Rejuvenated Clowe benefits from time away


Rejuvenated Clowe benefits from time away

SAN JOSE Theres no doubt the Sharks missed Ryane Clowe when he sat out for six games with a facial fracture from Jan. 17 until the end of the month. In the first five games Clowe was unavailable, the Sharks managed just eight goals before exploding for six against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 31 in a dominant 6-0 win.

Clowe returned against Dallas on Feb. 2, and scored his 10th goal in San Joses 5-2 win. On Saturday in Phoenix, he registered an assist on each of the Sharks three goals in a 5-3 loss to the Coyotes.

It was Clowes first three-point game of the season.

While the wildly competitive forward never wants to miss time, and is still wearing a shield to protect his face, his two-week break to recover could benefit him for the stretch run. The Sharks have 32 games left in just 59 days, beginning tonight against Calgary, and are going to need a healthy Clowe if they want to challenge for the top spot in the Western Conference -- something that is still well within their reach.

He admitted as much after Tuesdays practice at Sharks Ice.

Im kind of feeling it right now, the fact that I did have that rest. I was kind of worried that jumping right back in Id be kind of behind the eight ball or a little tired, but I actually think it helped me, Clowe said. I think before the All-Star break and heading into the second half, I knew I could take my game to another level. I needed to. Its only two games, but I definitely feel pretty good right now.

Its always easy to say that after the fact, and well say that now. His two-week break, thats great, he should be a little more refreshed than most of the players, Todd McLellan said. But, nobody sets out for that. We would have preferred to have him in the lineup and him manage himself, so that the energy level stays high.

Clowes offensive numbers are solid, with 30 points in 44 games played, and although hell likely never be a 40-goal scorer or 100-point guy, Clowe is able to create space for his teammates with his intimidating style and physical nature. It was evident that was missing from the Sharks when he was out.

Hes also as important player in the Sharks locker room as anyone on the team.

Hes a pretty passionate guy, and it rubs off on a lot of others, McLellan said. Sometimes it gets the better of him and he gets a little frustrated, but hes a big man with good vision, can protect pucks, hes not afraid of anything and will go into hard areas to play.

When Clowie is involved hes making other people better, and I think thats a sign of a real good player.

Like most players that rarely come out of the lineup, seeing the game from a different perspective is also something Clowe may be able to profit from.

You think, why didnt you make that play? or how did you not see that, with so much time? Then you get down in the dressing room and walk out on the bench, and its like, man, this is fast. Am I going to be able to jump back into this right away? Its kind of intimidating down there. Everything is slow up top, he said.

Thats the biggest difference. You realize watching that in certain areas at certain times you might have a bit more time than you actually think.

Clowe was part of a power play goal in the second period on a newly put together unit, recording a secondary helper. McLellan has moved Joe Pavelski to the point on the first unit, meaning Clowe is now taking shifts on a man advantage with Brent Burns, Justin Braun, Jamie McGinn and Michal Handzus.

The top unit will obviously get the majority of the power play time, but Clowe likes his unit and thinks they bring a different element that all of that speed and skill on the other one.

I think right now, those guys have got a lot more motion going on and were a little bit more meat and potatoes, he said. With the goal we scored the last game, I think thats sort of how were going to find ways. Were not going to have the minute and a half to work with, so were going to have to get pucks to the net quick.

Its a different look to have Burnsie back there, and I like being on the power play with Burnsie and the element of a big shot. I like to use the point, and I think Jamie McGinn and Zeus are really good at getting to the net. I like our unit.

When asked if he doesnt mind standing in front of the crease awaiting a big shot from the point that could be coming directly towards him, Clowe reminded everyone again of just how aggressive and competitive he is.

Youre got to man up and get in the goalies eyes. Guys do it around the league, so theres no excuse, he said.

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

DALLAS – Injured Sharks forwards Jannik Hansen and Melker Karlsson both returned to the ice for Thursday’s practice in Dallas, in what Pete DeBoer called “a good first step” in their recoveries.

The coach left open the possibility that one or both could play against the Stars on Friday night, even though neither was skating on a set line for practice.

“We’ll have to wait and see how they feel [Friday] morning and what the recovery is,” DeBoer said. “I’m not prepared to say they’re in tomorrow, but it’s a good sign they’re on the ice and participated.”

Hansen has been out for the past two games since getting a stick in the head from defenseman Brandon Montour on Saturday against Anaheim. 

“Took a couple days [off] to make sure everything was aright,” Hansen said. “Getting better, back on the ice today.”

