Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sharks Getting Healthy as Playoffs Approach

The San Jose Sharks reported Wednesday that forwards Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe are expected to be back in the lineup for Thursday night's regular season home finale against the Phoenix Coyotes.

They will be following fellow forwards Tomas Plihal and Claude Lemieux, who rejoined the team for Tuesday's win over Colorado. The Sharks also recently saw Marcel Goc, Rob Blake, and Jeremy Roenick return.

At one time or another, 12 different players spent time out for injuries in March, with Dan Boyle, Evgeni Nabokov, and Brad Lukowich also spending games in street clothes. The team has maintained that it expects all players healthy for the playoffs.

Just in time, too. The Sharks have two games left in the regular season, and the playoffs will start next Wednesday or Thursday. You always want to have a few games in for each player before the intensity ramps up, and at least they will have two or three to regain their rhythm.

Unfortunately for the Sharks, neither team they face has much left to play for, and that may make that intensity gap wider. Phoenix is trying to be one of the few teams in the league, and only one in the division, to not lose the season series with the Sharks. Los Angeles, where the Sharks end the regular season on Saturday, is trying to avoid being swept by the Sharks.

This leaves only centre Torrey Mitchell, who was injured early in training camp, and defenceman Ken Huskins, acquired minutes before the trade deadline, on the list. The problem for Huskins and Mitchell is that neither has played a minute this season with their current team.

But at least we know there are a number of players that can step up should the Sharks injury woes strike again in the post-season: 30 players got 10 or more games on the ice, and of the 28 skaters, only one posted a rating lower than -7 with the Sharks. That's the kind of depth that can help a team hoist the Stanley Cup.

No comments: