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Preview/Lines #4: Quinn Trying to Take PK Workload Off Stars

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

The San Jose Sharks’ penalty kill is taking some shape.

In the first two regular season games in Prague, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Mario Ferraro were consistently the penalty kill’s top pairing, following by Radim Simek and Matt Benning. Conspicuously absent was Erik Karlsson, who’s been a big part of a very successful Sharks’ PK over the last four years.

Quinn, when asked if the Sharks were intentionally trying to alleviate Karlsson’s workload, confirmed: “100 percent. Listen, Erik did a good job killing last year, but if we can find other ways [to rest our top players], even our forwards too, it’s great that we’re No. 2 in the league in killing, but I’m way more concerned about our record.”

Last year, the San Jose Sharks had the second-best penalty kill in the NHL, led in deployment by the likes of Brent Burns and Logan Couture. Karlsson and Tomas Hertl also drew a regular PK shift. And there’s an argument for putting your best players out there as much as you can. But there’s also the notion that if you’re the Sharks, and you’re staffed to the gills in potential PK’ers, but less so in scorers, that it might be wise to save Karlsson and Couture and Hertl for some offense.

We’re seeing that not only in Karlsson’s PK usage, but Couture and Hertl’s.

Last year, Couture led San Jose Sharks forwards in Average Time on Ice on the kill. This season, he’s fourth behind Nick Bonino, Luke Kunin, and Matt Nieto.

Last year, Hertl was fourth among Sharks forwards in PK usage. This year, he’s seventh, falling out of San Jose’s regular short-handed rotation.

At the moment, Bonino, Kunin, Nieto, Couture, Nico Sturm, and Steven Lorentz have emerged as the Sharks’ go-to killers.

I don’t take this as a demotion of Couture or Karlsson or Hertl, but a redistribution of their estimable skills and energy.

It’s a sound strategy, even if we haven’t seen the results on the scoresheet yet. The Sharks have just four goals in three losses.

But hey, the PK’s been perfect so far.

San Jose Sharks (0-3-0)

Quinn was not happy with how the Sharks played last night, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they shook up lines. This is how they skated last night:

Expect Kaapo Kahkonen to draw the start in the back-to-back.

Chicago Blackhawks (0-2-0)

Where to Watch

The San Jose Sharks will take on the Chicago Blackhawks at SAP Center at 7:00 PM PST. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

If you’re coming tonight, check out the list of events:

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