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Posted On Monday, 03.26.2012 / 5:22 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

McGinn returns to San Jose as scoring sensation

SAN JOSE -- It's been 28 days since the San Jose Sharks sent forward Jamie McGinn to Colorado in a trade deadline deal for wingers Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi.

McGinn left as a solid third-line winger, but will return Monday night to HP Pavilion as one of the NHL's hottest players when he faces his former Sharks teammates for the first time.

McGinn has 8 goals (2 game-winners) and 4 assists in 13 games for the Avalanche. He has a pair of 2-goal games, and he reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career Saturday night when he scored on the power play against Vancouver.

Has he ever been this hot on the ice?

"Maybe in junior hockey," McGinn said after Colorado's morning skate at HP Pavilion. "It's nice. It's been a while, but I'm not going to think about it too much. I'm just going to continue to go out there and take every game like it's a new game and continue to work hard. I can't worry about that. You don't want to jinx it or anything. You just continue to work. That's all it is."

McGinn, who was drafted by the Sharks in the second round in 2006, said retuning to San Jose has been "surreal" for him. He went out to dinner Sunday night with former Sharks teammates Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe, Torrey Mitchell, Jason Demers and Colin White.

But after catching up with "a few of the boys," McGinn said it will be all business Monday night and he'll play the same high-energy, hard-hitting game he always does.

"You have to continue to play hard every night no matter who you're against," McGinn said. "It's hockey. Trades happen. You can be buddies off the ice, but once you're on the ice you've got to forget about it and worry about what's at hand. There's five games left, so every point's important. I can't take a night off."

McGinn has been getting more ice time with Colorado than he did in San Jose, which explains some of his newfound success. He's also a top-six forward in Colorado, and Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said McGinn found instant chemistry with center Paul Stastny and forward David Jones.

"With him and Jones on the wing you've got two bigger guys that hound the puck, that get after it on the forecheck, and you have a very smart centerman in the middle there who can make plays, distribute the puck to those guys," Sacco said. "Both wingers have good shots. Both guys use their size effectively, and when you have that guy in the middle who can make plays, sees the ice well, it's been a good fit for everyone."

McGinn didn't have a point in his first two games with Colorado, but in his third game he had 2 goals, including the game-winner, against Minnesota. Two nights later in a rematch with the Wild, McGinn had the game-winning goal and an assist.

"You want to be an impact player right away," McGinn said. "It's new fans, new teammates. You don't want to be coming in and kind of sitting back just watching. I want to be an impact player, I want to be a part of it, I want to be a guy they can look to to maybe put the puck in the net.  I was pretty excited to get the first one out of the way early."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he's not surprised by McGinn's success.

"Well, he's a hell of a player," McLellan said. "He's having a career type year. He's scoring goals and he's given an opportunity to play a few more minutes there with a young team. He gets a little more on the power-play unit, perhaps first line power-play minutes vs. second. He went there, he established himself, and he's a confident player right now. And that's Jamie McGinn. We all liked him when he was here, and now our job is to go out and beat him when he’s over there."

Winnik started heating up just in time to face his former team. He scored a goal in each of the past two games, his first two goals since coming to the Sharks. Winnik, center Andrew Desjardins and winger Tommy Wingels have found some chemistry and given McLellan some offensive production outside of his top two lines.

"You can see that he's found a home and he feels comfortable there," McLellan said of Winnik. "Rewarded with a couple goals. We'd like to keep him going, as well."

Sacco said he's not surprised that Winnik is "popping in some goals here and there" for the Sharks.

"He's a good solid player. He's a good penalty killer, he's a good defensive foreward," Sacco said. "He's strong on the puck, he cycles it well. He gives you some good grind time. And I think with Winny, scoring is a bonus."

Galiardi, who has yet to score a goal for the Sharks, will miss his sixth straight game with an upper-body injury and won't get to face his former team Monday night.

After missing three games with back spasms, Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson will return to the lineup against San Jose, Sacco said, replacing defenseman Tyson Barrie.

Johnson practiced Sunday, and after going through Monday morning's skate, he said he was good to go.

