Friday morning when the Sharks took to the ice for a short practice at HP Pavilion, Brad Staubitz got to have a little fun for the day. As the Sharks were down to just five defenders for practice, Staubitz stepped in to his original hockey role and played alongside Rob Blake for drills.
“I liked him at D,” Blake said. “Once you play D, you never forget it.”
There’s no guarantee Staubitz can quickly regain his membership in the defensemen’s union though.
“He wants to be part of the D really bad,” Dan Boyle
said with a smile. “I just don’t know. This is a hard group to crack.”
Staubitz laughed about finding his roots and that it was like stepping back in time to when he originally signed with the Sharks.
“I’m a born-again,” he said with a big smile.
The reason Staubitz was on the backend was Marc-Edouard Vlasic
missed much of the last game and was held out of practice to be further evaluated for an injury (Coach Todd McLellan already noted that Vlasic would be fine).
Staubitz enjoyed the rigors of practice and the refresher course on the blueline for the odd occasion he would play there again in a game.
“Practice was upbeat and it was a nice little change of pace,” Staubitz said. “It gives you a different look of the game.”
It had been a while since Staubitz played with the defensemen as he’s been a forward during McLellan’s tenure.
“I played D last year for a shift or two here and in Worcester last year,” Staubitz said. “Before the last year-and- a- half, I had been a defenseman my whole life.”
Should Staubitz get the call in the spot on Saturday, he would welcome it with open arms.
“Just wherever they want me to fill in, I’m happy,” Staubitz said.
From the player’s perspective, each position has its positives.
“On point shots you get to blast it for a tip,” said Staubitz of the backend. “Forward is more fun and you get to be more offensive and creative. I think forwards have an easier time getting the big hits. It’s nice being able to hunt a D-man instead of being attacked. You know what he’s thinking when he hears those footsteps.”
As for a preference?
“I’d like to be able to play both regularly. That would be a goal of mine,” Staubitz said.
However, there are no thoughts of playing in net.
“Goalie? No,” Staubitz said emphatically. “I’m not weird enough.”
The Sharks coaching staff had its hands full against Chicago since Vlasic played just 7:25 against the Blackhawks on Thursday night. San Jose simply juggled the time of the other five defensemen.
“The rotation is easier with six guys instead of five,” Blake said.
There are times though when even if the club is healthy, five blueliners will be used at crunch time.
“’Pickles’ went down and the D did a good job of handling the minutes,” Boyle said.
Boyle had the birds-eye view for part of the game as he watched from the press box.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been up there (in the press box),” Boyle said. “That’s a good thing. You definitely see the game from a different angle.”
No decision has been made on whether Boyle or Vlasic will return for Saturday’s game with Minnesota.
“Every day it gets better,” Boyle said. “I’m not ready to give the green light. If I can go, I’ll be playing.”
While there are no guarantees for either Boyle or Vlasic’s return, the prognosis doesn’t look long term for either player.
“’Pickles’ will be fine,” McLellan said. “He’ll be reviewed today and we’ll see how he and Boyle are for tomorrow.”
Friday’s practice time was more along the lines of what the Sharks will experience going down the stretch.
“35-40 minutes is pretty much the standard for the amount of hockey we’ve played,” McLellan said.
No NHL coach will cheer for an opponent at their own expense, but after a slow start for new Wild Head Coach Todd Richards, McLellan is glad his former San Jose assistant has the Wild playing better.
“We have some ties to the Minnesota Wild with Todd Richards,” McLellan said. “(Assistant Coach) Matt (Shaw) and I came from the Wild and know their younger players.”
San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has reassigned forward Logan Couture
and defenseman Jason Demers
to the Worcester Sharks, the team’s top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Couture has two points (one goal, one assist) in 12 games with the Sharks this season.
With Worcester, Couture leads the team in scoring with 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 32 games and a plus-13 rating. He leads all AHL rookies in points and is T-8th among all AHL players.
Demers has played in 39 games with San Jose, posting 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) and a plus-9 rating.
In eight games with Worcester, Demers has six points (two goals, four assists) and a plus-seven rating.
San Jose will play hosts to Minnesota Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.