Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 5:55 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - Sharks-Kings series blog

Sharks could move Pavelski down, to center

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski was on the move Tuesday at practice, dropping from top-line wing to third-line center.

Where Pavelski winds up Thursday at SAP Center for Game 1 of the Sharks' first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Los Angeles Kings is anyone's guess (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, FS-W, CSN-CA).

Pavelski led the Sharks with career highs of 41 goals and 79 points this season and spent most of his time at left wing on the top line with center Joe Thornton and right wing Brent Burns.

But now that rookie wing Tomas Hertl has returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for nearly four months, the Sharks are considering moving Pavelski back to third-line center and having Hertl take his spot on Thornton's line for the opener of the Western Conference First Round.

Moving Pavelski would make the Sharks stronger down the middle and better prepared to face a Kings team that has centers Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis.

"The debate isn’t a raving one in the coaches’ locker room," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We feel equally comfortable going either way. The wild card is Tomas and making sure that he’s capable of handling minutes against the other team’s key players, and [Raffi Torres'] potential return to the lineup. A lot of that will dictate which way we’ll go."

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Posted On Friday, 04.11.2014 / 4:10 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks' Hertl set to rejoin lineup vs. Avalanche

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks rookie forward Tomas Hertl will be in the lineup Friday night against the Colorado Avalanche for the first time since Dec. 19, when he suffered a major injury to his right knee during a game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Hertl underwent surgery Dec. 31 to repair two ligaments that were damaged by a knee-on-knee hit from Kings forward Dustin Brown. Hertl had 15 goals and 10 assists in 35 games before being injured.

"I'm very excited because it's four months not playing hockey," Hertl said after the Sharks' morning skate. "I'm very happy. I hope it's all good, the knee is OK. I hope I'm ready to play and ready to play in the playoffs."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.05.2014 / 3:40 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks know they can't let chance slip vs. Predators

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks got some help Friday night in their quest for a Pacific Division title when the Nashville Predators defeated the first-place Anaheim Ducks 5-2.

With 107 points, the Sharks trail Anaheim by one point and can move into first place with a victory Saturday night against Nashville at SAP Center.

The question is whether the chance to jump Anaheim will provide a motivational boost to the Sharks, who are coming off an emotional win Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings and have struggled this year against teams that don't appear to be headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"That's the million dollar question," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after the morning skate. "We've been in this situation a couple times against non-playoff teams and we haven't taken advantage of it. We'll throw our best effort out there and we'll see where it goes. I'd like to think that our team can come out and do everything we can to get the win. If we can get a leg up on Anaheim it forces them to win. Right now they don't have to. That will be a goal of ours tonight."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 4:28 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks host Kings in potential playoff preview

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks appear likely to adjust their bottom three lines for their game Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center in a matchup that could be a Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference First Round preview.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he might "shuffle the lines around a little bit," and the odds are good that third-line wing Tommy Wingels will move up one line, trading places with rookie Matt Nieto to skate with center Logan Couture and left wing Patrick Marleau.

Fourth-line wing Tyler Kennedy will likely move up one line, trade places with Marty Havlat, and skate with center James Sheppard and Nieto. Havlat will join a line with center Andrew Desjardins and right wing Mike Brown.

"They're shifting quite a bit," Nieto said. "Just trying to balance the lines out and trying to get production from everyone. We'll see how it goes.

"I don't mind it at all. Playing with [Sheppard], he's been doing really well lately. [Kennedy] has been doing well. I'm excited. It should be fun."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.01.2014 / 4:56 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks know there's no room for letdown vs. Oilers

SAN JOSE -- No one has to tell center Logan Couture that the San Jose Sharks can't afford a letdown Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers if they hope to win the Pacific Division.

Couture watched on television Monday night as the first-place Anaheim Ducks rallied from a 4-0 hole to beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-4 in overtime. The Ducks moved three points ahead of the Sharks and have a game in hand. They also own a significant edge in non-shootout wins, the No. 1 tiebreaker once the regular season ends.