"It was definitely hard being out," Johnson said. "An injury like a back, you kind of have to make sure you're ready to go. I didn't want to take two steps forward and then one step back. It was an injury that wasn't really fun to have, and especially this time of year, it was really bad timing for it."

Johnson said he's ready to resume his roles on the power play and penalty kill, as well.

"I feel good enough to play as much as they want me to," Johnson said. "I'll accept those minutes how they're given to me. Obviously you'd like to play as much as you can, and hopefully I can do that tonight and use the ice time effectively."

Here's how the lineups could look tonight:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Dominic Moore - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Daniel Winnik - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Jason Demers - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Niemi will make his 15th consecutive start for the Sharks. He's 4-1-2 with a 2.49 goals against average and one shutout in his career against Colorado.

Steve Downie - Ryan O'Reilly - Gabriel Landeskog
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Mark Olver - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew

Matt Hunwick - Ryan Wilson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson  

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastian Giguere

Varlamov will be in goal for the fifth straight game. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.93 goals against average in his career against San Jose.

Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 7:32 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks need fast start vs. Coyotes

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks forward Daniel Winnik played for Phoenix two years ago during coach Dave Tippett's first season with the Coyotes.

Winnik said he'd always hear opposing players say how "hard and frustrating" it was to play against the Coyotes, but he didn't truly understand why until he was traded to Colorado the next year and had to face Tippett's team.

"They're extremely patient," Winnik said after Saturday morning's optional skate at HP Pavilion. "The way (Tippett) coaches, they don't care if they ice the puck seven times in a row, their whole bench isn't getting frustrated. They try and slow the game down and make it boring enough that you get disinterested and try plays that create turnovers, and that's where they score their goals.

"It's kind of like playing St. Louis in a sense where they don't give you much, you don't get many shots. That's how St. Louis beats teams as well -- thrive off your turnovers and you getting frustrated by not being able to get to the net and to plays inside."

The Sharks lost all four of its games against St. Louis this season, and they've lost three of four to Phoenix entering Saturday's night's game against the Coyotes at HP Pavilion.

San Jose (84 points) and Phoenix (86) are both fighting for a playoff spot in a wild Western Conference race, and the Sharks need to solve the Coyotes' frustrating defensive puzzle or risk falling farther back.

Phoenix has defeated San Jose three straight times by a combined score of 11-3. Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith had two 3-0 shutouts during that stretch. The Sharks' only win in the series came in the season-opener on Oct. 8, a 6-3 victory at HP.

"After the first game of the year where we got dominated, I think our guys have really tried to hunker down," Tippett said. "You can't give away a lot of free chances. They're a really good team. If you give them extra time in your zone or give them outnumbered rushes, they're going to hurt you. Those are things we have to do to make sure we play a sound game. Again, that's whether it's the Sharks or whoever it is. We've had some success against the Sharks because our goaltending has been very good and we've been able to play a good defending game."

The Coyotes will play their second straight game without captain Shane Doan, who was suspended three games for elbowing Dallas' Jamie Benn in the head on Monday night. With Doan out of the lineup on Thursday night, Phoenix jumped to a 3-0 lead and held on to beat Colorado 3-2.

"He's one of their best players, but the way they play it's a team game, and I think probably out of all the teams in the league they're the least affected by losing a top player just because everyone seems to fill in real well for Tippett," Winnik said. "But he is a big loss. On the power play, they lose his one-timer on that side. He's been a threat for them there. He's really like the heartbeat of the team and obviously the organization because he's been there forever."

Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris, who will play in his 999th career NHL game tonight, said it takes a total team effort to compensate for Doan's absence.

"His leadership he brings in our room is huge," Morris said. "He's on the trip right now with us. He's around because he's the leader of our team. None of us expect any of us to replace him, but we expect all of us to be a little bit better. We can't rely on Shane to score a big goal for us or make a big play for us. The rest of us have to do it ourselves. If we can get five percent more out of each guy to fill in while Shane's out, that will be even better when he comes back."

Smith has been a force Phoenix's past three wins against San Jose, and not only because of his stingy play in goal. He is one of the NHL's most skilled goaltenders in terms of handling pucks and getting them quickly to his defensemen.

