Wingels adds energy to top line

645174.jpg

Wingels adds energy to top line

SAN JOSE Down two of his top six forwards for the first time this season, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan had to play chemist at little bit more than usual for Tuesdays game with Calgary, looking for the right ingredients to his lines.

Marty Havlat is out until mid-February at the earliest, and Ryane Clowe was a surprise scratch with an upper body injury related to his face plant into the boards a week ago. That meant names like Tommy Wingels, Jamie McGinn, Benn Ferriero and Andrew Murray were all going to be in the hat for McLellan to pull from to fill out his Top 9.

The coach cautioned that his morning skate combinations, which included McGinn on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, were not set in stone.

Whoever is playing well is going to play, he said on Tuesday morning.

That experiment lasted exactly one period, after the Sharks generated just four shots on goal against the Flames in a scoreless opening 20 minutes.

Enter Wingels. The rookie, who only returned to the lineup on Sunday because of Andrew Desjardins head injury, had a strong first period playing with Michal Handzus and Torrey Mitchell. McLellan noticed it, and flip-flopped him with McGinn.

Although he didnt register any points, Wingels was among the Sharks more effective forwards and played a career-high 21 minutes and 23 seconds. Thats more than six minutes past his previous career high of 14:46 against Phoenix in this years home opener, keeping in mind last nights game went into overtime.

Of course, the fact that Wingels saw the ice in overtime at all was another credit to how strong his game was last night. He was on the ice when Justin Braun appeared to win it in overtime, and you can be sure that no one on the coaching staff blamed him for the bogus goalie interference call that nullified the goal.

You always want to start the game off with a couple good shifts and get some confidence going in, said Wingels, who scored his first career NHL goal on Sunday in Chicago. He switched up the lines a bit, but whether youre on the fourth line or first line, the mentality is to help this team win games. That cant change depending on the line youre on.

Yeah, he plays well, said Thornton, who also skated better in the second and third periods after an ineffective first. He sees the ice good and has a good shot. Hes a real good player.

There was another benefit to the line change. After he was reinserted onto the third line with Handzus and Mitchell, McGinn got back to the style of play that makes him successful. He was on the ice when Mitchell got the equalizer midway through the third period.

Its amazing how when guys get out of their element, or play in a situation that maybe theyre not accustomed to, or not equipped to, their game chances. Im obviously talking about Jamie, McLellan said. I thought when Jamie went back to the third line that line became effective again, and he did, too.

They are the one common three, if you will, and they worked hard for that goal, too. It was an ugly one, but in games like tonight where chances are at a premium both ways, youve got to score that one.

NHL Gameday: Sharks make first visit to Duck Pond

NHL Gameday: Sharks make first visit to Duck Pond

Programming note – Sharks-Ducks coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 15-10-1, 31 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Ducks: 13-9-5, 31 points, 4th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks and Ducks have split the first two meetings of the season, both in San Jose. On Oct. 25, Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s overtime goal was the difference in a 2-1 win. The Ducks responded on Nov. 26, beating San Jose, 3-2, and are 4-0-1 in the last five head-to-head matchups. 

“They’re close, they’re hard fought battles,” Joel Ward said. “It’s obviously a lot of similarities of big bodies, teams that get on the forecheck, and got good special teams, as well.”

***Martin Jones will face Jonathan Bernier in goal. For Bernier, it will be his first game since giving up eight goals at Calgary on Dec. 4 in an 8-3 Flames win.

Does Pete DeBoer think that game might linger with Bernier?

“I’m more worried about the reverse,” said the Sharks coach. “I think usually good pros bounce back with great efforts after games like that. That’s what I’m expecting.”

Logic says that Aaron Dell will start the Sharks’ home game against Carolina on Saturday in the second of a back-to-back, but DeBoer would not confirm that was the plan.

***DeBoer wouldn’t offer much in regards to his lineup against Anaheim, either, although defensemen David Schlemko and Mirco Mueller, and forward Matt Nieto stayed on the ice late, indicating they probably won’t play.

Schlemko is battling a right ankle injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s game against Ottawa. Mueller was recalled on Friday morning.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Dylan DeMelo. The defenseman will play his fourth game of the season with Schlemko likely still out, after he was a healthy scratch for the first 19 games of the season. The 23-year-old has one goal, coming against the Ducks on Nov. 26, and an even rating while averaging 13:35 of ice time per game.

Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf. The Ducks captain scored the game-winning goal on the power play in the most recent meeting with the Sharks, and has nine points (1g, 8a) in his last 11 games. Getzlaf is tied for second in the NHL with 20 assists.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Ducks
Rickard Rakell – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie – Antoine Vermette – Ondrej Kase
Joe Cramarossa – Stefan Noesen – Logan Shaw

Cam Fowler – Sami Vatanen
Hampus Lundholm – Josh Manson
Shea Theodore – Kevin Bieksa

Jonathan Bernier (starter)
John Gibson

INJURIES/SCRATCHES

Sharks: David Schlemko (right ankle) is doubtful. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Ducks: Rickard Rakell (upper body) is questionable. Nic Kerdiles (concussion), Nate Thompson (Achilles surgery), Simon Despres (concussion) and Clayton Stoner (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“We know this is going to be a dogfight right to the end. We’re setting in and prepared for that.” – Pete DeBoer, on the Pacific Division race

Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut

meier-timo-white-sharks.jpg
USATSI

Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut

SAN JOSE – Struggling to score goals lately with two or fewer in eight of their last 11 games, the Sharks may soon turn to their biggest prospect to try and give the offense a boost.

Timo Meier, the ninth overall pick from the 2015 draft, is tearing up the American Hockey League lately with the Barracuda. He scored four goals (and registered 15 shots) in two games in San Antonio over the weekend, has eight points (5g, 3a) in his last four games, and leads the Barracuda with eight goals.

On Thursday, Pete DeBoer was asked what he’s heard about Meier lately and how close he may be.

“Good things, and real close,” DeBoer said. “I think he would have been even a consideration [Wednesday], but he came down I think with the flu. 

“You feel for him because we’re looking to bring some guys in, and he obviously had a great weekend. He’s one of quite a few guys down there that we feel real comfortable can come in here and are going to help us before the year ends, for sure.”

It’s the second time an illness has affected Meier’s status, as he came down with mononucleosis early in training camp and missed a month of action. He did, however, return to Barracuda practice this week.

One month ago, Barracuda coach Roy Sommer told CSN that Meier had to make some adjustments coming out of juniors. 

“He’s just has to simplify his game,” Sommer said on Nov. 9. “I think he’s just trying to do too much. He’s got to be north-south, and [forget] this circling and trying to put pucks through people. … It’s not going to work.”

Apparently, Meier has figured it out. On Tuesday, Sommer told The Gackle Report: “He’s getting better every game. At the start, I was going, oh man, he’s all over the map, circling and not using his teammates. But shoot, now he just keeps producing.”

“We’ve spent a lot of time with him on video and he picks stuff up.”

The 2015 draft has already produced several players that are regular contributors for their respective clubs, led by Connor McDavid (Edmonton), Jack Eichel (Buffalo), Mitch Marner (Toronto) and Zach Werenski (Columbus). 

Meier is the only player among the top 11 picks that year that has yet to play an NHL game, while 17 of 30 of the players overall chosen in the first round have played at least one NHL game.