Tag: San Jose Sharks

Michal Neuvirth

Agent: No extension talks between Sabres and Neuvirth


There have been no discussions for a new contract between Buffalo and pending UFA goalie Michal Neuvirth, player agent Patrick Stefan told PHT on Friday.

Neuvirth, 26, assumed the Sabres’ No. 1 gig following Jhonas Enroth’s trade to Dallas and has been the goalie of record ever since. Over that stretch, the Czech netminder — who’s in the last of a two-year, $5 million deal — has played very well, allowing just five goals on 103 shots (.951 save percentage) while earning high praise from onlookers:

Neuvirth’s numbers on the year remain unimpressive — 4-15-2, .310 GAA, .913 save percentage — though his playing opportunities were limited earlier in the year with Enroth in the fold.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Sabres GM Tim Murray opts to begin negotiations, as the current state of Buffalo’s goaltending behind Neuvirth and Anders Lindback (another pending UFA) is murky. Matt Hackett, 24, and Nathan Lieuwen, 23, could still turn into NHL-caliber netminders, but they’re not there yet; the club’s three most recent draftees (Linus Ullmark, Cal Petersen, Jonas Johansson) don’t project to be ready anytime soon.

As for heading to free agency… Neuvirth would be one of the youngest and most intriguing UFAs on the market, and could probably garner more interest than, say, Antti Niemi or Viktor Fasth. Problem is, this projects to be a buyer’s market for goalies and there aren’t many starting opportunities available.

With Kings surging, Sharks get much-needed win over Stars

Andrew Desjardins, Matt IRwin, Chris Tierney, Tomas Hertl
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Last year the Los Angeles Kings came back to eliminate the San Jose Sharks from the first round of the playoffs. Will this latest Kings surge cause the Sharks to start their offseason even earlier in 2015? That’s a real possibility, although the Sharks took the first step towards preventing that with their 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars tonight.

Even if we ignored the fact that the Kings won their last six games and claimed the second Wild Card spot from San Jose on Wednesday in the process, this would still be a critical win for the Sharks. The Dallas Stars are another threat in the battle for a postseason berth and San Jose has struggled lately with just two wins in its last nine contests coming into tonight’s game.

Under that backdrop, San Jose came out strong tonight. Marc-Edouard Vlasic established the Sharks’ lead just 3:24 minutes into the contest and from there they maintained their edge all game. Although the Dallas Stars did make things interesting when Erik Cole found the back of the net with 2:16 remaining in regulation time:

Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels each capitalized on the Stars’ empty net within 11 seconds of each other to squash Dallas’ hopes.

San Jose has regained possession of the second Wild Card spot with a two-point cushion, but the Sharks’ position is still far from ideal as they’ve played in three more games than Los Angeles.

They’ll have a chance to build upon that tenuous edge on Saturday though when the Sharks host Los Angeles in an outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium.


Back from the brink, Kings still ‘have a lot of work left to do’

Goalie nods: Canadian Olympians square off as Price faces Luongo in Montreal

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 9 - Finland v Canada
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A couple of Olympic gold-medal winners will be between the pipes tonight in Montreal, where the Canadiens’ Carey Price will be staring down the Bell Centre ice at the Panthers’ Roberto Luongo.

Both Canadian netminders are enjoying excellent seasons. Price is a serious Hart Trophy candidate, while Luongo has helped keep Florida in the playoff race with a .920 save percentage in 46 appearances.

With a win, the Panthers would move to within one point of the Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the East.

So let’s hear those “Go Habs Go” chants, Boston sports fans!


Jaroslav Halak will look to rebound from a shaky performance versus the Rangers when the Islanders host the Predators, who are likely to go with Pekka Rinne.

Cam Talbot for the Rangers versus Ryan Miller for the Canucks.

Curtis McElhinney for the Blue Jackets versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.

Ondrej Pavelec will see his first action in a week when the Jets visit Washington to take on Braden Holtby and the Capitals.