"It's definitely helped out," Morris said. "With the new game you see a lot of guys now are just dumping pucks and going and getting them. If they make them a little bit far we know that we don't' have to go back there and get in that battle with that guy because Smitty's going to make a good play out of the zone. We just got to get open for him. You don't even have to yell at him. He sees the play as it's coming in. He knows what he's going to do with it."

The Sharks always stress the importance of getting off to a fast start, but defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said starting quickly is more important against Phoenix than against most teams.

"They try to lull you into their system, their way of playing," Vlasic said. "Especially when they get the lead they're really good at holding the lead. You really want to jump all over them right off the start, maybe the first 10 minutes, jump all over them, get the lead. They're a different team when … they're trailing. When they have to come back, they're opening their system up more, the game more. It's a totally different (team) when they have the lead or don't have the lead."

The Sharks are coming off a 2-1 win Thursday night against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins that snapped a two-game skid. Their final eight games are against Western Conference teams, including two against Phoenix.

The Sharks will be without forward TJ Galiardi (upper body) for the fifth straight game, but he returned to the ice Saturday morning for the first time in nearly a week.

"Nice to get back out there," Galiardi said. "I don't really know the timetable yet, just kind of playing it day by day, see how it feels. But getting better."

Here's how the lineups could look Saturday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion:


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat

Dominic Moore - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell

Daniel Winnik - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Brent Burns

Jason Demers - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss

Niemi will make his 14th straight start tonight. He's 0-2-0 against the Coyotes this season with a 3.56 goals-against average.


Mikkel Boedker - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata

Ray Whitney - Antoine Vermette - Lauri Korpikoski

Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

Kyle Chipchura - Boyd Gordon - Paul Bissonnette

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival

Rostislav Klesla - Michael Stone

Mike Smith

Jason LaBarbera

Smith is 3-1-0 with two shutouts and a 2.27 goals against average vs. the Sharks this season. … Phoenix recalled center Alexandre Bolduc from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.

Posted On Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 6:11 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks look for turnaround against Bruins

SAN JOSE -- Two teams headed in opposite directions will collide Thursday night when the struggling San Jose Sharks face the surging Boston Bruins at HP Pavilion.

The Sharks have lost back-to-back games and have tumbled to 10th place in the Western Conference standings. After a four-game skid, the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins have won two straight, including an 8-0 thrashing of Toronto on Monday night, and own the No. 2 seed in the East.

The Sharks, naturally, are in desperation mode, but coach Todd McLellan said they've got find a way to loosen up and stop being so tight on the ice.

"First of all, we understand where we're at," McLellan said after his team's morning skate. "There's an anxiousness around our team which should be there. I feel at times it's a nervousness that holds us back. We have to be able to go out and play free. It's not about one or two individuals carrying the weight of the team on their shoulders, it's about distributing it evenly … and when you do that your team plays well. When you take too much on or not enough on, you have a tendency not to play well."

The Bruins don't have to worry about making the playoffs, but they're fighting to hold off Ottawa, which stands just three points back in the Northeast Division.

"I know they're in a battle for a playoff spot," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the Sharks. "This is a good team across the ice from here. The one thing I do know is that we've gone through the same situation of really struggling to find our game, and eventually when you do, you see what kind of team you really are.

"It's a matter of them doing the same thing, and right now our focus is not to let them have that happen against us - do it against somebody else. But we have to be ready. Everybody's in a fighting mode here and everybody's in a situation where they want to finish as high as they can and some are battling for playoff spots."

Boston will open a three-game California road trip against the Sharks, hoping to build on the strides it made with a 3-2 shootout win against Philadelphia and a rout of the Maple Leafs. Even though they scored eight goals against Toronto, the Bruins pointed to improved defensive play for their two-game turnaround.

"I think we were just playing more Bruins-style hockey, playing with a bit of a chip on our shoulders, going out and competing, winning battles, and I think that's really where we start playing well, when we start competing hard and winning all those little battles wherever they may be," forward Tyler Seguin said. "When we stay consistent with that, after having a good game in Philly, and regardless of the score against Toronto, just to see us competing hard and doing the little things right, that's what makes us happy."

Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said one "challenge" they'll face against San Jose is to avoid being "too high" after their 8-0 win.

"You want to focus on what you did well that game and try to bring it into a game tonight and just build on what you've done well," Seidenberg said. "The last two games have been better. We're still trying to get our consistent game back that we had before our slump the last couple months. Everybody knows we're not out of it yet and we have to keep building."

The Sharks thought they had busted out of their slump when they beat Nashville and Detroit last week. But they followed those two wins with a 5-3 home loss to Anaheim on Monday and a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles the next night.

"We know we're behind the eight-ball and we've got to win some games to get in the playoffs," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, a former Bruin. "It has to start tonight. We're facing a really good team, so we have to be on our toes, ready to go.

"They're just a complete team, right from the goaltender out. They're flying high off that eight-nothing win last game. We'd like to score early, get some confidence and go from there.''

The Sharks beat Boston 4-2 in October during a 5-1 road trip when they were riding high.

"When we have fun, we usually play well," Thornton said. "We've got to get back to that tonight."

Forward Logan Couture said no one in the Sharks' dressing room has lost faith.

"Everyone in this room believes we're going to be in the playoffs," Couture said. "We're going to make this push down the stretch. We've got nine games to play well and make the push."

The Sharks announced that rookie forward Tommy Wingels is the team's nominee for the Masterton Trophy.

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


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat

Dominic Moore - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell

Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Daniel Winnik

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Brent Burns

Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss

Niemi, despite back-to-back rough games, will make his 13th straight start in goal for the Sharks. Handzus will likely return to the lineup after missing the past six games with a lower body injury. McLellan said there's a chance Wingels (upper body) could return after missing five games. Forward Ryane Clowe and defenseman Dan Boyle didn't practice Thursday morning but will play tonight, McLellan said.


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jordan Caron

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin

Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg

Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk

Greg Zanon - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas

Marty Turco

  • Thomas, the first goalie off the ice Thursday morning, will start for the 13th time in the past 14 games and make his 14th consecutive appearance. He's coming off his fifth shutout of the season but faced just 13 shots against Toronto.
Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 5:13 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected Ducks, Sharks lineups

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle will reach a bit of a milestone Monday when the Sharks host the Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN), playing his 300th game with the team.

"I didn't know that," Boyle said of the milestone. "It's been fun. It's been a challenge, but I've been lucky to be with a very good organization and some great players, so it's been fun.''

After missing one game with an upper-body injury, Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman will return to the lineup against San Jose, said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.

Sharks forward Tommy Wingels (upper body) will miss his fourth straight games and forward TJ Galiardi will miss his second straight.

Here's how the lineups could look Monday when the San Jose Sharks face the Anaheim Ducks at HP Pavilion:

Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Patrick Marleau - Martin Havlat
Daniel Winnik - Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Benn Ferriero

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Jason Demers - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi will be in goal, with Thomas Greiss the backup.

Jason Blake - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Kyle Palmieri
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - Devante Smith-Pelly

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller likely will be in goal, with Jeff Deslauriers the backup.
Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 5:09 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Will Hiller's streak continue?

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The big question around the Ducks is whether goaltender Jonas Hiller will make his 33rd consecutive start. Boudreau refused to reveal his starter but did say that backup Jeff Deslauriers -- the only Ducks goalie on the ice Monday morning -- will get a another start at some point before the season ends.

"He's worked too hard in practice and everything else, and (Hiller has) done everything and anything a goaltender could be asked to do," Boudreau said. "So at some point he's going to get a rest."

The fact that Hiller was resting Monday morning could be seen as a sign that he'll be in goal Monday against the Sharks (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN). He already has crushed the previous franchise record for consecutive starts of 23. His streak is the second longest in the NHL since the start of the 2010-11 season, surpassed only by San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi's 34-game starting streak from Jan. 15-April 4, 2011.

"It's something special, and the way he's played and what he's had to do to keep us in the games," Boudreau said. "I think it's special. I haven't seen it done before. Maybe they have here because Niemi did it, but they had a pretty good team last year in front of him, too. Not that we don't. I'm just saying they probably had less chances-against and they had more firepower so Niemi had a little bit more breathing room in the games. When we win, it's 2-1. If we get three goals, it's a lot. He has to keep us in the game every night, and so to be mentally on top of that for all these games is quite an amazing streak."