Officially, it’s an upper body injury. When pressed if it was a concussion issue, Hansen said: “I don’t know. It’s tough to say to begin with, but obviously you do all the precautionary things that [are] involved now.”

Although he has just one assist in his first six games with the Sharks, Hansen seemed to spark the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as the line generated one even strength goal in each of the first four games Hansen played.

Karlsson has missed the last six games with a lower body injury. He has 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games with a plus-nine rating.

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The lines remained the same for Thursday’s practice. Patrick Marleau was with Thornton and Pavelski; Logan Couture centered Joel Ward and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl was between Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, while the fourth line sweaters were worn by Chris Tierney, Micheal Haley, Timo Meier and Danny O’Regan.

San Jose stayed over in St. Paul on Tuesday night and flew to Dallas on Wednesday morning on their day off.

The Wild game, a 3-2 loss, was the Sharks’ fourth straight. They’ve generated just four goals over that span.

That game also capped off a stretch of seven games in 11 days for the Sharks, who now have just a two-point lead on Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division – a lead that was nine points before the losing streak began.

Was the day off good?

“Yeah. We’ve been kind of struggling scoring goals, so just to kind of relax yesterday and then kind of get back and refocus today,” Thornton said. “But sometimes you just need a little time away from the rink. I think yesterday was needed.”

DeBoer said: “I think our group is pretty mature. I don’t think we’re overeating to the situation. No one’s happy we’ve lost a few, but we also know that we’ve done enough good things that we could have won two or three of those games. We’ve just got to stick with it, clean up a couple things, and score some goals.”

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Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic skated after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu. Tierney missed Monday’s game in Dallas, also due to illness.

Is that all gone now?

“Knock on wood. Nothing today. Hope so,” DeBoer said.

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

ST. PAUL – On paper, Timo Meier’s production after he was reassigned to the AHL Barracuda on Feb. 16 was down. The former first-round pick had just six points (3g, 3a) in 14 games, and was scoreless in his last five, a far cry from what he was doing there earlier in the season and way off his numbers in juniors.

But at just 20 years old, Meier is still in the learning phase of his professional career. And as impressive as the Barracuda have been this season, they’re still playing in a developmental league, first and foremost. Meier got a chance to work on some of the aspects of his game he needed to work on.

“It was obviously hard going back,” said Meier, who has three goals and two assists in 28 games, before Tuesday’s game in Minnesota. “Sometimes you go back there and you try too much, but they told me to work on some things in my game, and I tried to do that.

“For me, going down there it was all about learning stuff on the ice, off the ice. … It’s my first year [in pro hockey], so as a young guy you want to learn and listen to the coaches, too. Just get better.”

Coach Pete DeBoer went into pretty good detail on what the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft needed to do with the Barracuda, and what he needs to show now that he’s back in the NHL.

“I think with a lot of big, talented young guys, they have to realize when they can make an extra play with the puck and when they have to chip it in,” DeBoer said. “They’re so used to dominating at the levels they’ve been at for so long, that [it’s] easier said than done. It’s habits you have to learn, and you don’t learn unless you’re doing them on a consistent basis.”

Meier’s shot selection, too, is something that needed some improvement, according to the coach. While the power winger might be generating plenty of shot attempts, no doubt pleasing the advanced stats crowd, there’s more to being an effective forward than running up numbers on the Excel spreadsheets.

“You don’t want to shoot [just] to shoot up here, or to just get shots on net. You’re not scoring on NHL goalies like you are on junior goalies from 30 or 40 feet out,” DeBoer said. “You’ve got to pick your spots. Sometimes you have to look for a better play than a shot.”

Meier said: “It’s a really tough league. As a young guy coming in, sometimes you’ve got to stay patient, too, try not [to do] too much. … Sometimes I tried [to do] a little too much.”

Meier has been in the Sharks’ lineup for each of the last two games. He started on the fourth line before getting bumped up to Tomas Hertl’s third line on Monday in Dallas, and returned to the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Micheal Haley for Tuesday’s tilt in Minnesota. He is scoreless with two shots on goal over those two games.

He could be a temporary fill in for Jannik Hansen, who remains out with an upper body injury but could potentially return before the end of the road trip this weekend. Or, perhaps Meier does enough to stick around for the stretch run and the playoffs. There would seem to be an opportunity to push someone else out of the lineup, as the Sharks’ depth scoring has been a season-long problem.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, getting that chance again later on in the season,” Meier said. “I want to put it all on the ice, leave it all out there and just make the best out of every shift I get. Play my game, play within my strengths, [do] the things that got me here, and I’m sure I’ll be successful like that.”