SAN JOSE – Four of the five Sharks that competed in the World Cup of Hockey final skated for the first time with their teammates on Tuesday, as the Sharks commenced their final week of training camp before next Wednesday’s opener against Los Angeles.
Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Brent Burns and Mikkel Boedker all took part in practice, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic spent the day traveling back to San Jose.
“It was great. Different energy obviously with those guys back,” Pete DeBoer said. “The level of everything goes up when they’re on the ice, so it was nice to be a part of that.”
The lines had a familiar feel.
Tomas Hertl, who had been playing the center position throughout camp, returned to the left wing of the Thornton-Joe Pavelski top line. In the second half of last season, Hertl had 17 goals and 31 points in the final 43 games in that position after joining the line on Jan. 9.
That trio finished the season with a league-high 46 goals, according to leftwinglock.com, and just 20 goals against.
Thornton said: “We know each other, we know how each other plays. It was so effective last year. It’s nice to see us out there together.”
“I thought they were a dominant line last year,” DeBoer said. “I thought they got better as the season went on. … Why change it if it isn’t broken, unless you have to?”
Although DeBoer and general manager Doug Wilson have said in the past that they project Hertl to be a center at some point in his career, it was Chris Tierney who was in the middle of the third line for Tuesday’s practice.
Tierney’s strong postseason, in which he had nine points in 24 games (all at even strength), and his impressive training camp have earned him the added responsibility, according to DeBoer. He was in between left wing Patrick Marleau and right wing Joel Ward, and it’s a group that should cause matchup problems for many teams around the league.
“[Tierney] deserves and has earned the right to play up in the lineup, [based on] how he finished the year and played in the playoffs,” DeBoer said. “Having said that, if he ends up with some other guys down a line, I still think we’re a very effective team.
“The whole idea is mismatches. I think he’s earned the right to the type of situation he’s in right now to start.”
Newcomer Boedker, signed to a four-year deal in the offseason, skated on the left side of Couture with Joonas Donskoi as the right wing on what would be considered the second line.
DeBoer indicated he had Boedker slotted in that position in his mind in the offseason.
“When you’re writing things down on a napkin in the summer and putting combinations together, that should be a group that works,” he said.
Couture said: “Those guys both carry the puck well, so hopefully we have the puck all night and create some offense.”
The fourth line was composed of Matt Nieto, Tommy Wingels and Melker Karlsson, while the extra forwards still pushing for a spot on the NHL roster include Barclay Goodrow, Micheal Haley, Kevin Labanc and Nikolay Goldobin.
Burns skated with Paul Martin on defense, as expected, while Tim Heed filled in for Vlasic, paired with Justin Braun.