Niemi, who has been on a hot streak, will make his 11th consecutive start.
Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 5:05 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks can't take slumping Ducks lightly

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks haven't enjoyed the view from atop the Pacific Division since Feb. 25, but they can reclaim first place Monday night with a victory Anaheim (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at HP Pavilion.

Just don't expect the surging Sharks to use that as a rallying cry.

"Winning is the motivating factor," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after his team's morning skate. "Not standings or Pacific Division, because tomorrow we'll be talking about it again. Just flat-out winning has to be their motivator, and what a great motivator. That's what we set out to do in Game 1 and we set out to do in Game 72."

The Sharks tumbled out of the Pacific lead that night when Phoenix beat Edmonton and they lost to Nashville in the next-to-last game of a disastrous nine-game road trip.

The Sharks have won two straight games and have earned at least one point in six of their past seven games, but they have more work to do in their final 11 games to secure a playoff spot. With 82 points, they're ninth in the Western Conference, one point behind Phoenix and Colorado. By beating Anaheim, the Sharks would jump over second-place Phoenix and first-place Dallas (82 points) for the Pacific lead and the conference's No. 3 playoff spot.

The Sharks and Ducks are the only Pacific Division teams in action tonight.

"The standings will take care of themselves," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "It's in our hands. We're aware of that. If we take care of our business, we'll be where we want to be at the end of the season."

After making a strong run as they tried to dig their way out of a huge early hole, the Ducks have won just once in their last six games (1-5-1) and are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Even so, the Sharks know better than to take their division rivals lightly. The Ducks have won three of the first four games in the series this season.

"They always play us hard," McLellan said. "It's a natural rival. Their leadership group kind of matches our leadership group. They provide a lot to their team. They count on three or four guys to do a lot of their scoring. We do the same thing here in our organization. It's always a real intense battle.

"Having played them so much over the years, you have a ton of respect for their competitiveness, the Corey Perrys and the (Ryan) Getzlafs. So I don't think we're going to see a team that's going to take their foot off the gas pedal. In fact, they may push it a little bit harder tonight."

The Ducks, facing the second game in a back-to-back, will have to summon enough energy to push the pedal harder. They're coming off a 3-1 loss to Nashville on Sunday. Most of the Ducks' regulars opted to skip Monday morning's optional skate in order to rest.

"It's a challenge," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's our fifth game in eight days again. I think sometimes the guys are mentally tired and need a break, but we'll get it when we get it."

Boudreau knows there will be no rest for his weary team against San Jose.

"They're good. They go to the net. They're four lines deep and six defense deep," Boudreau said. "That's the challenge, and they play hard. And they're in a desperate situation. The challenge is survival and getting through. We know we've got a huge battle on our hands. That's the challenge."
Posted On Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 5:35 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Datsyuk back for Wings, but Franzen out

SAN JOSE – The Detroit Red Wings will have center Pavel Datsyuk back in the lineup Saturday night for the first time since Feb. 19, but they’ll be without forward Johan Franzen when they face the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.

Datsyuk missed 11 games with a knee injury that required surgery on Feb. 21. Franzen suffered back spasms during practice Friday and wasn’t on the ice for Detroit’s morning skate. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he doesn’t know when Franzen will return to the lineup.

“He spasmed up. He’s not feeling like he could play, so he’s not playing,” Babcock said of Franzen, who will miss his first game of the season. “I don’t’ know what the timeline is on something like that.

“Obviously we would have liked to have to Mule, but those are things that happen. There’s no sense worrying about who’s not here. Let’s just play hard. They’re a desperate team, and we’re a desperate team. We both need wins bad.”

With 91 points, Detroit isn’t desperately fighting just to make the playoffs the way the Sharks are with only 80. But the Red Wings have lost three straight games on the road and five of their past six overall. Datsyuk’s return is some good injury news is a sea of bad for Detroit.

“It’s great to have Pavel back,” Red Wings forward Danny Cleary said. “It’s an understatement to say how important he is to our team. We’re the walking wounded around here these days. One guy in, one or two guys out. So Pav’s a big help for us.”

