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Posted On Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 4:33 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

San Jose holds special place in Etem's heart

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Growing up in the Southern California city of Long Beach, Anaheim Ducks rookie forward Emerson Etem played a junior hockey tournament in San Jose and had a chance to watch the Sharks play the Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion.

Tuesday night, Etem will make his NHL debut at the Shark Tank when Anaheim faces San Jose.

"I grew up watching the Sharks and all the rest of the California teams," Etem said after Anaheim's morning skate. "I went to a Minnesota Wild-San Jose game, maybe in the early 2000s, just on a hockey trip, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I'm finally here and I'm going to be playing in the same building where I watched back in the day. It's just going to be exciting."

Etem said he'll skate on the fourth line with Rickard Rakell and Kyle Palmieri.

"A good line," he said. "Hopefully we build some chemistry early on. We felt good out there today. It's going to be exciting."

Anaheim selected Etem with the 29th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. Last season he had 107 points in 65 games for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, scoring 61 goals and adding 46 assists. This season he had 12 goals and two assists in 40 games for the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who talked to reporters before Etem revealed he would be in the lineup, said his rookie had "a great camp" this year.

"He was the last cut," Boudreau said. "With a lot of those guys in five days, they were pretty close together, so we're just rotating so they keep playing. If he does play tonight, what you're going to see is a really strong skater and an NHL body. He's got a man's body for a 20-year-old (6-foot-1, 210 pounds). I thought that was really evident in training camp. He's probably very raw as far as a lot of things go, like all young guys are experience-wise, but he's definitely got all the attributes to be a good NHL player in the future."

Etem said he played in a few NHL preseason games last season, including one at San Jose.

"Obviously the NHL regular-season pace is a huge notch above that," said Etem, who hopes to have his parents make the trip from Southern California for Tuesday night's game. "I got a little bit of experience, and I played in this barn last year in an exhibition game. I know a little bit about what it's all about. I just have to go out there and make sure I play a simple game, take it all in and enjoy the moment. Work hard and take advantage of the opportunity I'm given."

Here's how the lineups could look as the Sharks face the Ducks at HP Pavilion:


Matt Beleskey - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Teemu Selanne

Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Daniel Winnik

Kyle Palmieri - Rickard Rakell - Emerson Etem

Sheldon Souray - Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler - Bryan Allen

Luca Sbisa - Toni Lydman

Jonas Hiller

Viktor Fasth

Injuries: None

Scratches: Devante Smith-Pelly, Sami Vatanen, Brad Staubitz


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Martin Havlat - Logan Couture - Ryane Clowe

Tommy Wingels - Michal Handzus - TJ Galiardi

Andrew Desjardins - Scott Gomez - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Brent Burns, Jason Demers

Scratched: James Sheppard, Nick Petrecki, Frazer McLaren

Boyle, who's battling a cold, missed the morning skate, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he'll definitely be in the lineup. Demers (wrist) and Burns (lower body) took part in the skate. McLellan said Demers is getting very close to being healthy enough to play. Asked if he was encouraged by his progress, Burns said, "I wouldn't use that word. ... I'm doing everything I can. I'm working."

Posted On Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 3:51 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sharks aim to stay perfect with Canucks in town

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks will put their perfect record on the line Sunday night at HP Pavilion against the Vancouver Canucks, a team that has had their number lately.

The Canucks have won four straight regular-season games at HP, which has typically been tough on visiting teams. Vancouver went 3-0-1 in their series against the Sharks last season and 24-12-5 overall on the road, the best road record in the Western Conference. The Canucks have 71 road wins dating to the start of the 2008-09 season, the most in the NHL.

"They're a good road team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Sunday morning after a brief team meeting. "They're a veteran group. They're well prepared every night. Their special teams are excellent. I think as we've seen so far this year in most games, specialty teams have won or lost it for a lot of teams. ... Special teams play a big role, and they've always been very, very good in that area."

Despite the Canucks four-game streak at HP, Vancouver center Maxim Lapierre said they're expecting a tough test tonight.

"It's a different year. They're playing really good," Lapierre said of the Sharks. "I think we're ready to go when we play these guys. We know how good they are, and we can't make too many mistakes out there. So I think guys are really focused."

