Chris Tierney took a hit from Jake Muzzin while falling over midway through the first period that kept him out until the start of the second. That meant Pete DeBoer got to take over as something of a smoothie specialist, blending the Sharks’ lines to perfection in his absence.
“We try to keep it consistent,” said DeBoer. “We had some situations, (Chris) Tierney had to leave in the first for a little bit so that made us juggle our lines a little bit. Other than that, in the third we had a couple situations where a guy got out there a little bit long and mixed up our lines a little bit, but for the most part we were consistent.”
That third period he’s referring to certainly made it seem like the Sharks were purposely switching and swapping wingers to go with their established “forward pairings.” The below chart from hockeyviz.com ought to give you an idea of just how jumbled the Sharks lines were.
Ryan Carpenter spent time with Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi. Kevin Labanc played with Logan Couture. Micheal Haley played (briefly) with Joe Pavelski. The Sharks forwards got jumbled up in the 4-1 victory over the Kings, but DeBoer claims (other than the first) it was just through the flow of the game.
There’s no reason for him to lie, but forgive my being skeptical about ... well, frankly anything that comes out of an NHL head coach’s mouth when it comes to lineup decisions. He has every right and reason to keep his cards close, so don’t mistake this for criticism; it’s just general curiosity.
Mikkel Boedker notched his second assist in as many games while Kevin Labanc scored his second goal. I already mentioned Carpenter’s first goal; but you can see that, if these changes were intentional, they seem to have paid off.
The first goal of the game came with Couture, and Labanc and Joel Ward on the ice. The second goal was also scored by the second line, but this time the scoring came from Couture with assists going to Ward and Donskoi. Both Labanc and Donskoi have seen time on the second line, Donskoi more regularly, but the Sharks looked very comfortable with their fluid changes.
DeBoer will likely continue to be creative when it comes to crafting lineups, and certainly when it comes to applying them during games, with Tomas Hertl out of the lineup. There’s no reason to apply too much importance to any one shift or line deployment, but at least on Wednesday night the Sharks put forth a fine effort with patchwork lines. That’s nice to see against any team, and especially against a rival on the road.