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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 5:51 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Borowiecki set for NHL debut with Senators

SAN JOSE -- Two days after being called up from Binghamton of the AHL, Ottawa rookie defenseman Mark Borowiecki will make his NHL debut Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks.

Borowiecki got the news Thursday morning before the Senators skated at HP Pavilion.

"The first few strides around the rink I was a little wobbly, but I'm feeling good now," said Borowiecki, the first Ottawa native ever drafted by the Senators. "I'm definitely very excited. It's something you work all your life to get to. It's just nice to get a chance now."

Borowiecki said his father, Tom, mother, Cynthia, and sister, Diana, are flying to San Jose for the game and then will travel to Los Angeles, where the Senators play the Kings on Saturday. His father made the plans before Borowiecki learned that he would be in the lineup against San Jose.

"They made a little holiday of it. So it worked out well, eh?" said Borowiecki, a fifth-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft.

When he was recalled, Borowiecki had 15 points for Binghamton - three goals and 12 assists - tops among defensemen, and led the team with a plus-3 rating. He'll take Matt Carkner's spot in the lineup against San Jose.

"We thought he had a real good season last year when Binghamton won the Calder Cup," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "He was a big part of it. He's had a good training camp with us and exhibition season. He's played real well for them down there. We really want to see him play here in the National Hockey League and give him that opportunity, and we're pretty excited to see him play."

While Borowiecki makes his NHL debut, veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar will play in his 1,100th NHL game Thursday night.

"It's actually amazing," Gonchar said after the morning skate. "I never thought I'd play in the NHL when I was growing up. Back then in Russia, not that many players played in the NHL. The biggest dream to accomplish was to play for the local team. … Then I was drafted, and I started playing in the NHL, and I never dreamed I'd play that long. Playing 1,100 games is something special. Not that many players have done it and especially not that many Russians have done it. It's a good accomplishment for me."

Gonchar, 37, is playing in his 17th NHL season, a fact that also amazes him.

"The thing is the time is flying by," he said. "It seems like I just started playing in the NHL a little while ago - then it's 1,100. Time is flying by, season after season."

Gonchar, who has 24 points this season in 41 games, said he's not sure how many more years he'll play.

"I'm still enjoying the game and I'm having fun," he said. "If I'm going to still have that feeling, I'm going to continue playing."

Thursday night's game will be a homecoming for Senators forward Milan Michalek. The Sharks drafted him with the No. 6 pick in 2003, and he played 317 games for San Jose before being traded to Ottawa on Sept. 12, 2009, as part of the Dany Heatley deal.

"I had some good years here, and I started my career here," Michalek said. "I'm excited to play here. The fans are great here every time. It's going to be a lot of fun tonight."

This will be Michalek's second game at the Shark Tank as a Senator. On Dec. 1, 2009, he had a pair of assists in a 5-2 loss to the Sharks in San Jose. This time he's returning as an NHL All-Star. He has 23 goals, three off his career single-season high set in 2006-07 with San Jose, a team he first played for when he was still a teenager.

"It flies by," Michalek, now 27, said of the time. "I was 18, and I really couldn't speak English. It was tough times, but it was also fun, too, those years. I have great memories."

Michalek said he was "surprised" when the Sharks traded him to Ottawa.

"I didn't see it at all coming. I wasn't disappointed or anything. It's the NHL and trades can happen at any time, and it happens to everybody almost," he said. "So I just took it as another opportunity and wanted to play."

Now, Michalek said, he's happy that's he's rewarding the Senators for their faith in him.

"Yeah, I feel good. They wanted me. It was good for me and I was confident coming there."

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Ottawa Senators at HP Pavilion:


Tommy Wingels - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero

Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell

Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Andrew Murray

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Brent Burns

Jason Demers - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss


Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek

Erik Condra - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Nick Foligno - Zack Smith - Chris Neal

Kaspars Daugavins - Zenon Konopka - Bobby Butler

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar

Chris Phillips - Mark Borowiecki

Craig Anderson

Alex Auld

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 6:08 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames-Sharks

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 6:05 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Flames try to end road woes

SAN JOSE --The Calgary Flames are 10-1-1 in their past 12 home games, but they've struggled on the road, going 8-14-3 with five straight losses. They open a three-game road trip Tuesday night against the Sharks, then play at Los Angeles on Thursday and at Edmonton on Saturday.

