After an “underwhelming” start to the 2016-17 campaign, San Jose bench boss Peter DeBoer has shuffled his lines in an effort to spark the 2 – 3 Sharks, writes Paul Gackle of The Mercury News. Tomas Hertl, who has spent much of the season skating on the top line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, slides down the lineup and will center the third line. Meanwhile, Mikkel Boedker and Joel Ward have been promoted and will each move up a line.
Hertl, who has two goals and three points in six contests, will center a line with Patrick Marleau and Melker Karlsson on his wings. Boedker joins the aforementioned Pavelski and Thornton on the first line. Ward takes over as the second line right wing and will skate with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi.
For DeBoer, it’s not about punishing poor play or rewarding good; it’s about trying to find the right combinations that will allow the coach to roll four forward lines.
“It’s not a panic situation or anything, but you’re always looking for ways to get the most out of your group and our four-line game hasn’t been where I want it to be. I want to make sure that we are a four-line team and we’ll keep shuffling things until we are.”
Hertl’s play at center last year when Couture was out gave DeBoer the necessary confidence to move the young Czech forward back to the pivot spot.
“Hertl can play anywhere, his game is at that point. He’s a good enough player now that, not only can he play anywhere, I think he can make other people better around him.”
The Sharks currently sit tied with Anaheim for third in the Pacific Division but have a minus-four goal differential and have tallied just 14 markers on the season. Whether DeBoer’s changes pay off for the Sharks remains to be seen but it’s evident some form of shakeup was needed in San Jose.
Elsewhere in the Pacific Division:
- The Vancouver Canucks have announced via their team website that they have recalled forward Jayson Megna and defenseman Troy Stecher from Utica of the AHL. Furthermore, according to Jon Abbott who covers the Canucks for TSN1040, Megna is slated to play on the fourth line tonight against Ottawa. Stecher is set to make his NHL debut tonight and will skate with Alex Edler, with whom he partnered during preseason action, again per Abbott. Megna appeared in six games for the New York Rangers in 2015-16, netting a single goal and two points for the Blueshirts. Stecher signed with Vancouver as an undrafted free agent following three seasons playing for the University of North Dakota. The two draw into the lineup due to the continued absences of Derek Dorsett, Alexandre Burrows and Chris Tanev.
- The Arizona Coyotes will receive a welcome boost tonight as offseason free agent addition Jamie McGinn is set to make his 2016-17 season debut, as Coyotes Senior Director of News Content Dave Vest writes. McGinn missed the team’s first five games due to an upper-body-injury. Head coach Dave Tippett says the veteran wing will have to quickly readjust to the speed and pace of the game: “He’s going to have to get up and going. At least he had exhibition games (and) played well in the exhibition games. He’s been off for a couple weeks now. The pace has gone up. He’ll have to get into the pace of the game, but he’s a good veteran guy. He’s hard around the front of the net. Hopefully he brings us a little veteran presence we need right now.” Vest also notes that goalie Justin Peters is slated to make his first start of the 2016-17 campaign between the pipes tonight for the Coyotes. The 30-year-old Peters, who has 67 NHL starts on his resume, appeared in a relief role for the Coyotes last Thursday and stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced. Peters has assumed the backup role in Arizona behind Louis Domingue following the lower-body-injury to Mike Smith.