LOS ANGELES – Joel Ward’s upper body injury is not expected to keep him out long term, although he won’t suit up against the Kings on Tuesday night as the Sharks play their final game before the league shuts down for Christmas.
Ward spoke publicly for the first time since going head-and-shoulders-first into the boards courtesy of a hit from behind by Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki late in Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Senators. After missing Sunday’s game in Chicago, Ward saw a doctor on Monday and expects to be back in the lineup on Dec. 28 against Colorado in the Sharks’ next game after Tuesday.
“Doc said nothing too major. It was just kind of a freak accident that occurred,” said the Sharks’ fourth leading scorer, with 23 points. “I knew that I went into the boards pretty hard. I think the next day I was stiff, all upper body. I was a little nervous, but got back some good news from the Doc.”
What did he think of the hit?
“It wasn’t really one that I would say was a clean hit, per se, but I was kind of shaken up by it, for sure,” Ward said.
DeBoer didn’t like the hit, but expressed relief that the key free agent addition won’t be out long.
“I feel fortunate there wasn’t anything structurally wrong. It could have been worse. It was definitely a liberty taken there that was outside the lines, and unfortunate. Unnecessary. Thankfully, he’s only going to miss a couple games.”
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Melker Karlsson missed Sunday’s game and Monday’s practice with lingering flu symptoms, but said after the morning skate that he’s “good to go.”
“When you don’t have the energy, you can’t play. I needed the rest, and now I’m rested and ready to go,” he said.
Karlsson will be looking to break out of a 13-game scoreless streak. Coach Pete DeBoer said that he’s not worried about Karlsson, who has four points in 18 games, because the scoring chances have been there for the 25-year-old.
“I’ve gotten a lot of chances, just haven’t put them in,” said Karlsson, who has 25 shots over his drought. “Maybe when I get one and get the confidence going, they’ll start coming. I feel good out there. It’s nothing I can do or change, just have to look harder there to put them in.”
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The day after skipping practice on Monday, Marc-Edouard Vlasic again stayed off of the ice for the Sharks’ optional morning skate. DeBoer called him a game-time decision, but added: “I think he’s going to play.”
DeBoer iced seven defenseman and 11 forwards on Sunday in Chicago, with Karlsson a late scratch. Matt Tennyson dressed, but rode the bench for all of the 60 minutes and overtime.
What was that all about?
“The plan going in was had we had a number of power plays, we might have gotten him in there and used him,” DeBoer said. “We ended up with two or three, and then once you’re cold, it didn’t make any sense. That’s just part of the job.”