Melker Karlsson

Getty

Donskoi returns as Sharks go with ‘most experienced lineup’ in Game 6

Leave a comment

Facing elimination on Saturday night the San Jose Sharks are making one change to their lineup heading into Game 6 of their first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers.

After being a healthy scratch for their Game 5 overtime loss, Joonas Donskoi will be back in the lineup on Saturday night in place of forward Timo Meier.

He is slated to skate on a line alongside Melker Karlsson and Tomas Hertl.

Here is what Sharks coach Pete DeBoer had to say about the decision to put Donskoi back in the lineup before the game: “We went with our most experienced lineup here tonight in an elimination game. He’s been here before, he’s delivered for us before. He’s typically always bounced back after being sat down or demoted. I expect a big game out of him.”

In 61 games during the regular season Donskoi scored six goals and recorded 11 assists. In the four games he has played in this series he has one assist. Donskoi was a solid producer for the Sharks a year ago on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, picking up 12 points (six goals, six assists), including an overtime game-winner in Game 3 of the Final.

Meier, the Sharks’ first-round pick in 2015 (No. 9 overall) had six points in 34 regular season games with the Sharks. He has zero points and 11 shots on goal in five playoff games.

Sharks complete the comeback with OT win over Oilers

10 Comments

Talk about the perfect start for the home team.

But it didn’t end the way the Oilers and their fans wanted in the highly anticipated return of Stanley Cup playoff hockey to Edmonton.

Playing in the franchise’s first playoff game since 2006, the Oilers came flying out of the gate in Game 1 against the San Jose Sharks, opening up a two-goal lead on goals from Oscar Klefbom and Milan Lucic against the defending Western Conference champs.

Watch Sharks vs. Oilers on NBC Sports

The Oilers played fast. They played physical. They looked in complete control. Well, for 20 minutes, anyway.

But the game swung in the Sharks favor in the second period, before they eventually completed the comeback and won 3-2 in overtime.

The Sharks, without Joe Thornton for this one, completely took over, holding the Oilers to just nine shots through the second and third periods, and in a brief overtime session. Joel Ward started the comeback early in the second period and Paul Martin scored the equalizer early in the third.

The Sharks were all over the Oilers in the final period of regulation. They peppered Talbot with 18 shots, while the Oilers managed only three on Martin Jones.

After dominating the majority of this game, the Sharks won it on a goal from Melker Karlsson, as he beat Talbot on San Jose’s 44 shot of the night.

 

Jannik Hansen practices on Sharks’ top line

Getty
2 Comments

Jannik Hansen is starting right at the top.

At today’s Sharks practice, the speedy winger, acquired last week in a trade with the Canucks, was skating on San Jose’s top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, and Mikkel Boedker comprised the second line. Then came the trio of Joonas Donskoi, Tomas Hertl, and Melker Karlsson. And finally, on the fourth line, it was Marcus Sorensen, Chris Tierney, and Joel Ward.

That Hansen is starting on the top line should come as no surprise. The 30-year-old spent time in Vancouver with the Sedin twins on the Canucks’ top line. And if it’s not a fit with Thornton and Pavelski in San Jose, Hansen has the versatility to play further down the lineup.

Hansen is expected to make his San Jose debut tomorrow against the visiting Washington Capitals.

The Sharks also assigned forward Kevin Labanc to the AHL today.

Related: Hansen adds more speed to Sharks, who were already faster

Canucks GM Benning says mumps outbreak won’t impact trade deadline plans

Getty
3 Comments

Let’s set the scene for what the Vancouver Canucks were facing Saturday:

— On Friday, it was announced the team was dealing with an outbreak of the mumps. Rookie defenseman Troy Stecher was the first confirmed case and four others — Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Markus Granlund and Mike Chaput — were all showing symptoms.

— Currently out of a playoff spot, the Canucks were facing the Pacific Division-leading Sharks.

— The Canucks were playing their first game out of the bye week and many other teams have struggled in the first game back from their mandated week off.

— The trade deadline is looming and the Canucks are expected to be sellers next week.

