At playoff time, it helps to have depth and the Sharks have as much as anybody. Much will be expected of the No. 1 line featuring Joe Thornton
, Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo, but a recently tweaked second line will also make some noise.
Captain Patrick Marleau
and Joe Pavelski
will have a new right wing when the Sharks open their quarterfinal series against Calgary Wednesday night. Ryane Clowe
, who missed 67 games because of a knee injury, has been back since March 30. With Clowe, this No. 2 line now has three important attributes: speed (Marleau), skill (Pavelski) and power (Clowe).
Besides the speed, Marleau also has a great shot.
“Patty’s speed is hard on the defense and can back them up,” Clowe said. “He has a great shot, too.”
“Patty and I clicked early and it’s been great,” Pavelski said.
Pavelski has the skill and the smarts. He may not be as quick as Marleau and Michalek, but he knows how to get to open ice for scoring opportunities.
“’Pavs’ finds the holes and has a quick shot,” Clowe said.
Clowe said his knee is fine. He rehabilitated very hard during the season to regain the strength in his leg so he achieve his primary goal of being available for the playoffs. Normally a left wing, Clowe’s playing the right side and will bring some size and grit to go along with his surprisingly soft hands.
“He’s big enough to make plays along the wall,” said Pavelski. who has played on the opposite wing in the past. “He can do everything and is a big strong guy we want out there.”
Clowe hasn’t played much with Pavelski, but has spent time on the ice with Marleau.
“With this team, all the players can jump in because of the system,” Clowe said. “Last year, I played with Patty. I played the right wing with Patty and Joe and a lot in Cleveland (San Jose’s American Hockey League affiliate in the early 2000s). I like the right side and making the pass with the backhand. I feel ready.”
Clowe was limited to just 15 games in the regular season, but the Sharks are counting on him for some big postseason contributions.
“Clowe will have a big role in the playoffs,” Head Coach Ron Wilson said. “He’ll be on one of the top two lines and he’s a goal scorer.”
“Obviously, you can’t rely on one line,” defenseman Brian Campbell said. “The ability to have other lines score wears teams down in a seven-game series.”
WHO’S THE SIXTH DEFENSEMAN?
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff didn’t skate in Tuesday’s practice. In fact, he’s been absent from recent practices.
“He probably won’t play tomorrow,” Wilson said.
One of three defensemen could fill his spot: Sandis Ozolinsh, Matt Carle or Alexei Semenov. Wilson will make that determination on Wednesday.
San Jose will play hosts to Calgary in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at 7 p.m., Wednesday at HP Pavilion. The contest will be available on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.