"We've been very solid at home but unfortunately our road game hasn't been nearly good enough, but our home record has given us a chance to stay in the mix, to have a chance," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said after Calgary's morning skate at HP Pavilion. "We're going to need to win some road games, so this is an important road trip for us, there's no question.

"We have three games on the road here before the break. We start with one. It really is, just starting with one. San Jose is obviously a good team. They have a lot of energy in this building. We've just got to find ways to play similar to home, but it's easier said than done. Everybody's a little better at home, most teams. It's just kind of narrowing that margin. We need to find ways to win games. So it happens to be tonight. We just focus on all being good."

Calgary coach Brent Sutter's message to his team?

"The biggest thing for us is we want to have a good start," Sutter said. "We want to make sure that what's happened in the past to us on the road, we've got to move on past that. I think Cory (Sarich) said it best. We need to hit the reset button and start over and do how we need to do it on the road. Every game's tough in the National Hockey League, but when you get on the road you've got to really step up.

"There's circumstances and situations that occur that you have no control over, as far as what's going on in the building. The only thing we can control is how we play. To me it's getting our game and playing our game and making sure everyone's being responsible and accountable within their own game and playing within the team concept."

Miikka Kiprusoff will be in goal Tuesday night against the Sharks, his former team, and for all four games before the All-Star Game break, Sutter said.

"Miikka's been outstanding. He's played very well the whole year. He's been stellar for us," Sutter said. "We've had eight or nine games our backups have been able to play, but we felt here going down to the All-Star break, we could probably run it with Kipper.

"We're going to need both guys after that because the games pile up pretty quickly in a short period of time, but from now until the All-Star break we'll go with Kipper. He's been playing very, very well for us."

Calgary defenseman Scott Hannan came off injured reserve Tuesday, and will be in the lineup against San Jose, his former team, Sutter said. Hannan missed the past four games with an upper-body injury.

The Sharks drafted Hannan in the first round in 1997. He played six full seasons and parts of two others with the Sharks before signing with Colorado as a free agent in July 2007.

The Flames recalled defenseman Brett Carson from the AHL's Abbotsford Heat after his second conditioning assignment of the season. A back injury sidelined Carson until Dec. 11, when he made his debut this season. But he played just two games before being sidelined again, this time with a different injury, that was undisclosed.

Carson played seven games during his conditioning assignment, which began Jan. 4.

"It has been tough and frustrating," said Carson, who arrived at HP Pavilion just after the end of the Flames' morning skate. "That's the way it goes sometimes. I do feel better now. Hopefully I can get back in here soon and keep going forward. … Physically I feel good. The body held up good. That's a good sign."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 6:02 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks' Clowe to sit vs. Flames

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks power forward Ryane Clowe will miss Tuesday night's game at HP Pavilion against Calgary because of an injury he suffered Jan. 10 at Minnesota when he was knocked face-first into the boards.

Clowe played the Sharks' next two games at Winnipeg and Columbus while wearing a cage to protect his face. Then on Sunday against Chicago, he played without the cage, saying that it was making it difficult for him to see on the ice.

"Clowie won't play tonight. He's got an upper-body injury, and he's day to day," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after San Jose's morning skate, saying Clowe's injury is related to his face-plant against the Wild.

With Clowe out of his normal spot on the second line, McLellan will have to do some serious juggling. During Tuesday morning's skate, Patrick Marleau moved back from the top line and took Clowe's spot with center Logan Couture and winger Benn Ferriero. Third-line wing Jamie McGinn skated on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Tommy Wingels took McGinn's spot on the third line, and Frazer McLaren skated on the fourth line.

"We'll come up with some line combinations which will not be written in stone," McLellan said. "We'll start from there. We'll see what the first five to 10 minutes gives us. Whoever's playing well is going to play."

The Sharks are already missing top-six forward Martin Havlat, who's out after undergoing surgery to repair a torn hamstring tendon.

"When you're missing the Havlats and Clowes, you begin to juggle and you try to find three real strong lines right off the bat," McLellan said.

McGinn said he's comfortable skating on the top line.

"I'll be ready to go and just continue to do the same stuff I've been successful with this year," McGinn said. "So I'm just going to keep skating and working hard. I'm fine with it. It doesn't change the fact of what I'm doing. I've got to keep things simple and just play my game."

McGinn has raised his level of play this season and already has nine goals and seven assists.

