Sharks

Sharks' Mario Ferraro absorbing advice while competing for NHL roster

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AP

Sharks' Mario Ferraro absorbing advice while competing for NHL roster

SAN JOSE -- Mario Ferraro hasn't earned himself a spot on the Sharks' opening night roster just yet. With an impressive preseason campaign wrapping up this week, however, it's looking more and more likely that the 21-year-old will skate with the big club when the regular season opens up on October 2.

But Ferraro isn't getting ahead of himself. 

Despite clearly being on the shortlist of young players who could make the Sharks' roster out of camp, he's just trying to build up his game and learn from all of the established players around him.

"I feel like I'm in a good spot, but I try not to focus on that kind of stuff," Ferraro said Saturday after San Jose's tune-up contest against the Vegas Golden Knights. "I try to improve as much as I can to hopefully one day be a Shark, and I take in all the advice that I can from people around me."

The competition has been fierce in this year's camp with San Jose having roster spots that need to be filled, and the blue line has been no exception, particularly with Radim Simek questionable to return for the start of the season.

According to Ferraro, that heightened competition is fuel to work harder.

"This is the NHL level so you're going to get some pretty good competition, especially on the back end in San Jose," Ferraro said. "But that competition pushes me and pushes everyone else in this room to get better and better. And that's something that you don't get everywhere. To be surrounded by such great players who are all competing for the same goal, it really pushes me and makes me a better player."

One player who has been pushing Ferraro that extra mile has been Dalton Prout -- a new face in San Jose's dressing room, but also an eight-year veteran. The two have been paired up on San Jose's blue line as of late, and having a teammate like Prout to look up to both on the ice and off has been a plus for an NHL hopeful like Ferraro, who brings a lot of energy to the game.

"We actually grabbed a bite to eat the other night just before the game," Ferraro recalled with a smile. "I'm thankful to be able to play with a guy like that. He's such a great leader and a really good person. It's good to learn from a guy like that who has experience and he definitely does a good job of covering my back out there for sure."

Ferraro got an extended look in Saturday's preseason game, leading all Sharks' skaters with 22:17 minutes of ice time. He also contributed three of the 31 hits San Jose laid on Vegas that evening -- a testament to Ferraro gearing up for heightened physicality at the NHL level.

"I think he's getting used to the NHL pace and the size of the guys," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said, going on to compliment Ferraro's performance throughout training camp. "His competitiveness has always been off the charts. He's ready to play every night and he brings a lot of good energy."

[RELATED: How Sharks can fill void on defense until Simek returns]

Whether that energy is something Ferraro gets to put on the NHL ice at the start of the season still hasn't been determined yet. But his drive to continue building on his game and learn from the players around him speaks well for his future.

"I'm always looking to get stronger and stronger," Ferraro said. "There's always room to improve."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in lackluster 5-1 loss vs. Panthers

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in lackluster 5-1 loss vs. Panthers

BOX SCORE

The Sharks needed a big turnaround on Sunday afternoon after suffering a 7-1 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning the night before, but they didn't come close.

San Jose played better on the back end of a back-to-back, but the Florida Panthers had all the answers. In the end, the Sharks dropped their fourth game in a row, this time by a score of 5-1. 

Here are three takeaways from Sunday's game:

A goalie made the difference -- again

While Martin Jones didn't get pulled from Sunday's game like he was in Team Teal's loss to the Lighting, he still provided a mixed performance. He made a few saves to take some momentum away from the Panthers' offense, but he also gave up an early power-play goal and let two shots from the blue line find the back of the net. While he didn't receive much support from the defense early on, he still needed to buckle down more later in the game when San Jose was battling to put more points on the board.

The Sharks' offense did try to make up for the damage on the scoreboard and got some really good offensive-zone time as the game went on. Unfortunately for San Jose, Sergei Bobrovsky was in fine form and had an answer for most of the best chances.

Can't blame Kane 

The NHL says they're taking hits to the head more seriously. So it's a mystery as to why Mackenzie Weeger's hit on Evander Kane at the start of the second period didn't at least draw a penalty. Although Kane only left the ice for a quick moment and then returned to the bench, you can't blame him for standing up to Weeger on his next shift to defend himself. With Kane leaving the ice afterward with 17 minutes worth of penalties, Florida created momentum from a power-play opportunity, as the Panthers scored their third goal at even strength almost immediately afterward.

Credit should go to the Sharks for not letting the incident ruin their flow. Even though the altercation led to Kane being penalized for the rest of the period, San Jose continued to build momentum in an effort to even up the score. It's just unfortunate the Sharks couldn't get at least one goal to show for that effort.

[RELATED: Sharks' Simek to miss two weeks for minor knee procedure]

Special teams still struggling 

Yes, San Jose scored a power-play goal in the first period, the team's first in more than 20 attempts on the man advantage over a nine-game span. However, the Sharks were unable to capitalize at the beginning of the third period when they got some extended power-play time and could have trimmed the deficit to one. 

San Jose's No. 1-ranked penalty kill struggled as well, surrendering two goals to the Panthers. Whatever is ailing the Sharks' special teams, they'll have to fix if they want to get back into the win column.

Sharks' Radim Simek to miss about two weeks for minor knee procedure

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USATSI

Sharks' Radim Simek to miss about two weeks for minor knee procedure

The Sharks have dealt with their fair share of knee issues over the last few seasons, and they're going to have to work through another one over the next few weeks.

Defenseman Radim Simek will miss about two weeks as he needs to undergo a procedure on his surgically repaired right knee, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told reporters in Tampa on Sunday before San Jose's game against the Lightning. 

Simek tore his ACL and MCL in March, and had surgery soon after. He initially was projected to rejoin the team at the start of the season, but Simek didn't return to game action until Nov. 5. In 16 games this season, Simek has scored four points (one goal, three assists) and posted a minus-12.

[RELATED: Sharks lament 'poor, poor effort' late in loss to Lightning]

Despite those pedestrian numbers, Simek's presence in the Sharks lineup makes a big difference. San Jose is 4-10-1 when Simek has not played this season and 11-4-1 with him in the lineup.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Tim Heed would play in Simek's place Sunday. Although Heed has played well in his last couple of games, it's still possible Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson will play more and share Simek's responsibilities, much like they did at the start of the season when Simek initially was out.