SAN JOSE — In the first practice back from a five-game road trip, Pete DeBoer mixed up the Sharks’ forward lines, using four different combinations than San Jose used to start the season.
Mikkel Boedker moved up to the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, while Logan Couture centered Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward, reuniting San Jose’s fourth most-common combination from a year ago, according to Corsica Hockey. Tomas Hertl lined up with Patrick Marleau and Melker Karlsson. Matt Nieto, Chris Tierney, Tommy Wingels, and Micheal Haley rotated in on the fourth line.
Each line includes at least two players that played together over the past two seasons. Aside from Mikkel Boedker and his new linemates, the only players wholly unfamiliar with each other are Tomas Hertl and Melker Karlsson, who have not played together in a regular season or playoff game, according to Corsica.
“I think our group [is] all, pretty much other than the new guys, pretty familiar with each other, and they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” DeBoer said. “But that’s not necessarily a recipe that’s going to work automatically.”
DeBoer said he is not panicking, but that changing the Sharks’ lines is a way to improve San Jose’s “four-line game,” which is not at the level the team would like it to be. With their next three games all at the SAP Center, home cooking could just be what San Jose needs, according to Mikkel Boedker.
“We got away from our game in the last couple of games of the road trip,” Boedker said. “We’ve got to get back to that. We’ve got to get back to playing Sharks hockey here at home.”
Boedker said he’s looking forward to playing with “two of the best in the league” in Thornton and Pavelski. After posting four shots on goal in the first six games of the season, DeBoer is looking for the new-look line to jumpstart Boedker’s offensive game.
“I’m not concerned about him, but the nice thing about playing with those guys is they push you,” DeBoer said. “They push you to go to the areas where you have to score. Hopefully that gets him going.”
Haley could play tomorrow, DeMelo will play soon
We’ll have a better idea of how the Sharks line up tomorrow night against Anaheim after tomorrow’s morning skate, but if today’s practice is any indication, Micheal Haley could play on the fourth line.
Although the Sharks’ fourth line rotated four players between three spots at the start of practice, three took all of the line rushes as the team moved to full-ice, five-on-five work. Chris Tierney centered Tommy Wingels and Micheal Haley, while Matt Nieto played as a defenseman alongside Dylan DeMelo to give the Sharks four lines and four pairings for the drill.
Haley’s played in one game this season, while DeMelo’s yet to suit up in any. That will change shortly, according to Pete DeBoer.
“We can get to the point where it’s too many games where he’s sitting out,” DeBoer said. “We’re getting close to that. We’re going to have to get him in soon here.”
Projected Lineup against Anaheim
Based on what I wrote above, I expect the Sharks to play the following lineup tomorrow against Anaheim. If I’m wrong, feel free to expose me on Old Takes Exposed.
Mikkel Boedker-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi-Logan Couture-Joel Ward
Patrick Marleau-Tomas Hertl-Melker Karlsson
Micheal Haley-Chris Tierney-Tommy Wingels
Paul Martin-Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon-David Schlemko
Scratches: Matt Nieto, Dylan DeMelo