Demers will again step in for Dan Boyle
who wasn’t quite ready to return to action.
“Unfortunately I’m out,” said Boyle. “I’m not playing and I’d like to be. There is too much pain right now. I’ll try again the next game or so.”
Boyle isn’t worried about the team’s performance without him.
“The last two games, the guys have stepped up, played well and done their job,” said Boyle.
Boyle was asked if he would wait until he was completely free of pain or any injuries before returning.
“That’s not my thought process, but it’s my mom’s,” laughed Boyle.
Couture has been on fire as of late, helping Worcester win and impressive 20 of their last 25 games.
“He’s played very, very well in the American League and he deserves this opportunity to be here a little while,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan.
He will step into the middle of the fourth line as Torrey Mitchell
will slide to the wing.
“When he was in Worcester we (he and Mitchell) didn’t play together,” said Couture. “I’ve yet to play wing this year and maybe have only one or two games in my life.”
Mitchell has played wing some during his early return to the lineup.
No player in the Sharks room is minimizing the contest between the two clubs with the Western Conference’s best records. It is just two possible points in the end, but they all agree that it is a bit more fun when matchups like this occur.
“To a point,” said Rob Blake about the fun involved in the game. “It brings out different emotions, but nothing like the playoffs. Either way, you’ll win or lose and you’ll play 25 or 30 more.”
“It’s definitely what brings out your best,” said Manny Malhotra. “It’s fun going into a game knowing you have to play your absolute best.”
“It’s a big game right now,” said McLellan. “Tomorrow it will be another one of 82. We have to not get too high or too low. We’ll also play another big game on Saturday.”
The final regular season meeting between the two will not send an everlasting tone to the other side should they meet again in the playoffs, but the contest is definitely a measuring stick.
“It’s a test,” said Blake. “(After) you know where you sit with them. If you want to win in the playoffs, you probably have to go through Chicago.”
There is a lot of high-end talent that will be playing during the contest, 14 Olympians will be on the ice, but the work ethic will be as much, if not more, important.
“The key a game like this is skill-wise we know we will be pretty even,” said Malhotra. “What it comes down to is outworking them in the game. We have to be smart with the puck, create turnovers and limit our turnovers. We have to manage the game properly.”
“It’s a game of who is going to outwork who,” said Mitchell. “Both teams have skill and both have really good goaltending.”
Even with the talent skating in the two jerseys, neither club wants a no-defense, up and down affair.
“We want to make sure we limit our odd man rushes against and make plays on the blueline that can’t be turned into breakaways,” said Blake.
While making the trip west for Thursday’s game, Couture and Demers had seats next to each other for the six hour trek. There was a bit of confusion as to who got stuck in the middle seat though.
“I got stuck in the middle,” said Couture. “I had the window, but Jay jumped right in there.”
Demers saw it differently.
“I hate the window,” said Demers. “I get so antsy, I like the aisle.”
In the days of commercial flights for all NHL teams, the rule was the person with the most games played has the first choice of seats.
“He’s got me there,” said Couture.
The duo has made the trip enough that they felt comfortable at the morning skate, but not so comfortable that the excitement level has dropped.
“I’m a little confident knowing how the pregame skate goes,” said Couture. “I still get that ‘WOW’ feeling.”
In the recent AHL All-Star game, Couture got the better of his Worcester goalie, Alex Stalock
, at the event.
“In the breakaway skills relay event I had him and scored,” said Couture. “He went in for the third period and I scored and in the shootout I got him.”
The two are roommates when away from the rink and there was some good natured ribbing involved. A video will soon be shown at an upcoming Worcester game of Stalock extracting his revenge. Couture’s call-up won’t let him see the already filmed event that he gladly took part in. Let’s just say he get’s the shortend of the stick in the video.
The Giants Pablo Sandoval will drop the ceremonial puck during the pregame festivities.
The Sharks will host Chicago at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at sjsharks.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.