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Preview/Lines #57: Sawchenko Cherishes Opportunity, Reveals His “Welcome to the NHL” Moment

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

Following the San Jose Sharks practice on Wednesday morning, head coach Bob Boughner confirmed that Zach Sawchenko would be starting in net against the Los Angeles Kings. The netminder shared his thoughts as he heads into his second NHL start.

“A lot of emotion. Obviously super happy, super proud, but at the same time, there’s a lot of people that would be wanting that opportunity,” he said. “So try not to get overwhelmed and just go out there and do what you’ve been doing this whole time and just go play.”

However, with reaching a goal set when he was just a kid, Sawchenko continues to work, knowing that the next game isn’t a guarantee: “I think it’s important to take it with a grain of salt. Cherish the moment. Enjoy the moment, but at the same time, you’ve worked hard to get here, and now it’s an opportunity.”

Thursday night will mark Sawchenko’s sixth NHL appearance, but just his second start. However, it wasn’t until he was tapped to replace an injured James Reimer in his third outing did he fully have his moment of realization that he’s playing in the best league in the world.

“There was one in Vegas when it was in the second period, maybe 10 or 11 minutes in,” he recalled on the Mar. 1 game where he replaced an injured Reimer. “Eichel came down the wing, and he ripped one off the crossbar. He slung it pretty good, and I was like, man, like this guy can shoot the puck. Obviously, he’s in a league of his own for shooting. He’s got that patented wrist shot and snapshot, so I think that’s one thing that caught me off guard.”

Working with Evgeni Nabokov has been a tremendous learning opportunity for Sawchenko in his time with the Sharks. The former NHL star notices things that the younger goaltender may have missed, using them to improve every game.

“He’s been doing this for a long time,” Sawchenko said. “He’s played in the league for a long time, which is a huge resource for me, Hiller [Adin Hill], Reims [James Reimer], and even Al [Alex Stalock], for that example. He’s got a lot of expertise. He’s been here. He’s played the position. He’s been in these big moments, and he’s just been great to deal with.”

He also has a teammate that he can look toward in terms of perseverance. Or maybe, they can look at each other — Sawchenko’s story is just as incredible.

Sharks, Like Sawchenko, Don’t Show Quit

“At the end of the day, we are playing a game, and we do have a pretty nice lifestyle here. It’s easy to get frustrated when things aren’t going your way, but at the end of the day, there’s thousands of kids and players that want to be in your shoes. So [Jake Middleton] is a great example for just putting his head down, going to work, and just approaching the game day-to-day,” the 24-year-old goalie said.

Couture, Boughner Not Surprised Teams Want Middleton

Even with a focus on work ethic, Sawchenko recognizes the need to decompress after games before diving right back in. He keeps his post-game activities fairly simple.

“I think just relax. I mean, you build it up so much in your head before [a game]. I found I was playing a couple of days ago, you think about it, and then you finally get there, and there’s warmups. You’re still thinking about it. You get through the game, it’s probably two and a half hours of game time where you’re just dialed in, and then you just need the mental reset just because mentally, it’s a lot to be locked in for that long. So I think just get on the plane or go back home,” he said. “Talking to friends, talking to family, watching some TV, and relaxing is huge.”

SAN JOSE SHARKS (24-25-7)

With a 2-5-3 record over their last ten games, the San Jose Sharks are looking to turn things around against a hot Los Angeles Kings roster.

The top-six skaters remain the same as yesterday’s practice — Jonathan Dahlen returns after whiplash-like symptoms after the Feb. 26 Boston tilt:

The bottom-six has been set with Jonah Gadjovich and Noah Gregor in, Jeffrey Viel and Ryan Dzingel out:

Jake Middleton is a game-time decision — if he plays, he’ll slide in next to Burns, Jaycob Megna with Erik Karlsson. It will be both Megna and Karlsson’s first games in over a month.

LOS ANGELES KINGS (32-19-7)

The Kings come into tonight’s game with an 8-2 record over their last ten games. They currently sit in second place in the Pacific Division and are looking to stay hot tonight against the Sharks.

How the Kings lined up yesterday:

WHERE TO WATCH

Puck drop between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks is at 7:30 PM PT at Crypto.com Arena. Watch it live on Bally Sports West and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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david barnard

same shit different game with that 3rd line!

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