SAN JOSE – Tyler Kennedy and Tomas Hertl will be among the 20 players to dress when the Sharks host the Anaheim Ducks at the SAP Center on Friday night.
It will be the first time Kennedy, who was acquired from Pittsburgh in the offseason, and Hertl, the club’s 2012 first round draft pick, skate in front of the home crowd in a teal sweater.
[RELATED: Top lines to suit up this weekend for Sharks]
“It’s exciting. I need to get one under my belt, so it’s exciting to get in your first game with the guys,” Kennedy said. “I’ll try to get the jitters out and some of the mistakes out rather than in the season.”
Kennedy has been moved around during training camp. He started out on the left wing with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, but lately he’s been slotted alongside Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. That’s where he’ll play against the Ducks, although Marleau may be unavailable due to a personal matter.
The 27-year-old is impressed with Couture so far.
“It’s been great. You can tell he’s a very mature player for his age, and you can tell he’s a very good hockey player,” Kennedy said. “It’s more his smarts than anything, I think he’s a really smart player. I’m excited to play with him.”
Kennedy, too, is a cerebral guy, according to Todd McLellan.
“Basically, he’s come as advertised – quick, a lot of energy, shoots the puck a lot,” McLellan said, when asked what he thinks of the winger so far. “Bright, very coachable – he picks things up real quick, so that’s a positive.”
Even though it’s just the preseason, Kennedy can get used to seeing some Western Conference teams after spending the first seven years of his career in Pittsburgh. All six of the Sharks’ preseason games are against Pacific Division opponents.
The Sharks host the Coyotes on Saturday, and will play the Canucks, Ducks and Coyotes once again to round out their six-game slate before the regular season opens at home against Vancouver on Oct. 3.
“The more games you play, the better it is. It’s good to see what the other team is bringing, too,” he said. “I’m going to be playing against them all year, and you want to figure out what you want to do and guys you have to watch out for.”
As for Hertl, the 19-year-old registered an assist in the Sharks’ first preseason game in Vancouver on Monday. He played that game with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels, but has since he moved up to the Thornton line, where he will be against Anaheim.
Hertl, who seems to have a huge smile on his face 24/7, relayed that he’s excited to skate through the shark head for the first time.
[RELATED: Sharks split training camp roster in two]
* * *
Antti Niemi (shown, below right) confirmed he’d be playing for the first time in the preseason tonight against Anaheim. That means Harri Sateri will be in net on Saturday against Phoenix, as McLellan wants each of his goaltenders to play an entire game. Alex Stalock went the distance in the 3-2 win on Monday.
Other Sharks set to make their preseason debuts will be Thornton, Burns, Couture, Dan Boyle, Matt Irwin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, and Raffi Torres, among others.
Marleau was not at the morning skate due to the aforementioned personal matter, but could still play. If he doesn’t, Anthony Stewart will take his place.
Adam Burish missed practice with some “bumps and bruises,” according to McLellan.
The Sharks’ coach said on Thursday that each of the 42 players remaining in camp will have played one game before the weekend is over. Another round of roster cuts is expected before Tuesday’s home game with Vancouver.
* * *
[RELATED: Bad boy Torres back to square one]
Torres will skate on Friday with Bracken Kearns and Eriah Hayes, and he could play again on Saturday back on the wing of the Pavelski line, where it looks like he’s penciled in.
Is there any fear to play Torres in the preseason in that he could deliver a questionable hit, and subject himself to league discipline?
“We can’t approach each game like that, and he can’t approach each game like that,” McLellan said. “He has to play and he has to play in parameters set out for him. And he has to play hard and compete and finish, so that he’s a very effective player within those parameters.”
In line image of Antti Niemi provided by The Associated Press