Logan Couture

Struggling Sharks bump Pavelski down to third line

After three straight regulation losses, it seems like the San Jose Sharks might be facing another crisis of confidence (though not quite at the level of this offseason’s borderline meltdown). Perhaps a notable lineup change might help the Sharks find some stability?

CSNBayArea.com reports that the Sharks will bump Joe Pavelski down to the third line against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Here’s how San Jose’s top nine forwards are expected to look:

Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – James Sheppard

Matt Nieto – Joe Thornton – Tomas Hertl

Tommy Wingels – Pavelski – Chris Tierney

If one thing stands out about this alteration, it’s that it gives the Sharks better depth. Wingels has been drawing strong reviews as a depth winger even before his two-goal performance against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014-15 opener, but skating with a center like Pavelski could make him that much more effective.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan explained that this move is more about improving defense than creating more scoring chances.

“We’re kind of going in waves where we have a line or two that’s responsible and then one that falls off, and it varies,” McLellan said to CSNBayArea.com. “It’s not just the top lines or the third or fourth lines. It varies. We’re trying to find some balance defensively.

“I think offensively we’ve been fine. I’m not too concerned about creating chances or anything like that. It’s the play in our zone, and it comes from a variety of different areas. It’s not just one thing.”

Of course, the biggest defensive improvements would theoretically come from improving the defense, yet the Sharks don’t enjoy the same array of options among their blueline corps.

If nothing else, Saturday’s game against Buffalo could provide a confidence boost. The first real test for such a tweak – assuming this even sticks – would come against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Sharks ‘let one slip away’ in Boston


The San Jose Sharks looked in good shape, a lead heading into the third period on the road against the Boston Bruins. And then, it all got away from them.

Boston scored three times in the final period and Milan Lucic suddenly went all playmaker on everyone with the hat trick in assists, as the Bruins came back for a 5-3 win. In a back-and-forth contest, the Sharks grabbed the lead on goals from Logan Couture and Joe Thornton just 37 seconds apart late in the second period.

But the Bruins, on only nine third-period shots, took it back. Seth Griffith, a fifth-round pick of Boston’s from 2012, scored his first NHL goal to tie the game early in the final period.

The loss concluded a five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference for the Sharks. It started off just fine, two wins in the first three games. But it ended with back-to-back losses, in which San Jose was outscored a combined 9-3.

“That’s a game we needed to get at least a point,” Couture told the San Jose Mercury News.

“We kind of let that one slip away. Those goals that we gave up, they were very preventable. It’s not like they were making great plays — we were giving them their chances.”

Thornton’s 1,200th point helps Sharks past Devils

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Joe Thornton’s third period, empty net, goal was his 1,200th career NHL point – it was the insurance marker as the San Jose Sharks doubled up the New Jersey Devils 4-2 Saturday night.

Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau had the other Sharks goals while Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri scored for New Jersey.

Antti Neimi made 35 saves for his third win in as many starts.

Cory Schneider made 28 saves in the loss.

With his goal, Thornton becomes just the 46th player ever to reach the 1,200 point plateau.

‘Not our party’ – Sharks plan to skip Kings’ banner ceremony


When you give up a 3-0 series lead against hated rivals, you’re bound to hear about it over and over again.

The San Jose Sharks are pretty much certain to absorb questions and barbs about their first-round collapse against the Los Angeles Kings well beyond the point of sickness. There is one painful ritual the Sharks will opt to skip, however; San Jose will stay in the visitors locker room while the Kings raise their 2014 Stanley Cup banner, according to the Mercury News’ David Pollak.

“It’s not our party, it’s theirs,” Head coach Todd McLellan said.

That’s … probably for the best.

That said, while cameras won’t capture their awkward on-ice reactions to a ceremony that will likely pour salt in still-fresh wounds, San Jose won’t be able to avoid memories of a series that slipped away. CSNBayArea.com depicts what’s likely to be a repetitive stream of recollections regarding the Sharks’ agonizing defeat and the very awkward offseason that followed:

Wednesday won’t be the last time the Sharks are reminded of what happened, as the NHL has firmly recognized that their rivalry with Los Angeles is one of the best going right now. A behind-the-scenes reality show will lead into the Sharks-Kings outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 21, and all five meetings between the clubs will be broadcast nationally in the United States.

Even NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press conference last Thursday that the Sharks and Kings meeting on opening night in front of a national audience was no accident.

Naturally, the Sharks are putting a “make the best of it” spin on the situation, and it’s not as if there’s zero precedent to a team bouncing back from such a crushing failure. The Boston Bruins memorably bounced back from coughing up a 3-0 series lead against Philadelphia in 2010 to win the 2011 Stanley Cup.

It’s obviously easier said than done, but it sounds like the Sharks are eager to prove that the Kings didn’t break their spirits.

“You just have to go out and prove it,” Logan Couture told CSNBayArea.com. “There’s nothing you can sit here and say. Your actions speak louder than words and we just have to go out and prove people wrong.”

Here’s some more from Joe Pavelski:

Sharks’ McLellan: Couture isn’t carrying ‘baggage’ after difficult last season


A nagging hand injury that required surgery mid-season, being left off Canada’s gold-medal winning Olympic hockey team and a devastating team loss in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

There were plenty of difficult times – individually and on a team basis – for San Jose Sharks’ forward Logan Couture during the 2013-14 season.

It began to unravel somewhat in January for the 25-year-old Couture, who scored 23 goals and 54 points but only appeared in 65 regular season games.

News of the hand injury came on the eve of Canada’s Olympic hockey team announcement. He wasn’t named to the team, which he felt he should’ve been. And the season came to a bitter end when the Sharks coughed up a 3-0 series lead and lost in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings.

Couture, obviously very disappointed with the way the season ended, seems to have moved on, according to his head coach in San Jose, Todd McLellan.

“It piled on, but I don’t think he is carrying that baggage with him at all at this point. I haven’t sensed it,” McLellan told CSN Bay Area.

“He hasn’t expressed to me at all that that’s the case. We look at a pretty refreshed young man that’s ready to play.”