Sharks' Peter DeBoer has no update on Joe Pavelski injury after Game 7


Sharks' Peter DeBoer has no update on Joe Pavelski injury after Game 7

SAN JOSE -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer had "no update medically" on injured captain Joe Pavelski after San Jose's 5-4 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.

With 10:47 remaining in the third period of the final game of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, Pavelski was helped off the SAP Center ice after hitting his head on the ice. Pavelski collided awkwardly with Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny, moments after his teammate, Cody Eakin, shoved the Sharks captain following a face-off in the Sharks' offensive zone.

DeBoer was asked if Pavelski needed to be hospitalized, but he said he did not know if the Sharks forward left the arena after the collision. Pavelski's series ended with four points in seven games. He played the majority of the series with a shield on the lower half of his face, after scoring a goal with his face in the Sharks' Game 1 win over the Golden Knights.

In the immediate aftermath, Eakin was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. The Sharks trailed 3-0 at that point, and DeBoer said alternate captains Joe Thornton and Logan Couture spoke up right away.

"The leadership's the best I've ever been around," DeBoer said in his postgame press conference. "Joe goes down, Joe Thornton immediately is talking to the guys, 'Let's get three goals here on this power play.' He actually said that, and we got four."

While Thornton implored his teammates to take advantage of the penalty in Pavelski's absence, the SAP Center crowd initially booed the Golden Knights following the collision. The boos turned to stunned silence as Pavelski was attended to, but the Sharks needed just seven seconds to re-energize them when Couture put San Jose on the board.

"They helped us early, too, when we score the first goal," Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said of the crowd, "and pushed us to tie it up."

The crowd got louder when Hertl halved the Vegas lead with another power-play goal. They were louder still when Couture scored his second of the evening, and arguably at their loudest when Kevin Labanc capped off a four-points-in-four-minutes stretch with his second goal of the series to give the Sharks their first lead of the evening -- and the first lead change from any deficit in the series.

"Once we got that fourth goal, the whole building just erupted," Labanc said.

The Sharks had come back without their captain, but their 4-3 lead was erased 47 seconds shy of a Game 7 regulation victory. Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault tied the score with Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pulled.

When the Sharks returned to the locker room before the extra session, Hertl said the team focused on the positives.

"We [said], 'Hey, guys -- what we just did is amazing,’ “ Hertl recalled. "We're losing 3-0, come back. Let's finish it. We don't want to play last game of the season. And everybody stepped up."

That included, as Hertl noted, game-winning goal-scorer Barclay Goodrow, who sent the Golden Knights packing with 1:41 remaining in overtime. His second goal of the series came on his second shift of overtime.

[RELATED: Watch wild Sharks-Vegas Game 7 end on Goodrow's OT goal]

That goal capped off the Sharks' historic comeback, and San Jose ultimately responded to the loss of its captain with a win to keep its season alive. DeBoer said he didn't need to push many buttons, and credited leaders such as Couture and Thornton for kick-starting the victory.

"I'm very fortunate as a coach to be around people like that," DeBoer said. "You don't have to say a lot. They're driving the bus."

The Sharks will open their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday at SAP Center. San Jose will not practice Wednesday, but all eyes will be on Pavelski's health once the team returns to the ice.

Hertl and Labanc sounded optimistic that Pavelski will be able to join them at some point in the series, but what the Sharks did in his absence soon won't be forgotten.

Mike Ricci opens up about his first month as Sharks assistant coach

Mike Ricci opens up about his first month as Sharks assistant coach

It’s not just a safe assumption. It’s entirely accurate that Mike Ricci, as a hockey player, never thought he’d become a coach.

“Not back then for sure,” Ricci said recently. “Not even maybe two and a half weeks ago.”

The former Sharks forward was caught off guard by being named as an assistant on interim head coach Bob Boughner’s staff in mid-December.

“It was like boom, told to come to a meeting,” Ricci recalled.  

But there was no reservation in accepting the position.

“When a friend asks, and a boss asks, you’ve got to do it,” said Ricci. “Just going in and trying to do whatever I can to help this team win.”

All of this is a total change of scenery for Ricci – who after 1,099 NHL games as a player -- still hasn’t acclimated to his brand new perch behind the bench.

“If I’m going to be honest, I really haven’t had time to think about it,” Ricci admitted.  

The move was so fresh, and came with so much transition, Sharks equipment manager Mike Aldrich even had to double check that regular game duties would include a presence behind the players.  To which Ricci responded: “I think so…?”

As if the Sharks' need to turn things around wasn’t pressing enough, there’s also the challenge of Ricci learning the ropes of being an assistant coach for the very first time.

“You’ve got to find what makes everybody click,” Ricci said after less than a month of experiences. “Some guys like to see it. Some guys like to hear it. Some guys like it drawn on a board.”

One thing benefitting Ricci, goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov, and associate coach Roy Sommer is their familiarity and unquestioned dedication to the franchise. Each have been sporting teal for more than a decade, in one capacity or another.

[RELATED: Boughner urges Sharks to 'man up']

Ricci said there’s already a built-in level of trust when the coaching staff has to be critical of players, in trying to reverse the team’s struggles.

“I try to be myself, more than anything. It doesn’t matter how much I know, it matters how much I can get to a player.”

NHL rumors: Doug Wilson won't disrupt Sharks' core at trade deadline


NHL rumors: Doug Wilson won't disrupt Sharks' core at trade deadline

If you're in favor of the Sharks making a splashy move to shake things up ahead of the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline, we've got bad news for you.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported earlier this week that Sharks general manager Doug Wilson "has let it be known he is not interested in disrupting his core."

That presumably means players like Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are staying put.

But Friedman notes that there will be interest in Melker Karlsson and Brenden Dillon, who are both unrestricted free agents after this season.

With the playoffs looking less and less likely for San Jose, it would make sense for Wilson to try to get something for Karlsson and Dillon.

The Sharks don't have a first, fourth or sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, so it would be wise for Wilson to recoup some of the assets he traded away in recent years.

After losing in the Western Conference final to the St. Louis Blues, the Sharks have fallen on hard times. They enter Saturday's game against Vancouver with a 21-24-4 record and sit nine points out of a wild-card spot. On Thursday night, they were shutout by the Avalanche in Colorado and interim head coach Bob Boughner urged his players to "man up."

[RELATED: Ricci on first month as coach]

At the moment, the Sharks are close to the upper limit of the NHL salary cap, but they will have roughly $18 million coming off the books this summer, according to Cap Friendly, so as Friedman notes, Wilson will have the flexibility to make moves in the offseason.

The Sharks are in desperate need of a wake-up call. But it sounds like it won't come in February.