MINNEAPOLIS – Ryane Clowe won’t play on Saturday afternoon against the Minnesota Wild, but hopes to return on Monday when the Sharks close out their five-game road trip in Anaheim.
Clowe, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, skated with the Sharks for the duration of their practice at a suburban rink in Minneapolis on Friday. Clowe was hurt in the first period of last Saturday’s 5-2 loss in Los Angeles, possibly from a hit by defenseman Drew Doughty.
“I feel better, still day-to-day,” Clowe said. “I’ll hopefully keep getting better every day.”
“I don’t think I’ll play tomorrow. I haven’t really had a chance to skate hard, either.”
Todd McLellan was encouraged by Clowe’s practice.
“He looked a lot better today. He was involved a lot more physically, which is always a good sign for that type of injury,” McLellan said.
In 25 games this season, Clowe has no goals and nine assists, and a team-high 72 penalty minutes. He has frequently been mentioned as possible trade bait, and has been named as a potential target by teams like Boston, Montreal and Toronto.
Dan Boyle, also the subject of trade speculation, said on Wednesday in Edmonton that he wants to remain in a Sharks uniform. Clowe does, too.
[RELATED: Boyle wants to stay]
“I hear it, like everyone else,” Clowe said. “I don’t pay too much attention to it. I‘m in the same position as Boyler, I really like it here. I understand things happen, but I would obviously like to stay here, too, and see this through. I haven’t had the year I’ve wanted, but that’s not affecting me, the trade rumors.”
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The Sharks’ forward lines looked the same as they did in the 4-3 shootout win against the Oilers on Thursday. Brent Burns remained at forward on the top line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
Wednesday’s game in Edmonton was the first that Burns, a former Wild defenseman, didn’t record a point since he was moved up front, despite four shots on goal. His two goals and four assists have come in five games playing forward, after he was scoreless in six as a defenseman.
“I’ve always said I don’t mind playing forward. It’s been fun. It’s been good, I think,” Burns said. “I’ve just got to keep playing, and keep getting chances. It’s special to be back here.”
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The Sharks will be facing a red-hot Wild team on Saturday, as Minnesota has won six of its last seven games and leads the Northwest Division with 36 points (17-10-2). They are one of a few Western Conference teams that seems to be separating itself from the pack.
The Wild, of course, added top free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the offseason. Parise has 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points, while Suter is second in the NHL in scoring by a defensemen (2g, 22a for 24 points) and first in ice time (27:12 per game). Former Sharks snipers Devin Setoguchi (11g, 9a) and Dany Heatley (8g, 9a) are also contributing, while former Sharks first round draft pick Charlie Coyle has six points (3g, 3a) in his first 18 NHL games.
“We’re obviously aware of some of their personnel,” McLellan said. “They’re starting to come together, all their pieces that they acquired over the summer are starting to gel. They play the same style of game that they played last year, they’ve just stayed healthy and gotten a little more scoring. They’re a very good hockey club. Very good.”
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Former Wisconsin Badgers teammates Joe Pavelski and Adam Burish picked a good time to visit Minnesota. Wisconsin was set to take on St. Cloud State at the Xcel Energy Center at 2 p.m. local time in the WCHA Semifinals, shortly after the Sharks finished their morning skate. Pavelski and Burish were both hustling out of the practice facility to get there on time.
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The Sharks made a minor league transaction on Friday, as Worcester re-aquired former Sharks defenseman Derek Joslin, on loan from Vancouver. Worcester loaned defenseman Danny Groulx to Chicago (AHL). Joslin had two goals and eight assists for 10 points and 40 penalty minutes in 53 games with the Wolves this season.
Joslin, who remains Vancouver property, was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2005 draft by San Jose. In 53 games over parts of three seasons with San Jose from 2008-11, Joslin had one goal and six assists for seven points. He was traded to Carolina for future considerations on Feb. 18, 2011.