As the Sharks ready to face the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, they will have to do it without defenseman Douglas Murray
. Murray missed the final 15 minutes of Saturday’s win due to an injury.
Murray and Dan Boyle
have been staples of the Sharks blueliner for quite some time now, but others will be asked to adjust their role and that includes Marc-Edouard Vlasic
who could pair with Boyle for the night.
“That’s new,” Boyle said when asked about the lineup change. “As far as I know, Dougie is out and I think I’m playing with ‘Pickles’. It’s not that hard of an adjustment, we don’t have to alter our games too much. Just talk a little more. Dougie and I didn’t need to talk so much because we were on the same page all the time.”
Vlasic and Boyle have been teammates for more than two years now, but they also have been paired together once in a while.
“Shifts, not necessarily full games,” Boyle said. “We have different jobs, but at the end of the day it’s the same goal. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of minutes.”
“I’ve played with Boyler before and when a D man goes down, you need to change the partners up. The last game, Dougie was out and I was playing with Boyler. He’s more offensive than Wallin, but that doesn’t mean I have to change my game. I’ll play the exact same way.”
The lineup hole will allow Derek Joslin to play his first game of the season after being injured during training camp. There is a confidence being shown in the young blueliner as he has displayed his talents during his practice sessions with San Jose.
“It’s been a long road,” Joslin said. “I’ve been working hard and it’s nice to know the coaches have confidence in me to come back and help the team out. It’s the first time I’ve ever been injured like that. I’ve never missed a game in junior or pro with an injury. I had a bit of a streak going there.”
The Pacific Division battle between San Jose and Los Angeles could dramatically alter the standings in the morning. A Sharks win would move them to within four points of the division leaders. A Kings win would put them eight points up on the defending champs. There is room for other adjustments as well with three point games.
“It’s hard to not see the fact they are six points ahead of us in our division,” Boyle said. “They are playing really well. It’s an easy game to get motivated for. They are a playoff team and they are young and they are only going to get better. You play 82 games and I would be lying if I didn’t say some games you weren’t up for more than others. This is one of those games we’re up for more than others. It’s very easy for us to be excited about and it’s a good challenge.”
“We’re always aware of it,” Scott Nichol said of the standings. “The old saying is you have to take care of your divisional games. They are a four point game and it’s true. It’s a good test for us this week and it’s going to be a great battle.”
The Kings had years of frustration in Los Angeles, but now are not just a scrappy playoff team, but are making people consider how far they could go.
“They are a great team and have been scoring very well,” Nichol said. “They’ve been getting scoring up and down their lineup. It’s going to be a great divisional lineup.”
Traditionally when the Kings were up, the Sharks were down and visa-versa. Now both appear to be playing elite level hockey. Twenty years into the games, the rivalry may start heating up to what other Northern California and Southern California rivalries have been through the years.
“I think it’s exciting for the sport and for the fans with the close proximity,” Nichol said. “That’s the point of playing in a division, you’ve got to hate the other team. We probably have one of the toughest divisions in all hockey. There isn’t one easy game and everyone is figuring it out in the league. When they come on the west coast trip, it’s a tough grind.”
The Sharks will host Los Angeles Monday night at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.