SAN JOSE Have the Sharks finally found the forward depth theyve been searching for, now that new acquisitions Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi are on board?
If their play in the 1-0 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday is any indication, the two newest members of the Sharks could provide just what Doug Wilson and the coaching staff wanted when they acquired the duo from Colorado in exchange for Jamie McGinn on Monday.
They brought a lot of energy. Theyre definitely going to be a big help, said Joe Thornton. Theyre both energetic players and they both control the puck well and see the ice well.
Lets start with Winnik. The 26-year-old skated alongside Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski in his first game with the Sharks, matched up primarily against the Flyers top line of Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell. In fact, Winnik spent nearly 19 minutes on the ice during even-strength play, leading all forwards. Thats not going to be a nightly occurrence as he gets eased onto the penalty-killing unit, which may take a few days, but the 6-2, 210-pounder was a big reason the Sharks were able to shut down the leagues highest-scoring offense.
I thought it went well. I thought we had some pretty good chemistry, with Pat and Joe. Its unfortunate we didnt score, but we did a great job shutting that top line down for them, Winnik said after the game.
Keeping Giroux at bay was especially impressive. The Flyers candidate for league MVP, Giroux is third in the league in points with 72. It was the first time since March 26, 2011, that Giroux was held without a shot on goal a span of 66 games.
Giroux sounded frustrated after the loss.
Im not going to get ten shots a game. Its not going to happen, he said. I know Ive got to do better in this kind of game. In games like that I want to play better. I think our line really didnt play good tonight.
Giroux didnt say so, but Winnik and Co. was a big reason or that.
Dan Winnik did a great job, said Matt Shaw, speaking to the media in place of McLellan, who missed the game with a concussion. Big guy, was put in a checkingoffensive role with the players he played with and against. You could see he was very adept at pucks on the wall, smart plays on what to do and when, very confident in doing it. Made you feel very comfortable having him on the ice.
Galiardi, meanwhile, provided good energy and an effective forecheck in almost 13 minutes of ice time against the Flyers. That includes a stretch late in the first period and early in the second when he was unable to play after taking a high hit from Philadelphias Zac Rinaldo.
TJ Galiardi played a strong game. He has that kind of slashing speed that always backs off teams a little bit, Shaw said. I think maybe he could have drawn a penalty or two tonight by the way he played.
He almost scored, too. In the third period, with the Sharks maintaining their 1-0 lead, Ilya Bryzgalov stopped him on the doorstep with a nice pad save.
Galiardi didnt care, or at least he wasnt letting on. He has come across as downright giddy since he found out about the trade, and a close call that nearly resulted in his first goal with the Sharks wasnt going to bring him down from his high.
It felt amazing, actually, he said. It was so nice to be out there and be on this side of the action. No better way to get it started than with a win, though.
As long we won, Im happy. It will come eventually. Youve got to get some chemistry with some guys and get used to playing with them a little. Make the reads, and know where theyre going. Im just happy we won.
The coaching staff sat down with Winnik and Galiardi before the game, and the players admitted that the systems employed by McLellan and the rest of the staff are pretty dissimilar than those they were used to with Colorado.
That might seem like a disadvantage at first, but it may have actually helped the pair in that they were thrown right into the fire.
The coaches didnt want to overload us with too much information. They kind of told us some simple system stuff, and then just said make reads and play hockey. Thats what we did, and I think as a team we attacked as five and defended as six, and really boxed them out when they got shots at our net.
Any time you over think, thats when you make mistakes. When you react and just play, thats when you play better.
Galiardi echoed his good friends sentiments.
The main thing is, just dont over think it, just go out and play. The systems are a lot different than what were used to, at the end of the day were all hockey players and we can make the reads.
So far, so good.
Both players did a really good job introducing themselves to their teammates and helping out with the result tonight, Shaw said.