It took one shot for TImo Meier to open his NHL scoring account. At that pace, Meier should score ... sorry, just kidding. Meier looked immediately comfortable with Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi on the third line in the Sharks’ 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night, setting the tone for what will hopefully be a prosperous era ahead.
Meier put three shots on goal in 10 minutes of ice time and grew into the game as it went along. The Sharks played defensively after taking a 4-0 advantage, but here’s how the team looked at 5v5 play.
Timo Meier is above the “good” bar, in a tight clump with the Sharks’ third and fourth lines. That’ll do for a debut against a Montreal team that has improved its possession play since last season. The Canadiens still lean on Carey Price for much of their heavy lifting (and who wouldn’t?) but the Sharks played very well and deserved to win on Friday.
Meier didn’t get a look on the power play (NHL.com has him listed as playing four seconds on the power play) which doesn’t come as a surprise. That’s a tough depth chart to crack, even with Joel Ward up in the press box. If Meier continues to score, he may very well earn a shot on that second unit.
Given how well Meier, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker played on Friday, it’ll be interesting to see what Pete DeBoer does with Ward on Sunday in Chicago. Ward certainly deserves to play over everyone save perhaps Melker Karlsson on the Sharks’ fourth line, but will DeBoer see it that way? And if he does, where will Ward go?
It seems the Sharks’ have a functional top six right now with the Captain Line and the Boedker - Logan Couture - Kevin Labanc shoring up their positions on Friday. Assuming DeBoer likes what he saw from Meier and company on the third line, perhaps Ward will see time on the fourth line in Chicago. I doubt he’ll scratch the veteran for a second-straight game.
Micheal Haley is the obvious choice because, and I know I’m beating a dead horse here, he’s the 14th-best forward on this roster. He doesn’t offer as much to the roster as Ward. This should be obvious by now, but here we are. If that’s what the Sharks decide to do, it makes sense to slide Ward into that open spot which leaves Matt Nieto and Haley in the press box.
Moving Tommy Wingels out of the lineup in favor of a better center would be preferable, but that seems unlikely at this juncture. For now, we’ll be happy the Sharks have a good looking top six and worry about tinkering with the fourth line later. Probably.