Sharks

Sharks vs. Golden Knights watch guide: Game 5 projected lines, defensive pairs

sharkswatchguideusatsi.jpg
AP

Sharks vs. Golden Knights watch guide: Game 5 projected lines, defensive pairs

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks have their backs up against the wall, but have the opportunity to extend their playoff run as their best-of-seven first-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights returns to SAP Center on Thursday evening.

[RELATED: How to watch Game 5 live online on MyTeams]

San Jose will have Joe Thornton back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension and missing the 5-0 loss in Game 4. Marc-Edouard Vlasic will also return to the lineup after missing Games 3 and 4 with an undisclosed injury. Micheal Haley remains out of the lineup after being injured blocking a shot in Game 3.

The Sharks are 16-18 all-time in Game 5's and have a 12-20 record when facing elimination, but the team is hoping that the energy from being back in front of their home crowd will help them get everything going in the right direction.

“We know what our crowd can bring for us,” Timo Meier told the media after morning skate on Thursday. “The energy level definitely goes up here at home. They help us a lot.”

Sharks projected lines and pairs:

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

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Joakim Ryan – Justin Braun

[RELATED: Why Jones starting Game 5 vs. Vegas shouldn't be surprising]

Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

Golden Knights projected lines and pairs:

Jonathan Marchessault – William Karlsson – Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – Mark Stone
Tomas Nosek – Cody Eakin – Alex Tuch
Will Carrier – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Ryan Reaves

Nate Schmidt – Deryk Engelland
Brayden McNabb – Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill – Colin Miller

Marc-Andre Fleury – projected starter
Malcom Subban

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

karlssonbyeap.jpg
AP

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

The Erik Karlsson era could be coming to an end after only one season in San Jose. 

Karlsson becomes a free agent at the end of Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks' star defenseman sent a thank you note to the team's fans and the whole Bay Area on Friday. 

San Jose acquired Karlsson, who turns 29 on May 31, from the Senators for four players and two draft picks on Sept. 13, 2018. The two-time Norris Trophy award winner was named to his fourth straight NHL All-Star Game in his first season as a Shark. 

Karlsson played in 53 regular-season games this year, his lowest since the 2012-13 season. He tallied 45 points -- three goals, 42 assists. 

Injuries, however, played a large role in Karlsson's season. He missed 27 of the Sharks' final 33 regular-season games with various ailments. And he missed the Sharks' season-ending Game 6 loss to the Blues in the Western Conference final.

[RELATED: Karlsson expected to be pursued by Rangers]

Karlsson is expected to be pursued by multiple teams this offseason, including the Sharks. But he could have just said his last goodbye to The Tank and all its fans in San Jose.

Sharks take high road when discussing controversial calls in playoffs

sharkscallsusa.jpg
USATSI

Sharks take high road when discussing controversial calls in playoffs

SAN JOSE – Officiating became a very hot topic during the Sharks' postseason run – whether it was for calls that went in their favor or against them.

With their run at the Stanley Cup now over, Team Teal has more of an opportunity to reflect on some of those calls.

During exit interviews Thursday, the general attitude was that the refs are doing the best they can in the middle of an extremely fast sport.

“They’ve got a tough job to do,” Logan Couture said. “Growing up my dad was a referee. He ref’d lacrosse and hockey and I got to see firsthand that it’s not an easy job.”

San Jose became the focal point of scrutiny during the Western Conference final after Erik Karlsson scored a game-winning goal in Game 3 that appeared to be set up with a hand pass from Timo Meier.

After a major penalty set the Sharks up to score four power-play goals in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Golden Knights. and a too-many-men call swung play in the Sharks' favor against the Colorado Avalanche, the lack of a call on Meier prompted a few outlets to call the Sharks lucky. (Which led to a prickly reaction from head coach Peter DeBoer.)

Couture insisted luck or favor from the officials has nothing to do with it.

“They’re not trying to pick sides or screw anyone on the ice,” Couture continued. “They’re trying to do their job to the best of their abilities. I think we’re fortunate our league we have some very good officials – some really, really good guys. They’re doing the best they can and I think they’re doing a good job.”

What the team would like to see, however, is some consistency. Tomas Hertl was sidelined for Game 6 against the Blues after being hit in the head by Ivan Barbashev – a hit that received no in-game penalty or discipline from the league. Hertl said he thought Barabshev might’ve received discipline for hitting him in the head, but acknowledged the refs' job is a difficult one.

“For sure on the ice its always tough for the ref because the game is so fast,” Hertl said of the hit to his head. “It’s quick. Sometimes in playoffs they just let it go.”

The Sharks aren’t the only team whose postseason run was peppered with controversial officiating. But the high profile nature of the Western Conference final put several on-ice calls in the spotlight, especially with regards to San Jose’s players being hit in the head. This has brought up questions as to whether the league will make changes in the offseason. 

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson didn’t comment on exact calls when he spoke with the press during exit interviews. He did say, however, that he’s open to having those discussions.

“I’m on the competition committee, so I get the opportunity to speak on things like that,” Wilson said. “There are calls you’re going to like, calls you’re not going to like. Difficult job, officiating in this league. It’s our job to give them the tools they need to be the best they can be.”

[RELATED: Sharks emerge from playoff run with lengthy injury list]

How the competition committee talks shake out is anyone’s guess. Although, Wilson is expecting open and insightful discussions.

“Once we get to meetings, I like listening and hearing other people’s opinions,” Wilson said. “But I like to hear from officials who have to make those decisions on the ice, what they may need. We’re trying to do what’s right for the game. Whatever that is, we’ll discuss before any decision gets made.”