"I think at this point last year we were begging for a goal, trying to get him to understand what he needed to do as a player," McLellan said. "Never quite got it. Needed to go back to the minors to refine that. Came back this year with a pretty clear conscience and pretty clear menu of what he needs to do as a player to be successful, and he's playing toward that."

Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins skated Tuesday morning for the first time since taking a hit to the head from Columbus' Dane Byers on Saturday but won't be in the lineup against the Flames.

"I went out there and tested the waters a bit," Desjardins said. "I felt good. We have to go day by day and make sure everything's right."

Desjardins said he has yet to take his baseline concussion test.

"The fact that he put the skates on and was out there is a step in the right direction," McLellan said.

Byers was suspended three games by the NHL for his shoulder-to-head hit on Desjardins.

"We're happy that the league sent a message," McLellan said. "Hopefully, again, the players watch, listen and learn. They have to. They have to take care of each other. It doesn't mean you can't play physical, but they're responsible for those type of hits."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 5:30 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks eager to face Ovechkin

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin got off to a slow start this season, but he'll take the ice Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks on a seven-game scoring streak with seven goals and four assists during that span.

While going up against Ovechkin will be a challenge, veteran Sharks defensemen Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle said they can't wait for the puck to drop.

"He's fun to play against," Murray said after the Sharks' morning skate. "He plays the game the right way. You always want to play against the top players. He's a physical player, and I enjoy that. It's like with a few other players around the League – big, physical forwards that I go up against.

"I wouldn't say there's hatred or anything like that. It's more of a, 'I got to shut him down and he's got to score a goal.' It's more fun than anything."

Added Boyle: "It's fun. I think I enjoy playing against the top guys. I've said that before. He sees matchups every night, so it's nothing new for him. He's playing real well right now. Hopefully we'll get the job done defensively."

San Jose coach Todd McLellan said that Ovechkin demands plenty of attention, but that the Sharks can't forget about the rest of the Caps.

"They have a number of superstars, and you can't zero in on one individual -- although he's the kingpin there. He's the guy that pulls the trigger and makes things happen," McLellan said.

Unfortunately for the Capitals, Nicklas Backstrom, their leading scorer, will miss Saturday night's game after getting elbowed in the head on Tuesday by Calgary's Rene Bourque.

The Capitals have won four straight games, and Ovechkin said getting off to a fast start will be a key for Washington to continue that streak against San Jose, especially at the Shark Tank, where the Capitals haven't won since Oct. 30, 1993.

"It's always nice to have a winning streak and you always want to continue what you're doing, but, again, it's a hard building for us to play," Ovechkin said. "We didn't win here for I don't know how many years. We just have to not think about it and play better than we've played."

Mitchell's back: Sharks winger Torrey Mitchell was a healthy scratch for the first time this season Thursday night against Columbus, but he'll be back on the third line against Washington.

"I talked to Torrey, and he gave me all the answers that I needed," McLellan said. "He told me what he thought his strengths were as a player and what his assets were, that he thought he needed to bring to the table on a nightly basis. It was a pretty simple conversation. I didn't even need to say anything. So you have to give him credit for a very good self evaluation. Sometimes players don't see it like that. Torrey saw it like that. He knew. He could feel it coming.

"His speed, his energy, his tenacity, the ability to turn over pucks. Every team has a couple of those players that are really quick, and they have to have an impact on the game. Torrey will have that and we know he'll be very good moving forward."

Mitchell has just 7 points – 4 goals and 3 assists – in 33 games this season.

Based on the line rushes during the Sharks' morning skate, fourth-line wing Andrew Murray will be out of the lineup, and Tommy Wingels will get a second straight start since being recalled from Worcester of the AHL.

Sheppard feeling good: James Sheppard said he has made "big gains" recently in his recovery from a knee injury that cost him the entire 2010-11 season and that he has set a March 1 target date for his return to action.

"It's hard to have set times and stuff like that, but it's time for me to set a goal and work hard to get that goal," Sheppard said. "There's no excuses anymore. We just kind of picked March 1st out. I'd say that's the latest. I want to be back as soon as I can, and I just know that I'll be there by then."

Sheppard, acquired by the Sharks from Minnesota on Aug. 7 for a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, skated with the full team for a second straight day Saturday.

