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Sharks get Sheppard back in lineup against Bruins

by Matt Kalman

SHARKS (4-1-1) at BRUINS (3-4-0)


BOSTON -- The San Jose Sharks' first regulation loss of the season and the return to health of center James Sheppard have caused coach Todd McLellan to juggle his forward lines against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday.

San Jose's 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday put the Sharks' record at 4-1-1.

Sheppard is scheduled to make his season debut after recovering from knee surgery. He thinks he's just about 100 percent healthy.

"I've gone through this rehab more than one time. And it kind of gets redundant but you get a better feel for where you are in your rehab process, things like that," said Sheppard, who had four goals and 20 points in 67 games last season. "My biggest thing was just trying to get back where I was at the end of last year because I think that's the best that I've played in my career, having a bum knee or a good year. So I kind of got a better feel for where I was and I know that now I'm ready to go, I’m ready to contribute to our team."

Sheppard centered a line with forwards Tomas Hertl and Andrew Desjardins during the morning skate. McLellan's other changes included placing Tommy Wingels on right wing next to left wing Patrick Marleau and center Logan Couture, and putting Matt Nieto on the left side of center Joe Thornton and right wing Joe Pavelski.

"A bit of a wake-up call for some individuals," McLellan said. "Trying to look for different elements on lines. Obviously, 4-0, we didn't perform anywhere near our ability. And we're disappointed in the hardness, if you will, in our game. I think I talked about that after. So we're shuffling things around a little bit, still looking for combinations that can consistently give us a good night."

The Bruins lineup also should be different because the team learned Monday that defenseman Kevan Miller is out indefinitely with a separated shoulder. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who has played in one game this season, should replace Miller in the lineup.

"His game is about skating and moving the puck," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He has to continue to work on being a little harder to play against. As a defenseman you have to defend and you have to be hard; sometimes a little harder in areas he has to defend. Those are areas we talk to him about."

Here are the projected lineups:


Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Matt Nieto - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins

John Scott - Adam Burish - Eriah Hayes

Matt Irwin - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Jason Demers - Scott Hannan

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Chris Tierney, Tye McGinn, Mirco Mueller

Injured: Tyler Kennedy (upper body), Mike Brown (upper body), Raffi Torres (knee)


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Seth Griffith

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith

Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Simon Gagne

Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton

Dennis Seidenberg - Torey Krug

Matt Bartkowski - Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

Niklas Svedberg

Scratched: Matt Fraser

Injured: Kevan Miller (shoulder)

Status report: McLellan said he wouldn't read anything into his scratching rookies Tierney and Mueller. … Krug, a left-handed shot, should start out on the right side in Miller's absence. Julien said he'd expect Krug and Seidenberg to be interchangeable based on the situation. … The Bruins still are searching for the right combination on Krejci and Campbell's lines. Griffith should get another chance to play with Krejci and Lucic, but Julien could again move Gagne up the lineup if the Bruins need a spark.

Who's hot: Burns is tied for the NHL lead in points by a defenseman with seven. … Niemi has a career 5-2-0 record with a 1.70 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in seven games against the Bruins. … Kelly has four assists in the Bruins' past three games and linemate Soderberg has scored a goal in two straight games.

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