Devin Setoguchi was anxious to return to the Sharks lineup following a nine game absence due to an upper body injury. He got his feet wet in the Nashville contest and then exploded back on the scene with a two-goal outing Thursday night against Dallas.
The two tallies were vital to the Sharks reaching the overtime period and earning the two points awarded the victor. For Setoguchi, it was fitting that he scored the two goals in the city where he potted his very first NHL goal, as well as his second goal, back on October 29 of 2007.
Entering the contest, Setoguchi had just seven points in 22 games this year, not where he ideally wanted to be as a 23-year-old who has already posted a 30-goal campaign. This may be the kick start that again begins highlighting the talents of the lightning quick skating forward with the heavy shot.
The absence from the lineup is not what any player wants, but it did allow Setoguchi to be completely healthy.
“It felt good,” Setoguchi said following Friday’s practice. “I had so much time to sit back and get so much rest and get better. You get all excited to get back to the lineup, to make a difference and get back on the right track. It felt good and hopefully we can keep going in the same way.”
Having not scored at his desired rate prior to the injury, netting two early in the return could do a world of good for Setoguchi as he is a dangerous player when he has everything going. Even with the games missed, he is sixth on the club in hits, showing how the skilled forward enjoys a bit of the physical game. Offensively, among players from the 2005 NHL Draft class, he ranks sixth in goals and points.
“You never want to come back and hit a slow start again,” Setoguchi stated. “It kind of weighs mentally on you. Getting back in and getting a couple early on is a good confidence booster and hopefully they’ll keep going in the right way.”
That Joe Pavelski
centered his line in the return was a positive as there is familiarity with the Sharks American Olympian.
“I’ve played with everyone this year, but I probably wouldn’t have scored if Pavs didn’t make those two plays,” Setoguchi pointed out. “Also, Ginner, he’s the one who got the puck out and got it going the other way. You can’t always expect to play with those two guys. Just getting in there and playing, it’s fun. So, it doesn’t matter who you’re out there with. You can create chances either way because we have such a diverse lineup up front.”
For as long as he was out, there was not much rust upon returning to game conditions.
“I’ve skated myself and worked really hard for the last week; trying to get back in shape and make the lineup,” Setoguchi noted. “The first game I was trying to get my timing back. It felt like I was skating well in both games. “
The Taber, Alberta native did a good job of not allowing the down time to affect him, although he acknowledged not even being on the road with the team made it hard to deal with.
“I think being home was worse. I was at home by myself for five days,” Setoguchi recalled. “You just sit there watching the games, wishing you could be out there helping. Everything always looks easier on TV.”
The hard work that paid off in the return didn’t disappear after the two-goal affair as Setoguchi joined some of his teammates for an optional skate on Friday.
“When we were in Dallas too, I went out in the morning, there were about four of us,” Setoguchi said. “Just getting out there and trying to take advantage of the ice time, shooting pucks and working on handling the pucks and holding on to them. It helps out.”
With his health back, Setoguchi is now focused on getting the Sharks on an extended winning streak. They’ve got the start, now they have to keep it going.
“We’ve got to get better every night, consistently getting better and carry over the momentum from the last game into this game,” Setoguchi said.
San Jose will return to action Saturday at 5 p.m. in St. Louis and the contest will be available on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.