"I felt good out there. When you have good days, you feel good to go on the ice the day after. Mike Potenza and I have been working hard, working really smart," he said of the Sharks' strength and conditioning coordinator. "We're doing things the right way, and we're making big gains. We're happy about that. To be on the ice and not have to think about my knee pain is huge. It's everything."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 4:14 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Backstrom out as precaution for Caps

SAN JOSE – The Washington Capitals will be without Nicklas Backstrom, their leading scorer, when they face San Jose on Saturday night at HP Pavilion, coach Dale Hunter said after his team’s morning skate.

Backstrom was elbowed in the head Tuesday by Calgary’s Rene Bourque. He practiced with the team on Friday in San Jose but was not on the ice Saturday.

Hunter said Backstrom has not suffered a setback.

“You just got to be careful. He feels good, but you still got to be careful with it,” Hunter said.

Backstrom leads the Capitals with 42 points – 13 goals and 29 assists. He’s tied for ninth in the NHL in points. As tough as it is for the Capitals to play without Backstrom, wing Mike Knuble said giving him more time to recover is the right move.

“We’ve all seen what happens when you put a guy in too early or if he’s not feeling right,” Knuble said. “It’s just potential for a lot more injury and potential for turning a mole hill into a mountain. Smart. Good idea. It’s January. It’s not like it’s a do-or-die game.”

Based on the Capitals’ line rushes Saturday morning, wing Alexander Semin will join Knuble on the second line with Marcus Johansson sliding over to center. Semin was absent Tuesday with an upper-body injury but is ready to return.

Backstrom has points in five straight games – a goal and seven assists. He has 18 power-play points, tied for third most in the NHL.

“It’s never good when you play without one of the best players on your team, but, again, it is what it is,” forward Alex Ovechkin said. “It’s a great game for different guys to step up and play our way without Nick.”

This is how the lineups could look Saturday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Washington Capitals at HP Pavilion:


Patrick MarleauJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski
Ryane CloweLogan CoutureBenn Ferriero
Jamie McGinnMichal HandzusTorrey Mitchell
Brad WinchesterAndrew DesjardinsTommy Wingels

Dan BoyleMarc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason DemersBrent Burns
Douglas MurrayJustin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss   


Alex OvechkinBrooks LaichTroy Brouwer
Alexander Semin - Marcus JohanssonMike Knuble
Jason ChimeraJeff HalpernJoel Ward
Matt HendricksMathieu Perreault - Jay Beagle

Karl Azner – John Carlson
Roman HamrlikDennis Wideman
John ErskineMike Green

Tomas Vokoun
Michal Neuvirth
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 5:40 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Backup goalies to battle in San Jose

SAN JOSE -- It will be a battle of the backup goaltenders Thursday night when the San Jose Sharks face Columbus at HP Pavilion.

San Jose's Thomas Greiss will make his first start since Dec. 3, ending Antti Niemi's streak of starts at 13. For the Blue Jackets, Curtis Sanford will be in goal for the first time since suffering injuries to his back and hip on Dec. 22 against Nashville.

Niemi started 17 of the past 18 games, while Greiss has watched and waited.

"It wasn't that bad," Greiss said of the long layoff. "We do a little extra stuff, skate a little more. It wasn't that bad. That's the role of the backup. Nemo has been playing really well so it was good for the team. I have to be ready when I have to be ready."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he expects Greiss to be up to speed when the puck drops.

"It's the job of any goaltender to be ready at any time, whether you're starting for the first time in a number of days or whether you've got to go in," McLellan said. "I watched the Russian goaltender in the junior tournament go in in a pressure situation with five minutes left. He was ready. That's the sign of a true pro. That happens in our league. You look around, the No. 1s play the majority of the games. The 2s have to be prepared, and they have to produce."

That's especially true on a team like San Jose, which has three veteran goaltenders - Niemi, Greiss and Antero Niittymaki, who has yet to play since rejoining the team Dec. 13 after recovering from offseason hip surgery.

Greiss enters the game with a 4-4 record, a 2.37 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.

Sanford said he's feeling healthy again, thanks to some anti-inflammatory medicine, and is "definitely anxious" to get back on the ice.

"I know I'm going in there against a strong team, but every team is strong," Sanford said. "It really doesn't matter who you're playing on any given night. Just a matter of preparing myself like I usually do and go out there and try to help the team win."

Sanford has appeared in only 16 games, to 23 for Steve Mason, but he has by far the best goaltending stats on the team. He is 5-6-3 with a 2.66 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. Mason is 5-16-2 with a 3.33 goals against average and .885 save percentage.

