SAN JOSE – The Sharks lost two straight against Los Angeles, the latest coming on Tuesday in overtime at home, 2-1. The three biggest takeaways from the defeat? Here you go…
1 – Young D respond, but Burns scuffling
It surely wasn’t going to be easy, with the Sharks missing defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and David Schlemko. The good news was that the young third defense pair of Dylan DeMelo and Mirco Mueller – making his season debut – settled in nicely after some early moments of erraticism in their own end. “I thought [Mueller] was great. He looked like an NHL player,” Logan Couture said.
Pete DeBoer said: "I thought [the defense] did a great job. That's a big ask for those guys. I thought Mirco played excellent.”
On the flip side, though, Brent Burns struggled in both losses to the Kings. He took a pair of minor penalties on Tuesday for the second straight game, while registering just a single shot on goal with about five minutes to go in the third period.
Perhaps he’s trying to do too much while playing extended minutes, eating up a large portion of Vlasic’s time against the opposition’s top players, but it isn’t working.
When it was pointed out to DeBoer after the game that all three of the Sharks’ penalties were by defensemen, including a Justin Braun hooking minor that led to Jeff Carter’s tying goal, he said: "That shows you the pressure they were putting our defensemen under. It's more a credit to them than what we were doing.”
2 – Meier promoted, Boedker demoted
Not to pat myself on the back (OK, maybe a little bit), but I tweeted in the second period that I thought it was time for the Sharks to make a change to their top line. The two Joes need someone who gets to the front of the net, and that’s never going to be Patrick Marleau. Timo Meier does it, and the impact was immediate after DeBoer made that alteration in the third period.
Meier finished with two shots on goal, and was also credited with seven hits – a game high. That includes one early collision with Derek Forbort, when he hammered the Kings defenseman along the wall about eight minutes in.
He seemed to enjoy his first experience in the Sharks-Kings rivalry.
“It’s a physical game out there against a team like that,” Meier said. “You’ve got to fight for every inch on the ice. Those games are good to learn [from], but it’s obviously too bad we couldn’t get those two points.”
I’d have to think Meier gets a chance to stay there for Thursday’s game against Minnesota, as the Sharks are still struggling to score. They need more from that top line, in particular.
It’s also worth noting that Boedker took just two shifts in the third period, including one on the PK, when he was on the ice for Carter’s goal. Perhaps it’s his turn to sit in the press box, while someone like Tommy Wingels draws back into the lineup.
3 – Labanc's OT mistake
Kevin Labanc, who won the most recent Sharks overtime game against Edmonton on Dec. 23 with a goal, committed the turnover that led to Tanner Pearson’s game-winner. The rookie threw the puck right to Carter’s tape in the Sharks’ offensive zone, springing the Kings’ hottest player the other way. Couture couldn’t quite get back in time to break up Carter’s dish to Pearson.
DeBoer wasn’t too critical of Labanc’s misplay in the three-on-three.
"He's won us a few games making those plays, so we're not going to hold that one against him,” said the coach.