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I’m on the Road Again, New Sharks Lines in Anaheim?

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Credit: Sheng Peng

San Jose Hockey Now is hitting the road again!

After some time away from San Jose Sharks’ away games because of county travel quarantine restrictions, we’re on the fly – err drive – again and will be providing live, on-site coverage of the Sharks’ upcoming tilts in Anaheim and Vegas.

If you’d like to contribute to SJHN’s travel fund – 100 percent of your contribution goes toward helping me get to and back from San Jose road games – just go to our Tip Jar.

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New Lines in Anaheim?

One San Jose Sharks player was given a maintenance day today: Rudolfs Balcers.

In an otherwise full practice, a non-star youngster’s absence is striking. These were the practice lines today:

Kane-Couture-Labanc

Nieto-Hertl-Meier

Donato-Gambrell-Leonard

Gabriel-Handemark-Marleau

I would assume, however, that Balcers will be good to go tomorrow. Balcers had media availability today and confirmed it was a maintenance day. And of course, a maintenance day can mean a million things: An injury, a personal day, anything. But it’s at least something to monitor going forward.

Yesterday’s practice lines were probably a more accurate reflection of Friday’s line-up against Anaheim:

It’s a fresh bottom-six, if Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier can both return tomorrow night. I observed Meier laboring yesterday at practice, which Bob Boughner confirmed, but both Hertl and Meier completed practice today without any apparent hitch.

If Hertl or Meier can’t go, Joel Kellman, Antti Suomela, and Stefan Noesen are also traveling with the team to Southern California. Defensemen Nick DeSimone and Fredrik Claesson, and goalie Josef Korenar are on the road too.

Gabriel to Hold Court Again?

Like he’s done with Ryan Reaves and Kyle Clifford in three consecutive games, should we expect Kurtis Gabriel to seek out Ducks tough guy Nicolas Deslauriers for a pre-game meeting of the minds tomorrow?

According to Gabriel, no.

“I think it is a coincidence. Ryan Reaves, obviously there’s history here with him acting out when there’s nobody on the team to kind of push back against him. I just wanted to make sure over those couple games that he knows that I’m here now, and we’re not going to put up with that,” the San Jose Sharks’ resident enforcer said. “With the Blues obviously, Binnington is a good friend of mine, but you can’t be disrespecting our team like that. So I had to set the tone there as well. When there’s nothing to really talk about, I really won’t be.”

Clifford tried to set the tone himself early in this meet-up, shoving Gabriel hard a couple times.

Gabriel elaborated: “I think he heard some of the stuff I was doing and was probably thinking about me all afternoon, that’s kind of the idea. I think he came at me hard, trying to get back in my head, trying to intimidate me a little bit. But once he realized that wasn’t gonna happen, I think he loosened up and we had a good respectful chat after that and got the job done during the game.”

For what it’s worth, unlike Gabriel-Reaves, the chatter seemed to stop between Gabriel and Clifford after their opening frame tussle. So just two guys doing their job, right?

As for Gabriel’s job, which goes beyond fighting, he’s looking to get his ice time from 4:10, which is what he played against St. Louis, to a steady 10 minutes a night – he played 10:57, a career-high, in Saturday’s loss to Vegas.

Gabriel talked about what he did on Saturday to earn more ice time: “I was stick on puck, I was physical, I was in the right spots. I was making simple plays, North plays.

“I’m just trying to do all the little things right and that’s really what’s gonna endear myself to Bob and keep earning his trust.”

Sharks Will Need Jones

Best case scenario, Devan Dubnyk takes control of the starting job.

But the San Jose Sharks are in the midst of a schedule with six upcoming consecutive Friday-Saturday back-to-back games. Who’s going to play the other leg of these back-to-back contests?

Like it or not, Boughner and San Jose are still behaving like they can make the playoffs. That means the Sharks’ No. 3-4 netminders, prospects Alexei Melnichuk and Josef Korenar, aren’t likely to get thrown out there unless the organization thinks they’re close to ready.

I’ve received no indication that’s the case.

Melnichuk Adapting to “Many Parts” of North America | SJHN+

So unless San Jose acquires another veteran goaltender – which is possible, but not the case at the moment – the Sharks will need Martin Jones, even from a secondary role, to provide some solid goaltending.

Jones has failed as a starter – let’s not make any bones about that – but can he step up as a back-up?

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[…] The Sharks have some new-look lines in Anaheim. (San Jose Hockey Now) […]

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