– Coach Todd McLellan begins his third year at the helm on the
San Jose Sharks tonight in the first of a two-game series with the
Columbus Blue Jackets at Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arena as part
of the NHL Compuware Premiere series.
STOCKHOLM – Coach Todd McLellan begins his third year at the helm on the San Jose Sharks tonight in the first of a two-game series with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arena as part of the NHL Compuware Premiere series.
San Jose and Columbus also play Saturday at 9:00pm local time. The Sharks return to North America after Saturday’s test and continue the regular season Saturday Oct. 16 at home against Atlanta.
“We’ve been over here a long time without having competed in a tense game,” said McLellan. “It’s time to play, let’s find out where we’re at, what we need to work on so when we get back to San Jose next week, we have that week of practice we can focus on a few more specifics.”
Going into tonight’s opener, McLellan opted not to start captain Joe Thornton together with Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley.
“We feel we have depth. If we spread it out through the lines it should make it more difficult on the other team to check. It should get more players involved in the game. Bring out some of the characteristics.
“For example, Jamie McGinn works the boards well and he’s got some speed. Can he create turnovers for Jumbo and Seto (Devin Setoguchi)? We want to find all these things out now rather than later. There’s always a back-up plan. We need to play some games to have a measuring stick.”
Even though Thornton will not be skating with Marleau and Heatley during 5-on-5 play, McLellan will put those three skilled players together on a power play unit.
“Guys from different lines, that’s the hard part, when you are pulling people from different lines,” McLellan said of the decisions needed to send out units while at the same time realizing that a number of players on a particular unit may have just come off the ice.
“For example, going onto the power play, we have a unit that could come from three different lines at one point, so somebody may be a little fatigued or tired. That’s what makes it hard. Same thing penalty-killing wise. When you’re pulling guys from two different units, one guy’s rested, one guy isn’t. So it may be a little scrambly there to begin with. But I think as the players realize the flow of the game and what they’re into, then it will make it easier on them. When we come back after those penalty kill situations, we’ll have to be aware of who’s coming. Obviously if Rick Nash is on the ice, he can be very dangerous. We’ll have to have the right people on the ice.”
One player will be making his NHL debut tonight for San Jose. Tommy Wingels learned before the pre-game skate that he was in the line-up. Wingels, Miami University’s captain last season during a second consecutive Final Four campaign, saw at least four Blue Jacket games because he grew up less than two hours away from Columbus.
“I’m very excited, it’s what you’ve always worked for,” said Wingels. “I’ve got to give the coaches a reason to keep me in the line-up.”
The other Shark player awaiting his NHL debut is defenseman Mike Moore out of Princeton University. Moore practiced late into the morning session and is not expected to be in the line-up.