Sharks kick off three-game homestand with Coyotes
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SAN JOSE -- Dan Boyle declared himself “ready to go” when the Sharks host the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday at SAP Center.
Boyle has not played since the Blues’ Maxim Lapierre knocked him out on the ice on Oct. 15 on a hit from behind. Boyle violently collided with the boards and was out cold for several minutes before leaving on a stretcher and spending the night in a local hospital. Lapierre was suspended for five games for the dangerous hit.
“I’ve been skating so, yeah, it’s pretty much [the coach’s] decision at this point,” Boyle said. “I’ve informed them where I’m at, and now it’s up to them.”
Boyle had yet to speak with the team’s medial staff after Friday’s practice.
“I’ve got to check with them now just to make sure we’re on the same page. Hopefully, I’ll be out there [Saturday].”
Todd McLellan said: “If the training staff, doctors and Dan all think he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”
The biggest hurdle Boyle has to clear may not be a physical one, despite it being two-and-a-half weeks since his last game action. The defenseman, who suffered a similar type of injury in 2003 while playing with Tampa Bay, seemed more concerned with the mental aspect of his return from a frightening situation.
“I’m sure at least for a little bit, I’ll be a little tentative,” Boyle said. “Hopefully, I get rid of that. Last time this happened, I kind of got hit early. That was probably the best thing to happen. Hopefully, the first shift I get a hit or get hit. Hopefully, I’ll get some of that nervousness and bad energy away.”
Boyle has missed the last seven games. The team has posted a 4-1-2 record without him.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch, even though I’m not enjoyed it at the same time. They’ve doe a phenomenal job stepping up. It’s been a real team effort,” he said.
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Matt Nieto, who has missed the last two games with a hand injury, also looks primed to return in his regular spot on the wing of Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels.
Nieto will be playing for the first time since arguably his best game as an NHL player last Saturday in Montreal. The rookie had a team-high six shots on goal, and drew the penalty that resulted in the game-winning goal by Logan Couture.
“With Matt Nieto being fairly healthy, I’ve liked those three together,” McLellan said.