Sharks

Three takeaways: Gutsy effort for Sharks over hard-working Jets

Three takeaways: Gutsy effort for Sharks over hard-working Jets

Joe Thornton’s milestone was the most notable occurrence in the Sharks’ 3-2 win in Winnipeg on Monday, but let’s dig a little deeper. Here are our three takeaways from the San Jose’s performance…

1 – Gutsy effort against a hot team

Although the Jets aren’t in playoff position, this was a team that was surging ahead of hosting the Sharks on Monday. Not only had Winnipeg collected points in seven of its last eight games, the Jets had scored at least three goals in all eight. Had this club gotten even average goaltending this season it would probably be in an entirely different position.

Winnipeg was also more rested. The Jets haven’t had to play a road game since February 21, while the Sharks were skating in their second of a back-to-back on the road, with travel. That early predictable push from the Jets did come, but the Sharks held them off.

“Winnipeg didn’t give us a choice but to compete tonight,” Pete DeBoer told reporters after the game. “They came out and were ready to play, and had a desperation level to their game. We had no choice but to get our nose in there and compete, and to our credit our guys did.”

Had the Sharks lost against the Jets, they would have been riding a two-game losing streak ahead of a very difficult matchup with the league-leading Capitals on Thursday. But good teams don’t typically have losing streaks this time of year, and the Sharks responded with a gutsy effort in maintaining a healthy seven-point lead in the Pacific Division.

“We really didn’t like the way we played [Sunday night in Minnesota],” Thornton said. “We wanted to come out and kind of redeem ourselves tonight, and I think we did a good job of that.”

2 – Dell preserves it

The Jets made a late push, too, but Aaron Dell was up to the task. The Sharks goalie made a pair a brilliant stop on the dangerous Patrik Laine’s one-timer with time winding down, and moments later tracked a Dustin Byfuglien slapper from high in the zone, swallowing it up and not allowing a rebound.

That’s what the Sharks have come to expect from Dell, who should continue to play more over the next several weeks.

“Every time people wait for him to stumble and fall, he finds a way to win another game,” DeBoer said. “I thought the third period tonight was his best, he really settled in and made a couple big saves for us.”

Dell’s next start will likely be on Sunday at home against Dallas, when the Sharks play the second of a back-to-back and third game in four days. 

3 – Boedker coming on

Perhaps free agent addition Mikkel Boedker is finally starting to find his groove. The 26-year-old scored the biggest goal of the night, a tiebreaking, shorthanded marker in the third period that gave the Sharks the lead for good.

“Huge goal by Bods shorthanded,” Thornton said.

DeBoer said: “The only difference in the game was we scored on our chance in the third, and Deller made a big save on theirs.”

Boedker now has three goals in his last five games, after he was benched for the third period of the final game before the bye week on Feb. 19. Perhaps he’ll get a boost by the impending arrival of his friend Jannik Hansen, too. He surely doesn’t want to get pushed down the lineup by his longtime mate.

Sharks rival Drew Doughty doesn't think Brent Burns deserves Norris Trophy

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APUSATSI

Sharks rival Drew Doughty doesn't think Brent Burns deserves Norris Trophy

We're down to two weeks remaining in the NHL season, and there's still plenty left to be determined.

Only five of what will be a grand total of 16 playoff spots have been clinched, and the races for many of the other 11 are likely to come down to the final days of the season. The same can be said for certain individual award races.

The former of those types of races doesn't really apply to the Sharks. They've already clinched a playoff spot and barring something crazy, they likely will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round.

As for the award races, there's still plenty at stake and how certain players finish their respective individual seasons could prove to be the deciding factor in who goes home with the hardware and who will have to wait at least another year.

Both San Jose's Brent Burns and Calgary's Mark Giordano have been jostling back and forth for pole position in the race for the Norris Trophy -- given to the league's top defenseman -- practically all year long. And it appears they'll finish it that way, as well.

One former Norris Trophy winner -- Los Angeles' Drew Doughty -- was asked his thoughts on the current race ahead of the Kings' game in Calgary on Monday, and let's just say he didn't mince words when it came to evaluating Burns' candidacy.

Burns currently leads the Sharks and all NHL defensemen with 77 points -- one more than he had in 2016-17 when he won his first Norris. Giordano, meanwhile, ranks second among all NHL defensemen with 72 points. Burns has played in two more games than Giordano so far this season, but his 1.03 points per game still rank slightly ahead of Giordano's 0.99.

Giordano's Flames are the odds-on favorite to finish with the most points of any Western Conference team, though, and that could certainly work in his favor in such a close race.

[RELATED: Sharks need better goaltending with playoffs around corner]

Meanwhile, Doughty's Kings are currently dead last in the Western Conference, 10 points behind the next-closest team. Any realistic shot at the playoffs went out the window a long time ago, and Doughty himself is on pace for his fewest points in a season in which he played more than 48 games.

Doughty has a Norris and a couple of Stanley Cups to his resume, so his comments can't be completely disregarded. But that sure sounds like sour grapes from a frustrated veteran towards a longtime division rival, which -- given the history between the Sharks and Kings -- shouldn't really come as a surprise.

Sharks vs. Red Wings watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

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AP

Sharks vs. Red Wings watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks are looking to snap their longest losing streak this season. They’ll have the opportunity to get back in the win column on Monday evening when they host Gustav Nyquist’s former team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Team Teal returns home after tallying just one point on their two-game trip down in Southern California with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks. San Jose currently sits with 95 points in the standings -- five points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights and six points behind the Calgary Flames.

The Red Wings are the second-worst ranked team in the Eastern Conference, but visit San Jose coming off a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime victory over the Golden Knights. “They always give us a hard time,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of the Detroit squad. “Their speed. They’re young, they’re enthusiastic. They’re playing, really, with no pressure on them. Those are dangerous teams.”

The Sharks will continue to play with captain Joe Pavelski, who is continuing to recover from a lower-body injury. DeBoer told the media Pavelski was “heading in the right direction,” though. “If it was playoffs, he’d probably be able to play. But there’s no sense rushing that right now.”

Detroit will play without Thomas Vanek, who has been sidelined with a mid-body injury, per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. The Red Wings will roll out 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Sharks.

This is the second and final time the Sharks and Red Wings will play each other this season. Through 93 total games played between the franchises, San Jose holds a 34-49-4-6 record.

Sharks projected lines and pairs:

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

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Tim Heed
Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun

Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

[RELATED: Sharks need better goaltending with playoffs around corner]

Red Wings projected lines and pairs:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Anthony Mantha
Luke Glendening – Andreas Athanasiou – Taro Hirose
Frans Nielsen – Darren Helm
Ryan Kuffner – Christoffer Ehn – Matt Puempel

Dan DeKeyser – Filip Hronek
Niklas Kronwall – Madison Bowey
Brian Lashoff – Luke Witkowski
Dylan McIlrath

Jonathan Bernier – projected starter
Jimmy Howard