Tomas Hertl

Yes, Bryan Lerg will play for the Sharks


As if the San Jose Sharks hadn’t been criticized enough this season, they got another dose of disapproval last night when AHL call-up Bryan Lerg was made a late healthy scratch for their game against Dallas.

Lerg is 29 and has never played an NHL game. Not surprisingly, he was overjoyed when told he finally would.

“It’s a dream come true and I’ve been waiting a long, long time for it,” he said Monday morning, per the Mercury News.

So when he wasn’t in the lineup because Tomas Hertl (ill) was well enough to play…

The good news is that Lerg has not been sent back down and should make his NHL debut in one of the Sharks’ remaining two games, Thursday in Edmonton or Saturday in Los Angeles.

The bad news is that the Sharks were officially eliminated from playoff contention yesterday.

Preds descent continues as Sharks’ Niemi earns 35-save shutout


After being one of the league’s top teams for most of the season, the Nashville Predators seem to be falling apart in the 11th hour. Their latest setback came in the form of a 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi stopped all 35 Predators shots to earn his fifth shutout of the season. San Jose has gone 4-1 this month and Niemi has played a significant part in that with a 1.48 GAA and .956 save percentage in March.

Pekka Rinne was solid between the Predators’ pipes, but Tomas Hertl found the back of the net with the man advantage late in the second period to break the scoreless tie.

Tommy Wingels scored an empty-net goal to make it 2-0 with less than a minute left in regulation.

Between Winnipeg losing and Los Angeles winning tonight, the Sharks are now three points behind in the battle for the second Wild Card spot. Their journey to the playoffs is about to get even more challenging though as they’ll face Chicago on Saturday before beginning a seven-game road trip.

Nashville has now lost seven of its last eight games and the one exception was an overtime victory against the lowly Arizona Coyotes. Thanks to St. Louis’ victory tonight, Nashville is no longer in control of the Central Division’s top seed. Instead, if the playoffs were to start today, the slumping Predators would be up against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.

As is the case with San Jose, the Predators schedule isn’t going to get any easier in the near future. They’ll complete their road trip with games against Los Angeles and Anaheim on Saturday and Sunday respectively before hosting the red hot Minnesota Wild Tuesday night.

The Sharks are shaking up their lines


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

‘Inconsistent’ Sharks get Wingels back versus Flames


It’s not all bad injury news for the San Jose Sharks. While they won’t have d-man Marc-Edouard Vlasic tonight against the Flames, at least key forward Tommy Wingels will be back.

Wingels has been activated from injured reserve after missing seven games with a broken hand. Versus Calgary, he’s expected to skate on the right side of a line with Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney.

The Sharks, perhaps the most inconsistent team in the NHL this season, lost another winnable game Saturday at home to Carolina — just the latest defeat to a team that won’t be participating in the playoffs this spring.

Tonight, not only will the Sharks be looking for redemption for Saturday’s effort, they’ll be trying to avenge last week’s 3-1 loss to the Flames in Calgary.

“We’re an inconsistent team this year. We need to fix that going forward,” forward Logan Couture said, per CSN Bay Area.

“We’ve got a stretch run here. We’re going to need to win a lot of games to get into the playoffs.”

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign with a doubleheader tonight. The second half will start at 10:30 p.m. ET with the San Jose Sharks hosting the Anaheim Ducks at the SAP Center. In addition to NBCSN, you can watch it online.

The Ducks have won six straight games and are on track to claim the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time. One thing they haven’t been able to do so is regularly get the better of the Sharks. In four meetings this season, San Jose has earned three victories and has outscored Anaheim 15-8.

Given how strong a team the Ducks have, already having the season series against them locked is a big accomplishment for San Jose, but it hasn’t been enough. Although the Sharks are in a playoff position right now, they only have a two-point cushion.

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“We’re in a dog fight. That’s the best way of putting it,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area.

He added, “We’re a middle-of-the-pack team right now. Until we declare ourselves any different, and that’s through play and wins, that’s what we are. We have to take steps forward to overcome that.”

The Sharks mediocrity this season stems from their inconsistency. In their first game back from the All-Star break, they have an opportunity to set a new tone going forward. It can be a new beginning for guys like Tomas Hertl, who dazzled observers when he was healthy during his rookie season, but has endured a rough sophomore campaign with just 17 points in 48 games. It’s also a chance for Patrick Marleau to regroup. He scored at least 30 goals for five straight campaigns (not counting the lockout-shortened season), but has found the back of the net just nine times this season.

The Ducks will naturally counter with the one-two punch of forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. While Anaheim collectively hasn’t had much success against San Jose this season, that duo has remained very effective and will likely make life difficult again for the Sharks.

The Sharks need these two points more than Anaheim, but the Ducks shouldn’t have a difficult time staying motivated as they battle to put themselves in the best possible position going into the playoffs.