Sharks newcomer Hansen practices on top line

Sharks newcomer Hansen practices on top line

SAN JOSE – The day before the Sharks acquired forward Jannik Hansen from Vancouver, head coach Pete DeBoer was asked what ingredients he was looking for in a player to skate alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

“You have to play [at Pavelski and Thornton’s] level and [match] their work ethic,” DeBoer said on Feb. 27. “They need somebody that’s going to work at their level and hunt the puck, so that’s got to be part of it.”

Hansen was viewed as that kind of player, and “that was part of the reason he was where he was on our list” of trade targets, DeBoer said on Wednesday.

It was, therefore, no surprise that Hansen was in a white practice jersey with the two longtime Sharks stars for his first skate in San Jose, and will be the eighth winger this season to start a game on that line when the Sharks host the Capitals on Thursday.

Although he had discussions with DeBoer prior to finally arriving in San Jose on Tuesday night after sorting out immigration, he didn’t find out he’d be getting a look right away on the top line until Wednesday morning when he got to the practice facility around 8:00 a.m.

“I want to come in here and help this team any way I can,” Hansen said. “Whatever that is, that’s obviously up to the coaches. This is a very good team that [is] in a position to do something. … Any way I can help them out, that’s fine with me.”

DeBoer pointed out that the 30-year-old Hansen spent lots of time over the years on a line in Vancouver with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

“That doesn’t guarantee that this is going to work, but it definitely gives it a better chance,” said the coach.

If it doesn’t, Hansen has shown to be a versatile guy.

“You think of every time we played Vancouver, it seemed like every time we played them he was on a different line,” Logan Couture said. “He was with the Sedins, then the second line, then the third line – you noticed him every time you played against him. You knew that he was playing. He’s that type of guy that’s hard on other guys’ skilled players.”

Hansen has missed the first three Sharks games after the trade, which happened late on Feb. 28. A Denmark native who had spent his entire career with the Canucks before the deal, which included a conditional fourth round pick and prospect Nikolay Goldobin going to Vancouver, he had to wait until Monday to get an appointment at the U.S. consulate in British Columbia.

More than a week later, he considered Wednesday’s practice “day one” of being a Shark.

“It wasn’t until last night it really sunk in – you’re leaving Vancouver now,” he said, after playing there since the 2007-08 season. “But, obviously I [had] a great deal of time to kind of prepare myself for it and wrap my head around it’s a new team, new challenge, new friendships you’ve got to make. 

"It’s very exciting to come to a team like that, that’s gearing up for the playoffs.”

* * *

Rounding out the expected lines for Thursday’s game were Couture between Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl centering Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi, and a fourth line of Chris Tierney centering Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen. Micheal Haley was the odd man out.

Rookie Kevin Labanc has been reassigned to the AHL Barracuda.

David Schlemko (lower body), who has missed the last two games, did not practice and is considered day-to-day.

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


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

The Sharks have one more chance to get in the win column on this road trip, Tuesday evening in D.C. against the Washington Capitals.

San Jose is coming off its third straight loss, a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Florida Panthers. The team has given up six goals in three straight games for the first time since February 1997, per Elias Sports.

The Caps haven’t fared much better, coming into Tuesday’s contest having dropped five games in a row. The defending Stanley Cup champions held a players-only meeting on Monday following their 8-5 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

This is the first time the Sharks and Capitals have met up this season.

Through 41 total franchise meetings, San Jose holds a 27-11-1-2 record.

The Sharks traveled from Florida to the nation’s capital ahead of Tuesday’s game, while the Capitals held an optional skate.

Line combinations may vary at the start of Tuesday’s game.

Sharks projected lines and pairs:

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

Radim Simek – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Tim Heed

Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

Capitals projected lines and pairs:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie 
Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson 
Dmitrij Jaskin – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly 
Chandler Stephenson – Travis Boyd – Andre Burakovsky

Dmitri Orlov – John Carlson
Michal Kempny – Matt Niskanen
Jonas Siegenthaler – Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby – projected starter
Pheonix Copley

Sharks point to botched third-period penalty kill after loss to Panthers

Sharks point to botched third-period penalty kill after loss to Panthers

In a steep loss, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong. In the Sharks' 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday night, though, there was one point late in the game where the wheels really seemed to come off. 

For the most part, the game wasn’t completely out of San Jose’s reach. Heck, after the Sharks tied the game up 2-2 ahead of the second intermission, they looked primed to grab the lead in the third period and get back into the win column. Then, they gave up two power-play goals at the start of the final frame, and the game got away from them.

“That was the difference,” captain Joe Pavelski told reporters in South Florida after the loss. “They came out and scored two quick power-play goals, and sometimes it can happen as quick as that.”

“Quick” is right. The game was still tied when Evander Kane was sent to the penalty box 1:56 into the third for high-sticking Panthers center Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad drew bad and San Jose needed four minutes of lockdown hockey – of the stellar effort their penalty kill put on the ice night after night earlier in the season.

Instead, they gave up two power-play goals in nine seconds.

“We were in a good spot,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of heading into the penalty kill with the tie, adding he didn’t think Kane was making an undisciplined play when he got penalized. However “at that point, we need a big kill, we need a big save. We didn’t get either.”

[RELATED: Karlsson will miss final games before NHL All-Star break]

Through their recent seven-game winning streak, the Sharks were able to minimize their mistakes. Whether playing against the highly-competitive Vegas Golden Knights or the less-adequate Ottawa Senators, San Jose played a detailed and defensive game that helped exploit their opponents’ weak spots. In Monday’s loss to Florida, the Sharks didn’t play up to that same level for a full 60 minutes. 

“We weren’t doing the little things right (and) that hurt us at the end,” Timo Meier acknowledged. “I think we were sloppy at some points of the game that cost us some goals.”

This is, without question, an area of San Jose’s game that has changed as of late. Over their current three-game skid, they’ve allowed six power-play goals on 12 opportunities and 18 goals overall. Through the seven games before that, the opposition only scored twice in 17 opportunities on the man advantage, and just 14 goals overall. The tight defensive and disciplined game they were playing hasn’t been put forth for a full game, and those mistakes are costing them.

San Jose has one last chance to get in the win column on this road trip as they visit the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The Caps are another top team on a losing skid looking to turn things around before the break, and one that can make the opposition pay dearly for their mistakes. If the Sharks are going to go into the break on a high note, that part of their game has to be tighter.