With Holmstrom out, Cleary, one of the “walking wounded,” will skate on the top line with Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi. Cleary has been battling a painful knee since December that he said will require surgery after the season. He said he’s had two injections of a “gel type” substance with one to go next week in hopes that it will lubricate the knee and reduce pain.

“I’ll know by the first week of April if it’s set in,” Cleary said.

If it doesn’t set in, then Cleary said he’ll just keep playing through pain in the playoffs.

The Red Wings will be without All-Star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who returned to Detroit earlier in the trip and will miss his eighth straight game with an ankle injury.

Backup goalie Joey MacDonald is also out after suffering back spasms and pain down one of his legs Wednesday night against Anaheim. He said he’ll undergo an MRI on Monday.

“Kind of concerned about that a little bit,” MacDonald said of the pain in his leg. “We can’t really do anything until we get a picture and see how it is.”

MacDonald has good reason to be concerned. In 2006 he had back surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back.

“It’s not quite the same feeling, so hopefully it’s a little different,” MacDonald said.

Jordan Pearce, who was recalled Friday from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, will back up staring goaltender Jimmy Howard against San Jose.

The Sharks, coming off a 2-1 shootout win Thursday night against Nashville, expect Detroit to get a big boost from Datsyuk’s return.

“They’ve been waiting for him for a while,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “I’m sure he’s going to jumpstart their team. He’s arguably, probably the top guy with the puck in the whole League, in the world. You can’t bite on anything. If you bite on any of the moves there’s a very good chance you’re going to get beat. It’s just important to keep him between yourself and your goalie and try to keep him on the outside the best you can.”

Datsyuk said he’s feeling “every day better” but knows that the big test will come on the ice playing multiple games. The Red Wings have 11 more regular-season games, and the question is whether that’s enough time for Datsyuk to round into playoff form.

“I think so and I hope so, but we’ll see,” Datsyuk said. “It’s hard to say. Sometimes it’s enough. Sometimes it’s not. But I hope so.”

The Sharks beat the Red Wings in back-to-back Western Conference semifinals and have won two out of three games this season. Boyle, though, said the Sharks recent dominance of the Red Wings is a mystery to him.

“It’s like Washington. We’ve beaten Washington 16 out of 17 times. Why? I don’t know,” Boyle said. “Detroit, a few years ago, it was the other way around. San Jose couldn’t’ beat Detroit. The last few years it’s been in our favor, but this team is obviously among the top in the game. We just play hard, we’re ready for them. We usually have a very good effort against them. I don’t’ expect anything different.”

Here’s how the lineups could look Saturday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion:


Logan CoutureJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski
Ryane ClowePatrick MarleauMartin Havlat
Daniel WinnikDominic MooreTorrey Mitchell
TJ GaliardiAndrew DesjardinsBrad Winchester

Marc-Edouard VlasicDan Boyle
Douglas MurrayBrent Burns
Jason DemersJustin Braun

Antti NIemi
Thomas Greiss

Niemi will make his 10th straight start for the Sharks. Forward Tommy Wingels (upper body) will miss his third straight game.


Todd BertuzziPavel DatsyukDanny Cleary
Valterri Filppula – Henrik ZetterbergJiri Hudler
Drew MillerDarren HelmJustin Abdelkader
Tomas HolmstromCory EmmertonJan Mursak

Niklas KronwallBrad Stuart
Kyle QuinceyIan White
Brendan SmithDoug Janik

Jimmy Howard
Jordan Pearce
Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 5:54 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Preds' Klein almost ready to return

SAN JOSE - Nashville Predators defenseman Kevin Klein will likely miss his seventh straight game Thursday night against San Jose with an upper-body injury. However, barring a setback, he'll return to the lineup Saturday night at Los Angeles.

"He could play tonight, but I think I'm just going to keep him out," Predators coach Barry Trotz said after his team's morning skate at HP Pavilion. "If he doesn't play tonight he'll play the next game."

Klein was one of the last Predators off the ice Thursday morning.