Lapierre said there's no secret formula for the Canucks' success on the road.

"I think we just go out there and try to play the right way," he said. "We don't want to go and put on a show. We just play in the system and play physical. This is how we win some games on the road."

Lapierre, who missed practice Saturday to rest his sore groin, was one of just a handful of Canucks who were on the ice for an optional skate. He said he's good to go for tonight's game even though he's not pain-free.

"I tried to rest it," Lapierre said. "As we know, the schedule is pretty tight. I'll battle through in the games, but it's pretty painful. I'll be ready for tonight."

Sharks center Scott Gomez, who signed with the team on Thursday, will be in the lineup for the second straight game, centering the fourth line.

Gomez said his body felt "good" and he was ready to get back on the ice tonight.

"We all know what the schedule's going to be like," Gomez said. "Talking to guys from the past, it actually sometimes even works to your advantage. You feel good on the ice and you just want to get back out there again. My answer might be different after tonight. We've had a long rest. It's definitely a sprint this year. We just want to keep going this year."

McLellan said playing back-to-back games for the first time this season will be "a test" for Gomez and the entire team.

"The other night when we played Phoenix, they played back-to-back. I thought you could see the team peter out a little bit at the end," McLellan said. "All teams are going to go through that, so this is our first test with that.

"Scotty had a good game. I think 15 minutes of ice time, so that was a good start for him. He accepted his role. We'll just continue to grow our team, and he has to be a part of it and be responsible for what he's given."

Defenseman Brad Stuart, in his second stint with the Sharks, played a huge role in a 4-0 win Saturday over Colorado. His big first-period hit on Gabriel Landeskog jump-started the Sharks, who grabbed a 2-0 lead on a pair of Patrick Marleau power play goals.

According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Stuart will not face supplementary discipline from the league for his hit.

"I haven't heard anything from anybody," Stuart said. "I'm assuming that's the way it will remain. At the time I thought it was a good hit. I saw it a couple times last night and still thought that."

Here's how the lineups could look Sunday when the San Jose Sharks play the Vancouver Canucks at HP Pavilion:


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Martin Havlat - Logan Couture - Ryane Clowe

Tommy Wingels - Michal Handzus - TJ Galiardi

Andrew Desjardins - Scott Gomez - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Brent Burns, Jason Demers

Scratched: James Sheppard, Nick Petrecki, Frazer McLaren


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Zack Kassian

Chris Higgins - Alexandre Burrows - Jannik Hansen

Mason Raymond - Jordan Schroeder - Dale Weise

Andrew Ebbett - Maxim Lapierre - Aaron Volpatti

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa

Jason Garrison - Alexander Edler

Keith Ballard - Christopher Tanev

Cory Schneider

Roberto Luongo

Injured: Ryan Kesler, David Booth

Scratched: Andrew Alberts, Manny Malhotra, Cam Barker

Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 4:57 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Avalanche captain Landeskog returns after hit

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog left Saturday's game against the San Jose Sharks near the end of the first period but returned to the ice in the second.

Landeskog seemed to have suffered a lower-body injury and went to the dressing room with 4:20 to go in the first period after he took a hit from Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart.

Landeskog immediately left the game and appeared to be favoring his left leg as he limped toward the dressing room.

Moments after Stuart's hit, a fight erupted between him and Colorado defenseman Ryan O'Byrne. Stuart received a five-minute fighting major, and O'Byrne, the instigator, received a total of 19 penalty minutes.

San Jose scored twice after the fight to take a 2-0 lead.

Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 4:28 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sharks understand importance of focus at home

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks played spoilers on their two-game road trip, ruining home openers for the Calgary Flames then Edmonton Oilers.

Consider those games as two red-flag warnings as the Sharks approach their home opener tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion. As the Sharks learned first-hand, the emotions and distractions surrounding home openers can make it tough on the home teams.

"I don't think the home teams have done well," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said after his team's morning skate at HP. "We have to be aware of that. Once the ceremonies are over, we have to be focused."

Thornton said he expects the scene at HP tonight to be "pretty crazy" and that the key for the Sharks will be to keep their emotions in check.

