Mario Ferraro

Sharks' Brent Burns shows Mario Ferraro how to better protect himself

Sharks' Brent Burns shows Mario Ferraro how to better protect himself

Stefan Noesen had seen enough, and apparently Brent Burns had, too.

The Sharks' defenseman is in his 16th NHL season, and has played in all 82 regular-season games in each of the last five seasons. While Burns is an exceptional athlete, he also owes part of his longevity to the veteran savvy he has developed along the way.

Mario Ferraro is in his first NHL season. The Sharks' rookie defenseman has no such veteran savvy to rely on, so after watching the youngster get dangerously run into the boards by Calgary Flames forward Milan Lucic -- for the second time in a week -- in San Jose's 6-2 loss Monday night, Burns thought it best to share some valuable experience with Ferraro so that he might be able to last in the league as long as he has.

So, prior to the start of practice on Tuesday, Burns joined Ferraro on the ice to show him some tips on how to better protect himself when a forechecker rapidly is bearing down on him. Ferraro seemed to appreciate the transfer of knowledge, and intends to apply it to avoid greater potential for serious injury.

"He has obviously been around, so he knows as an older guy about how trying to protect yourself can help you in the long run with injuries," Ferraro said of Burns to The Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka. "I’m fine right now but any other hit, maybe it can go another way.

"I want to try and protect myself and try and stay healthy, but he’s just teaching me different ways to go in the corner. Protect myself, getting back there. There are times where you leave too much distance between yourself and you can take a big hit, so just want to try and limit those."

Ferraro is a minus-4 over San Jose's last two games, and clearly, he's still learning on the job. That doesn't change the fact that he has played well beyond his years as a rookie in the toughest hockey league in the world.

"There's going to be ups and downs for a guy that young in the league," Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner said of Ferraro after Monday's loss. "He has been pretty consistent all year. You're going to see dips here and there. But his compete is always unbelievable. He's always ready to play."

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Ferraro has been one of San Jose's few bright spots this season. With a little luck -- and some veteran advice -- he'll be one for many more to come.

Sharks' Stefan Noesen calls out Flames' Milan Lucic for dangerous hits

Sharks' Stefan Noesen calls out Flames' Milan Lucic for dangerous hits

Stefan Noesen has seen enough of Milan Lucic taking dangerous runs at his rookie teammate.

It happened again early in the second period of San Jose's 6-2 home loss to the Calgary Flames at SAP Center on Monday night. Calgary led 3-1 when Sharks rookie defenseman Mario Ferraro went behind his own net to retrieve a puck. When his back was square to Lucic, the Flames' forward plowed directly into it with a dangerous hit. 

In many ways, it looked awfully similar to a hit Lucic laid on Ferraro in the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Flames in Calgary last week.

Lucic wasn't called for a penalty in either situation. So, the second time around, Noesen took matters into his own hands -- since the officials had neglected to -- and went right after the larger Lucic.

The two combatants both dropped the gloves, but were quickly separated before a fight really could get going. To San Jose's extreme displeasure, Noesen somehow ended up with an extra two-minute minor, resulting in a power play for the Flames. After the game, Noesen thought Lucic deserved much more than a penalty for the hit(s).

"That's back-to-back games he has had the exact same hit," Noesen said of Lucic. "Same player, same everything. Something's gotta change. You can't ... you can't let that guy do that every single time. Luckily, Mario didn't get hurt this time. Last time, he had a bloody eye. If he goes down and he's laying on the ice, it's probably going to be a suspension. But the fact that he got up right away, they're not going to call anything like that. To me, it's bulls--t."

Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner didn't view the hit as egregiously as Noesen did, but still felt like the officials missed the call.

"Yeah, I'd like to see them protect the players in those situations," Boughner said, "when you're going back for pucks and you've got your back turned and there's no hold-up -- we're not allowed to do that, obviously, anymore. You're not allowed to obstruct, so you've got to make sure that you protect guys. I thought it was a bit high, but it's not my call."

