ST. LOUIS Everyone in the hockey world is glad that Blues winger David Perron is finally back. Especially Joe Thornton.
Thornton, of course, buried Perron with a shoulder check on Nov. 4, 2010 in St. Louis, forcing the 23-year-old to miss 13 months and 97 games with a severe concussion.
Obviously, you dont want to hurt anybody. Its unfortunate hes been out for so long, but to see him back playing put a smile on my face and for him to score in his first game back was exciting, as well, said Thornton. I wish him all the health in the world now.
When Perron was ready to return on Dec. 3 against Chicago, Thornton made sure to text him before that first game and wish him luck. Perron went on to score a goal in a 5-2 loss for the Blues.
Its not something that I expected at that point, but it was nice to get, said Perron of the surprise text. Hes a nice guy, and its obviously not a play that was really smart on his part, but it happened and I moved on from that. It was nice to get it, for sure.
Perron made it known to the media that Thornton reached out, in part because he wanted to turn the page and make sure others do, as well.
A lot of people were and still are mad at him. Im not one of them, said Perron. I just wanted to share it with people because I know hes a classy guy. Obviously, you make mistakes in life and that was one he made last game, but Ive moved on from that.
Thornton mentioned that he and Perron will speak either before or after the game, and that hell keep that conversation between the two of them.
Back on the road: The Sharks bring a 7-3 road record into tonights game at the Scottrade Center, much better than their 8-6-1 mark at HP Pavilion. Its the beginning of a three-game trip for San Jose, which visits Chicago on Sunday and Colorado on Tuesday.
Whats been the difference on the road this season?
I dont know. Maybe we simplify our game, said Marc-Edouard Vlasic. It seems like things are going well for us on the road, so we have to keep that going against a very good team.
Patrick Marleau thinks the key to road success is keeping it simple, and making sure that youre ready right from the bat. Usually teams come out hard at home the first 10 minutes or so and you have to be ready for that, and ready to whether the storm and find your own game.
St. Louis is 10-3-1 at home.
Power outage: The Sharks bring the 10th ranked NHL power play into tonights game, but are just 1-or-17 over their last six games. That includes an abysmal two-man advantage for nearly two minutes that the Sharks were fortunate to get away with, during the 5-2 win over the Stars on Saturday.
The execution was pretty poor, said Marleau, who had a couple of misplays with the puck during that advantage.
Vlasic would like to see the Sharks get more shots on the net when they are on the power play.
Especially these guys, they work hard with big bodies on the back end, he said. They block a lot of shots, so well try to shoot to break them down and hopefully the power play will get one for us tonight.
The Blues havent been any better on the power play, entering the game with a league-worst 10.4 percent success rate.
Battle ready: The Sharks have surrendered a combined total of just 41 shots over their last two games against Minnesota and Dallas. Even though they lost 2-1 against the Wild last Thursday, Todd McLellan thinks that the Sharks hard working mentality, which has lacked at times this season, is paying dividends.
In our two previous games weve given up 41 shots on goal which is pretty darn good, defensively. You have to be doing something right battling, that doesnt happen by mistake, he said.
I think that we went to the net a lot harder, we kept pucks in the offensive zone because of it, and maybe even more importantly we took some good finished checks from the other team in our zone to breakout, and we had good support.
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock also saw that on the game tape between the Sharks and Stars, and it's the biggest key to the game tonight from his perspective.
Its kind of whoever controls the end boards is going to win the hockey game, said Hitchcock. If they get the end boards on you, like they did against Dallas once they dialed it up, its pretty hard to play against them. If we can get the end boards on them were very competitive in the offensive zone, too. So, well see who gets the end boards.
Odds and ends: Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer remain out for the Sharks. Todd McLellan had his lines rearranged at the morning skate, including Joe Thornton between Jamie McGinn and Brad Winchester, and Joe Pavelski on the wing with Patrick Marleau and Michal Handzus. Blues goalie Brian Elliott will oppose Antti Niemi. Elliott has a league-best 1.56 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. St. Louis allows just 2.08 goals per game, second in the league to Boston. St. Louis is 10-2-3 since Hitchcock took over. The Sharks have the most shots in the league per game (34.5) while St. Louis allows the fewest (26.3).