"I'd like them to be better," Sanford said of his numbers. "I think that's the goal, to try and keep improving every game. When you improve every game it's by improving in practice, too. I'm just trying to work hard in practice and keep a level head. I know this year's been tough for us, but now we're in 2012. We've got to turn the page on 2011 and find a way to rack up some wins."

The Blue Jackets are last in the NHL with just 25 points. Columbus will face a Sharks team that leads the Pacific Division with 45 points but is playing for the second straight night and with a goaltender who hasn't faced a real shot in more than a month.

"We're at a position in our season where we're so focused on ourselves and getting ourselves better, it doesn't matter who they throw at us," Jackets captain Rick Nash said. "We have to look at it that he might be a little rusty to the game speed. We've got to try and get in as many shots as we can. If he hasn't' started since Dec. 3, we have to try to use anything to our advantage because we definitely need all the help we can get."

The Blue Jackets will certainly be more rested than San Jose. They haven't played since Dec. 31, when they blew a 2-0 third-period lead and lost 4-2 at home to Washington.

"We have to take advantage of that first period," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "We can't allow them to have an easy game. They're a team that always starts strong in this building. If we can catch them a little bit maybe fatigued or a little bit slow out of the gate, then we have to take advantage of that. We can't make it an easy game by allowing them to be on the power play. We can't turn pucks over. We've got to play a straight-line game and get them skating real early."

McLellan said the Blue Jackets are playing much better recently than their record indicates and that his team can't afford a slow start after emotional road wins at Vancouver on Monday and at Anaheim on Wednesday.

"I think we've got our hands full," McLellan said. "They seem to come out of the gates fairly strong lately. With us playing three (games) in four (nights) and some travel, we have to make sure we're prepared when the puck is dropped and not wade our way into the game."

The Sharks recalled forward Tommy Wingels from Worcester of the AHL and placed defenseman Colin White (lower body) on injured reserve. White has missed the past three games.


McLellan said "there's a good chance" that Wingels will be in the lineup against Columbus. He had a team-high 13 goals, along with eight assists, for Worcester. He opened the season with San Jose but had just one assist in three games before being sent down.

"He has played extremely well down there," McLellan said. "I've been told he's one of the best players in the American (Hockey) League, and that's exciting to know he can come up and be that guy we can count on for some big shifts, especially after three games in four nights."

If Wingels plays Thursday night, the question is who sits. Asked if former Blue Jacket Andrew Murray, a fourth-line wing, would be in the lineup, McLellan said that would be a game-time decision.


Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash told the Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday that he would be willing to waive the no-movement clause in his contract if that would help the organization.

"I would do what was best for the organization," Nash said Thursday, after the Blue Jackets' morning skate. "It's given me a lot and has been loyal to me. My no. 1 priority is to stay here.

"I think Columbus deserves a winner, and the organization and the ownership is great. It's been awesome. If they came to me and realized they wanted to shake things up, I wouldn't want to stay where I wasn't wanted. That hasn't happened yet. I don't expect it."

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Columbus Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion:


Rick Nash - Jeff Carter - Ryan Johansen

Vinny Prospal - Antoine Vermette - Mark Letestu

R.J. Umberger - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett

Derick Brassard - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Mark Methot

John Moore - Grant Clitsome

Aaron Johnson - David Savard

Curtis Sanford

Steve Mason

San Jose

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero

Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell

Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Andrew Murray/Tommy Wingels

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Jason Demers - Brent Burns

Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Thomas Greiss

Antti Niemi

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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 5:00 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Quick likely to start as Sutter faces old team

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks are coming off a 7-2 win Wednesday over Tampa Bay. They jumped to a 5-0 first-period lead, scoring the five fastest goals in team history. But the last time they faced Los Angeles, the Kings and goaltender Jonathan Quick shut them out 2-0. Quick stopped all 33 shots he faced.

After the Kings' optional skate at HP Pavilion, new coach Darryl Sutter said he never reveals his starting goaltender before game time. But backup Jonathan Bernier was on the ice for nearly an hour, and Quick, who was in goal Thursday night in the Kings' 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim, didn't skate. It's likely that Quick was resting up for another start.

Sutter coached the Sharks four-plus seasons before being fired 24 games into the 2002-03 season by former San Jose and current Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi. Only one current Sharks player -- Patrick Marleau -- played in San Jose for Sutter, who was hired later that season as Calgary's coach. Sutter said that after being gone for so long, returning to San Jose this time doesn't feel like a homecoming.

