Sharks mailbag: Don't expect roster to change much before deadline

Sharks mailbag: Don't expect roster to change much before deadline

Time for one final Sharks mailbag in 2016....

With the trade deadline around the corner, what do you think Doug Wilson will go after, if anything? (Uncle Jesse @chuysancho)

I’m not sure I’d call the trade deadline “around the corner,” with two months to go before Feb. 28. Still, it’s easy to predict that the Sharks probably won’t do a whole lot leading up to it. They certainly can’t afford to add anyone at the moment, because when Tomas Hertl is ready to return, they’re going to have to shed at least one or two players to fit the center/left wing back on the roster under the salary cap.

If there’s one area I could see them trying to upgrade it’s the backup goalie position, as Aaron Dell is still in his first year and Martin Jones really seemed to benefit from the extra rest he got in the second half last season when James Reimer was playing so much. But any move the Sharks make would be a tricky one, because of their financial situation and they like the chemistry in the dressing room.

As long as the team stays healthy, don’t expect the roster to be all that different on March 1 than it is today.

I know [Timo] Meier scored in his first game, but how has he looked since then? (@MattyCabal)

In a word, comfortable. Meier is still just sitting on one goal, but he’s generated 19 shots in five games – all at even strength. Even games where he’s quiet, such as last Friday against Edmonton, he seems to get at least one or two good scoring chances. He had one excellent opportunity from the slot in the third period against the Oilers, but Cam Talbot turned it aside in what was a 2-2 game at the time.

The 20-year-old is also spending more time in the offensive end, with a shot attempt percentage of 53.77 – the second-best mark on the team.

One thing Meier does particularly well, and it’s been in short supply on this year’s team, is he gets to the front of the net. Although he still hasn’t broken through to earn a spot on either power play unit yet, that’s probably just a matter of time. The Sharks put Joel Ward on the top unit at Wednesday’s practice with the thought that he’ll be able to create some havoc around the crease for that struggling group, but at some point Meier could be the better option there.

If winning the Cup is the goal, what weakness(es) will hold this team back? How can [Pete] DeBoer/Wilson address them? (@ClumsyPuddle)

The biggest fear I would have with this team is its age. It’s been a struggle for some of the team’s older players to find their consistency, and the short summer and compacted schedule surely haven’t helped.

DeBoer, though, has a good handle on when to rest his players and when to practice. That was evident last season, when Joe Thornton mentioned many times that the biggest reason he was able to have the dominant second half that he did was his feeling more energized than previous years.

The organization has done a commendable job integrating its younger players onto the roster to make up for the slowing down of guys like Thornton, Ward and Patrick Marleau. The Sharks need a little more from than their veteran players in order to make a deep run, though, than they’ve gotten so far. Some of them will have to pick it up a notch. That bye week at the end of February – the Sharks are off from Feb. 20-24 – could really be a big benefit to this team down the stretch.

Joe Thornton scores 400th career goal, joins Hall of Fame company

Joe Thornton scores 400th career goal, joins Hall of Fame company

SAN JOSE -- There was a plethora of storylines coming out of the Sharks’ crazy 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night. Almost all of them were eclipsed by Joe Thornton scoring his 400th career goal.

With the score tied up 4-4 in the waning minutes of regulation, the towering forward receiving a magnificent cross-ice pass from linemate Marcus Sorensen before sending the puck past Nashville goalie Juuse Saros into the back of the net

The energy at the Tank after the goal was electric. As his teammates swarmed him in celebration, Thornton was full of emotion as his 400th marker put the Sharks on top 5-4.

“I was on the ice, it was awesome,” Joe Pavelski said with a smile after the game. “It’s hard to put in perspective at times just what he’s been able to accomplish.”

The only thing making the goal even more impressive was that it put him on an exclusive list of seven players in NHL history who have scored 400 goals, tallied 1,000 assists, and played in over 1,500 games. Not surprisingly, though, Thornton told the media he was more focused on helping the team win than notching the milestone goal.

“Just trying to improve my game right now,” he said, a reminder to everyone he’s still battling back from those knee issues that sidelined him at the start of the season.

Wait, so he doesn’t know what highly-touted company he’s joined after scoring his 400th goal?

“No idea,” he admitted. “I haven’t checked to be honest with you.”

His teammates have been paying closer attention.

“It’s like every other night, there’s some kind of stat getting thrown out there,” Pavelski said of following his teammates' accomplishments. “They’re fun to look at, they really are.”

Defenseman Erik Karlsson has only been Thornton’s teammate for a little over a month. But since he has experience playing against No.19, he offered some perspective on what it was like for the Predators’ defense when Thornton came barreling down the ice.

“He’s one of those guys that you always have to be aware of,” Karlsson explained. “You always have to be aware of where he is because he’s such a good hockey player and if he gets the opportunities, you know he’s going to make you pay.”

Of course, the goal couldn’t have been made possible without the beautiful set-up from Sorensen, who Thornton has had a lot of success playing with as of late. 

“Marcus made a great play,” Thornton complimented. “I love playing with him. It seems like we’ve got some chemistry together now.”

When asked what it was like contributing to the milestone goal, Sorensen kept his answer straight-forward.

“It was pretty cool,” he said. “I’m happy for him.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in wild 5-4 win over Predators


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in wild 5-4 win over Predators


SAN JOSE -– There was no denying that Tuesday night’s rematch between the Sharks and the Nashville Predators would be a good game. But it’s likely that nobody expected just how lopsided this eventual nail-biter could get.

The Sharks jumped out to a convincing three-goal lead in the first period while the Predators looked tired and unable to create any offense. Then, the visitors rallied in the second stanza to notch three unanswered goals of their own, tying the score heading into the second intermission.

It looked as though Nashville would skate away to a one-goal victory halfway through the third, but Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton put two big goals on the board to give the home team the 5-4 victory.

To top everything off, the game-winner was Thornton’s 400th career goal.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s topsy-turvy game.

The Sharks' first period was amazing

The Sharks opened the game with the most dominant period of hockey they’ve played all season. It embodied everything the team has been saying it wants: Great puck possession, a strong defensive presence and contributions from all four lines.

The strong start was important, given the Predators were playing on the tail end of a back-to-back on the road and had just lost to the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout the previous night. Nashville was visibly tired in the first frame, and San Jose took advantage.

That being said …

The second period was the opposite of amazing

It was like a completely different Sharks team took the ice in the second period. They played a looser game and gave the Predators an opportunity to get back into the contest – not something a team wants to do against a squad with an 8-0-1 road record.

San Jose’s biggest problem in those 20 minutes was not being able to capitalize on any power-play opportunities. The Sharks even had a five-on-three opportunity after the Predators were called for having too many men on the ice. But through 3:40 on the man advantage, San Jose didn’t register a single shot on goal.

The third-period push is alive and well

If there’s one thing the Sharks are good at, it’s making that big third-period push when they’re on their heels. Sometimes it’s too little too late. It came at just the right time Tuesday. 

Goaltender Martin Jones made his best saves at the end of the game. He was particularly impressive when Nashville pulled its goalie with less than two minutes left in the game, and the Predators' forwards swarmed into San Jose’s zone.

Of course, the highlight of the game came on the final goal, when Thornton seemed to skate up to Nashville’s net in slow motion after getting a spectacular feed from Marcus Sorensen. Predators netminder Juuse Saros appeared to not even see Thornton’s milestone marker float past him stick side.