SAN JOSE – With just over a month left before he is eligible to return to the NHL, Evander Kane’s whereabouts right now remain a mystery to Sharks coach Bob Boughner.
When Kane was suspended for 21 games without pay by the NHL on Oct. 18, it was unclear as to whether he would be allowed to use the Sharks’ practice facility to train and skate to prepare for a potential return at the end of November.
Indications, though, are that Kane hasn’t been at Sharks Ice, and Boughner said Friday he was unaware of anyone from the organization reaching out to him.
“I have no idea,” Boughner said when asked if he knew where Kane might be skating. “I don’t have any updates or information on that. I really don’t. I don’t even know if he’s here.”
Boughner said the issue of whether Kane can use team facilities while he’s suspended is going to get “sorted out.”
“I have no new news,” Boughner said. “But we’re going to have to cross that bridge, I think, at some point.”
An email sent earlier this week to Kane’s divorce lawyer asking where the Sharks forward was living was not returned. Kane is going through a divorce from his estranged wife, Anna, and the two recently agreed to drop the domestic violence restraining orders they had held against each other.
Boughner added that he didn’t know if anyone from the Sharks organization had spoken to Kane since his suspension was announced last week. At the time, multiple Sharks players said they had not spoken to Kane in recent weeks.
Kane was banned for a quarter of the season for violating the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and is not eligible to return until Nov. 30 when the Sharks play in New Jersey.
The Sharks are 4-3-0 without Kane and host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday in the second game of a five-game homestand. The Sharks returned from a five-game road trip early Wednesday morning, then played the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, a 4-0 loss.
The Sharks’ homestand continues with games against Buffalo on Tuesday, St. Louis on Thursday, and New Jersey on Saturday. The Sharks rank 17th in the NHL right now at 2.86 goals per game.
“Being on the road and just coming back late and getting ready for (Saturday’s) game,” Boughner said of the hectic schedule. “We’ve got a couple of days to breathe here next week, and I think we’ll figure some stuff out.”
CHANGE IN APPROACH: The Sharks are searching for answers Friday after scoring just once in the last two games. Canadiens goalie Jake Allen had 45 saves to earn the shutout.
“We didn’t really bear down when we got the chance to score, but that you have to give credit to Allen, who played a great game,” Sharks winger Jonathan Dahlen said. “But we’ve still got to score on some of those chances and I missed a couple or two good chances.”
Boughner said the Sharks aren’t winning enough puck battles in the offensive zone right now — details he went over Friday morning in reviewing certain clips with his team. He also wants his forwards to make it tougher on the opposing goalie by setting up better screens in front of the net.
“Watching the game over, you try and look at why aren’t you scoring,” Boughner said. “We showed seven, eight, 10 clips where we’re already trying to set up in our formation before we got possession. So it’s basically a possession before position kind of mentality. (We want to be) getting in there and outnumbering on the puck battles right now.
“We’ve got two guys watching one guy battle against two.”
Forward Alexander Barabanov, a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game, will play Saturday as Boughner wants to insert a bit more skill into the Sharks lineup.
Barabanov has one assist in two games this season as he’s averaged 15:31 of ice time. It’s unclear what forward line he’ll play on or who will come out of the lineup for him as the Sharks seek to end a three-game losing skid.
“I need to see more offense out of his game,” Boughner said of Barabanov. “I’ve had that conversation with him.”
NIETO LIKELY STILL OUT: Forward Matt Nieto did not practice Friday and is considered doubtful to play Saturday. He was described by Boughner earlier this week as being day-to-day with a lower-body injury after he blocked a shot in the Sharks’ 3-1 loss to Nashville on Tuesday.
In Friday’s practice, Andrew Cogliano remained in Nieto’s spot on the third line with center Nick Bonino and fellow winger Kevin Labanc. Tomas Hertl’s line had William Eklund and Rudolfs Balcers on the wings. Timo Meier and Jonathan Dahlen remained on Logan Couture’s line.