Sharks

Sharks takeaways: Three things we learned from 5-1 win over Sabres

Sharks takeaways: Three things we learned from 5-1 win over Sabres

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SAN JOSE -- For the third time in just as many games, the San Jose Sharks entered the third frame of Thursday night's tilt with a 2-1 lead. But this time, they weren't going to let the game slip away from them in the waining minutes of regulation.

Logan Couture scored a hat trick and the power play looked the best it has all season as Team Teal's 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Here are three takeaways from tonight's game:

We finally got a glimpse of how good the power play can be

After going 2-for-21 through their first six bouts, San Jose notched three power play goals in Thursday's game -- scoring two of those goals in the first five minutes of Thursday night's game. 

With Sabres' big man Kyle Okposo in the box for a four-minute double minor, Joonas Donksoi was posted up in the perfect spot in front of Buffalo's net to deflect Erik Karlsson shot past netminder Carter Hutton. Just 27 seconds later, Logan Couture eluded Hutton to give San Jose the early 2-0 lead. 

The powerplay lit up again in the third with the Sharks buzzing out of the second intermission. Just seven seconds into Marco Scandella's penalty, Joe Pavelski lit the lamp to give San Jose a nice 4-1 cushion.

With that being said ...

San Jose is still taking too many penalties

One thing that hurt the Sharks in their Sunday matinee against the New Jersey Devils was that they took too many penalties. And a similar pattern began to arise in Thursday's tilt as San Jose and Buffalo took turns dancing in and out of the sin bin. 

While the Sabres took their fair share of penalties as well, the Sharks still weren't able to capitalize on the chances they were getting in the latter half of the second frame. While they were able to gain much-needed momentum in the third period, they would likely like to stay out of the box more in upcoming games.

Martin Jones came up big when the team needed him the most

San Jose's starting netminder had his best game of the season speedy Sabres' squad, particularly with how many times the Sharks were on the kill Thursday evening. 

He almost ran into trouble in the third frame when Jeff Skinner's shot skimmed his jersey and almost went into the net. But Jones readjusted in time to sprawl out and keep the rebound out. 

His performance will no doubt earn him the chance at a redemption start against the Islanders on Saturday night.

Sharks' roster hopefuls still 'auditioning' as regular season nears

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Sharks' roster hopefuls still 'auditioning' as regular season nears

SAN JOSE - Yes, the Sharks have roster spots they need to fill. Nobody knows that better than Peter DeBoer.

So perhaps it was to be expected when the head coach said more than once after San Jose's first preseason game Tuesday night that he hasn't filled out his final roster for the Sharks' season-opener against the Vegas Golden Knights yet.

 "We're Game 1 into a tryout here," DeBoer said. "An audition. We're not handing out any jobs tonight."

You can't blame him for answering that way. He'd probably love it if everyone outside the team stopped trying to piece his roster together for him. 

Here's the thing: San Jose is just two games into the preseason and has rolled out two different lineups for each game. A roster for opening night will come together, but DeBoer hasn't settled on the exact pieces to that puzzle just yet.

Despite losing their first two preseason games, some of the Sharks' roster hopefuls have done some positive things. Jonny Brodzinski added an offensive punch in Tuesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks while Manuel Wiederer contributed two goals in Wednesday's game against the Calgary Flames. Ryan Merkley pitched in as a helper twice in his first preseason game while Joachim Blichfeld, Ivan Chekhovich and Lean Bergmann also have found the back of the net in the preseason.

Nevertheless, one preseason showing doesn't -- as DeBoer said -- guarantee anyone a starting job.

The Sharks are aware that replacing offensive depth left by the departures of Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi is a process. In addition to scoring big goals, San Jose also has to be able to sustain offense through a full 60 minutes on a nightly basis. Through the first two games of the preseason, the team has had some difficulty doing this.

"I think we need to sustain more O-zone pressure," Brodzinski observed after Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Ducks, a game where the Sharks jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and then took their foot off the gas in the second stanza. "We didn't have a lot of it tonight. I felt like it was more of a neutral zone game. Then we played a little bit too much in our own zone. If we can play down there a lot more, we wouldn't be as tired coming into the late shifts there."

If the idea that San Jose hasn't filled out its roster just yet scares you, keep in mind -- neither preseason game has featured the Sharks' opening night roster. Heck, we haven't even seen Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson or Martin Jones suit up for a game yet. Many of the players who have played over the past two days will be starting the season playing for the Barracuda. 

Plus, even once the regular season gets underway, there still are going to be changes made to San Jose's roster as players move between the AHL and NHL in an effort to give the team the most dynamic lineup. Just think about how many times the lineup changed at the start of last season.

[RELATED: Sharks expecting Meier to step forward in wake of departures]

The Sharks have roughly a week and a half to get into fighting shape before opening night October 2, which includes four more preseason tune-ups that kick off on Saturday with a contest against the Golden Knights. It's very possible DeBoer will roll out a lineup consisting of a few more regular-season starters, along with a few players high on the list of opening night roster additions.

Just don't be surprised if Saturday's preseason game is just another step in the audition process for players on that list.

Sharks expecting Timo Meier to take step forward in wake of departures

Sharks expecting Timo Meier to take step forward in wake of departures

Individual progress of an NHL player should not always be measured in goals. 

Yet it’s hard to ignore Timo Meier’s production: 21 goals in his first full season, followed up by 30 last year. 

“He’s worked for everything he’s got,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said of Meier. “I think power forwards take a little bit longer. It’s a harder league for bigger guys playing that kind of game to establish themselves."

“His jump last year was incredible,” fellow forward Barclay Goodrow remarked. “He kind of turned into a whole new player, just more confident. He took some games over, shooting the puck and driving the net. Just things he does well at a better pace.” 

The Swiss-born winger has developed a full-fledged reputation for utilizing all six feet and 210 pounds he’s got. 

“I try to be a physical guy. Try to get in the areas where you might hurt, and try to score some dirty goals,” Meier said at training camp. “I want to get better, that’s always something I try to stay hungry on.” 

Timing plays a critical role in the development of a homegrown product like Meier. The Sharks were able to let him develop in the pipeline, and now he's thriving on the biggest stage. 

“He got there the right way,” DeBoer explained. “You’ve got a guy with a lot of confidence, we’ve added a couple minutes every year to his time on ice. He’s going to take another step this year with the guys that departed. We’re excited to see where he can go with it.” 

And that is the exciting question: Where can Meier take things this season? 

[RELATED: Why Sharks confident they can make up for lost firepower]

“I’m not a guy that wants to put out a number and say I have to score that many goals,” Meier admitted. “I just try to go out and be the best player I can for the team.”