The Sharks received encouraging news at Monday’s practice. First, center Scott Nichol and defenseman Niclas Wallin skated with their teammates.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back,” Assistant Coach Trent Yawney said. “It’s like making a trade almost. The guys are excited. They felt good after practice and we’ll just keep going forward.”
No timetable was set on either players’ return.
“I don’t have the answer right now, but I doubt (Wednesday) because they’ve only skated once or two times,” Yawney said.
Nichol said skating with the entire team is much easier than skating alone or with one other partner.
“It was fun,” Nichol said. “It was good to handle the puck and shoot on some goalies. Husky (injured defenseman Kent Huskins) and I have been skating by ourselves for an hour. That’s a lot of skating, just the two of you. This is more game like. Just a first practice, getting up to speed.”
Nichol felt sorry leaving Huskins alone, but not sorry enough to skate two ice sessions.
“I started chirping him when he went out by himself. Now it’s be pretty quiet out there,” Nichol said with a smile.
The only positive for Nichol during his time away from the main practice session was he did get a bit more time at home.
“I think they’ve enjoyed dad there for short periods,” Nichol said, also adding the kids were getting a bit antsy to see dad back on TV.
Good news item No. 2: center Logan Couture
didn’t skate at Monday’s practice, but there was positive news from Couture and the coaching staff.
“Still day-to-day, but feeling much better,” Yawney said. “He’s a big part of our team and you don’t want to be losing guys at this time of the year. It’s encouraging and I’m glad to hear he’s feeling better.”
Couture, much like defenseman Dan Boyle
a game earlier, acknowledged being pretty nervous when it first happened.
“It was scary,” Couture said. “I tried to stop and don’t know if anyone touched me. The way my leg went in, it didn’t feel very good. I wanted to get up and was trying to. The ref came over and said just stay down and there wasn’t much feeling in my leg. As soon as I got off the ice, it started to feel better. I could put pressure on it. It wasn’t as bad as it looked.”
Couture couldn’t be specific on his return.
“I’m doing better than I thought I would be,” Couture said. “Maybe I’ll get on the ice tomorrow. We’ll see.”
The last bit of good news: forward Dany Heatley’s two-game suspension is over.
“It will be nice to get back and contribute,” Heatley said.
Heatley said any anxiety about not being able to play was relieved when the Sharks went undefeated (2-0) during his absence.
“Not that bad after we won the two,” Heatley said. “You always want to be out there contributing and helping the boys. I’m looking forward to Wednesday. Wally (and I) were laughing, the boys don’t really need us.”
However, Heatley’s teammates know better. “I’d rather be 2-0 with them,” Marleau said.
THE WEEK’S FIRST STAR
Everyone was happy to see Joe Pavelski
earn the NHL’s No. 1 star for the week. His production is what brought about the honor, but it’s his commitment that brought about the stats.
“He’s kind of our Swiss Army knife. He does a little of everything,” Yawney said. “He plays the point on the power play, kills penalties, takes important faceoffs and plays his regular shift. What doesn’t he do? It’s good to see a guy like that get rewarded.”
Pavelski is a role model for how younger players can learn to prepare.
“He’s a good player, but he puts a lot of time and effort into his work ethic and his practice habits,” Yawney said. “He’s always working on some area of his game. As coaches, you try and push that and for younger guys to see him get rewarded for that, it shows that if you put in the time, you will get rewarded eventually.”
There was still a little buzz over Pavelski pointing out a goal wasn’t his in Saturday’s win over St. Louis, thus preventing himself from being awarded his first hat trick.
“It was fun when the hats were falling,” Pavelski saidd. “I knew it wasn’t ours. The video showed it too.”Patrick Marleau
ended up with the tally, but he said not to worry.
“He’s going to get a hat trick,” Marleau said.
It’s a hockey club, but the two University of Wisconsin Badgers in the Sharks locker room are paying extra attention to the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin is the fourth seed in their region, but the No. 1 seed has been knocked out.
“I think I have Wisconsin going another game or two,” Pavelski said proudly. “A few of my other brackets aren’t so good.”
“Wisconsin, they’re in the Sweet 16, no big deal,” Heatley said. “I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
These Wisconsin hockey alums have plenty of respect for their basketball team.
“They play really well fundamentally and play good defense,” Pavelski said. “You know what to expect out of Bo Ryan’s teams and they produce every year. Hopefully they keep going.”
San Jose plays hosts to Calgary Wednesday at 7 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.2 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.