Sharks

Sharks' tough tests continue as team faces East-commanding Sabres

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USATSI

Sharks' tough tests continue as team faces East-commanding Sabres

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks might've tallied their third straight win on Wednesday night by beating a tough Carolina Hurricanes team. But their work against tough Eastern Conference competition has only begun.

Saturday night's contest marks the start of a six-game stretch against teams from the other side of the country, which starts with a home-and-home the Sharks will play against the conference-leading Buffalo Sabres.

That's right. The Sabres have command of the east at the moment. And the offensive weapons they'll bring to the next two games are sure to challenge some areas where San Jose has been at its weakest -- getting hemmed in their own zone and giving opponents too many chances.

Buffalo isn't leading the entire league with 13 points by accident. Through their first eight games of the 2019-20 season, they've outscored their opponents 29-18 and have a power play that has found the back of the net 11 times in 31 attempts so far.

Part of that success is because Victor Olofsson is tied for first in the league with six points per game on the young season. But the Sabres are also getting set-up help from Rasmus Dahlin, a ten-goal boost from captain Jack Eichel, and an offensive jolt from winger Jeff Skinner who continues to roll after posting a career-best 40 goals last season.

Add to it that netminder Carter Hutton is leading the league with a 1.39 goals-against average and .953 save percentage and you have the makings of a team on a red-hot start.

Not to mention one that will put the Sharks to the test.

The Sharks weren't completely satisfied with the effort they put on the ice last Wednesday against Carolina, especially in the first period when they were heavily pinned into their own end of the ice and got outshot 16-7. Despite scoring two power-play goals in that first frame San Jose knew that their penalty kill was the reason the Hurricanes weren't able to take the game over in the second stanza when the score was just 3-1. 

After the win, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer gave a lot of credit to Martin Jones in helping keep the Canes from taking the game over, especially with their power play. "Your goalie's always your best penalty killer," he said. "(Jones) was really solid. I thought in that first period [the score] could've been 3-3."

But the Sharks don't just need another big performance in the net on Saturday. They'll need to find a way to take the ice away from the Sabres and minimize their chances.

Needless to say, San Jose has to find a way to get more zone time against in their first period against the Sabres than they did in their first 20 against the Hurricanes. With an average 30.6 shots per game, Buffalo is winning games whether they outshoot their opponents or not -- not to mention being 6-1-0 when they score the first goal. San Jose might've caught a break in their last game by having a rough first period overshadowed by Evander Kane's hat trick and some killer saves on Jones' end, but they'll have to work harder to get out of their zone against a Buffalo team that's finding the back of the net early and often.

[RELATED: Sharks credit penalty kill in win over Canes]

This isn't to say it's all doom and gloom for the Sharks. They've cleaned a lot of things up over their last three games, getting big contributions from their special teams as well as from their goaltending. 

Getting positive contributions from all of those areas when they face off against the red-hot Sabres is really going to be the key.

How Kendall Coyne Schofield is staying fit during coronavirus hiatus

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USATSI

How Kendall Coyne Schofield is staying fit during coronavirus hiatus

For world-class athletes, being stuck in the house is a strange feeling.

But that's the predicament NBC Sports California's Sharks analyst Kendall Coyne Schofield finds herself in.

Schofield and her husband Michael, an offensive lineman who last played with the Los Angeles Chargers, are holed up at their Orland Park, Illinois home.

In the latest episode of NBC Sports' Distance Training, the Schofields told host Jac Collinsworth that before the state issued a "Stay at home" order, they went to local sporting good stores and bought dumbbells, elastic bands, an exercise bike and anything else they might need in order to workout at home.

"Obviously, our biggest stress was as soon as it started going down and gyms started closing and everywhere we had a chance to work out started closing, we were like 'We need to find a way to workout,' " Michael said. "So I knew a couple days before, our governor of Illinois was going to do a shelter in place or stay in place announcement, we booked dumbbells, we got bands, we ran to Dick's Sporting Goods to get whatever we could and just throw it in our basement.

"But now it's been a hassle. 'OK, we got two dumbbells, a bunch of bands, a stationary bike, let's make the best of it and see what we can do to stay in shape, so it's definitely been hard every single day to come up with workouts and doing stuff, but we're making the most of it."

But working out at their home hasn't been the easiest transition for Kendall and Michael.

"I think what's really challenging, and I'm sure a lot of athletes have the same challenges, when you're in your basement, when you're in your home, you're in an environment that's usually comfortable to you," Kendall said. "That you usually come back to after working out, you're relaxing and you're doing anything but physical activity to be an elite athlete, so I think it's hard being in our home working out and trying to reach that peak performance level mentally and physically, and then at the same time, your phone rings and you say 'I'm just gonna grab that. It's fine,' and just trying to stay on track because there are so many distractions in this environment that you never really utilized as your gym, your lab, your place to be as professional as you can in your sport."

You can watch the full interview between the Schofields and Collinsworth here:

The NHL season, like all other North American sports leagues, is on an indefinite hiatus, and no timeline for resumption of play has been given.

[RELATED: Leonard reunited with college roommate]

Until the league makes an announcement, Kendall Coyne Schofield will have to keep working out in her home in Illinois.

How Sharks' Timo Meier is handling coronavirus pandemic in Switzerland

How Sharks' Timo Meier is handling coronavirus pandemic in Switzerland

Timo Meier is back in Europe, and doing just fine.

But his country is not.

“It’s pretty bad here in Switzerland,” the Sharks forward said last week via FaceTime. “Obviously, the [coronavirus case] numbers increase daily. I try not to read too much into it, but you can’t really avoid it.”

Switzerland, with a population of less than 9 million, has one of the highest COVID-19 cases-per-capita numbers in the world. Greater than Italy, Spain or the United States as of last week.

“Here, we have the rule that you’re not allowed to be around more than five people outside,” Meier explained. “But I’m trying to stick to the rule of staying home. Only go outside when really needed.”

It became a quick decision for Meier to leave San Jose. He wanted to be near family, but that obviously necessitated a trans-Atlantic flight to reach Zurich. Boarding that plane during a pandemic was slightly terrifying.

“It was definitely weird flights,” Meier said. “I was trying to be really cautious — luckily, I had some hand sanitizer. After everything I’d touch, I’d sanitize my hands. A little too cautious at times, but you really can’t be. I was really trying to limit everything and don’t touch too much stuff. I made it here safe.”

Meier isn’t necessarily a germaphobe, but he knows this experience could have an effect.

“It’s definitely going to translate after this is over,” Meier said. “I’m going to be a little more careful than I was before, but I think that’s a good thing.”

[RELATED: Leonard reunited with college roommate]

Days lately are simple and repetitive for the 23-year-old. They include sleeping in, a morning workout, an isolated afternoon walk in the hills, and usually a glass of wine with dinner.

Meier seems perfectly content under isolation, so long as things remain similar for he and family: “I’m not complaining too much.”