SAN JOSE — There was no denying the Sharks missed Timo Meier when he was out of the lineup for three games.
While San Jose has many weapons it can use at its disposal, the mix of speed and physicality that the 22-year-old brings to the team’s forward attack is unmistakable.
In his return to the ice Wednesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, Meier again proved just how valuable he is to Team Teal’s lineup, as he helped the Sharks get in the win column with a 5-1 victory.
“He definitely gives us a boost,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “He brings that speed. He plays a good amount of minutes and fills out certain situations, whether it’s power play or five-on-five time.”
Not surprisingly, Meier was just as happy to be back on the ice as his teammates were.
“You don’t want to be sitting out, watching games with an injury,” Meier told the media after Wednesday’s game. “I was obviously really excited to be playing again.”
Meier tallied one goal and two assists in his return, in addition to joining San Jose’s defensive efforts and blocking three shots. He looked right at home slotted on a line with Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorensen — a pair that has had a ton of chemistry since being put together this season.
The Swiss winger said he thought he meshed well on his new line.
“As the game went on, I think we got better,” Meier observed. “Marcus is a great skater — a lot of speed, a lot of skill out there. And we all know what Jumbo can do with the puck. So, I’m just trying to bring my strength to their line, push the D’s back.”
Meier is no doubt skilled in pushing defensemen off and posting up in those dirty areas, ready to score a goal. But he doesn’t just add positives to whatever line he’s specifically on. Having Meier back in the lineup also helps expand the rest of San Jose’s offense.
With Meier’s return to the ice, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer reconstructed a new fourth line consisting of Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson. The line not only contributed the first goal but continued to generate offense throughout the game.
“I thought our fourth line was very effective tonight,” DeBoer said, “and the reason for that is because you can plug Timo in and put three guys there (on the fourth line) that can play and are veteran guys. I thought they did a really good job for us down there.”
While DeBoer was complimentary of Meier’s return, he also believes the young forward can build onto that performance.
“I still think he has another level he can get to,” the coach observed. “But for his first game back, I thought he was good.”
For Meier himself, of course, it’s all about being healthy so he can stay on the ice and contribute.
“You try to be a difference-maker,” Meier said. “You try to do whatever you can to help the team win.”