Sharks

Why Sharks' lines could look much different in Game 3 against Blues

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USATSI

Why Sharks' lines could look much different in Game 3 against Blues

From the look of morning skate at Enterprise Center on Wednesday, the Sharks could potentially roll out different bottom six lines for Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues after falling 4-2 in Game 2.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t confirm whether those changes would stick come game time. He did say, however, that he was looking for a spark from his depth players.

“The playoffs are all about depth,” he told the media after Wednesday’s morning skate. “On the runs we’ve had and where we’ve had success here, it’s been about contributions throughout your lineup. From all four lines.”

From the look of Wednesday’s practice, San Jose’s top two lines manned by Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl will stay intact. In practice, Melker Karlsson moved up to Joe Thornton’s wing opposite Kevin Labanc, in place of Marcus Sorensen. Micheal Haley took rushes with Barclay Goodrow and Joonas Donskoi on the fourth line.

When pressed by the media as to why Sorensen may be out of the lineup for Game 3, DeBoer commented only on the status of his depth scorers as a whole and the fact he wants to see them play a more energetic game on Wednesday night.

“I think Marcus is like our whole group of forwards,” he said. “I think we have a good group that’s built for this time of year. They play an honest game, they play inside, they play with energy. So we’re looking for all of those things.”

While the changes at morning skate may have some fans scratching their heads, the new-look fourth line of Donskoi-Goodrow-Haley previously played together 7:37 minutes during the regular season according to Natural Stat Trick. Given that Donskoi has played well on that fourth line since returning to the lineup from an injury in the second round, it isn’t too surprising he will be kept on that line with Goodrow – particularly since the two generated four five-on-five goals together in the regular season.

[RELATED: Five observations from Sharks' 4-2 loss]

Melker Karlsson is also a player DeBoer has traditionally moved throughout the lineup when he’s trying to get the offense going, hence the reason he could start the game on Thornton’s wing. Thornton and Karlsson logged a little over 60 minutes in ice time together during the regular season, while Karlsson and Labanc combined for six goals in five-on-five play, according to Natural Stat Trick.

NHL free agency: Will Erik Karlsson's health affect Sharks signing him?

NHL free agency: Will Erik Karlsson's health affect Sharks signing him?

SAN JOSE – Ever since arriving in San Jose last September, Erik Karlsson’s tenure as a Shark has been riddled with questions.

Questions as to when he would get on the scoreboard when he started off the season pointless. Questions as to why he was participating in the NHL All-Star Game when he was too hurt to pencil into his team’s roster on a nightly basis. Questions as to whether the Sharks would sign him to a deal that would keep him in teal past the 2019 season – which became even more of a mystery when he tweeted out a message to Sharks fans, thanking them for the season.

The latter question will be answered in good time with San Jose’s postseason run over and free agency on the horizon. Now, come the questions as to how much Karlsson’s injuries from this past season play into what happens to him next.

“I’m still in the process of figuring all that out so I can’t really give you a straight answer,” Karlsson said during exit interviews when asked about his overall health. “It’s nothing major. It’s just going to take some time and figure everything out. It should be something that’s easy to deal with. That’s as much as I know.”

Karlsson missed 29 games over the regular season with a suspected groin injury, which first took him out of the Sharks’ lineup just before the All-Star break. Following his return in the final game of the regular season, the conversation continued into the playoffs regarding how healthy he really was.

While Karlsson appeared more and more healthy as the Sharks advanced through two rounds of the playoffs, he began to show signs he was ailing during the Western Conference final, and eventually missed Game 6.
 
The defenseman didn’t expand on the extent to which he was injured, only saying he was one of many Sharks’ skater who wasn’t playing at 100-percent.

“Everybody is dealing with something,” Karlsson insisted. “You have to play through things.” 

Karlsson also didn’t give any indication as to what kind of rehab process he will have to go through over the offseason, although he insisted his health wouldn't get in his way.

“All I know is it’s not going to be anything that will be a problem moving forward,” he said. “I’m going to be able to have a normal summer with training and everything and getting ready. That’s great.”

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told the press he didn’t know yet if any injured players on the team would need surgery in the offseason, including Karlsson. When asked if Karlsson’s health played a factor in whether the team tried to sign him to a long-term deal, Wilson didn’t lean one way or the other.

“I’m still in the reflection mode of this year, just starting to meet with players, meet with coaches,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of guys who have contracts up, and out of respect to them, we don’t discuss that.”

[RELATED: Sharks emerge from playoff run with lengthy injury list]

Karlsson does appear interested, however, in testing out the market.

“I’ve worked hard for 10 years in this league to be in the position that I’m in. I’ve earned that,” he said of being an unrestricted free agent. “I’ll do everything I can to make the best decision for myself and for the team that is going to want me.”

How much his health plays into that decision, still remains to be seen. 

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

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AP

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

The Erik Karlsson era could be coming to an end after only one season in San Jose. 

Karlsson becomes a free agent at the end of Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks' star defenseman sent a thank you note to the team's fans and the whole Bay Area on Friday. 

San Jose acquired Karlsson, who turns 29 on May 31, from the Senators for four players and two draft picks on Sept. 13, 2018. The two-time Norris Trophy award winner was named to his fourth straight NHL All-Star Game in his first season as a Shark. 

Karlsson played in 53 regular-season games this year, his lowest since the 2012-13 season. He tallied 45 points -- three goals, 42 assists. 

Injuries, however, played a large role in Karlsson's season. He missed 27 of the Sharks' final 33 regular-season games with various ailments. And he missed the Sharks' season-ending Game 6 loss to the Blues in the Western Conference final.

[RELATED: Karlsson expected to be pursued by Rangers]

Karlsson is expected to be pursued by multiple teams this offseason, including the Sharks. But he could have just said his last goodbye to The Tank and all its fans in San Jose.