Winchester deserves a chance

April 16, 2012, 3:46 pm
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Programming note: Blues-Sharks Game 3 coverage begins with Sharks Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. followed by Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda calling Sharks hockey at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California!

At one point in the season, Feb. 17 to be exact, forward Brad Winchester was one of just seven Sharks to have played in every regular season game (55). He had six goals and four assists, and averaged less than eight minutes of ice time, but his physical play and willingness to stick up for his teammates was evident.

RELATED: Brad Winchester game logs

Since then, Winchester has been pushed out of the lineup, with the return of forward Marty Havlat, the development of Tommy Wingels, and the acquisition of Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi. He played in just 12 games the rest of the year, and was a healthy scratch for the final nine regular season games.

In what is quickly becoming a nasty and hate-filled playoff series, Todd McLellans lineup could use some more meat. Although he said before Game 2 that this is as comfortable as hes been with his bottom two lines, that group lacks the kind of player that can police the ice and drop the gloves at a moments notice something that could very well be necessary in games three and four at HP Pavilion.

In Game 3 on Monday night, Winchester deserves a chance to be that guy.

Galiardi and Torrey Mitchell have more skill and speed than Winchester, but theyve failed to make an impact on the series to this point. In the best scoring chance for their line, Mitchells pass to a wide-open Galiardi in front of the net was off the mark in the third period of Game 1 when the Sharks trailed, 2-1. One of them should sit in Game 3.

Ken Hitchcock made some strategic adjustments to his lineup that paid immediate dividends after the Game 1 overtime loss for his club. Its time for McLellan to join the chess match.