Kevin Labanc is back on the bench.
Labanc began the season on the second line next to Logan Couture and Oskar Lindblom, but after the San Jose Sharks got off to a 0-5-0 start, head coach David Quinn sat out the Staten Island native on Oct. 20 against the New York Rangers.
Labanc has been productive since then, posting 10 goals and 15 assists in 38 games, mostly on the Sharks’ top line with Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier. This is mainly at even strength too – Labanc isn’t on San Jose’s top power play but is second on the team, per Natural Stat Trick, with 2.23 Points Per 60 at 5-on-5.
But Labanc has drawn the ire of Quinn recently, getting sat for half a period against the Arizona Coyotes last week, and now, being benched for this afternoon’s tilt against the New Jersey Devils.
“Something that happened a little earlier in the season and when he came back, he was outstanding for us for a long stretch,” the San Jose Sharks bench boss said this morning. “So the ebbs and flows of the season, teams go through it, individuals go through it. Just need him to be a little bit more consistent. Overall, in a lot of aspects.”
Labanc will be back in soon. He’s sixth on the San Jose Sharks with 25 points and tied for fifth with Nico Sturm with 10 goals.
What is Quinn looking for from Labanc?
“When he’s on his game, there’s a swagger to him. There’s an edge to him. He makes life hard on the other team. Makes good decisions,” Quinn offered. “There was a guy who was playing at a pace, with an edge, who was responsible in all three zones. Made an impact shift in and shift out. There’s been moments where that’s happened, but just not consistently.”
He added: “Obviously got 10 goals, which is a good season so far. But there’s a lot more in there as a player and we want a complete player.
“I just think he’s lost his way just a little bit.”
Noah Gregor will slot in for Labanc – Gregor himself has been scratched for the last eight games, and Quinn praised his hard work at practice for getting him another look.
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