Sharks pleased with defensive effort, despite no Vlasic

Sharks pleased with defensive effort, despite no Vlasic
April 29, 2014, 2:30 pm
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 Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s regular defense partner for the second half of the season, Jason Demers, skated with Scott Hannan in Game 6. (USATSI)

Programming note: Coverage of Game 7 between the Kings and Sharks begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on with Sharks Pregame Live Comcast SportsNet California (Channel locations)

SAN JOSE – In the least surprising development at Tuesday’s practice, no update was offered from head coach Todd McLellan regarding injured defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

“Not at this point. Getting treatment, and when he’s better he’ll play,” McLellan said.

Vlasic missed his first career playoff game on Monday with an upper body injury, and the defense played admirably without its top blueliner until Justin Williams’ controversial third period goal opened the floodgates.

[RELATED: Rewind: McLellan: Sharks 'got cheated' in Game 6 loss]

Matt Irwin saw his first action of the playoffs since last season, playing in his first game since the April 12 season finale. He finished with two shots on goal and a -1 rating in 18 minutes and 43 seconds. He was in front of the net when Williams' game-winning goal snuck across the line.

McLellan said: “I thought Matty came in and played a pretty damn good game. He’s been sitting on the sidelines champing at the bit to get in. It’s not an easy game to come into … He did a very good job.”

Irwin was paired with Dan Boyle, while Vlasic’s regular partner for the second half of the season, Jason Demers, skated with Scott Hannan.

"I thought we moved the puck well,” Demers said. “We have a very special group on D … Matt came in and did a great job. Everyone kind of stepped up. We didn't get the win, but there were a lot of positives on the defensive side for us, which we're going to have to build on [Wednesday].”

[RELATED: Instant Replay: Kings beat Sharks 4-1 to force Game 7]

There were no indications as to which goaltender would start Game 7. Antti NIemi and Alex Stalock were both among the Sharks’ last players to come off of the ice for the afternoon skate at the team’s practice facility. Niemi exited first, but Stalock followed shortly after.

McLellan was seen chatting with the pair on the ice at one point.

“Told them both to be ready,” said the coach.

According to Demers, Stalock’s puck skills played a role in the Sharks’ Game 6 performance, which, despite the 4-1 margin, was significantly better than Game 5’s 3-0 defeat at home.

Demers said: “It helps. He's so aggressive getting on rims. A lot of those pucks he can stop. It makes it easy on a defenseman, for sure. You take less hits. You can jump in the rush a little bit more, and adjust your game accordingly. It helped."

Along with Vlasic, Patrick Marleau and Raffi Torres were the only other regulars that did not skate. Tomas Hertl remained in a white practice sweater, indicating he will stay on Joe Thornton’s line to start Game 7.