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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.19.2014 / 4:54 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Sharks-Kings series blog

Sharks' Brown relishes physical play, role as agitator

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Mike Brown said it was a case of hit or be hit early in the first period of Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

After firing a shot at goaltender Jonathan Quick from close range on a rush, Brown saw Kings defenseman Slava Voynov headed his way at full speed, trying to cut him off.

So Brown did what came natural. He put his left shoulder into Voynov and sent him flying into Quick. Voynov wound up on the ice and Quick wound up sprawled in the back of his net, sparking a scrum.

"It's just like bowling," Brown said wryly. "Strike's better than a spare."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 4:38 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Sharks-Kings series blog

Niemi named Game 1 starter for Sharks

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan finally made it official after the morning skate Thursday at SAP Center. Goaltender Antti Niemi will start Thursday night for the Sharks against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, FS-W, CSN-CA).

"He's our go-to guy," said McLellan, explaining his choice of Niemi over Alex Stalock. "He's been our go-to guy for four years. He's our go-to guy in Game 1. I can tell you this, there wasn't near the amount of debate with the four of us in the coaches' room as there was with a whole bunch of you outside the coaches' room. But it was fun."

Niemi, who won the Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks, has struggled at times this season, but he had one of his best games on April 3 against Los Angeles, making 26 saves in a 2-1 victory at SAP Center.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 5:36 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Sharks-Kings series blog

Sharks plan to break out greatest hits against Kings

SAN JOSE -- The last time the San Jose Sharks faced the Los Angeles Kings, they had a franchise-record 52 hits and captured a 2-1 victory April 3 at SAP Center.

The Sharks matched the Kings' physicality and actually gave more than they took that night, doling out 20 more hits than Los Angeles.

When the Sharks open the Stanley Cup Playoffs against Los Angeles on Thursday at SAP Center in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, FS-W, CSN-CA), they know the hits have to keep coming.

"We have to be physical against this team," Sharks defenseman Jason Demers said Wednesday after practice. "They're a bigger team, but also we have size and can skate with them. I think we've just got to show we can push back too. Obviously we can't get carried away and take too many penalties because of their very good power play. We're emphasizing finishing our checks and just making it a hard series.

"A lot of people are saying it's going to go long, so might as well make it a long, hard series on them and make them earn everything they get."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 5:55 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory