For the first time in two weeks, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov joined his teammates in practice at Sharks Ice at San Jose. The 33-year-old suffered a lower body injury while making the final save in San Jose’s 5-4 shootout win against St. Louis on Nov. 6. Now, Nabokov is doing everything he can to make himself available for Saturday night’s game against the Washington Capitals.
|San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, of Kazakhstan, stops a shot by St. Louis Blues center Jay McClement, left. Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) |
“It was my first practice with the boys and it felt good,” Nabokov said to a scrum of reporters during the post-practice presser. Nabokov’s health has been a hot topic alongside other Sharks injuries.
Head Coach Todd McLellan hopes to have his No. 1 goaltender back in the lineup to face the Southeast Division-leading Capitals. But McLellan is concerned about more than just his health.
“Part of it is health,” McLellan said after practice. “Part of it is polishing up your game after two-and-a-half weeks off. We have to make sure that both are being addressed.”
With Nabokov back in the lineup, Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson elected to return goaltender Thomas Greiss
to the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s top development affiliate in the American Hockey League. The 22-year-old didn’t play in any games since being promoted on Nov. 6. With Worcester, however, he posted a 3.22 goals-against average and an .860 save percentage.
So what happens to Brian Boucher, who’s started the last six games in Nabokov’s absence? He’s now tied for third in the NHL in goals-against average (1.99) and second in shutouts (two).
“It will be the same decision process that we’ve always had,” McLellan said when asked about who will start vs. Washington. “We’ll evaluate game-to-game. There’s no goaltender controversy here one bit. We’ll manage it the right way and away we go.”
|San Jose Sharks right wing Mike Grier (25) is congratulated by defenseman Dan Boyle (22) after scoring past the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period. Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) |
Alternate Captain Mike Grier also skated on Thursday and assured reporters that his groin that had caused him to miss the last two games was feeling better. In his casual satirical matter, he smiled and said, “It’s nothing. No news really.”
Although he had continued to practice with the team, Grier’s groin injury kept him from playing in Chicago and Nashville. Now he has two days to test his abilities before making a judgment on his status for Saturday.
“I think we’ll know more tomorrow,” said Grier. “I’ll see how it feels tonight, then practice tomorrow and see how it feels tomorrow.”
Finally, center Torrey Mitchell
was all smiles as he enjoyed his second day out on the ice. Although he didn’t practice with the team, he did some light skating and puck handling drills on his own.
Mitchell suffered a complete non-displaced Tibia/Fibula fracture (two lower leg bones) during a training camp scrimmage on Sept. 21. He’s expected to return to the active roster before Christmas.
The Sharks will play hosts to the Washington Capitals at HP Pavilion on Nov. 22 at 7:30 pm (Pacific). The game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet in High Definition, 98.5 KFOX and SJSHARKS.com.