Sharks' Vlasic dealing with a few fractures in his face

Sharks' Vlasic dealing with a few fractures in his face

SAN JOSE – Sharks stalwart defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to the ice on Friday, exactly one week after a frightening incident when a slap shot by Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere deflected into his face.

“I feel pretty good, considering I got a slap shot to the face,” Vlasic said, although he later added that he’s “still in a lot of pain.”

Speaking publicly for the first time, Vlasic said the puck caused “a few fractures” and “some nerves that are damaged.” He wasn’t told specifically where the damage was done, but pointed to his nasal/cheekbone area. 

Vlasic still has a significantly bruised right eye and stitched upper lip, and although there is still some swelling, it’s gone down since he tweeted a picture of himself with his wife and dogs on New Year’s Day.

Eligible to come off of injured reserve at any time, Vlasic didn’t rule himself out for Saturday’s Sharks home game with Detroit. San Jose is 0-2-1 since he came out of the lineup.

“The game is tomorrow. I could take stuff to numb it,” he said. “It’s getting better every day. … The game is not for another [30] hours, so that gives me time.”

Pete DeBoer was still calling Vlasic day-to-day on Friday.

“We can’t get inside his head and [see] how he’s feeling. … You see his face, he took a pretty good shot there,” DeBoer said. “He’s still sore. We’ll see how he wakes up tomorrow morning.”

As for the play itself, which happened with about 30 seconds to go in a 2-0 Sharks win over the Flyers on Dec. 30, Vlasic recalled everything.

“I saw a lot of blood,” he said. “I wasn’t concerned about the blood, you can fix that. I dropped my glove and checked my teeth right away. When I had all my teeth, I wasn’t worried about the rest.”

Surprisingly, Vlasic said that he didn’t want to wear a full face shield or cage when he returns. Instead he would prefer to wear a longer visor, although it’s fair to wonder how comfortable the team’s medical staff would be with that decision. Vlasic is as important a player as there is on the Sharks’ roster, as evidenced by their struggles in the past week in a pair of losses to the Kings and another to the Wild on Thursday.

“People say wear a cage, but if you haven’t worn one in a long time, it changes everything,” he said.

DeBoer said: “That’s something we’ll talk about with the trainers.”

The Sharks have two important games next week, traveling to Alberta to face the Oilers and Flames back-to-back, but DeBoer shot down a theory that it might be best to wait until after Saturday’s non-conference game against Detroit before plugging Vlasic back into the lineup.

Although San Jose dropped a 5-4 decision to the Wild on Thursday, giving up four third period goals in a late collapse, DeBoer thought that was a better performance from his team than its two losses to the Kings, as well as a win on Dec. 26 over Anaheim.

“We did a lot of really good stuff for long stretches. We found a way to lose for a few reasons that we have to clean up, but it’s not like Vlasic is out and we can’t compete with the teams we’re playing against,” DeBoer said. “We have to do a better job of taking it across the finish line, that’s all.”

* * *

The Sharks did not practice as a team on Friday, but David Schlemko also went on the ice, attempting to get back from a two-game absence with an upper body injury. DeBoer was unsure if Schlemko would be able to play against the Red Wings.

Tim Heed, recalled as a spare defenseman for Thursday’s game, was reassigned to the Barracuda on Friday morning. The Sharks’ AHL affiliate has a home game on Friday against Milwaukee.

Sharks ship Antti Suomela to AHL after back-to-back healthy scratches


Sharks ship Antti Suomela to AHL after back-to-back healthy scratches

SAN JOSE -- Antti Suomela has been a healthy scratch for the last two Sharks games. Now, the 24-year-old center will spend some time in the AHL.

The team announced Tuesday that the Finnish forward, who made the NHL roster out of training camp, has been reassigned to the San Jose Barracuda.

With the Sharks still toying with finding winning combinations in their bottom six, the move likely is to get Suomela some playing time so he isn’t practicing and then sitting up in the press box every game.

[RELATED: Sharks hope win over Devils is a turning point]

The Sharks have made similar moves with their rookie centers this season, including Rourke Chartier, Dylan Gambrell and the more-recently recalled Lukas Radil -- who scored his first NHL career goal Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes.

Suomela has been a healthy scratch a couple times this season, but he bounced back from the first time by scoring a goal. He has sat out of back-to-back games, however, since Radil was recalled from the Barracuda.

Suomela, whom the Sharks signed last summer, has registered eight points (three goals, five assists) in 27 games played for Team Teal this season. It’s unclear at this time how long his stay at the AHL level will be.

Sharks hope attention to detail 'part of their DNA' after big win vs. Devils

Sharks hope attention to detail 'part of their DNA' after big win vs. Devils

SAN JOSE – The Sharks knew Monday night’s game against the Devils wasn’t going to be easy. Even though New Jersey was entering the contest on the tail end of a back-to-back – and off a 6-5 shootout loss to Anaheim, at that – a second straight win would be no easy task.

“This is known as a trap game,” Logan Couture said afterward.

He isn’t wrong. San Jose’s schedule through the first third of the season has been grueling, and the plethora of road back-to-backs they’ve logged set them up to face adversity when the Devils came to town. Even though they would be playing on home ice, the miles they logged over the last few weeks set up a tough test against a struggling Devils squad.

Nevertheless, the Sharks found a way to grind out a 5-2 victory, giving them four wins in their last five games. It may only be a start, but they hope they are building positive momentum.

“I feel like we’re playing better,” Couture continued. “Tough stretch in that Dallas game aside, we could be on a good streak right now. We’ll stick with this and move on to Thursday.” 

[RELATED: Sharks look to take advantage of homestand after tough road schedule]

The Sharks could’ve been in deep trouble early in Monday’s contest, after they failed to register a shot on goal through the first 10 minutes. Then, they surrendered the first goal just a couple minutes later.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer knew his team could’ve been at the mercy of New Jersey taking over the pace of the game at that point. But, instead of letting the Devils take control, the Sharks rallied behind Timo Meier’s game-tying marker off the rush and never looked back.

“Obviously, that could have led to a downturn and it didn’t,” DeBoer acknowledged. “We just kept working. It was a good effort tonight. I think our guys weren’t feeling 100 percent and we found a way to put in 60 minutes of work and get a win.”

Another big boost came from a better all-around defensive effort – something the Sharks have been saying they want to be better at for most of the early season. The stronger effort helped create offensive chances off the rush, helping to set up both of Timo Meier’s goals on the evening.

“I think our attention to detail tonight for sure was in a real good place defensively,” the coach complimented. “Our offense starts in our own end of the ice, with our breakouts or with our defensive coverage. It always leads to offense going the other way.”

Now, of course, the Sharks have to continue that pattern. They have two days before they host the Dallas Stars, a squad that has already beaten San Jose twice this year.

Carrying over all the little things they did right on Monday evening could be huge for the Sharks.

“I didn’t think we gave them a lot,” DeBoer said. “Hopefully we can make that part of our DNA here.”