SAN JOSE – Defenseman Jason Demers skated again on Thursday and is nearing a return.
He confirmed he missed the last three games due to a check to the head from Detroit’s Cory Emmerton on March 28. He rested for several days after that hit, but said on Thursday he would inform the coaches he’s “ready to go.”
“Stuff with the head, you never want to mess around with that,” Demers said.
It’s more likely Demers will stay out against the Flames on Friday, skate again Saturday, and be available on Sunday afternoon against Dallas.
As for the hit, Demers said he didn’t think it was dirty at the time, but after seeing a replay indicated it might have been an illegal check.
He doesn’t consider Emmerton a dirty player, however.
“Guys were joking with me that they thought it was [Jordin] Tootoo,” Demers said of another Red Wings forward.
* * *
Logan Couture spent the majority of his Sharks career on a line with Ryane Clowe, who was traded to the Rangers on Tuesday. Couture reacted to the trade on Wednesday morning.
“He helped me a lot when I was breaking into this league,” Couture said. “He added a lot to my game. He was a great passer, saw the ice really well, and I kind of became a shooter when I was playing with Clowie. I was able to find some soft areas, and every time I felt like I got a couple feet of space to shoot the puck, he would find my tape.”
“It’s tough losing a guy like that who’s done a lot for me personally and as a player. Four years with him was a lot of fun, but that’s just the way this business goes.”
Clowe often protected Couture on the ice, making sure the opposition never took liberties against the young star, but Couture isn’t worried about the loss in that regard.
“I’m a big man, I think I can stick up for myself. I’m not going to go out and fight all the time, but if someone hits me, it’s hockey. You take hits in this game, but I don’t need someone out there to stick up for me.”
* * *
Clowe’s departure means the Sharks have a vacancy among their alternate captains. There are no immediate plans to give that “A” to someone else.
That shouldn’t make a difference, Todd McLellan said on Wednesday morning.
“If there’s somebody in that locker room waiting to lead because they get a letter on their shoulder, shame on them,” he said. “Sometimes those little pieces of felt are overrated, and talked about way too much. If you have something to offer the team as far as leadership goes and you’re withholding it because you don’t wear one of those, I’d have to say I’d be really disappointed in you.”
* * *
TJ Galiardi made the most of his rare power play time on Wednesday night, scoring a huge insurance goal in the third period by poking in a loose puck at the side of the net.
The goal was only Galiardi’s second of the season, and he now has points in three of his last five games. He’s played in nine straight games after he was a frequent scratch through the first two months, and looks like a completely different player.
He credits a discussion with captain Joe Thornton and winger Marty Havlat for helping to turn his season around.
“We had that game in LA when we sat out, and we lost pretty bad,” Galiardi said, referring to a 5-2 loss to the Kings on March 16 at Staples Center. “I figured after that I’d get an opportunity, and I sat there and talked to Jumbo and Marty after the game.
“We just kind of said that it’s wild that I’ve been sitting out and getting scratched. When I come back, I’ve just got to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I think I’ve done a good job at that. It’s just about being consistent.”
Galiardi seems to have found a home on the third line with Joe Pavelski.
“When you play with Pav, it’s a lot easier. He’s such a smart guy, and it’s been a treat.”
As for his power play goal, it was his first since Dec. 15, 2009, when he was a rookie in Colorado. He got himself in good position in front of the net after Scott Gomez redirected a Brent Burns blast towards the crease.
“[Ryan] Suter gave me a nice little cross check from behind and called me an expletive, and it was sitting right there for me after that,” Galiardi said. “As long as you stick around, you get lucky.”
“It was a bit of a hunch,” McLellan said of putting Galiardi on the power play. “That unit was due to score. It wasn’t getting much done, so we made a switch, and he was rewarded for being around the net.”