Programming note: Coverage of Game 6 between the Sharks and Kings begins Monday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California (Channel locations)
SAN JOSE – Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic did not skate with his teammates on Sunday, apparently still feeling the effects from a roughing penalty by Jarret Stoll in the first period of Game 5 on Thursday.
His status for Game 6 on Monday, when the Sharks try for a third time to close out their series with the Kings, is in doubt. Head coach Todd McLellan said he didn’t know if Vlasic was going to be on the team charter later on Sunday.
“We had a meeting, we had a quick practice – I’ve got to go deal with that as the next thing,” said the coach.
“Obviously he didn’t skate today, so he may make the trip and we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Vlasic is, simply put, the Sharks’ best defenseman are arguably their most indispensible player. The five remaining blueliners looked dazed and confused for the majority of Game 5 after Vlasic received an elbow to the head from Stoll and was seen limping to the dressing room. Officially, the Sharks are calling Vlasic’s ailment an upper body injury.
The 27-year-old played in 81 of the Sharks' 82 games, sitting out late in the season on April 11 after the Sharks were already locked into the Pacific Division's second spot. That ended a 217 consecutive games streak for the former second round pick.
“He’s a guy that plays a lot of minutes for us and [is] a very steady player,” McLellan said.
The likeliest candidate to potentially replace Vlasic is Matt Irwin, who has yet to play in the postseason in 2014. In 62 games in the regular season, Irwin had two goals and 17 assists for 19 points and a +5 rating.
Irwin played in all 11 of the Sharks’ playoff games in 2013, his first full NHL season.
“All playoffs and all year it has just kind of been the motto of, just stay ready and stay fresh,” Irwin said. “Wait for your opportunity and when it comes, make sure you’re ready to go.”
“If I play tomorrow, I’m ready to go. It’s one of those things that, it is the playoffs, right? Anytime you get an opportunity, you want to make the most of it.”
Dan Boyle has played with Irwin often over the past two seasons, but defense pairs were unclear during Sunday’s skate.
“Matt is a great player,” Boyle said. “He’s certainly capable of doing what he does out there.”
The Sharks have been able to ice the same lineup against the Kings for each of the first five games. That will not be the case in the pivotal Game 6 if Vlasic doesn't play.
“Guys come in and out,” Boyle said. “He’s a huge part of this team, and if we don’t have him tomorrow night, someone is going to have to step in and do what they do best. Everybody brings something special. [Vlasic] is a special player. You just try to do the best you can as a unit and as a team.”