Timo Meier didn’t have much time to celebrate his first career NHL All-Star Game selection.
Several hours after being named the Sharks’ lone representative at the annual NHL event, Meier was on the ice scrapping with New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.
In the second period of San Jose’s 3-0 loss to New York on Thursday night at SAP Center, Meier and Trouba collided near the Rangers net, combatting for ground in front of the crease.
“Those are the types of battles that are going to happen,” Meier told reporters after the game. “As a forward you try to earn your space in front of their net, trying to box out.”
They continued pushing and shoving away from the puck before Jeffrey Viel finished the job.
Protecting his All-Star teammate, the 6-foot-2 Viel dropped his gloves on his next shift to fight New York’s instigator. Viel fearlessly delivered a flurry of punches before the two players tumbled to the ground.
Both Viel and Trouba were given five-minute penalties for fighting.
“He’s a guy that’s been huge for us,” Meier said. “He shows that he’s a very tough guy. He’s not afraid of anybody. Huge for him to step up there and give the guys some energy.”
Although Meier and the Sharks were held scoreless for the fourth time this season -- and for the second time against the Rangers – it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Meier had several scoring chances he just couldn’t convert into goals.
Coach Bob Boughner praised the former first-round draft pick after the loss.
“He’s been our most consistent offensive player all year,” coach Bob Boughner said. "… He’s a tough player to play against every night. It’s nice to see and well deserved. He’s put a lot of hard work into it.”
Through 33 games, Meier has posted 15 goals and 24 assists for a team-high 39 points.
“He’s having a great year,” Sharks center Nick Bonino said. “I’m obviously super happy he’s an All-Star. Well deserved. He’s doing a lot of things right. He’s good on the power play and five-on-five; he’s a force out there.”
A player worth protecting. That’s why teammates like Viel have the All-Star’s back.