The Sharks blueline has two Olympians and a future Hall of Famer, but others play a major role in helping keep pucks out of the net and one of them is Kent Huskins. Huskins happens to be the only blueliner to have played in every game this season for the Sharks and has been a warrior all season.
Huskins is one of those players who tends to blend in and he has steadily contributed more than 17 minutes a game this season. However, those number have risen significantly as the past four games as he’s eclipsed 20 minutes twice, including playing in more that 25 minutes in the overtime battle with Chicago.
Since Huskins doesn’t log a significant power play time for most games, he will not be a minutes leader on the team most nights. However, when it comes to calmly manning the defensive zone, whether at even strength or on the power play, he is a great contributor and quietly plays a large part in the Sharks shut down efforts.
“In my opinion, he is one of the better D we have in going back to retrieve pucks,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “He takes a hit to make a play and is very consistent.”
It may look simple, but when a club purposely dumps a puck in deep so they can chase you down toward the boards, and likely crush you into the boards, doing the right thing and worrying about the puck instead of yourself isn’t the easiest option. It can be a thankless job, but it is far from unappreciated.
“Inside the lockerroom is what matters and the players and coaches realize the little things that aren’t in the stats,” said McLellan. “The little things he does are just as important for us as when (we score).”
Another area where Huskins has been a benefit to McLellan is there has basically been a game of musical chairs in regards to his playing partners this year and whoever has been seated next to him when the music stops has been just fine with Huskins. One night it’s Jason Demers
. The next it’s Jay Leach. Another it’s Derek Joslin. Fortunately, Huskins has the type of game and demeanor that keeps him from being affected by alternating pairings.
“He has the ability to adapt and partly it’s us trying to find him the right partner,” said McLellan. “He’s capable regardless of who ends up working with him.”
“That’s the system were in,” said Huskins. “The main principal is for everyone to be on the same page. Whether it’s Jason, Jos (Joslin) or Jay, they’ve all done a great job and made it easy.”
Huskins hadn’t played a game in San Jose until the season started, but his time observing while injured at the end of last season let him know this was where he wanted to sign and it has worked out for the individual and the club.
“It was as close as you can get to seeing what it’s like without playing,” said Huskins. “I saw how they played the game and knew it was a place I wanted to be. I’m really excited to be here and be a part of it. I was expecting it to be great and it has been.”
Huskins has been part of a championship club in Anaheim where he played a major defensive role in the playoff drive and he appreciates what the Sharks bring to the table every night.
“It’s a pretty condensed schedule and a pretty balanced league,” said Huskins. “For this franchise to be in first place is definitely a good thing.”
Huskins has managed to even turn his fiancée’s family into Sharks fans. The future in-laws have attended plenty of hockey games and have a son playing at Boston University, however, they now proudly wear the teal in southern California.
“I would call them a hockey family,” said Huskins. “Her parents watch all of Ryan’s games on the internet. They watched all his games when he was playing in the BCJHL and would go up there. Now the family watches Sharks games.”
The change of allegiance came at a cost though.
“We got them all Sharks jerseys at Christmas, so they wear them on game days,” said Huskins.
DAY OFFDan Boyle
missed Friday’s practice in a prearranged day off to be honored by the University of Miami, Ohio during their game tonight.
Boyle’s parents will be joining him for the ceremony.
Manny Malhotra was not on the ice and is day-to-day with an injury he incurred in the St. Louis game.
Miami’s current captain, Tommy Wingels
, is a Sharks prospect and has been receiving some mentions as a Hobey Baker candidate as the nation’s top player.
Joslin and Demers both were reassigned to Worcester on Friday.
The Sharks will visit Nashville Saturday at 5 p.m. and the game will be carried on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.