Sharks icing strong lineup vs. Canucks

Sharks icing strong lineup vs. Canucks
September 24, 2013, 12:00 pm

Brent Burns will skate on the top line alongside Joe Thornton; Logan Couture will center the second line. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE -- Their preseason schedule now half over, the Sharks will ice a mostly NHL lineup on Tuesday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center.

The top two lines remain unchanged, with rookie Tomas Hertl skating with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, and Logan Couture centering Tyler Kennedy and Patrick Marleau.

On the third line, the morning skate had rookie Matt Nieto taking Raffi Torres’ place on the Joe Pavelski line, with Tommy Wingels on the right side.

As for the fourth line, the Sharks are listing Andrew Desjardins, Freddie Hamilton, Bracken Kearns, Matt Pelech and John McCarthy on the roster, with two of those players likely to be scratched.

On defense, Dan Boyle, Matt Irwin, Jason Demers, Scott Hannan, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Tennyson will play. Antti Niemi is scheduled to go the entire game, with Alex Stalock acting as backup.

“We’re starting to get to the stage now where our team is coming together,” Todd McLellan said. “Lines have played together for a little while, they’ve practiced together for a number of days.”

What will the head coach be looking for?

“The first thing we’re going to evaluate is the competitiveness of our team. And secondly, are we fast and hard? After that, individuals, and how they fit and are reacting to certain situations. How are they playing and interacting with their linemates and their partners?”

McLellan also updated the Sharks’ injury situation. Adam Burish remains out with a lower body injury but is expected to return to the ice shortly and should be fine by the start of the regular season. Brad Stuart continues to skate, but is questionable for the season opener as he works to get into game shape.

Among the players listed on the Vancouver roster for Tuesday night are the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Alex Burrows and Roberto Luongo.

The Sharks have two preseason games remaining before the Canucks return on Oct. 3 for the regular season opener. San Jose visits the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday and Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.