Sharks Gameday: Somebody Sign Jim Abbott



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The Royal Half

David Pollak reported yesterday that Joe Pavelski will be out for a couple weeks after sustaining a left leg injury in Saturday's game against Anaheim. My general take is this- why not place him on LTIR? You allow him time to fully recover and avoid the injury management issues that plagued the coaching staff last season. This isn't an especially critical juncture of the year to deal with the inevitable injuries that occur during the course of an NHL season- "a couple weeks" can mean just about anything in coach speak, and while it's entirely possible the surgery Pavelski went through will cause no extra rehab time, erring on the side of caution two games deep isn't a bad route to take in my opinion.

Then again, there is always the penalty kill to think about.

It's about as early as it gets in the 2009-2010 season, but one thing that's going to be very interesting to observe in the pocket of time that Pavelski is sidelined will be the shorthanded unit. Here's a snapshot of McLellan's shorthanded minute dispersion thus far amongst the leading forwards:

Skater GP SH TOI/G
Marleau 2 4:26
Malhotra 2 3:01
Pavelski 2 2:46
Ortmeyer 2 1:58
Nichol 2 1:53
Thornton 2 1:01

Forwards have seen less that a minute of average PK time include McGinn (0:56), McLaren (0:54), Ferriero (0:50), and Setoguchi (0:36).

Boy oh boy, is Marleau shouldering a heavy load or what? Granted, the Sharks have been shorthanded 11 times this season (on pace for 451, which is well above the 306 they had to kill last year) and that's going to come down once the sample size increases, but it's still a bit surprising to see Marleau punching his card that often out there. I wouldn't shut the hell up about it touched upon it before the year began, but the hope was that he would see some reduced minutes in these situations with the addition of Malhotra and Nichol- now that Pavelski is on the shelf, Sweeney Todd won't be able to slice that time unless San Jose does an excellent job of staying out of the box. Keeping Marleau humming at over twice the amount of any forward on the team not named Malhotra is unsustainable in my opinion.

So who makes up for Pavelski's loss? I'm not a big fan of McLaren on the PK- he's serviceable at even strength considering he's facing sheltered competition, but his skating ability makes it hard for him to effectively pressure the blueline and get back to help out down low. A team that can move the puck well will eat him alive. Setoguchi hasn't ever been a defensive dynamo, so I doubt you can rely on him for much more than he's already giving you.

This leaves Benn Ferriero, Joe Thornton, Scott Nichol, and Jed Ortmeyer. My bet is that Nichol gets the biggest bump due to the fact that he can win you some faceoffs and is the most battle-tested out of that group. Ortmeyer comes next, and the rest of the dominoes fall in line. Jamie McGinn saw a lot of PK time in the preseason, and even though he was demoted after one game, Pavelski's injury opens a door for him provided someone gets sent down and/or Pavs is placed on the LTIR- McGinn also helps shore up the scoring pop you lose in this situation, which will be important if Ferriero cools off as we make our way through October.

Should be interesting to watch over the next couple weeks. Here's to killin' by committee.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-3. Goals by Heatley, Clowe, Boyle, and Malhotra. Fear The Fin gets put under surveillance by the FBI due to the combination of "killin' by committee" and the fact that our name could (and should, ya hear me!) be interpreted as a recruitment site for a terrorist cell.

Go Sharks.