Before Rob Blake plays against his former team, the Los Angeles Kings, tonight at HP Pavilion, he’ll be putting some money on the board.
According to fellow veteran teammate Claude Lemieux, when a player faces off against his former squad, he puts “money on the board” for the win or the game-winning goal. So as Lemieux did when the Sharks were in New Jersey on Sunday (Lemieux won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff most valuable player when New Jersey won the 1995 Stanley Cup), Blake will continue the long-standing tradition.
“We put up money for a win and it goes into the team fund,” Lemieux said following the morning skate. “It’s kind of an old tradition. You do that when you play against your old team or the city that you were from.”
This will be the sixth time Blake has contributed to the fund as the Sharks have played Colorado and the Kings a combined five times. The Sharks have defeated Los Angeles in all three previous meetings so he’s contributed to the pot for each one of those wins.
“It’s our fourth game against them and we’ve played Colorado twice, so I’ve been digging in a bit this year,” Blake said. “We’ve won them all against both teams.”
“Whatever he puts up is in recognition of the team he played for,” Lemieux said. “That means there’s more incentive for him to beat that team.”
The Kings are fighting for a playoff spot. Entering tonight’s game, the Kings and Minnesota are three points out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles has been playing well lately, especially on the road. Since Dec. 23, the Kings are 9-2-1 away from Staples Center.
Meanwhile, San Jose is trying to get some consistency in their game after winning just one of their five games on the recent road trip.
“At this time of the year, they’re fighting to get into the playoffs and we’re trying to get our game ready for going in,” Blake said. “So it should be a good game. I don’t think you’ll see the amount of penalties as you did against Edmonton because there’s too much at risk for both sides.”
ON THE INJURY FRONT
Defenseman Brad Lukowich participated in the morning skate, but Coach Todd McLellan said he won’t be in tonight’s lineup. Lukowich, who’s been on Injured Reserve since Jan. 9 with a sports hernia injury, didn’t comment to reporters after the skate.
On the other hand, center Jeremy Roenick, who’s been out since Dec. 13 with a shoulder problem, is hopeful for a return on Saturday vs. Atlanta.
“If all goes well and I get a good day in today and tomorrow, we’ll shoot for Saturday,” Roenick said. “I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
He also was disappointed that the Sharks wouldn’t be one of the four teams playing in Europe to start the 2009-01 season. “I would’ve loved to gone over,” he said.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY PLAN
Right wing Devin Setoguchi had a group of friends and family from his hometown of Taber, Alberta watching the morning skate.
“My auntie and uncle and cousin and their friends of the family with three of their kids are here,” Setoguchi said. “Two of my other neighbors came down on Monday and they brought their kids. There are a lot of little ones running around that love hockey.”
Setoguchi entertained them yesterday at his apartment, but roommate Torrey Mitchell
avoided the little kid confrontation.
All the family and friends will be in the stands tonight.
The Sharks will play hosts to the Los Angeles Kings tonight at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific) at HP Pavilion. The game will be available on CSN in High Definition, 98.5 KFOX FM and SJSHARKS.com.