Michal Neuvirth for the Sabres versus Ray Emery for the Flyers.

Antti Niemi for the Sharks versus Kari Lehtonen (likely) for the Stars.

The Sharks are shaking up their lines

Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton

With just two wins in their last nine, the San Jose Sharks are shaking up their lines for tonight’s game in Dallas.

From CSN Bay Area:

Against the Stars, indications are Logan Couture will center Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels on the (top?) line, while Joe Thornton skates between Patrick Marleau and Melker Karlsson on another line. Tyler Kennedy will get bumped up to a third line role with center James Sheppard and Matt Nieto, while rookie Chris Tierney will be between Tomas Hertl and Andrew Desjardins on the fourth line.

Couture has spent most of the season skating with Marleau, while Thornton has most often been with Pavelski.

Of the four, it’s Marleau the Sharks could use more from. The 35-year-old has just 11 goals in 59 games. He finished last season with 33 goals.

Five-on-five, Marleau and Thornton haven’t skated regularly together since 2011-12.

Related: Sharks risking ‘national embarrassment’ in outdoor game: columnist

McLellan: Sharks are ‘better led’ without a captain, which somehow isn’t a knock on Thornton

Todd McLellan, Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl, Brent Burns

You try and figure out the Sharks.

On Wednesday, head coach Todd McLellan had an, ahem, interesting take on his club’s leadership-by-committee approach, saying it was in a better position this year than last, when Joe Thornton served as team captain.

“The situation of removing the ‘C’ from certain individuals isn’t an ideal one, but what we’ve got is what we wanted,” McLellan told Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “We have different people stepping up. We have leadership by committee.

“In fact, this year I believe we’re better led than we were last year without having a ‘C’ on. And that’s not an indictment on Joe Thornton by any means.”

Two things:

1) It’s kind of an indictment.

2) Are the Sharks really better led?

If there’s been one constant from the Bay Area this season, it’s the team identity question. Following the captaincy stripping and GM Doug Wilson’s assertion this was a “tomorrow team,” McLellan has repeatedly bemoaned that the Sharks don’t know what they want to be.

“We have the skill, the ability, the tools to be a consistent team, and we haven’t been. That’s the most frustrating thing,” McLellan told NHL.com recently. “We’ve tried a lot of different things. You can talk about it over a period of days, but you can also look within a game and the consistency hasn’t been as strong as it needs to be.

“We can be world beaters for one period, not so good for the next period. We’re all over the map too much, and inconsistent teams don’t win in the end.”

While too much is probably made of captaincy in hockey, the fact remains that teams often take their cues from the leadership group. And even if you don’t subscribe to that theory, it’s hard to argue that having a captain, then stripping him of it, then failing to name a replacement while the ex-captain still serves in a quasi-leadership role…yeah, that could lead to some issues.

In today’s interview with Fan 590, McLellan went down the identity road again.

“Right now we haven’t played well enough to win even 50 percent of our games,” he explained. “There’s nights where we’ve been close and haven’t won, and there’s other nights where we haven’t been close and weren’t happy at all.

“We need to make a decision as a group what we are. I wouldn’t call it an identity crisis, but we need to figure out how hard and how far we want to go to win games.”

It’s probably worth noting that McLellan is asking his team to figure itself out with 23 games remaining in the regular season. We’re not talking about midseason doldrums here — this is an issue that started in October, remains a problem today, and might actually be getting worse. The Sharks have gone 2-4-2 in February while embroiled in a playoff chase, fully aware they’re in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2003.

So how, exactly, is this team being better led?

The answer: It’s probably not. This is just the latest in a series of mixed messages from the Sharks, which could be the byproduct of a rumored rift between McLellan and Wilson. Generally speaking, when coach and GM aren’t on the same page — as was reported back in January — it tends to come out eventually, often times through the media.

Related: ‘Yes, we’re a playoff team’