"I think I've been here enough, been through enough with San Jose -- the Flames, the playoffs, all those things," Sutter said. "It's a long time, but it's still good being back and seeing people outside the game. That's still the best part."

Former Shark Owen Nolan dropped by HP Pavilion on Friday morning to visit Sutter.

This is Sutter's second time taking over a team during a season.

"The toughest part is because you are new to the group," Sutter said. "You only know a handful of guys. The only advantage you have is if you have some experience with it and some experience with the League. You might not know them personally, but you know pretty much what type of players they are. So you try and get something happening right away.

"This is a different situation than the last time I did it. I was going to a team that was basically out of it. They were in a total restart. We're trying to do it a little bit quicker and you believe that it is a good group, so you're trying to get them to believe it. You put in what you can to help them along the way."
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:58 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Havlat expected to miss 6-8 weeks after surgery

SAN JOSE -- Two days after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn tendon on his left hamstring, winger Martin Havlat came by the Sharks' dressing room at HP Pavilion. He was on crutches and had a large brace on his left leg. General manager Doug Wilson said a good "ballpark" estimate is that Havlat will miss 6-8 weeks. The Sharks initially feared he had a complete tear and could miss most, if not all of the season.

"After surgery better news than what we heard before, so hopefully it's going to be good," Havlat said. "I think everybody's pretty pleased with the results, with what they saw in there."

Havlat was injured Saturday against Edmonton while jumping over the boards at HP during a shift change. He said his skate got caught on the hard rubber protective padding on top of the new boards.

"They've got to change the boards here," Havlat said. "I'm just kidding. It just got stuck there a little bit. Then I put all my weight, when I was going down, on my leg, and my ankle twisted a little bit. … It is disappointing. I was trying to get my game back, and I was a little better the last couple games, but unfortunately this is what happened, and I'll have to deal with that."

Havlat, who came to San Jose from Minnesota in an offseason trade for Dany Heatley, has recovered from numerous shoulder injuries and surgeries before, but he said this is the first major leg injury he has suffered during his career.

"This is just another hurdle I have to jump over," he said. "I just have to do everything I can to get back as quick as I can."

Joe Pavelski was back on the ice Friday morning after missing practice Thursday because of the flu. He said he felt "a little bit" better. "Game time comes around, no one cares how you feel," Pavelski added.
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:54 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks recall Niittymaki off conditioning assignment

SAN JOSE -- Antero Niittymaki was recalled Friday from Worcester of the AHL after his three-game conditioning assignment, giving the Sharks three goaltenders on their active roster.

Niittymaki joins No. 1 goaltender Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss, who has been the backup this season while Niittymaki recovered from offseason hip surgery.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said the team's immediate plan is to have Niemi start Friday night against Los Angeles with Greiss as his backup in the team's final game before its two-day Christmas break.

"After Christmas we'll have to sit down as an organization and determine which direction we're going," McLellan said. "Our schedule is not going to be friendly January through April, and we will need two, maybe three goaltenders at that point. It's a luxury to have right now, that depth at that position, and we'll manage it as we move forward."

Trading Niittymaki or Greiss is one obvious option if the Sharks decide they can't afford the luxury of carrying three goaltenders.

Niittymaki went 1-2 with a 3.38 goals against average and an .878 save percentage with Worcester. More importantly, his hip passed that physical test.

"I'm ready," Niittymaki said after the Sharks' optional morning skate. "I feel good. The hip feels good. A couple of those games were good tests. A lot of post-to-post stuff. Hip held up pretty good. That's why I went there, to see how it feels and get a couple games. I'm happy how it went."

Niittymaki signed with the Sharks as a free agent on July 1, 2010, and was expected to be their No. 1 goaltender last season. But they signed Niemi that September, and the two goaltenders shared the job early in the season. But after Niittymaki was sidelined by a lingering lower-body injury, Niemi grabbed the starting job and earned a four-year contract extension. Niittymaki is in the final year of his contract, while Greiss re-signed this season for two years after playing last season in the Swedish Elite League.

"It's a good problem to have, much like having eight defensemen," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Wednesday, looking ahead to Niittymaki's return. "You can go from eight defensemen down to five pretty quickly, and you can go from three goalies down to one pretty quickly."
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