Sharks will have to avoid lapses in Cup Final rematch


Sharks will have to avoid lapses in Cup Final rematch

SAN JOSE – Some disturbing lapses have cost the Sharks in back-to-back losses to Arizona and Calgary. 

The second period of the Coyotes game on Tuesday night, and the first period against the Flames on Thursday resulted in a pair of 3-2 San Jose defeats to clubs that simply aren’t as good as they are on paper.

Perhaps it’s a good time, then, for the Pittsburgh Penguins to visit SAP Center on Saturday. The Sharks know they’ll have to be geared up from the drop of the puck if they want any shot at knocking off the club that ruined their championship dreams last June, and is once again one of the best teams in the league at 7-2-2.

“I think sometimes you expect certain things to happen when you play certain teams, which we shouldn’t,” Paul Martin said. “With Pittsburgh, you have to prepare like it’s the best team in the league. You have to earn everything that you get, so you have to come ready to play. You need everybody.”

Pittsburgh has already knocked off the Sharks once since raising the Stanley Cup at SAP Center last June 12. The Penguins erased a 2-0 third period hole to score three times before the end of the frame, stunning the Sharks at PPG Paints Arena on Oct. 20, 3-2.

“Gave up a lead in the third. Sat back, and they came after us,” Logan Couture recalled. “We’re focused on ourselves right now. We’ve got to play better, and that’s what we’re going to focus on going into [Saturday].”

The most impressive aspect of that win for the Penguins two weeks ago is that they did it without arguably their two best players, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. Both are back and expected to play on Saturday.

“Two of the top players in the league at their position,” said Martin, a former teammate of both. “Able to create so much on their own, and change aspects of the game. It’s one of those things that for us it will be a team effort and we’ll need everyone to be on their game and make sure that we stay sharp.”

Crosby is off to an impressive start after missing the first six games of the season with a concussion. He has six goals, tied for the team lead with Evgeni Malkin, and eight points in just five games.

Couture got to know the reigning Conn Smythe winner at the World Cup of Hockey, as both were a part of the victorious Team Canada. He came away impressed with the 29-year-old both on and off the ice.

“He’s the best player in the world. He does everything so well,” Couture said. “The puck follows him around, he’s strong on it, you can go on and on all day about all the things he does well. He’s tough to play against.”

“He hung out with the guys from the Sharks actually, quite a bit. We got along well, him and all the other guys on our team. Great guy, humble, down to earth. Easy to get along with.”

Should be easy to get up for playing against Crosby and his teammates, too, as the Sharks try and put an end to their two-game losing streak.

“If you don’t, you’re going to be in trouble against that opponent,” DeBoer said. “We know our game, we know when we’re not playing our game for long enough periods. We have to get back to it, it’s that simple.”

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


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

The Sharks play just two more games before the All-Star break, and the team kicks things off Monday as they continue their tour through the Sunshine State to play the Florida Panthers.

San Jose looks to continue its current road trip on a high note after dropping their last two contests. In their Saturday evening bout with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sharks were able to dig out of a two-goal hole to tie things up in the second frame. But the Bolts jumped on the little mistakes the Sharks made and came away with a 6-3 victory.

San Jose remains in second place in the Pacific Division with 63 points, but the Vegas Golden Knights are right on their heels with 62. Vegas hosts the Minnesota Wild on Monday while the Sharks are in Florida.

The Panthers are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Sharks. Florida currently occupies sixth place in the Atlantic Division, well out of a playoff spot. They have, however, been playing better hockey as of late and have won two contests in a row. On Saturday evening, they defeated the Nashville Predators 4-2.

Monday’s game marks the first of two regular season games between the Sharks and the Panthers. In 34 total meetings between the franchises, San Jose holds a 14-10-7-3 record.

San Jose is expected to be without defenseman Erik Karlsson for Monday’s game in Florida. Additionally, fellow blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic could potentially pencil back into the lineup after missing almost the entire month of January due to injury.

[RELATED: Karlsson will miss last two games before All-Star break]

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

Panthers projected lines and pairs:

Frank Vatrano – Aleksander Barkov – Evgenii Dadonov
Jonathan Huberdeau – Vincent Trocheck – Nick Bjugstad
Mike Hoffman – Henrik Borgstrom – Denis Malgin
Jayce Hawryluk – Jared McCann – Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle – Aaron Ekblad
Michael Matheson – Mark Pysyk
Ian McCoshen – Josh Brown

Roberto Luongo – projected starter
James Reimer

Sharks' Erik Karlsson will miss last two games before NHL All-Star break


Sharks' Erik Karlsson will miss last two games before NHL All-Star break

There are just two games left before the Sharks take an extended break thanks to NHL All-Star weekend running into the team’s bye week. But it sounds like there’s one player who will be getting some extra time to rest and recuperate.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told the press on Monday morning defenseman Erik Karlsson will miss the Sharks’ matchups in Florida and in Washington ahead of the break as he deals with an undisclosed injury. The news was reported by Paul Gackle of the San Jose Mercury News.

Karlsson was a last-minute scratch ahead of last Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He participated in the start of pregame warmups before heading into the dressing room.

While it still isn’t entirely clear what is ailing Karlsson, DeBoer acknowledged the defenseman has been “dealing with something for a little while” and that Karlsson “felt he was going to be able to play through it and just couldn’t.”

Karlsson first missed time with the team when he was absent from the Sharks’ morning skate ahead of their game with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played in that game – which the Sharks win 5-2 – but was missing from action for a chunk of the third frame.

In San Jose’s loss to the Arizona Coyotes the following evening, he posted an assist and was minus-four. 

With Karlsson sidelined until after the bye week, the Sharks recalled Jacob Middleton from the AHL Barracuda. There’s no word yet on whether he’ll pencil into the lineup against the Panthers or the Capitals.

There is also a possibility that Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who has been missing from the Sharks' blue line since San Jose's matchup with the Colorado Avalanche on January 2, could be back in the lineup. He took line rushes at morning skate and was paired with Justin Braun.