ST. LOUIS – Brenden Dillon and Tommy Wingels will miss Monday’s Sharks game in St. Louis, but both could potentially return on Wednesday in Colorado for the conclusion of a five-game road trip, according to coach Pete DeBoer.
That’s not surprising regarding Dillon, who continues to skate and was expected to play at some point on the roadie. He’s probable for the Avalanche.
Wingels is questionable for the Avs, but that he’s even a possibility has to be considered good news. The 27-year-old forward went hard into the boards left shoulder-first against Florida on Thursday in the first period and has been off the ice ever since, including Sunday’s full team skate at Scottrade Center.
“Could have been a lot worse,” Logan Couture said about Wingels. “I thought it was his neck when he first went in. It was pretty scary looking.”
Still, the Sharks will have to cope with missing two of their more physical players – Wingels leads the Sharks with 160 hits, while Dillon is fourth with 102 – when they face a heavy Blues club on Monday. San Jose dropped a 5-2 decision to Carolina on Friday without Dillon and Wingels, in a rare recent game in which they noticeably lacked energy and jam.
Since losing at home to the Sharks less than three weeks ago on Feb. 4, 3-1, the Blues have won six of their last seven, including five in a row.
“I think that physical stuff we do by committee more than in the hands of one or two guys,” DeBoer said. “Those two guys definitely are at the front of the line for that type of play for us, but we’ve got other guys here that can step in and pick up some of the load.”
Couture said: “You lose a guy like Dilly on the back end, who plays a physical game, and you lose our leader in [finished checks] up front. Tommy brings that physicality that we haven’t had these last couple games. So, other guys need to step it up.”
The Sharks still had just 12 forwards for Sunday’s practice with Mike Brown slotted on the fourth line, where he played against Carolina. DeBoer left open the possibility of a recall, though.
Regardless, forward Melker Karlsson will likely remain on the Couture line with Joonas Donskoi as the other winger. It’s a great opportunity for Karlsson, the Sharks’ 2014-15 Rookie of the Year, who has struggled to consistently score in his second season. In 42 games, the 25-year-old has 12 points (7g, 5a).
“It’s going to be some more minutes if I’m playing there,” Karlsson said. “Maybe some more scoring opportunities. We’ll see. I had a few against Carolina. I couldn’t put them in. It seems to be that way.”
Karlsson was denied from point-blank range in the first minute of the second period against the Hurricanes in a game that was still tied at 1-1 at the time. He just hasn’t been able to consistently bury his opportunities.
Karlsson, who missed training camp and the first 14 games with a nagging injury, described his season as: “Up-and-down. I think the coaches see that. I felt good right away when I came in, and my play [kind of yo-yoed]. I got chances; I didn’t put them. I think that’s why they wanted to change it up. The scoring wasn’t there. I feel good. I can play whatever. I’ll play the fourth line, I’ll play the first line. It doesn’t matter for me, whatever’s best for the team.”
DeBoer said: “Playing with Logan Couture, it’s a great chance to produce. … As long as those chances are there, I’m good with [Karlsson’s] game. He’s getting at least one good Grade A [chance] a night, so eventually those are going to go in.”