Pressure is growing in Vancouver ahead of the trade deadline, especially after last year’s debacle. The Canucks had a 1.3 per cent chance of making the playoffs before Saturday’s 4-1 loss to San Jose. The playoff dream is over. It has been for a long time. But the Canucks do have veteran players — the names Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Ryan Miller have been brought up — other teams in contention might be willing to trade for, which would help Vancouver add draft picks or perhaps even some quality prospects.

In an interview with TSN 1040 on Friday, GM Jim Benning admitted he’s asked players with no-trade clauses to submit a list of teams they would accept a trade to ahead of the deadline.

From the Vancouver Sun:

Winger Alex Burrows, a 12-year-Canuck who like Miller is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, will draw trade interest but can veto a move with his NTC.

Not so Miller and Hansen, who can limit Benning’s trade field but cannot fully prevent a deal.

Miller, 36, submitted a list of five teams he can be traded to, while Hansen was required to identify eight potential trade destinations.

Now, how will this recent mumps outbreak impact Benning’s plans leading up to Wednesday?

“I don’t know if it will have any effect on that or not,” Benning said in his radio interview.

“This happened to other teams a few years ago and once the players go through the five-day incubation period, they’re fine. And so they can keep playing. I don’t think it will have any effect on that.”

Despite their playoff hopes hanging by a thread and a lineup with three AHL call-ups in Alex Grenier, Joseph LaBate and Evan McEneny, the Canucks somehow kept this close until midway through the third period.

LaBate planted Melker Karlsson with a hit and was eventually challenged to a fight in the third period. Karlsson left the game but did return for the third period.

At times, they actually outplayed the visitors through two periods but couldn’t find the lead and eventually the Sharks took over in the third period. Patrick Marleau gave them the lead late in the second period and Mikkel Boedker essentially put it out of reach.

For the Canucks, there was another case of illness Saturday.

Defenseman Luca Sbisa left the game and didn’t return with what the club said was a stomach flu, although given the situation in Vancouver, it will be worth monitoring to see if that diagnosis changes.

Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions

Getty
1 Comment

Two of San Jose’s most important and longest-tenured players, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Given the Sharks are in the midst of their Stanley Cup window — with Thornton and Marleau playing significant roles — it seems odd neither has put pen to paper on an extension yet.

But the Mercury News has a theory on why:

Here’s where it gets interesting. Next season, the NHL is adding a new team, the Vegas Golden Knights. That franchise will participate in an expansion draft. It will happen in June, a few days before the annual entry draft.  Each existing NHL team can protect either seven or eight forwards from being selected by the Golden Knights. However, pending unrestricted free agents will not be eligible for the expansion draft.

In other words, it behooves Wilson and the Sharks not to sign Marleau and Thornton until after the expansion draft. That way, the two players would not count toward the seven or eight forwards on the Sharks’ protected list (the exact number depends on choices the Sharks make at other positions.)

San Jose’s in a fairly unique position for the expansion draft. It is one of four teams not required to protect anybody — Calgary, St. Louis and Washington are the others — and, with the addition of the aforementioned Thornton-Marleau scenario, GM Doug Wilson would have serious flexibility when it comes to exposing players.

Not that he’s willing to divulge any information.

“My position is that I have no comment on that,” Wilson told the Mercury News. “People can anticipate and speculate about what our approach might be.”

ESPN touched on this potential scenario last month, noting that Wilson has some big decisions to make regardless if he chooses the seven forwards-three-defensemen-one goalie protected list, or the eight-skaters-and-a-goalie setup:

If you go 7-3-1, it means you protect just three defensemen — Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and probably Justin Braun — which then leaves Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon, Mirco Mueller and David Schlemko among those exposed.

What if the Sharks decide to go the 8-1 protection format route in order to protect four defensemen? That means only four forwards could be protected: Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and then take your pick from either Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Melker Karlsson or Chris Tierney. (Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are exempt.)

The risk in letting Thornton and Marleau get to free agency, of course, is that someone makes an offer neither can refuse. But it could be a risk worth taking. It’s fair to assume any potential offer would have to be massive in scope, given Thorton’s and Marleau’s ties to the Bay Area — the latter has spent his entire 20-year career with the Sharks, while the former has been there for over a decade.

Right now, there’s not much information about what type of extensions San Jose is offering. ESPN reported Thornton is eyeing another three-year deal — his last was a three-year, $20.25 million contract — and things are almost entirely silent on the Marleau front.