Marcus Sorensen

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How Pavelski signing has impacted Sharks, Stars

It’s going to be a big night in San Jose on Saturday as former captain Joe Pavelski will make his first return to the Shark Tank as a visiting player.

Pavelski and the Stars are rolling in on a six-game winning streak and have been one of the league’s best teams since a 1-7-1 start had them buried in the Western Conference standings.

The Sharks, meanwhile, have never really been able to get on track this season and are now in desperation mode as they look to salvage what has quickly become a lost and wasted season. They are going to need to do a complete 180 in the second half just to have even a fighting chance of making the playoffs.

With Pavelski set to make his return, let’s take a quick look how his departure from San Jose has impacted both teams so far this season.

The Sharks never replaced Pavelski’s production

Very little has gone right for the Sharks this season. The goaltending has been bad again, Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns have rapidly aged, a lot of forwards have taken a step back, and now Logan Couture is sidelined for weeks with an ankle injury.

They also had 38 goals from last year’s team walk out the door when Pavelski signed his three-year contract with the Stars. Even if you assumed (correctly, as it turns out) that Pavelski was going to regress from that number, that goal production from a year ago was still a significant part of the Sharks’ success. He was the leading goal-scorer on the second-highest scoring team in the league, and all of that production just suddenly disappeared. Add in the free agency departure of another underrated forward, Joonas Donskoi, and the Sharks lost nearly 20 percent of their goal total from last year’s team. The only meaningful addition they brought in from outside the organization was a reunion with 40-year-old Patrick Marleau four games into the season. That was never going to be enough. And it hasn’t been.

The Sharks were hoping that at least some of that production could be replaced from within with bigger roles for some of their young players, but it just hasn’t happened. At the halfway point of the season Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, Marcus Sorensen, and even All-Star Tomas Hertl are all on pace for less production this season. The result is a team that is currently the sixth-lowest scoring team in the league (2.65 goals per game).

Maybe the Sharks were right to not match (or exceed) Pavelski’s offer from Dallas. Maybe it would have turned out to be another big contract for an aging, declining player on a team that now seems to have a few of them.

But those goals last year still happened and still need replaced. The Sharks not only lost them, they never found a way to replace them.

Pavelski’s impact with the Stars

Pavelski’s addition in Dallas was significant because he filled their biggest need — scoring depth.

The 2018-19 Stars were one of the most top-heavy teams in the league offensively (and the most top-heavy playoff team), relying almost entirely on Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov to carry the offense. They were so top-heavy that no other forward on the team scored more than 30 points over the full season. Finding someone that could provide a real secondary scoring threat was a must.

That is where Pavelski came in.

While no one should have expected a 35-year-old Pavelski to make a run at the 40-goal mark again, he at least provided some depth that did not previously exist. Whether or not he has provided that depends on how you want to look at it. From a raw numbers perspective, his production is probably viewed as a disappointment. He enters Saturday’s game with only eight goals and 18 total points in 44 games.

As down as those numbers are, it is important to keep in mind that is STILL better than what the Stars were getting a year ago from their depth players. Keep in mind, only four Stars forwards scored more than eight goals during the entire 2018-19 season. Pavelski’s numbers also include a brutal 13-game stretch to start the season where he was virtually invisible offensively. He has been been better since.

Once he started chipping in more offense, the wins followed.

Any intangible impact?

Pavelski has always been held in high regard as a leader, and both teams will probably have a reason to argue on behalf of that. San Jose could easily argue his departure has left a hole in their room. The Stars could argue they needed his sort of veteran presence. Sharks beat writer Kevin Kurz touched on this a little bit in his lead-up for Saturday’s game for The Athletic.

There very well could be something to that. But in the end it’s probably a lot more black-and-white than that.

The Stars were a good team last season without Pavelski and are a good team again this season with him. They are winning with a nearly identical recipe — good defense, great goaltending, offense when and where they can get it.

The Sharks were a good team with Pavelski that also had a huge flaw. They never fixed that flaw, then added to it by losing 52 goals from their lineup with almost none coming back in.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

 

WATCH LIVE: Golden Knights, Sharks renew their rivalry

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Wednesday’s matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks. Coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Golden Knights were defeated by the Sharks in OT of Game 7 in Round 1 last April after a controversial major penalty was called on Vegas’ Cody Eakin for a cross-check to Joe Pavelski in the third period with the Knights leading 3-0. San Jose scored four times on the man-advantage, while Vegas tallied a goal late to force overtime. Barclay Goodrow won it for San Jose in OT and secured one of the most improbable comebacks in postseason history, leading the Sharks into Round 2.

On Tuesday, Sharks forward Evander Kane was suspended three games for physical abuse of an official, stemming from an altercation with Vegas’ Deryk Engelland in San Jose’s final preseason game. Kane swung his stick at Engelland in response to a cross-check, but got a piece of the ref in the process. Then, the ref grabbed Kane and both fell to the ice. Kane appeared to shove the ref while getting back to his feet.

“I get kicked out of the game for getting jumped from behind by a referee,” said Kane. “I’ve never seen a ref take five strides. If you look at his face, he’s getting all this power and he’s trying to drive me into the ice, which is what he did. That’s unbelievable. Talk about abuse of an official? How about abuse of a player? It’s an absolute joke.”

