Sommer overseeing dominant stretch for Sharks' primary affiliate

Sommer overseeing dominant stretch for Sharks' primary affiliate

SAN JOSE – Roy Sommer’s Barracuda have been the talk of the American Hockey League in recent weeks. 

The Sharks’ primary affiliate had a 14-game winning streak snapped in overtime on Wednesday, and still hasn’t lost a game in regulation since Jan. 21. Headed into the weekend, the Barracuda sit atop the AHL standings with a 33-11-1-4 mark.

The recent loss, and losing key scorer Nikolay Goldobin in a trade to Vancouver hasn’t dampened spirits, Sommer said on the latest Sharks Insider Podcast.

“They’re still into it,” Sommer said. “We had a good practice [Thursday], and you don’t want to see those things go by the wayside, but now we’ve got to start another one.”

Sommer is in his 19th season behind the bench of the Sharks’ top affiliate, which is in its second season in San Jose. Previously, the club had been in Lexington, KY, Cleveland, OH and Worcester, MA.

The benefits of finally being in close proximity to the parent club have been immeasurable, general manager Doug Wilson has frequently said. Sommer echoed that notion.

“I think it’s made our team stronger just in the fact that guys always know that someone’s around watching. If you play good, you’re given an opportunity,” said the AHL’s all-time wins leader.

Having a deep AHL club so close can also put the NHL guys on notice, too. That’s a good thing.

“That’s the beauty of depth and guys looking over their shoulder,” Sommer said. “I’m sure there are some guys up in San Jose going like, ‘man, there are some guys down there biting at our heels ready to take our job.’”

Sommer touched on a number of different prospects in the Sharks’ system, including Marcus Sorensen, who scored his first NHL goal in Thursday’s win over Vancouver.

Sorensen took some time to adjust to the pro game after coming over from Sweden. Now, though, it looks like the Sharks may have something in the 24-year-old.

“When we first saw him I was going, ‘wow.’ … I was expecting him to light it up at the start [of the AHL season], and he didn’t,” Sommer said. “But, I knew he had something because he’s got that engine that goes 100 miles an hour, he plays inside, he plays hard, he’s got a pretty good head for the game.”

Sommer also gave us his thoughts on guys like leading scorer Danny O’Regan, defenseman Mirco Mueller, and former ninth overall pick Timo Meier; what it was like seeing a young Joe Pavelski join the organization, and what it would mean to him to see the Sharks win the Stanley Cup after he's been in the organization for 21 seasons.

To listen to the podcast in its entirety, click here.

Erik Karlsson relieved to score but focused on winning with Sharks

Erik Karlsson relieved to score but focused on winning with Sharks

SAN JOSE — Scoring your first goal of the season certainly is cause for celebration. Maybe even some extra-exuberant cheering and shouting. 

After defenseman Erik Karlsson scored his first goal as a Shark in their 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, there were rumors he’d let some choice language fly.

“I don’t know if I said it in Swedish or English,” he jokingly told the media after the game at SAP Center. “If I said it in English, unfortunately it might be out there. If not, then you’re going to have to play the guessing game.”

Not that anyone could blame him for using some colorful verbiage. The pressure on the Swedish defenseman has been incredibly high since he arrived in San Jose at the start of training camp in September.

While he’s been contributing to the team on the back end during the Sharks' six-game homestand, Karlsson’s continued lack of goal production had his critics whipped into a frenzy. 

Finally notching that elusive goal helped put his entire body of work thus far into perspective.

“He’s been playing some really good hockey, and he’s been really solid for us lately,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. 

“It’s nice to see one go in here for him tonight,” forward Joe Pavelski complimented. “He wants to contribute. He has, in a lot of ways, just maybe not in the goal department.”

Karlsson has been pitching in as a helper on San Jose’s goals over the homestand, including in the second period of Saturday’s game when he set up Evander Kane’s tally to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead. He’s now riding a three-game assist streak with five points (one goal, four assists) in his last three games.

“I’ve been feeling good all year. It just hasn’t worked out on the score sheet,” Karlsson said. “But sometimes, that’s the way it is.”

The defenseman admitted he felt a sense of relief after he notched that first goal on the season, but he also emphasized he’s more concerned with how it helped the Sharks get a bounce-back victory over the Blues. 

“I think the win was extra good after the game against (the Toronto Maple Leafs),” Karlsson said. “I don’t think we played well there. To have this game tonight was important for us, and it shows character in the room.”

Now with that first goal out of the way, Karlsson’s critics perhaps can leave him to focus on helping his team win more games.

“I’m not here to play an individual game,” he summarized. “It’s nice to finally get one in the back of the net. But at the end of the day, this is a great win.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-0 shutout win over Blues

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-0 shutout win over Blues

SAN JOSE -– After being shut out 4-0 by Chad Johnson and the St. Louis Blues just eight days ago, the Sharks were looking for payback.

Boy, did they get it Saturday night. 

Fueled by Erik Karlsson’s first goal as a member of the Sharks, San Jose got back to its roots and put up an all-around defensive effort to pummel the Blues by a score of -– drumroll, please -– 4-0. 

Here are three takeaways from the game at SAP Center:

Karlsson’s big night

It took 21 games — and, as one fan on Twitter pointed out, exactly 65 days since he was acquired from Ottawa — but the two-time Norris Trophy winner finally found the back of the net.

Of course he also did it in epic fashion, banging home a one-timer that Johnson didn’t even see coming. You could see the relief on Karlsson’s face as the cameras zoomed in on him after the goal.

With that elusive first marker out of the way, it doesn’t hurt to wonder if that goal will open the floodgates. Karlsson’s individual game has visibly improved over the Sharks’ current six-game homestand, Saturday was his second consecutive game with two points, and his third n a row with at least one. 

Dell was a brick wall

Aaron Dell wasn’t tested as much this time around as he was against the Blues eight days ago. Nevertheless, the Sharks’ backup goalie made the big saves when he needed to on his way to registering his first career win against St. Louis.

Dell was particularly impressive in the third period. He stood tall to stop Vladimir Tarasenko from putting the Blues on the board just 10 seconds into the frame, and continued to stand his ground as St. Louis built momentum and tried to pin San Jose in its own end.

Identity found?

Following the Sharks’ 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, captain Joe Pavelski told the media the team wasn’t playing up to its identity as a defensively sound unit. Against the Blues, the Sharks’ sound defensive game was on full display.

It also didn’t hurt that multiple players had multi-point games in addition to Karlsson. Pavelski himself scored two goals, giving him 13 in 21 games, good for fourth in the NHL. New linemate Logan Couture assisted on three of San Jose’s four goals, including both of Pavelski’s. Timo Meier also pitched in as a helper on both of Pavelski’s goals.