|San Jose Sharks' Ryane Clowe (29) celebrates his goal with teammate Logan Couture (39) as Phoenix Coyotes' Ilya Bryzgalov, of Russia, skates away during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 26, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 4-1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) |
The San Jose Sharks have some good news in their first practice in anticipation of the 2011 Sharks Playoffs, presented by El Camino Hospital. Ryane Clowe
, who skated less than two minutes on April 4 vs. Los Angeles and missed the last three games, appears set to play in Game 1 of the quarterfinals vs. the Kings.
“Playing Thursday instead of Wednesday, I think it will help all the guys,” Clowe said after today’s practice. “I went four or five days without skating and this is the first time I skated. It’s been almost a week and the legs felt pretty good.”
“Clowe was fine,” Coach Todd McLellan said. “I talked to him after practice. He said he felt really good and was smiling. I asked him about his legs and his lungs and he said everything felt good. We expect him to be playing and he expects himself to play.”
Clowe’s presence is important for the Sharks because he does so many things. He brings leadership on- and-off the ice, while being able to play the physical or skill game. More importantly, he might be the perfect fit for playoff hockey.
|San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe, center, works near the goal against Calgary Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr (28) and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, March 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) |
“He’s built for the playoffs, a big strong guy like that,” Dan Boyle
said. “Just the way he plays the game, that’s the way the game is played in the playoffs. He’s strong along the boards. Can score, fight and hit. He’s a huge piece of our puzzle and we’re happy to have him back.”
“It’s very powerful when he gets on the ice,” McLellan said. “His size, strength and toughness are all very well documented, but he has the ability to play the game in a finesse way, too. He’s a very good passer, protects the puck extremely well and in a year like this where scoring is at a premium, he found a way to put up a lot of points.”
“A big strong guy like that is pretty hard to defend against,” Patrick Marleau
said. “He gets in there and bangs the other bodies. He does a lot of work.”
His strong will is a reason Clowe wears the “A” on his sweater and his contributions there are equal to his on-ice talents.
“As far as a leader, you won’t find someone as competitive as Clowe,” Marleau said. “He wants to win each and every battle. That’s huge and it carries over to other guys on the team and keeps them accountable.”
|San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe (29) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32), of Finland, during the third period of the NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 15, 2011. The Sharks won 6-3. (AP Photo) |
“Off the ice, he’s a guy everyone respects,” Dany Heatley said. “He’s a big leader in this room.”
McLellan noted that Clowe’s leadership role is well deserved as he’s always willing to look in the mirror.
“He was thrust into a larger role this year when his teammates and the coaching staff selected him as an alternate captain. Clowe is the first to hold himself accountable in front of his teammates,” McLellan said. “He accepts responsibility for his game and from there it spreads throughout the room.
“The guys have a ton of respect for him,” McLellan continued. “He’s a very important piece.”IN GOOD SHAPE
The Sharks are in a fairly healthy state, or at least as a hockey club can be after 82 games.
“In previous years, we’ve always had a few injuries and a few guys banged up at this time of year,” Clowe said. “When the playoffs start, everyone tries to come back. You try to play through stuff. That’s not really the case. We have most guys healthy and everyone’s playing well. That’s a good sign.”
“Most teams go through injuries. I think we’re fortunate to this point not to have major injuries,” Heatley said. “It’s nice to have guys back.”
|San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe (29) celebrates after scoring past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, in the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, March 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) |
The only player that hasn’t skated in a while is defenseman Kent Huskins and for the first time, McLellan provided an outline for his return.
“Husky is involved in full contact in practice right now,” McLellan said. “If we needed him, we’re probably looking at the middle of the series. Then he’ll become an option.”
THE MISSING KING
The Kings will be without leading scorer Anze Kopitar, who fractured his right ankle on March 26. However, the Sharks shouldn’t consider them less dangerous without him.
“That’s probably like asking us how different are we without Joe Thornton
,” McLellan said. “He’s a dominant player in the National Hockey League, not only for their team. But I’ve said it before, others tend to pick up the slack and play towards their identity. They’re a big strong team that plays well defensively. Their goaltending is good. Their penalty kill is good. hose areas of the game tend to get better. It gives us a bigger challenge to play against that.”RUST VS. REST
A constant question during the playoffs is if too much rest is too much. The Sharks have four days off before Game 1 on Thursday.
“When I was young, I used to think I wanted to keep playing,” Heatley said, noting a differing feeling now. “I think it’s good for most of the guys to have three or four days.”WORCESTER TOGS UP FOR AUCTION
The Worcester Sharks will auction off their “V” logo (for their fifth anniversary) teal game worn sweaters from the 2010-11 season during an online auction through eBay and www.SharksAHL.com, beginning on Sunday, April 10 at 8 p.m. (EST).
The Sharks wore these sweaters throughout their fifth anniversary season. They include some of the most prolific players ever to suit up for the Worcester Sharks -- including Jonathan Cheechoo and Alex Stalock
As a reminder, all Sharks practices at Sharks Ice at San Jose during the postseason are closed to the public.