Winning Play: Should Sorensen stay on third line?

Mike Ricci might have been as proud of last night’s 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche as anybody.

The decade-long San Jose Sharks development coach, who makes his way from his perch upstairs to the locker room after most home games, undoubtedly enjoyed watching his former Barracuda pupil, Marcus Sorensen, roll the Avs.

After San Jose acquired three-time 20-goal scorer Gustav Nyquist, there was some question about whether or not Sorensen would remain in the top-nine.

Sorensen staked his claim to his position up front with a strong all-around performance, highlighted by a pair of goals.

On a star-laden Sharks squad, it’s important for role players to take advantage of the extra time and space that offensive threats like Brent Burns and Joe Thornton create.

That’s what Sorensen (20) did here, as Burns playing up drew J.T. Compher (37) and Samuel Girard (49) in. This allowed Sorensen to pop open.

Sorensen added, “Jumbo went to the net there too, that’s why I got the space in the slot.”

Speaking of Thornton’s influence on Sorensen:

“You can’t understate how important Joe Thornton’s been to his development offensively,” Peter DeBoer said. “He’s always talking to him about hanging onto the puck, making plays.”

Ultimately though, Sorensen’s greatest value isn’t in counting stats. It’s in small, untracked events.

Sorensen is consistently quick to the puck. But beyond that, he didn’t just chip it off the boards here, he kickstarted transition.

Using his quick feet, Sorensen beat Girard to a puck in the corner. He then forced Ian Cole (28) into a hurried pass.

“He plays such an honest game. Straight line speed,” DeBoer indicated. “But he also plays much bigger than his size. He gets inside people. He gets in and wins battles and pucks.”

Indeed, Sorensen got inside of Tyson Jost for his second goal, but I digress ...

Continuing the previous clip, Sorensen’s forecheck led to Thornton (19) having the puck in the offensive zone, which is exactly as DeBoer drew it up.

“Joe Thornton wants the puck. He wants to control it in the offensive zone. He needs guys that are able to get in there and get it for him. Marcus does a great job of that.

“When you get a guy like that who wants to play with you, that’s the golden ticket.”

So while Sorensen isn’t necessarily among a healthy San Jose squad’s nine most-skilled forwards, he looks to keep plugging away on the third line. Every good line needs somebody to do the dirty work, after all.