San Jose coach Todd McLellan said the fact he has a mature group of players, most of whom have been through plenty of home openers, should help the Sharks cope with an emotional night.

"I'd like to think we'll be prepared," McLellan said.

After last season, the Sharks certainly won't look past Phoenix. The Coyotes won the season series 4-1-1 and captured the Pacific Division crown, ending San Jose's four-year reign.

Phoenix goalie Mike Smith had three shutouts against San Jose last season, but it's likely the Sharks won't have to face him tonight. Smith has a lower-body injury that forced him to leave the Coyotes' 5-1 victory Wednesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets midway through the first period. Backup Jason LaBarbera took over against Columbus and will likely start tonight.

McClellan said Smith's "puck handling skills are so good" it's like facing "three defensemen instead of two." If LaBarbera starts, the Sharks won't have to be as concerned about "puck placement," McClellan added.

Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 4:25 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Coyotes

Here are how the lineups could look tonight when the San Jose Sharks face the Phoenix Coyotes:


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Martin Havlat - Logan Couture - Ryane Clowe

Tommy Wingels - Michal Handzus - TJ Galiardi

James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart

Matthew Irwin - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss

Scott Gomez, who signed a one-year free agent contract Wednesday with the Sharks, won't suit up tonight. Coach Todd McClellan said he wants Gomez to have at least one more practice with his new team before he plays and that there's a chance he could make his debut Saturday against Colorado.

"I'm not here to ruffle feathers," Gomez said. "I'm part of this group now. When you get put in, you get put in."

Fourth-line forward Frazer McLaren was in the lineup for the season-opener against Calgary, but Sheppard took his spot against Edmonton. McLellan said he had yet to decide which one will play tonight.


Steve Sullivan - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Mikkel Boedker - Matthew Lombardi - Radim Vrbata

Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - David Moss

Paul Bissonnette - Alexandre Bolduc - Kyle Chipchura

Zbynek Michalek - Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris

Michael Stone - David Schlemko

Jason LaBarbera

Chad Johnson

After playing Wednesday night, Phoenix didn't have a morning skate in San Jose, although defenseman Rostislav Klesla and forward Martin Hanzal were on the ice. Both missed Wednesday's game with lower body injuries and are day-to-day. After Wednesday's game, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said the team would bring up Johnson from Portland of the AHL as an emergency call-up with Mike Smith nursing a lower-body injury.

Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 5:22 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - Blues vs. Sharks series blog

White lending playoff expertise to Sharks' blue line

SAN JOSE -- When the San Jose Sharks made the playoffs this year, it was like a homecoming for defenseman Colin White, a free-agent pickup.

White made the playoffs his first 10 NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils before missing out last season. He won the Stanley Cup in 2000 with New Jersey as a rookie and again in 2003. In 2001, the Devils reached the Stanley Cup Final but lost in seven games to Colorado.

Overall, White has played in 112 NHL playoff games.

"I missed the playoffs last year for the first time in my career, so it's nice to be back in the playoffs this year," White said Thursday morning after the Sharks' optional skate at HP Pavilion. "It's just great to be back in this atmosphere where it's fun."

White was a healthy scratch the first two games of San Jose's series against St. Louis in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, but he was in the lineup for Game 3 on Monday night and scored his third career playoff goal during the Sharks' 4-3 loss.

White will likely be in the lineup again Thursday night for Game 4 at HP Pavilion, paired with Justin Braun. In such a pivotal game, the Sharks can use White's wealth of experience in pressure situations.

"It's been great all year," Braun said. "We've had good chemistry for most of the year, and I feel like that's carried over. We're usually on the same page for most plays, and if something doesn't go right, we talk about it. He stays calm and helps me stay calm throughout the game. We're down in the series, but he keeps the boys positive."

White said he hasn't addressed the team during the playoffs, but he has passed along plenty of stories during the season about his career, that started at the pinnacle.

"The first year I was on a great team," White said. "I had a very small role on that team, but it's still a role. I think that's the biggest thing I learned that year, was no matter if you were playing 11, 12 minutes a night, it was a very important 11, 12 minutes. I think the next time we won I was playing more minutes, but I realized there were guys still playing 11, 12 minutes that were very important.