With six games left to play, the Sharks appear to be in must-win territory when it comes to winning the Pacific Division and avoiding a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 4:44 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks' Couture 50-50 for game vs. Jets

SAN JOSE -- Center Logan Couture was on the ice for a portion of the San Jose Sharks' morning skate and said his odds are 50-50 for being available to play Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Couture injured a foot blocking a shot Monday against the Calgary Flames and missed the Sharks' game Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers.

"It feels better [Thursday] than it did [Wednesday]," Couture said. "So we'll see. I'm going to take warmup, I think -- at least that's my plan -- and see how it feels then."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 5:25 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks look to clinch 10th straight playoff berth

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks grabbed first place in the Pacific Division with an emotional 3-2 home victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. But they should have enough incentive to avoid a letdown Saturday night when they face the Washington Capitals at SAP Center.

After all, the Sharks could clinch their 10th straight berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win and some help.

The Sharks are in if they earn two points against the Capitals and either the Ottawa Senators beat the Dallas Stars in any fashion or the Phoenix Coyotes lose in regulation to the Boston Bruins. San Jose can also clinch if they earn one point against Washington and the Stars lose to Ottawa in regulation.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.20.2014 / 5:08 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Injury-plagued Ducks set to face Sharks for first

SAN JOSE -- The Anaheim Ducks' depth will be tested Thursday at SAP Center when they face the San Jose Sharks with first place in the Pacific Division on the line.

Center Nick Bonino (bruised foot) and left wing Matt Beleskey (illness) will miss the game. The Ducks recalled left wing Emerson Etem and center Rickard Rakell from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League, and they're expected to be on the fourth line.

The Ducks are also without defenseman Cam Fowler, who will miss his third straight game and is expected to be sidelined for 3-5 weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said another Anaheim player is questionable for the game but declined to provide his name.

Etem and Rakell were on the ice for the morning skate.

"I'm just happy to be here and be back with the guys," said Etem, a first-round pick (No. 29) in the 2010 NHL Draft. "It's a big game tonight. It's a huge game to just come right into. That's the exciting part. I'm going to be playing a bump-and-grind role, and I'm perfectly fine with that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 5:19 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red-hot Niemi helps Sharks chase seventh straight

SAN JOSE -- Goaltender Antti Niemi, coming off a 1-0 shutout against the New York Rangers, will make his third straight start Tuesday night when the surging San Jose Sharks face the Florida Panthers at SAP Center.

The Sharks have won six straight games and Niemi has gone 5-0-0 during that stretch. He made 41 saves Sunday against the Rangers in arguably his best game of the season.

"It gives you lots of confidence, but it's a new game and you've got to refocus," Niemi said after the Sharks' morning skate.

"I've felt really good ever since the (Olympic) break. I feel very good in practice. I'm seeing the puck well. So I feel pretty good. It's a long season, so there's ups and downs, but overall I'm pretty happy where I'm at."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 5:02 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks' Torres game-time decision vs. Maple Leafs

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks could be without forward Raffi Torres when they face the surging Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday in the finale of their three-game homestand at SAP Center.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Torres will be a game-time decision against Toronto.

Torres played his fifth game of the season Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens after being sidelined by right knee surgery until after the NHL break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He wasn't on the ice Tuesday for an optional morning skate and didn't practice Monday.

"He's a little bit sore and it may be a night where he has to take off just to recuperate a little bit," McLellan said. "It's taxing on that body and on his legs. We may look at doing that tonight."

McLellan was asked if Torres' soreness was related to his knee surgery or just to playing hockey after a long layoff.

"A little bit of everything," he said.

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Quote of the Day

He stuck his neck out there for us. I don't know what's wrong with him, but you see he was in pain. But he went back in there. He's a tough guy. You've got to give him credit for helping the boys out.

— Panthers forward Brandon Pirri on goalie Roberto Luongo, who returned to game on Tuesday against Maple Leafs after leaving earlier in the contest with an injury