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Ferraro isn't the only one who has been a recent target of Lucic's.

In San Jose's 3-1 win in Calgary last Tuesday, Lucic surprised Sharks forward Evander Kane with a big hit. His linemate, Barclay Goodrow, came to his immediate defense -- just like Noesen did -- and Goodrow's show of courage in fighting Lucic was seen as the turning point of that victory. Boughner similarly was proud of Noesen for standing up for Ferraro, even if it didn't lead to a win.

"Yeah, we've talked about sticking up for each other and playing as a family," Boughner said. "Physically, I thought we were engaged all night. The emotion was there, I think, but it was one of those games where we were behind the play and every mistake we made sort of went bad."

The Sharks and Flames have one remaining regular-season matchup against each other in Calgary on Mar. 23. Don't expect Lucic to change his style of play for that one, and don't count on San Jose backing down, either.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in outstanding 6-3 win over Oilers


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in outstanding 6-3 win over Oilers


For the second time in two games, the Sharks failed to score first against a Western Canadian opponent. For the second time in two games, San Jose came from behind to earn an impressive road win.

The Sharks fell behind just over four minutes into their game against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Thursday night, and unlike their 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, they didn't score the second goal of the contest, either. But just when it looked like the team was headed for a blowout loss, San Jose flipped the script and dominated from that point on, finishing with a 6-3 win.

The Sharks would go on to score five unanswered goals after Edmonton had taken a 2-0 lead, and kept the Oilers off the scoresheet for the vast majority of the contest. San Jose got contributions from all four lines, and goaltender Aaron Dell was very solid in net after some shaky moments early on.

Here are three takeaways as the Sharks completed the Albertan sweep:

One they'll always remember

Maxim Letunov and Alexander True made their NHL debuts in Tuesday's win in Calgary. On Thursday night in Edmonton, both rookies earned their first career NHL points.

Letunov was the first to get off the schneid. He showed great strength and patience in fighting off an Oilers defender in front of the Edmonton net midway through the second period, allowing him to slide the puck in past an out-of-position Mikko Koskinen.

Just over five minutes later, Stefan Noesen gave San Jose a 4-2 lead with his fifth goal of the season, but it was a far more memorable goal for a different member of the fourth line. True got the secondary assist for his first career point.

With Tomas Hertl done for the season and Logan Couture expected to miss several more weeks, the Sharks are making a conscious effort to give opportunities to some of the younger players in their system. Through their first two career NHL games, both Letunov and True have taken advantage.

Welcome to the NHL

Letunov and True had the happy 'welcome to the NHL' moments. Their fellow rookie, defenseman Mario Ferraro, had one on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Early in the first period, Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid received the puck in the neutral zone and immediately kicked it into high gear as he drove towards San Jose's net. Ferraro took one wrong step in trying to obstruct McDavid's path, and in the blink of an eye, McDavid was past him and scoring a highlight-reel goal.

McDavid makes a lot of defenders look silly, so Ferraro shouldn't necessarily be feeling any shame. He has had a tremendous rookie season, and it's totally reasonable that he would experience some growing pains from time to time.

Right on time

The Sharks desperately need their best players to pick it up offensively, perhaps none more so than forward Timo Meier. The 23-year-old has had a fairly disappointing fourth season in the NHL after notching 30 goals and 66 points last year, entering Thursday's game with 16 and 33, respectively.

Meier might be the most talented forward on San Jose's roster, and all that talent was on display against Edmonton, as he came this close to tallying his second hat trick of the season.

He scored the Sharks' first and fifth goals of the night, and nearly had their final one as well. Meier had a great tip-in of a point shot to get San Jose on the board, and in the third period, he roofed a shot past Koskinen after the puck bounced back to him off the end boards to give his team a 5-2 lead.

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It looked like he completed his hat trick later in the third, but Kevin Labanc managed to get his stick on Meier's deflection, as the puck trickled into the back of the net for an insurance goal.

The hat trick would have been nice, but if Thursday is a sign that Meier is finding a groove, both he and the Sharks will take the two goals.