Sharks

Tierney rose to the challenge after comments in Sharks-Blues series

Tierney rose to the challenge after comments in Sharks-Blues series

Prior to Game 2 of the Western Conference Final last May, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was asked to respond to Sharks coach Pete DeBoer’s decision to keep Patrick Marleau on the second line wing, rather than skate him as the third line center.

“We don't like that match. [Marleau] should stay on the second line,” Hitchcock said on May 17, eliciting laughter from the media. “I'm not telling Pete how to coach. … Just telling him we don't like that match.”

Whether Hitchcock was being truthful or not is up for interpretation, but the comment could have been viewed as an insult to Chris Tierney, who was in just his second NHL season. Tierney, mind you, was the guy that was centering the third line rather than Marleau, and in a series in which the pundits said the Blues were the deeper team up front, there was a lot riding on Tierney’s ability to handle the role.

On the latest Sharks Insider Podcast, Tierney recalled those public comments from the Blues’ legendary coach.

“You see it on Twitter, [in] media clippings, and whatnot. I think when something like that is said…the way I see it is, you want to prove them wrong. Not stick it to them, but show that, ‘OK, I’m going to show you’ kind of thing. 

“I think it just fuels the opposing players when something like that gets said, so I just take it as I just want to prove I can play. I knew I could play against those guys, and I think Pete trusted me enough that I could play against those guys.”

Over the final five games of the series, Tierney posted two goals, one assist and a plus-three rating, while a few of St. Louis’ most dangerous scorers went cold. As it turned out, the Sharks were the deeper – and better – team.

The playoff run gave Tierney, who had 5 goals and 4 assists in 24 games, a big boost in confidence.

“I thought I was going to be a little more nervous going into the playoffs than I was, but once you get playing it kind of feels like you’re just playing another game. … I think I just got more confident every series that I could go up against [Anze] Kopitar, or [Ryan] Johansen, or [Alex] Steen, [Jori] Lehtera or [Vladimir] Tarasenko.”

Tierney gets into several other topics in the podcast, including that he didn't think there was any way he would end up in San Jose after his draft interview.

“I had a meeting with the Sharks. ... I didn’t think it went very well," he said. "They were pretty hard on a lot of guys, though. I don’t know if that’s the way they interviewed back then, but I didn’t think it was going very well. I kind of crossed them off the list.”

Sharks win third straight, 'starting to grow' into team they want to be

Sharks win third straight, 'starting to grow' into team they want to be

SAN JOSE – The Sharks needed to get two points on Thursday evening in a major way. From how the game against the Stars looked in the first period, those points were looking far out of reach.

“Kind of just a fairly boring game early on,” captain Joe Pavelski admitted after the contest with Dallas, who was playing the second night of a back-to-back. “We probably could’ve had a little more energy early, but they didn’t have that much either.”

But behind a critical second-period goal from Timo Meier, Team Teal was able to rally late and put on a third-period performance that helped them snag those highly-coveted two points. The effort showed that, despite that slow first frame, the Sharks’ overall game is trending in the right direction.

“This was a big win for us tonight,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “Took us a couple periods to create some room for ourselves. We got some good contributions from everyone.”

The victory didn’t just give San Jose some much-needed points in the Pacific Division standings. (Not to mention help them improve to 10-5-1 against Western Conference teams with 21 points earned in 16 games.) It also gave them a third win in a row – a feat they’ve had trouble with so far this season.

The only other time the Sharks tallied more than two wins in a row was back in mid-October when they defeated the Sabres, Islanders, and Predators in succession. Since then they’ve battled with finding consistency all while having a very unforgiving travel schedule. Despite finally having a couple days at home to work on their game, it took a bit on Thursday night for San Jose to find that fire in their game.

When they did find it, however, their battle to take over the game was evident.

“As the season goes on and you travel – some nights you feel better than others, and tonight was a night I thought we were off a little bit,” DeBoer acknowledged. “But we battled and found a way to win and got two critical points.”

Much of that battle came for the Sharks in the latter part of the game. Where San Jose faltered against Dallas in the third frame of their previous meeting, the final stanza was where the Sharks thrived on Thursday evening. Not bad for a team who entered Thursday’s game scoring as many goals in third-period situations as they were giving up.

“We’ve been wanting to play aggressive in the third and I think you saw that,” Joe Thornton said. “We were just more aggressive, staying on pucks and attacking. It was good to see.”

Now with those three wins all lined up in a row, the Sharks need to keep improving. They hit the road yet again for a two-game stint against Chicago and Minnesota, into two buildings that aren’t particularly easy to play in. But while there are still things to work on, San Jose is trending in the right direction.

“As a team, we’re starting to grow into what we need to be, and we still have a long way to go,” Erik Karlsson said. “I think we’re starting to find our groove here a little bit, hopefully. We just need to keep building on that.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 3-2 win over Stars

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 3-2 win over Stars

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – One thing is for sure – the Sharks are probably stoked they don’t have to play the Stars anymore this season.

It was another close one between San Jose and Dallas that came right down to the wire as the teams played their third and final game of the regular season series. And while the Stars tried to make things interesting, Team Teal held on to get the 3-2 victory.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday night’s game:

Putting the lines in the blender did the trick

When asked ahead of Thursday’s contest what it would take to beat the Stars, Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer said he wanted to see a full 60-minute effort from the team.

So, did the Sharks meet those expectations?

Not exactly. Then again, neither did Dallas. The Stars were playing the second game in a back-to-back and were beaten by the Ducks 6-3 the night before. Both the Sharks and Stars looked fairly even through the first 20 or so minutes. It took a little line shuffling on DeBoer’s part to get San Jose’s offense going. The mixing and matching did the trick however, because San Jose’s offense got rolling part way through the second frame.

Speaking of offense …

Timo Meier is a one-man wrecking crew

Heck, what can we say about No. 28 that we haven’t already said? Even before he scored the Sharks’ first two goals on the evening, he was creating chances off the rush and grinding to get the Sharks on the board. 

It’s almost easy to forget Meier missed a few games with an injury, especially since he barely missed a beat. In five games since returning to the ice, he’s notched five goals and four assists, in addition to registering his third and fourth goals in seven career contests against the Stars.

The Sharks finally have three wins in a row …

… now they really need to capitalize on it. Although they got the two points, San Jose looked like they could be in danger of letting the Stars take the game over late – just like they did in Dallas a week ago.

One criticism DeBoer has had, even when the Sharks have won games, is that they aren’t making games easy on themselves. Instead of keeping pressure on the opposition and hemming them in their own zone, San Jose is letting teams stick around. If they want to really get a winning streak going and put teams away, this is an area they need to tighten up.