"I think over my career that's the biggest thing. Come playoff time you need everybody and everybody's going to get a shot because with injuries and whatnot throughout the playoffs, it takes everybody on a team to win. I think that was the biggest thing I've learned over the years. It takes a commitment by 25 guys, all pulling in the same direction, all believing in the same goal and trusting the guy next to you."


Posted On Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 4:40 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - Blues vs. Sharks series blog

Blues playing with proper edge in San Jose

SAN JOSE -- Ken Hitchcock said there's a simple reason why the St. Louis Blues have gone 3-0 at HP Pavilion this season, beating San Jose twice in the regular season and then in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series on Monday night.

"Scared to death," Hitchcock said Thursday after his team's optional morning skate. "I think fear gets your attention. I think this has been a grave site for a lot of teams for a lot of years. I think you just get to a point where you're so afraid of getting blitzed that you get ready and you play on the edge, and I think we're better when we play like that.

"I think when you have a healthy respect, like our players do for their players, you play on the edge. We play better when we're uncomfortable, and we're uncomfortable in this building. It really gets our attention, and I think our players respond the right way."

The Blues built a 4-1 cushion, then held on for a 4-3 victory Monday night at HP Pavilion, giving them a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4 on Thursday night.

"We've got to win," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We're down 2-1. We need to win this home game. That's the bottom line."

Based on how the Sharks practiced Wednesday, they'll likely insert third-line center Michal Handzus and fourth-line wing Brad Winchester into the lineup in place of Dominic Moore and TJ Galiardi. It's also likely that first-line wing Patrick Marleau will move to center on the second line, swapping places with Logan Couture.

"Potentially," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of those changes. "We've got some options we can use as far as injecting some new people into the lineup as well as shuffling lines around a little bit. We're looking for a little more sustained offensive zone time in 5-on-5 situations, a little more finish when we do get some opportunity, and we'll need that to have any type of success."

Hitchcock said he's had plenty of time to prepare for a new look from San Jose's top lines, with Joe Thornton and Marleau split up.

"I don't know how this is going to work. I don't know if [McLellan's] going to stay with it, but we've had a couple days to prepare for it if that's the way he's going to go," Hitchcock said.

"I think we're going to keep the same 12 forwards in, but don't be too surprised if there's tweaks in the lineup that impact the way we are. I like some of the things we did down the lineup, third and fourth lines, but I think we can even help them a little bit more, so depending on how this thing looks through the first rotation, the players are prepared to make a couple of small adjustments and get ready for it. We already know what we're going to do, and we'll be ready for it."

The Blues have a chance to go up 3-1 and put a hammerlock on the series, which returns to St. Louis for Game 5 on Saturday. Any possibility of the Blues being overconfident probably ended when they gave up two goals in the final three-plus minutes in Game 3.

"We're still in a series here against a very good team and we can't take anything for granted," Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. "For us, this is the most important game of the series. We're going to expect a very desperate game from them. It's a matter for us to respond and handle it and play the way we can."

As important as Game 4 is, McLellan didn't come close to calling it a must-win for the Sharks.

"Well, the last time I checked, you have to win four," he said. "So, I don't know what that means to you guys, but it still means four to me. It would be great to be 2-2. Three-one is better for them, but four is the magic number.

"If there's a team that should know that, it's us. We just went through a seven-game series after being up 3-0," he added, referring to the Sharks' semifinals victory last year over Detroit. "So you can (put) it anyway you want. I still know that the playoffs are about four games, and we're still three away."

Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 7:26 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - Blues vs. Sharks series blog

Sharks won't be only desperate team in Game 4

SAN JOSE - St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said the San Jose Sharks won't have a monopoly on desperation Thursday night in Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series.

The Sharks trail St. Louis 2-1 in the series and desperately want to avoid digging themselves into a 3-1 hole. But Hitchcock said Wednesday that the last thing he or his players want is to let the Sharks pull even and turn this series into a long, brutal battle filled with travel nightmares and little time for rest.

"If this thing goes 2-2 then it's, 'Who's got the best bus and who's got the best plane?' -- and that's not good for either team," Hitchcock said after the Blues' practice at HP Pavilion. "We're looking at this the same way they are. They want this thing going where they could start taking it over and we're looking at it as it gets scary after tomorrow. You're talking long flights, not much sleep, [a game] every other day, and who's got the best plane and who's got the best bus will be a big factor here. So we're looking at it like they are too. It's a big factor.

