SAN JOSE -- Sharks defenseman Joakim Ryan returned to practice on Friday, no worse for wear the morning after his first NHL fight.
“I feel fine,” Ryan said. “[He] didn’t really get me with too many [punches] there. He got me with one at the end, but kind of just the side of the head. Nothing too bad, really.”
Ryan dropped the gloves with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian with San Jose’s 5-1 win all but over on Thursday. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound blueliner spotted Bogosian five inches and about 40 pounds, per both team’s rosters.
As the clock wound down, Bogosian checked Sharks winger Melker Karlsson into the boards while they battled for a loose puck. As Sabres blue-liner Jake McCabe knocked Sharks rookie forward Rourke Chartier off the puck, a scrum ensued, and Bogosian dropped his gloves shortly after. San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillon then fought McCabe, as Ryan tried to keep Bogosian away from McCabe.
The two eventually traded punches, as Bogosian was assessed a roughing penalty and a fighting major, while Ryan was only given the fighting major -- the second of his professional career, and his first since Dec. 26, 2016 in the AHL.
Bogosian’s gloves were off moments after the initial hit, and before he fought Ryan. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said he was surprised the Sabres defenseman only picked up seven penalty minutes from the exchange.
“You know, I was worried for him. It was a dangerous play,” DeBoer said of Ryan. “I’m surprised that there wasn’t a different call on the play. I think we put in the instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game like that for exactly that reason. There’s no doubt that it was unnecessary, and he could’ve really gotten hurt. I’m just happy that he got out of it without getting hurt.”
According to Rule 46.12 of the league’s rulebook, “a player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty.”
Had Bogosian been called for an instigator, he -- and Sabres head coach Phil Housley -- would have faced supplemental discipline. Rule 46.22 adds that a player called for those penalties would face a one-game suspension, and the coach a $10,000 fine.
Dillon told reporters he didn’t immediately realize Ryan had fought, until teammates told him afterward. He said he appreciated Ryan’s willingness to step in, but the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dillon joked with reporters he would have been a better match for Bogosian.
“I think at the end of the game I maybe grabbed the wrong guy,” the defenseman said. “I should’ve maybe grabbed Bogosian, not McCabe, but Joaks did a good job under the circumstances.”
Thornton “doubtful” vs. Islanders
Center Joe Thornton skated at the team’s practice Friday morning, but DeBoer told reporters that the 39-year-old is doubtful to play Saturday night against the New York Islanders.
Could Thornton travel with the team for their three-game road trip next week?
“I don’t know, we’re day-to-day here,” DeBoer answered. “He looks good in practice. We’ll make that decision when we get to Monday.”
Thornton returned to practice on Tuesday after missing the previous four games. He experienced swelling in his surgically repaired right knee the morning after San Jose’s 3-2 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 5, and was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 7.
He has not returned to the active roster yet, as rookie forward Dylan Gambrell remains with the team.
Maintenance days for Hertl, Karlsson, and Labanc
Defenseman Erik Karlsson and wingers Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc did not practice on Friday. All three played against Buffalo on Thursday, but have missed practice in recent days.
Karlsson missed practice last Saturday when he was feeling “under the weather.” Hertl returned to practice on Wednesday, but did not skate in Thursday’s morning skate. Labanc missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and DeBoer told reporters on Wednesday he was fighting off a virus.
Dylan Gambrell wore a white jersey and skated in Labanc’s place with Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane. Thornton, meanwhile, skated with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.
That probably doesn’t mean much, as the Sharks had a very light practice on Friday. Here’s how the rest of the lines shook out.
Evander Kane - Joe Pavelski - Dylan Gambrell
Joe Thornton - Logan Couture - Timo Meier
Marcus Sorensen - Antti Suomela - Joonas Donskoi
Barclay Goodrow - Rourke Chartier - Melker Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Tim Heed
Joakim Ryan - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun