Heading into Tuesday's contest with Edmonton, Head Coach Todd McLellan has adjusted his forward lines. The most notable change is the fact that Patrick Marleau
won't be on the left wing with center Joe Thornton
and right wing Devin Setoguchi.
McLellan isn't unhappy with the trio, it's just that injuries have limited the amount of centers on the Sharks roster. Asking Marleau to temporarily play center was a pretty obvious solution.
"We're thin down the middle right now," McLellan said. "Moving Patty over allows us to have three natural centers. Without doing that, we'd have to rely too much on Joe and 'Pavs' (Joe Pavelski
The forward lines at the morning skate were:
Lukas Kaspar-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi
Milan Michalek-Joe Pavelski-Ryane Clowe
Mike Grier-Patrick Marleau-Jonathan Cheechoo
Jody Shelley/Brad Staubitz-Claude Lemieux-Jamie McGinn
Marleau doesn't mind going back to center and feels the switch won't present many problems.
"It's all right," Marleau said. "Hopefully it will come back to me. I've ended up playing center three to four shifts a game. In our system, if you start at center you can end up playing the wing on some shifts."
Another player moving to the middle will be Claude Lemieux, who normally plays on the wing.
"We're asking him to accept that role," McLellan said. "There's nothing else we can do. We're putting the experience there."
"We've got some issues and I've got to help out," Lemieux said.
For Kaspar, the rookie who was San Jose's No. 1 pick in 2004 now has a great opportunity to show what he can do.
"I want to make the best of it," Kaspar said.
"Lukas was drafted to fulfill that type of potential," McLellan said. "It's a huge opportunity for him to show he's the player people thought he would be."
Kaspar has played a few shifts with Thornton. He'll be taking a simple approach to playing with one of hockey's top playmakers. "I guess I'll give it to him and be ready," Kaspar said.
Kaspar also said he skated on a line with Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell
in training camp a few years ago.
While the line changes weren't caused because of San Jose's inconsistent play as of late, there's no doubt McLellan wants to see a better effort tonight.
"I want to see us establish our game," he said.
McLellan said center Tomas Plihal is now day-to-day with a lower body injury. So he joins forwards Jody Shelley and Jeremy Roenick and defenseman Brad Lukowich in San Jose's sick bay. Yet McLellan is hopeful about seeing them back on the active roster soon. "I would like to see all of them play this homestand," he said.
With Shelley still out, right wing Brad Staubitz is expected to arrive on time for tonight's game from San Jose's top development affiliate in Worcester to fill his role on the fourth line.
San Jose will play Edmonton tonight at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.