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  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.