The Sharks line combinations are starting to take shape for opening night as they appeared in the following fashion at Wednesday’s practice:
McLaren-Nichol-Mayers (or McCarthy or Wingels)
“Yes and no,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan about the possible opening night combinations being set. “I think early in the season our game will evolve as time goes on. With that comes line combinations and pairs. We have a sense of comfort in going back to what we were last year, but we’re not prepared to start that way. We’d like some other guys to connect. We’ll continue to move forward and as we need changes we’ll make them.”
The combinations as they lined up on Wednesday definitely spread the wealth when it comes to the Olympic fire power. There is someone from the group of Patrick Marleau
, Joe Thornton
, Dany Heatley and Joe Pavelski
on each combination.
“The way they were lined up today, they all have the ability to contribute offensively,” said McLellan. “Maybe even more important, they will be responsible in their own zone. I think it will be important early in the year that we prevent as much as we score. I like those attributes for those lines as well.”
The players know how dangerous they can be when the scoring is distributed among multiple lines.
“It’s pretty spread out,” said Pavelski. “We’re trying to score more five-on-five goals and be more of a threat that way. We want to be consistent game-in and game-out and hopefully this will provide it.”
“Right now the way the lines are, it is pretty good depth,” said Clowe. “The way it unfolded, those lines played pretty well while they were together, so that is why he kept them together. It’s nice to be able to throw any line out there. I enjoy playing with Mitchy (Torrey Mitchell
) and I’ve played with Pavs a lot. It’s great to have that much depth.”
Thornton, the game’s top passer, may not have his traditional weapons at his disposal, but feels the other combinations will have long term benefits.
“Devin (Setoguchi) is obviously a great shot with great speed,” said Thornton. “I’ve played with him in the past, so it’s pretty easy to find the chemistry with him. Jamie, I think he works extremely hard in the corners and has a great shot as well. I think every day the chemistry with them gets a little better and by Friday it will be pretty good.”
The current scenario allows for different fits within the groups and gives some an opportunity to expand their game. Logan Couture
, a rookie a year ago, is one of those players.
“They are great players,” said Couture of likely playing with Heatley and Marleau. “Wherever I play, I’m happy to play. To get an opportunity with those two players, it’s something I want to take advantage of. I’ve always been more of a passer than a shooter in my game, so I think it suits me well. They’re both great goal scorers in this league. I’ll just give them the puck close to the net and they’ll score goals.”
“He’s just a good player,” said Heatley of Couture. “He’s a puck hound and good on the forecheck and good on the stick. When he gets the puck he can make good plays. You saw in the preseason when he gets the puck he can finish. He’s a lot of fun to play with.”
The Sharks players have now visited two countries and Sweden is holding up its reputation as a tourist hot spot.
“From what we’ve seen, it’s a very pretty country,” said Ryane Clowe
. “From where we’re staying downtown, there is a half an hour or hour walk (to enjoy). We’ve got our travel guy Douglas Murray
to guide us. We’ll take advantage of that.”
Clowe said he would definitely sample the local food while in Sweden.
“If we do go (to dinner), I’m going to try the reindeer steak,” said Clowe.
Setoguchi went with a simple fish and chips option the first night in Stockholm, but will challenge his palette tonight with authentic Swedish dining options.
Could the absence of Heatley and Marleau’s sniping talents mean Thornton might find himself shooting a little more?
“With Patty scoring 40 and Heater scoring 40, it’s pretty tough for me to shoot, but I might shoot a little bit more,” said Thornton. “But I can’t guarantee anything.”
Many of the players are finally on a European clock with their bodies.
“I was in bed at 10 o’clock and I got up at 8:30, so I’m fully back to normal,” said Thornton.
McLellan would not tip his hand as to who the opening night goaltender would be for San Jose.
Former Sharks scoring star Jonathan Cheechoo has signed an AHL tryout contract with the Worcester Sharks.