"(I) had (Brian McGrattan) lean on me a little bit today, which was nice," Klein said. "We were battling. Felt pretty good. Little bit of contract, nothing too crazy. Probably ramp it up tomorrow, maybe take a few hits and see how I feel."

Klein said he expects to play Saturday, which can't come soon enough for him.

"I've been out for probably about three weeks now. Getting a little crazy. Eager to be back, eager to make this run toward the playoffs," Klein said. "If there's no setbacks I can see myself playing Saturday. It will be nice to be back playing games, that's for sure."

Injured defenseman Roman Josi (upper body) "probably" won't rejoin the team during its road trip, which ends Sunday at Anaheim, Trotz said. He's hopeful that Josi will be ready to play Tuesday at home against Edmonton.

The Alexander Radulov watch continued for the Predators, but Trotz said he "should have a better idea by the weekend" whether the winger will return to Nashville for the rest of the season. He is currently on the roster of the Kontinental Hockey League's Salavat Yulayev Ufa. His KHL contract runs through April 30, and he reportedly needs his team's OK to leave early without forfeiting two-thirds of his salary.

Radulov left the Predators in July of 2008 to sign with Ufa.

"It's really in his court," Trotz said. "If he wants to come over, they'll get the road blocks out of the way and that would be great. … Until I see the whites of his eyes, I'm not going to worry a whole lot about it."

Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 4:52 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks hope getting Havlat back provides spark

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks have been looking for a spark on offense, and they'll get one Thursday night against Nashville when winger Martin Havlat returns to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 17 when he injured his left hamstring against Edmonton.

Havlat underwent surgery to repair a partially torn tendon and missed 39 games. He's been practicing with his teammates for a few weeks, but tonight he'll jump back into the middle of a heated playoff race.

"Everything is a challenge after you come back after a long injury," Havlat said. "Everybody's going 100 mph. I just have to get in and try to be helpful. Every game right now until the end is very important.

"Basically now every game is a playoff game. Any point is very important, and we're playing a great team. They've been great the whole season. It's not going to be easy."

Havlat will skate on the second line with center Patrick Marleau and winger Ryane Clowe.

"Marty's a creative player," Clowe said. "We can use every goal we can get right now. Marty creates chances. Obviously on the power play he'll give us a little bit more depth on that second unit. I think his creativity, speed, his offensive awareness -- a high-end player like that, you're going to miss him when he's out. We had a little bit of chemistry there at the start of year. So hopefully we mingle good again."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he'll have to "manage" Havlat's minutes tonight and monitor his physical condition.

"It's hard to step in at this time of the year with the way the pace is going and the intensity of the games," McLellan said. "It's certainly not October hockey, and it's definitely not December hockey, and that's the last time he played, and this team tonight can really skate. They play the game fast, and he'll have to integrate himself quickly and we'll have to keep an eye on him."

The Predators will being keeping an eye on Havlat, too. He has 37 points in 30 career games against Nashville.

"He has great one-on-one skill," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "In the past we probably haven't paid enough attention to him."

Trotz, though, said it won't be easy for Havlat to get up to speed in his first game back after such a long layoff.

"His skill level will be there. He's a gifted player. He skates naturally. It's tough. It's hard to catch the train when you've been out for a while," Trotz said. "The pace is going to be really high, got people leaning on you. It's different. It's hard. I think you always need a couple games to get back in."

Havlat, who came to the Sharks from Minnesota in a trade for Dany Heatley in July, missed the entire preseason and the first four regular-season games while recovering from shoulder surgery. He was just catching his stride when suffered a freak injury against Edmonton, catching a skate on the boards he was trying to get back on the ice during a line change at HP Pavilion.

Havlat had a goal in that game and a pair of assists in his previous game against Colorado. For the season, he has 2 goals and 13 assists in 26 games.

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night when these teams meet at HP Pavilion:

Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Patrick Marleau - Martin Havlat
Daniel Winnik - Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell
TJ Galiardi - Andrew Desjardins - Benn Ferriero

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Justin Braun - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Craig Smith
Jordin Tootoo - Nick Spaling - Colin Wilson

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis
Hal Gill - Jack Hillen

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 4:48 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sharks get McLellan back for key game with Oilers

SAN JOSE -- After missing three games with a concussion, San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will return to the bench for Tuesday night's game against Edmonton at HP Pavilion.

