DETROIT, MI There was a noticeable wrinkle on defense for the Sharks at the pregame skate on Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
San Joses third defense pair, which has had a number of different looks through the first seven games, could be Jason Demers and Justin Braun tonight after they skated together this morning. In the past two games, it was Braun and Jim Vandermeer, and before that, Demers and Colin White.
Todd McLellan would not confirm anything after the skate, of course, when asked if he would go with that new look tonight against the Red Wings.
Well make some game-time decisions. Theres a chance there will be, he simply said.
Demers, who admitted it was tough sitting out after he was scratched in Boston, liked what he saw while practicing with Braun.
Hes a great player, smart with the puck. He competes hard, and if we do keep going together it will be good to see how we do as a partnership, he said. It was good today, really good.
Braun, who was recalled from Worcester before Saturdays win in Boston, knows that facing the Red Wings wont be easy.
You look over there and they have some pretty good hands, he said. You have to just not over-commit, and contain, and wait for them to make a mistake and make good passes all night.
As for other potential roster changes, signs point to Benn Ferreiro staying in the lineup for at least one more game. Ferriero and Torrey Mitchell both took some rushes on the third line, but Ferriero came off the ice much earlier than Mitchell, who has been battling upper body soreness for a week.
Havlat new to rivalry: Martin Havlat will get his first taste of the Sharks-Red Wings rivalry tonight, but it will be pretty familiar territory for him.
It was a pretty big rivalry when I played in Chicago too, so its not that much different, he said. I know the last couple years the Sharks and Red Wings met in the playoffs, and both teams are one of the best in the league.
Havlat has registered one assist in each of his first three games, and the goals have been huge the Sharks essentially won all of them by a goal, with the shootout win against New Jersey and a couple of empty-netters in their last two games.
We need more games. Its just been three games, he said. Weve started pretty good. They are both good players and very strong on the puck. We just need to get the chemistry going even more, and positioning-wise. Its going to get easier for us.
One other note regarding Havlat in his only shorthanded shift on Tuesday in Nashville, he set up Couture for a goal that that opened the scoring and stood into the third period. But, dont expect he and Couture to get too many shorthanded minutes just yet.
Havlat is into basically exhibition game number four tonight, where basically everybody else is ahead. Were going to manage his minutes, said McLellan.
We talked about trying to take some of the penalty kill minutes away from our bigger players and distribute them evenly. Logan could potentially be one of those guys.
Opposite directions? The logic is simple the Sharks have won three straight, while the Red Wings have suffered two straight ugly losses. That would seem to indicate two teams heading in opposite directions.
Right, Todd McLellan?
I dont know about that, said the Sharks coach. I think both teams are finding their way is probably the best way of putting it. They obviously arent happy with the results in the past two games and I dont think thats indicative of their team on most nights.
Our game is slowly improving. Were finding ways to win now where earlier in the season we probably would have found ways to lose. Were making progress.
Odds and ends: Jimmy Howard will face Antti Niemi in net. Howard missed the last two games while his wife was giving birth, while Niemi will be making his fifth straight start. McLellan was tight-lipped on a couple of topics after practice, when asked about potentially starting Thomas Griess in the second of a back-to-back tomorrow on Long Island, and not having to face an injured Evgeni Nabokov. The Sharks won three of the four regular season matchups with Detroit last season. Joe Thornton has five goals and four assists in his last six regular season games against the Red Wings. Detroit is beginning a stretch of seven home games out of eight. Joe Pavelski has four goals and two assists in the last three games. The Sharks lead the league in shots on goal (38.4 per game), while Detroit is second (36.1).