The Sharks and Knights open the season with a home and home series. They open the season Wednesday in Vegas, before meeting again on Friday in San Jose. Vegas is 5-1-2 all-time against San Jose in the regular season. They’ve split their only two playoff meetings.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

WHAT: San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights
WHERE: T-Mobile Arena
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Sharks-Golden Knights stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

SHARKS
Timo MeierLogan Couture – Danil Yurtaikin
Lean Bergmann – Tomas HertlLukas Radil
Marcus SorensenJoe ThorntonKevin Labanc
Melker Karlsson – Barclay Goodrow – Dylan Gambrell

Marc-Edouard VlasicBrent Burns
Brenden DillonDalton Prout
Mario Ferraro – Tim Heed

Starting goalie: Martin Jones

GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonReilly Smith
Max PaciorettyCody GlassMark Stone
Brandon PirriPaul StastnyValentin Zykov
William CarrierTomas NosekRyan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt
Jon MerrillShea Theodore
Nick Holden – Deryk Engelland

Starting goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury

Brendan Burke and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will have the call of Sharks-Golden Knights from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Pavelski joins Karlsson, Hertl as Sharks missing Game 6

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It was already clear that the San Jose Sharks would face the St. Louis Blues without Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl. Now it’s confirmed that they’ll try to stave off elimination without their captain.

Joe Pavelski didn’t participate in warm-ups for Game 6 on Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live Stream), so it’s clear that he’ll be out, too.

With those three out, three Sharks draw into the lineup: forwards Dylan Gambrell and Marcus Sorensen, along with defenseman Tim Heed.

Here’s how the lines look:

No doubt about it, the Sharks are in an extremely tough spot. Really, they would have been even if they had Karlsson, Hertl, and Pavelski, as they’re hoping to win Game 6 on the road against a sharp Blues team. But these circumstances make matters even worse.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The Blues scored a 1-0 goal about 90 seconds into Game 6, so the hits keep coming for San Jose.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Wraparound: Can Thornton keep rolling?

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

You’ve probably heard by now that Game 3 of the Western Conference Final between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues ended in controversial fashion, so you can understand why some of the in-game stuff has been overshadowed over the last couple of days. One of those standout performances came from slumping center Joe Thornton. Can he keep it going in Game 4? (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN; live stream)

Thornton scored two goals in the game and he also added an assist on Logan Couture‘s game-tying goal late in regulation. Not bad for a guy who had just one point in his previous eight games.

“This guy’s one of the greatest players of all time,” head coach Pete DeBoer said after Game 3. “I know he wasn’t happy with his last game. And that’s the response you get from a Hall of Fame player. We wouldn’t have a chance to win without him. The character, the response, the leadership.”

The Sharks managed to get to the Western Conference Final by leaning on top players like Logan Couture, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Brent Burns, but getting added production from their third line could help propel them to the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.

DeBoer made a subtle change to Thornton’s line heading into Game 3, as he replaced Marcus Sorensen with Melker Karlsson. The line, which was made up of Thornton, Karlsson and Kevin Labanc controlled over 60 percent of the shot attempts when they were on the ice and they created two goals. They have had 60 percent of the scoring chances when they were on the ice (all stats via Natural Stat Trick).

Getting continued production from that line may allow the Sharks to get a stranglehold on this series.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

THURSDAY’S SCOREBOARD
Bruins 4, Hurricanes 0 (Bruins win series 4-0)
The Buzzer has more on Thursday’s action

MORE:
• Conference Finals schedule, TV info
PHT Conference Finals predictions

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

The Wraparound: Sharks ‘need everyone’ to start chipping in

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

The Western Conference Final between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues is tied at 1-1 heading into Game 3 tonight (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). Despite not getting much production from their depth players, the Sharks found a way to split the first two games.

San Jose has scored eight goals in four games (six in Game 1, two in Game 2). Of those eight goals, seven have come from players on their top two lines. Here’s the breakdown: Logan Couture has scored half the goals, while Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier have also found the back of the net. Kevin Labanc is the only player in the bottom-six that has found a way to chip in through two games.

“In my opinion, that wasn’t anywhere near what we’re capable of, and I don’t think we’ve played up to our capabilities in a while now,” Couture said after Game 2. “… And it’s discouraging, it’s frustrating, because we’re going to need everyone here if we’re going to beat these guys, because they’re a very good hockey team.”

It’s difficult for any team to expect their fourth line to chip in regularly when it comes to offense. Barclay Goodrow, Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson just don’t have it in them so whatever you get from them in almost like a bonus. Where they need more offensive production is from the third line which is made up of Joe Thornton, Marcus Sorensen and Labanc.

Thornton and Labanc have just one point in their last eight contests, and Sorensen has no points in his last seven outings. That likely won’t be enough to get by the Blues (unless Couture continues carrying the team on his back). It also wouldn’t hurt to get some offense from Evander Kane, who has two assists in his last seven contests.

“We didn’t have enough participants across the board,” head coach Pete DoBoer said when asked about his third line’s lack of production. “I thought Logan Couture was pretty good, a couple other guys. But it’s tough to win this time of year if you don’t have everybody going, and I thought they got contributions from everybody like we did [in Game 1]. So we’ve been here before, and we know how to handle this.”

Can they get going in Game 3?

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

TUESDAY’S SCOREBOARD
Bruins 2, Hurricanes 1

The Buzzer has more on Tuesday’s action

MORE:
• Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• PHT roundtable
• Hurricanes/Bruins series preview
• PHT Conference Finals predictions

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.