"I'm going to give the bench my full attention," McLellan said after the Sharks' optional skate Tuesday morning. "I'll see how it goes from there. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm anticipating that I'm going to feel good and that I'm going to be alert and I'm going to be sharp. When we ask the players to do that and contribute for a full 60 minutes, we better be able to do that as a staff. So I'm going to be as sharp as I possibly can."

McLellan hasn't been on the bench since being hit hard in the head by a stick during the Sharks' 4-3 loss at Minnesota on Feb. 26.

McLellan was on the ice and conducted practice Friday but didn't respond well and missed his third straight game Saturday night game against St. Louis. McLellan conducted practice Monday and had better results.

"Friday I did not feel good at all," McLellan said. "Yesterday I felt better. I didn't feel 100 percent yet, but I felt much better. Wore down a little bit later in the day and had a good sleep. I feel good this morning. Again, we're flying by the seat of our pants. We're going to go out there and see what happens."

While McLellan was out, the Sharks beat Philadelphia 1-0, then lost 1-0 to Buffalo and 3-1 to St. Louis. They've gone 2-7-1 in their past 10 games and enter tonight's game in eighth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Los Angeles and Colorado and three in front of Calgary.

With just 17 games left to play, the Sharks are officially in desperation mode.

"We're letting some games slip away and not picking up enough points," forward Logan Couture said. "Sitting eighth in the conference with L.A. a point behind us, it's going down to the wire. We need to find some way to get some sort of points out of games, almost every game from now until the end of the year. It starts tonight against a good Edmonton team."

Getting forward Ryane Clowe untracked would go a long way toward getting the Sharks out of their offensive funk. He has 1 goal and 7 assists in his past 15 games and just 11 goals and 24 assists for the season. Last season, Clowe had 24 goals and 62 points, both career highs.

"I know if I produce a bit more the team's going to have a better chance of winning, for sure," Clowe said. "It's time to make it happen. We're in a position now where every game counts. I'm in the same position. Every game counts for me. I've got to make sure to start producing a bit more."

According to McLellan, Clowe's trouble scoring goals stems in large part from him trying to do too much to help his struggling team.

"Clowie's a very noble, honest guy, and I think right now he's taking more on than he needs to," McLellan said. "If he just does what Ryane Clowe does -- and that's protect pucks and get to the net -- I think he'll have some success. But if there's one or two guys in there that really take struggling to heart, he would be one, and the tendency is to try to do more, and often you get less.

"But Clowie knows that. I thought the other night when he scored against Philadelphia that weight of the world would be off his shoulders, but it seems to be back there again. We have a ton of confidence in this young man. He's a very important part of our team and he will continue to be."

The Oilers will be playing the second game of a back-to-back after losing 4-2 Monday night at Anaheim. What's more, they're well out of the playoff race with a 25-34-6 record and just 56 points. The Sharks, though, know better than to take Edmonton lightly. They suffered a 2-1 shootout loss in Edmonton on Jan. 23 and slipped past the Oilers 3-2 at HP Pavilion on Dec. 17.

"They played us hard both times we played them," Couture said. "They play tough, they play fast. They're a young team. They're going to come out and they're going to give effort. We know what to expect when we play them."

The Sharks can plan on seeing an Edmonton power play that ranks No. 1 in the NHL.

"They're very creative," McLellan said. "They have a youthful creativity to their game, and that shows through on the power play. Their young players have a lot of confidence and courage with the puck. They're not afraid to err with it, and sometimes that allows them to be very successful offensively, and we see that on the power play."

San Jose's penalty kill ranks 28th in the NHL, which is one reason why the Sharks acquired Dominic Moore, Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi before the trade deadline. All three have been solid penalty killers, and McLellan said he's ready to start giving them more time on the PK now that they've had more time to learn the Sharks' system.

"Some of them have had some minutes already," McLellan said. "We're hoping to get to the point where we potentially could throw a pair of them out together. But they will get some minutes. Hopefully we're not penalty killing and we won't have to worry about that."

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It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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