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Defensive Specialists Now Offensive Threats

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
When Christian Ehrhoff first arrived in San Jose, it was with the reputation as a potential power play quarterback. Over the years, he morphed into a defensive specialist, leading the Sharks in ice time quite often. This year, he’s among the Sharks scoring leaders and still playing outstanding defense.


“I always saw myself as a well-rounded player,” Ehrhoff said. “I think I’m two-way defenseman. I can do both and I’ll try to do my best showing that.”

New Coach Todd McLellan wants the defense to be more involved with the offense. To that end, Ehrhoff is shooting more often and skating deep into the attacking zone.

“I love it, It’s kind of playing into my hands,” Ehrhoff said. “I like to skate and be up in the play. We’re allowed to join the rush. The D gets a lot of shots, so it’s working well for me right now.”

Last season, he had a goal and 22 assists with a plus-9 in 77 games. In just 10 contests in 2008-09, Ehrhoff already has doubled last year’s goal total and he has seven assists in 10 games. He also leads the Sharks with a plus-6.

“He’s definitely involved more and always had a great shot,” said Douglas Murray, Ehrhoff’s defensive partner. “It’s great to see the guy utilize his skills more.”

For the short time McLellan has known Ehrhoff, he has noticed a change.

“His confidence level, in my opinion, has gone way up from training camp and has evolved to where it is right now,” McLellan said. “But he does do a lot of things on the defensive side that allow him to go. He doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t take short cuts to go on offense and he has been rewarded for that.”

The system and confidence levels aren’t the only things that have changed for Ehrhoff since last season.

“I changed my stick this year. My shot is pretty good right now and I feel pretty good about it,” Ehrhoff said. “At the end of last year, I did a motion capture with a company and they figured out everything on the computer about how much my stick needs to flex and how the blade has to be. They put it together and it seems to work pretty well.”

Ehrhoff’s growth is not lost on his teammates.

“He made some adjustments on his own during the summer which is always nice to see,” Jonathan Cheechoo said. “It shows. He’s hitting the net a lot more and scoring more goals.”

Defensemen like Ehrhoff, Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have been contributing more to the Sharks attack this season.

“He’s getting the puck, he’s walking through the middle and he’s hitting the net,” Cheechoo said of Ehrhoff.

“He’s playing great and when the defensemen are playing well, it benefits the forwards,” Patrick Marleau said.

INJURY UPDATES
The Sharks will likely be without Marcel Goc for another contest due to an undisclosed injury.

“He’s out for tomorrow and day-to-day after that,” McLellan said.

Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi didn’t skate in practice today, but McLellan indicated both would be ready.

“Just maintenance on both, they’ll be ready to go,” McLellan said.

FIRST GAME

Rookie left wing Jamie McGinn made his NHL debut on Tuesday night and had slightly more than five minutes of ice time.

“I would have preferred to play him more,” McLellan said. “He did a nice job.”

McGinn was still flying high on Wednesday after his debut. Even thought it was well after one in the morning on the East Coast when the game ended, he called back home to Ontario.

“It was fun for me, but it’s better for them,” McGinn said. “They said to call no matter the time. They had so many people over, my dad was back near the kitchen and couldn’t hear the TV. He said they cheered every time I stepped on the ice.”

McGinn will never forget making his NHL debut against Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh, one of last year’s Stanley Cup finalists.

“I was nervous my first shift, but I got the jitters out,” McGinn said. “To play against Crosby and the Penguins was great. I felt confident against them and should feel comfortable for the rest of the games.”

NEXT GAME

The Sharks play hosts to Detroit at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. The game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com

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