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Posted On Friday, 09.19.2014 / 6:27 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL Training Camps blog

Sharks excited to get back to work

SAN JOSE -- First came a historic first-round collapse for the San Jose Sharks against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then came the shockwaves during a long offseason of discontent.

There was talk of a locker room divide, and early in the offseason general manager Doug Wilson called the Sharks a "tomorrow team," one that was headed for a major rebuild and a leadership shakeup. Joe Thornton lost his captaincy, and alternate captain Patrick Marleau lost his leadership role.

But when the captain-less Sharks took the ice Friday for their first training camp practices, the roster was largely the same as it was last spring when they took a 3-0 series lead against the Kings before losing four straight.

Forward Tommy Wingels said the team was very excited to get back to work and stop dwelling on the past.

"There was a lot of talk off the ice," Wingels said. "From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are. I think obviously last year ended on as bad of a note as there could be, and this team has regrouped, addressed some things and we're as tight-knit as we've ever been."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 3:20 PM

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

Sharks turning back to Niemi; Vlasic out for Game 7

SAN JOSE -- After a one-game break, San Jose Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi will return to the starting lineup Wednesday at SAP Center for Game 7 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, PRIME, CSN-CA).

Backup Alex Stalock replaced Niemi in Game 6 and made his first start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles at Staples Center. Niemi was pulled for Stalock early in the third period of Game 4 and early in the second of Game 5.

"I think the break was good for [Niemi]," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after an optional morning skate. "He got a chance to work on some things in his game that the goaltending coach wanted to work on. He got a chance to rest. Our team did need a change heading into Game 6 into L.A. Unfortunately, we had to pull him twice, but that wasn't all on Nemo's shoulders. It's pretty evident and obvious, I hope I've made that clear. But moving forward with Nemo, we want to give Nemo an opportunity."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 7:05 PM

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

Sharks still confident as they prepare for Game 7

SAN JOSE -- Three years ago, the San Jose Sharks were one loss away from the making the wrong kind of Stanley Cup Playoff history.

The Sharks took a 3-0 lead in their second-round series against the Detroit Red Wings, but the Red Wings won the next three, forcing a Game 7 at San Jose. The Sharks won 3-2 and avoided becoming the fourth team in NHL history to lose a best-of-7 series after taking a 3-0 lead.

The Sharks find themselves in a similar situation this spring after bolting to a 3-0 lead then losing three straight to the Los Angeles Kings in their Western Conference First Round series. Game 7 is Wednesday night at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, PRIME, CSN-CA), and the Sharks are drawing heavily on their 2011 experience against the Red Wings


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Posted On Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 6:31 PM

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

Sharks' Vlasic sits out practice with upper-body injury

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who missed Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday with an upper-body injury, did not practice Tuesday.

Vlasic's availability for Game 7 on Wednesday at SAP Center remains in doubt (10 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS2, NBCSN, PRIME, CSN-CA).

"[Vlasic is] getting treatments, and when he's better, he'll play," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Tuesday.


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Posted On Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 4:44 PM

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

Kings need rare win at San Jose to stay alive

SAN JOSE -- The Los Angeles Kings survived one win-or-go-home game in their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks, staying alive with a 6-3 victory Thursday at Staples Center.

Now the Kings, who trail 3-1 in the series, will try to survive Game 5 on Saturday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS2, FS-W, CSN-CA), a place Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter called "the cage" after his team's victory.

The cage has not been kind to the Kings. They're lost five straight playoff games at SAP, three last year in their second-round victory and two this year. Including regular-season games, they've played 12 games at San Jose since the start of the 2011-12 season and have one victory (a 1-0 shutout Jan. 27 by goaltender Jonathan Quick).

"It's tough to win in this building," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after the morning skate. "We know what we have to do, and we know how to beat this team. The bottom line is we need to have a good start like always. We want to get that first goal, and we've been letting them back in the game by letting them get one next. We need to build on that lead and push them out of the game."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 4:47 PM

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

Kings look for better start vs. Sharks in Game 2

SAN JOSE -- For San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, the third period of his team's 6-3 win Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series turned out to be a valuable "teaching tool."

The Sharks built a 5-0 lead through two periods, then allowed three straight goals in the third before Brent Burns scored an empty-net goal. The Sharks were reminded what could happen Sunday night in Game 2 if they lose their aggressiveness against the Kings.

"If you play on your heels, you stand back, you give them time and space and the ability to generate speed and get their forecheck going, you have no chance of winning," McLellan said after the Sharks' morning skate at SAP Center."


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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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