No ordinary Joes: Thornton, Pavelski on fire since All-Star break

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While the San Jose Sharks can’t be thrilled with their post-All-Star record — they’re just 4-3 over the last seven games — they have to be pleased with the play of linemates Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

The pair has racked up 22 points (9G, 13A) playing on a line with Patrick Marleau — Pavelski and Thorton also man the first power play unit together — with Thornton posting 4G-8A-12PTS, Pavelski notching 5G-5A-10PTS.

“I like playing with Joe,” Thornton told CSN Bay Area. “He sees the ice well and has a knack for being around the net and putting in timely goals. We enjoy playing with each other.”

Credit Sharks head coach Todd McLellan for utilizing the Joe-Joe chemistry to spark his anemic power play. The normally powerful unit struggled through most of the year (just 22 PP goals in the first 46 games) until McLellan put Pavelski and Thornton together…but with a twist.

Little Joe was moved to the point, and the results were immediate — dating back to the Sharks’ game in Vancouver on Jan. 21 (when Pavelski first started manning the blueline), San Jose is 13-for-32 with a man advantage, a remarkable 40.6 percent.

“To climb from where we were, and we reminded them of this after the St. Louis game, to where we are now, is a credit to them,” McLellan said, referring to an 0-for-4 performance against the Blues on Sunday. “It became real important to them and real important to our team that we fix [the power play.]”

“When you’re playing well in that area, it should translate over to feeling good about your game and having some confidence elsewhere.”

This offensive spark couldn’t have come at a better time. The Sharks are two games into a grueling nine-game road trip and their schedule over the final two months — 32 games in 59 days, six back-to-backs — is one of the league’s toughest. The likes of Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau will need to keep clicking if the Sharks hope to survive and remain atop the Pacific Division.

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).

Goalie nods: Andersen’s ‘flu-like symptoms’ mean Khudobin starts versus Flames

Anton Khudobin, Frederik Andersen
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With Frederik Andersen experiencing “flu-like symptoms” (PHT diagnosis: it might be the flu), the Anaheim Ducks will turn to backup Anton Khudobin for tonight’s home game versus Calgary.

Khudobin could, in turn, be backed up by Josh Gibson, recalled today from AHL San Diego. The Ducks have officially listed Andersen as “questionable.”

Khudobin (3-3-0, .917) has not started a game in over a week. His last action came exactly a week ago, after Andersen got the hook versus Nashville.

Andersen may or may not travel with the Ducks for tomorrow’s game at Arizona.

The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay, a result that produced the following quote from Ryan Kesler:

After a four-game winning streak to start November, Anaheim has since dropped five of its last seven.

Karri Ramo will be in net for the Flames. After a terrible start to the season, he’s been much better lately, allowing just eight goals combined in his last four starts.


Craig Anderson for the Senators. Antti Niemi for the Stars.

Torts: Jackets still need more ‘bite’

John Tortorella

The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.

The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.

Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.

“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”

The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.


— The Canucks need ‘more bite’

The Rangers are better when they have ‘more bite’

Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer


The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.

Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.

The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.

According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.

“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”

In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.

Related: Where’s the depth in San Jose?