Wingels, linemates embrace their role


Wingels, linemates embrace their role

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Saturday on Comcast SportsNet California, it's Sharks Pregame Live at 4:00, Sharks vs. Blues Game 2 at 4:30, and Sharks Postgame Live following the final buzzer.

ST. LOUIS On a roster with so many established, proven, and household NHL names, Tommy Wingels is just fine being the guy no ones heard of.

In fact, it could help his cause, as the rookie progresses through his first postseason in the pros.

I dont mind having that role at all, Wingels said. When teams and players dont have as good a scouting report on you, maybe theyre not ready for what you bring. I think you can use that to your advantage, definitely.

If Wingels, along with linemates Andrew Desjardins and Daniel Winnik keep scoring timely and vital goals like they did in Game 1, it wont be long before opposing teams have a better understanding of what they bring to the table. They were on the ice for the third period equalizer with just over five minutes left, when Desjardins scored at 14:44 to make it a 2-2 game.

Wingels made it happen, when he drove around defenseman Roman Polak before feeding Desjardins in the slot. If that play doesnt transpire, theres a very strong likelihood the Sharks find themselves down a game in their series with the Blues rather than ahead one game to none with Game 2 set for Saturday night.

The Evanston, Illinois native sounded pretty content getting his name on the scoresheet in his first-ever playoff game. Todd McLellan sensed Wingels line was skating well late in the game, and by the time it ended in the fifth period, the trio that started as the fourth line was getting as much ice time as anyone.

It was cool. You want to help any way you can, and when you help contribute a goal, it feels great, Wingels said.

As a group we felt comfortable out there, and the coaching staff feels the same way. Whether its overtime, we want to be out there. Every player wants to be out there, and be the line that can score that goal. We were happy that we were given a chance.

It wasnt much of a surprise that McLellan started rolling the Wingels-Desjardins-Winnik line more than the Dominic Moore-Torrey Mitchell-TJ Galiardi trio late in the game. The head coach has commented in recent weeks, since he essentially decided which 12 forwards are going to play, that whoever he believes is skating better at the time is who hes going to put on the ice.

That rivalry among teammates is advantageous, according to Desjardins, who played in just his fourth career playoff game himself but who now has two career goals.

Its always huge to have a little bit of internal competition within a team, he said. You just go with it. If things are going your way and youre playing well, you just go with the flow and keep doing the things that are making you successful. Thats pretty much the bottom line.

Having a reliable four lines is a luxury McLellan will need to persist. After all, the Blues were doing the same thing.

The depth and the minutes that are spread out allow some bigger players to rest and give you more later in the game, he said. Thats one of the things we feel fortunate about. The last two to three weeks weve been able to do that. We trust that third and fourth group, and theyve done a good job at creating that trust.

Although Wingels and Desjardins are still playoff newcomers, theres plenty of experience in the Sharks dressing room to help them along should there be any bumps in the road.

Thats a luxury that the younger and more inexperienced Blues cant match.

I cant put into the words the leadership here, Wingels said. As a young guy you just need to pretty much put your head down and follow. We have guys who have won Cups before and been in these situations, and as a young guy just sort of do what I can to follow their lead.

He could end up doing much more than that.

Odds and ends: Most of the Sharks opted not to bus to a suburban rink to practice, instead opting for a team meeting at the Scottrade Center. A concert made ice at the arena unavailable. According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Blues will stick with Jaroslav Halak in net but could make some other lineup changes. Right wing Ryan Reaves played just 8:01 on Thursday, a game-low.

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’


Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

SAN JOSE — There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

"I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange," said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. "It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto."

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

"Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need."

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

"When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them."

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals — his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 — and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

"They feel real strong," he said of his legs. "I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much."

Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks


Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

The boys were back together in San Jose on Thursday for Sharks Media Day, with plenty of smiles and moments of levity. Check out the highlights...

Hey Jumbo, you dropped something. 👖🤷‍♂️

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on

Martin Jones is pretty good at photobombs 📸💣

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on

🤳 Media Day #SJSharks

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on

New season. New commercials. 🕉🚌📺 #ComingSoon #SharksForLife

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on