and Ducks. However, they're still sitting at just 19 points in the standings, second-to-last in the division and nine points behind the Pacific-leading Edmonton squad. Even with those five straight victories, San Jose still has an uphill climb ahead of them.

The trap becomes even bigger with the Red Wings in town. They might be at the bottom of their division, but that isn't likely to stop them from making the Sharks pay for their mistakes, no matter how small they are.

"This team always plays us hard, always tough," DeBoer said. "They're a speed team, which always gives us trouble. Their first line has been firing on all cylinders. So we've got to make sure we're prepared for this game."

The visiting Red Wings are 4-4-2 in their last 10 contests, having a three-game winning streak snapped by the Kings in LA on Thursday night. Over that span, they've been outscored 38-25 and have gone 7-for-31 on the power play.

While those numbers would seem to indicate that San Jose won't have too much trouble containing Detroit's offense, the top line consisting of Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Dylan Larkin has combined for 12 points against the Sharks over their careers.

Not to mention that the Sharks haven't always fared well against the Red Wings in the past, going 34-50-4-6 through 94 regular-season meetings and splitting last season's series 1-1-0.

[RELATED: What we learned as Sharks' win streak reaches five games]

The biggest key for the Sharks on Saturday night is going to be keeping the defense tight and the puck in enemy territory -- and preferably to not take their foot off the gas late in the game and allow Detroit to score any late goals.

This seemingly should be an easier task with Hertl and Ferraro healthy and in the lineup. But with the threat of a letdown looming after winning five straight games, San Jose has to be on top of their game no matter what. 

Sharks' Tomas Hertl day-to-day after suffering knee injury vs. Ducks


Sharks' Tomas Hertl day-to-day after suffering knee injury vs. Ducks

Any reference to a possible knee injury for Tomas Hertl should make all Sharks fans hold their breath, but it sounds like they can exhale.

After departing San Jose's 5-3 win over the Ducks on Thursday night in the third period following a collision with Anaheim forward Sam Steel, Hertl did not return to the game, and his status was not updated by the team afterward.

That changed Friday when Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told reporters that images of Hertl's right knee taken earlier that morning confirmed, "that it looks like it's minor and that's good news."

When asked Friday, Hertl said he is day-to-day and that he was going to see the team doctor in the afternoon to get treatment. The injury comes at a particularly unfortunate time, as Hertl is in the midst of a career-best five-game goal-scoring streak, which perfectly coincides with San Jose's five-game winning streak.

"I was coming back and the guy was falling, for sure my knee, and fell on it," Hertl described to The Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka. "I’ve got some history, so we just take it back and just check. That’s why they take me out and I couldn’t even finish the game. We’ll see. For now, it’s just day-to-day. But nothing serious and hopefully be OK for game."

The history to which Hertl referred to is the reason for the aforementioned breath-holding. In Dec. 2013, he required surgery to repair damage to the MCL and PCL in the same right knee. He re-injured it again in Game 2 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final and sprained it the following November and missed 33 games.

"Before it was always way worse, but sometimes even the small things you can make worse," Hertl said. "But this time, hopefully, (it’s) just a little tweak or something and it will be alright."

[RELATED: What we learned as Sharks' win streak reaches five games]

The Sharks go for their sixth straight win when they host Red Wings on Saturday night, and it remains to be seen if Hertl will be in the lineup to face Detroit. San Jose could elect to place Hertl on injured reserve to free up a roster spot if needed, but that would mean he would be ineligible to play for at least a week. As Pashelka notes, another option would be to place rookie defenseman Mario Ferraro -- who hasn't played since Nov. 7 -- on retroactive IR.