"I was in a lot of these [series] coming in and out of Dallas and they were not easy series. When it got to Games 5, 6 and 7 they were not easy for players, for coaches, for sleep patterns and they really impacted the next series."

After splitting the first two games in St. Louis, the Blues beat the Sharks 4-3 on Monday night at HP Pavilion. St. Louis took a 4-1 lead early in the third period before the Sharks rallied for two late goals.

'The biggest thing for us is knowing that we could win a playoff game on the road," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "We have a lot of young guys who haven't had that much experience. We know we can win in this barn; we did it in the regular season. But it's a tough place to win in the playoffs."

Hitchcock said he's still not sure when injured goaltender Jaroslav Halak will be healthy enough to play. Halak hasn't played since suffering a lower-body injury early in the second period of Game 2 when Blues defenseman Barret Jackman accidentally knocked him to the ice. Halak skated Tuesday for the first time since being injured but didn't skate or practice Wednesday, and he will miss Game 4. Brian Elliott will make his second straight start.

"We'll keep him working toward getting back at some time," Hitchcock said of Halak, "but right now he's not available so Brian is the guy."

Elliott went 23-10-4 during the regular season with nine shutouts and led the NHL with a 1.56 goals against average and .940 save percentage.

"We've had confidence in him since Day 1," Hitchcock said. "For us it just feels like one guy is playing a few more games than the other one. I think if it lasts, if it ever went where you stayed with the same guy for a month then it would seem different. I think most teams have this scenario going where they just stay with one guy. It's still early in the picture and we're fully expecting Halak to be a player, hopefully."

Hitchcock said that Elliott impressed him earlier in the season by how competitive he was in practice. Now that Elliott is carrying the full load, Hitchcock is trying to rein him in.

"We're constantly having to [do] like we did today -- stop him, kick him off the ice," Hitchcock said. "He has to get in the mindset that the games are everything, less is more, get enough of your practice in and once your reps are done, get off the ice. He's one of those guys that wants to hang out there until the last shot."

Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 6:16 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - Blues vs. Sharks series blog

Sharks feel Blues just as dangerous with Elliott in net

SAN JOSE -- St. Louis Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak missed practice Monday morning with a lower-body injury and, as expected, won't suit up for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks.

Brian Elliott will be in goal for the St. Louis with Jake Allen, a call-up from Peoria of the American Hockey League, on the bench as his backup, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said he doesn't know how long Halak will be sidelined.

"He's out today. He's day-to-day, and we'll just see how he feels tomorrow and see if we're going to get him back in any short period of time. We're not really sure," Hitchcock said. "It gets better quickly, but obviously not enough to skate today."

Halak was injured early in the second period of Game 2 when Blues defenseman Barret Jackman accidently skated into him, knocking him hard to the ice. Elliott took over and completed the Blues' 3-0 shutout.

Both Blues goaltenders put up stellar numbers this season, and both went 2-0 with a shutout against the Sharks in the regular season. Despite having similar stats, Halak and Elliott aren't clones, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

"Elliott's bigger," he said. "I think there's an obvious size difference there. Less experienced. You look at what Halak had done in Montreal. Some of the wins he provided that franchise were incredible, really, but other than that they're both tremendous goaltenders. They know that. I don't think they miss a beat one bit by starting Brian Elliott tonight."

Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said Elliott made some key saves "using his long legs" in Game 2.

"I thought he came in last game and we probably gave him a chance to feel comfortable," Clowe said. "We didn't get much action on him early. Tonight if we can sustain pressure and get some chances -- some second chances more than anything -- early, you're going to score. We got to try to get to him."

Elliott had nine shutouts during the regular season, while Halak had six. Elliott posted a 1.56 goals-against average to 1.97 for Halak.

"We have confidence in both our goalies," Blues defenseman Kris Russell said. "They both play the puck well, they both talk to us very well. I feel as a D corps with those goalies we have a connection there. We've done well talking together and working plays out. We have confidence in both those goalies. That's why we have been successful."
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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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