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Preview/Lines #70: Why Is Eklund Still on 4th Line?



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

William Eklund getting demoted to the fourth line on Thursday was a message to the struggling youngster.

According to San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn, leaving him there today, at least to start tonight’s match-up with the Chicago Blackhawks, is more about liking how his entire team played against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Through two periods, the Sharks held the vaunted Lightning attack to 10 shots, and they were tied at one apiece. Tampa, of course, stormed back to take a 4-1 decision.

For the worst team in the NHL, two good periods against a playoff-caliber team feels like a win.

Make no mistake, Quinn liked Eklund’s game. Besides the goal that Eklund scored, he looked lighter and quicker as a bottom-six winger, freed from the defensive and match-up responsibilities of a second-line center.

Eklund said he played Thursday without thinking, and Quinn agreed.

“Talking about not thinking,” Quinn said this morning. “He said, I’m moving, I’m looking for contact. It’s amazing how all the other things fall into place.”

Quinn also put Eklund back on the top power play unit in the third period, over Klim Kostin, after starting him on Thursday on the second unit.

I’d expect Eklund to get moved back up to a top-six role shortly.

“Just seeing the flow of the game. See how he feels and how we all look, right?” Quinn said. “I mean, when you make one change, it has a ripple effect. If you’re gonna make one move because of particular player, there’s a ripple effect throughout your lineup.”

San Jose Sharks (16-46-7)

Los Gatos native Devin Cooley will get the start, his first at home.

Otherwise, lines should be the same as last game:

Chicago Blackhawks (19-46-5)

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks is 7:30 PM at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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