The Sharks' lines aren’t the only thing getting a shuffle as the team tries to put more tallies in the win column.
Coach Peter DeBoer said after Tuesday’s practice that he’s also shuffling responsibilities around among the coaching staff. It's all in an effort to push the team over the line from playing well for stretches to winning more hockey games.
“As a group I think we’re still searching for consistency,” he explained. “We’re going to shuffle some coaches responsibilities around get some fresh eyes and voices on some areas.”
DeBoer said he plans to have assistant coach Steve Spott start working with the defensemen. Dave Barr, who’s been watching games from the press box, will move down onto the bench as he works with forwards and the penalty kill. Meanwhile, Rob Zettler will transition to watching games from up top.
“Fresh eyes, fresh voice, a little different perspective, hopefully some ideas on how we find that line,” DeBoer said.
San Jose’s bench boss said this stint of musical chairs isn’t something new.
“These types of changes happen all the time,” he said. “We actually changed faceoff responsibilities earlier in the year. But most of it is behind the scenes. If your power play’s not going well, one of the other assistant coaches steps in and runs the power play. But it’s not out in front of you on the bench like this will be.”
At the end of the day, DeBoer and his staff all have same goal in mind. It’s just a matter of getting that extra push over the edge.
“I think we’re all in sync on how we want to play,” DeBoer said. “But, starting with me, it’s got to translate into wins. And we’re close but we’re not close enough here yet.”
Timo Time (to return)
The Sharks expect winger Timo Meier will be back in the lineup Wednesday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. The Swiss forward missed three games after suffering an upper-body injury against the Buffalo Sabres last week.
He took line rushes with Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorensen during Tuesday’s practice.
“Nice to have him back, we miss him,” DeBoer said. “His goals, the way he backs defensemen off, his possession. You can see we’re a different team without him in the lineup.”
Additionally, defenseman Radim Simek is expected to play in his second NHL game after an impressive debut in Sunday's win against the Montreal Canadiens. DeBoer said it was important to get the physical blue liner some play time since he’d been with the team since the start of the regular season, but had not suited up.
“What a tough situation for a guy to go into, he literally hadn’t played a game,” DeBoer said of Simek’s debut against the Habs.
“We were literally just talking about trying to get him some games with the Barracuda because he’d been practicing for two months without game action. So for him to step into that rink, that situation against that type of team, with the speed they have, and play the game he did, was really impressive for me.”
When it was acknowledged it can’t be easy for a young skater to make his professional debut with a d-partner as dynamic as Brent Burns, DeBoer smiled.
“There’s worse partners in the league than a Norris Trophy winner,” he said with a laugh.
Why Labanc's often in the box
A few fans asked on social media recently why winger Kevin Labanc is always tapped to go to the penalty box when the Sharks are called for having too many men on the ice. After a few such penalties were issued to the Sharks over their last road trip, it was time to ask the 22-year-old about it.
When he was told fans have noticed he regularly serves the bench minor, Labanc let out a laugh.
“It’s like my second home,” he joked to NBC Sports California about regularly serving those two minutes in the sin bin.
The young forward took eight penalties for 16 penalty minutes through 28 games so far this season. Both times Labanc was in the penalty box during last weekend’s road back-to-back against the Senators and the Canadiens, it was to serve the Sharks’ bench minor.
When asked further if there was a reason, Labanc admitted he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s because I don’t know play on the PK,” he said with another laugh. Then, he shrugged: “I’ll take one for the team, I don’t mind.”