SAN JOSE – The Sharks will have a decision to make for their game against Vancouver on Monday night.
Should they put Brent Burns, who had 10 points in nine games as a forward, back up front? That would mean 22-year-old rookie Matt Tennyson, who arrived from Worcester late Saturday night, would have to suit up as the sixth defenseman with Jason Demers still injured.
Or, should Burns remain on the back end, where he played more than 22 minutes against the Coyotes in a 3-2 shootout win at home on Saturday night?
We’ll have to wait another day to find out, as only a few players skated at HP Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. Although, head coach Todd McLellan seemed to suggest that Burns would return to forward, probably alongside Joe Thornton and Marty Havlat, where he was playing before Demers’ injury forced him back to the blue line.
“We’re happy that Matt’s here. It gives us that luxury of putting Bunrzie back up front. It gives us an opportunity to see [Tennyson’s] development and where he’s at. It also gives us a cushion as far as injuries go,” McLellan said.
“We’ll look at the lines that Vancouver used last night and see how we want to match up against them. The thing with Brent up front is you’ve always got him to move to the back end,” McLellan said. “You basically dress seven a night, but he’s a very effective forward. That’s a great luxury to have.”
McLellan liked Burns’ game against Phoenix. It was Burns’ first action as a rearguard since Feb. 23, when he was hurt in a game in Dallas.
“I thought he was fine,” McLellan said after the game. “There were a lot more questions this morning about him going back there than I thought I would have to face from you guys. That’s his position, that’s home base for him. He’s comfortable there.
“He picked up right where he left off. In fact, I think he was better back there tonight than he had been earlier in the year, maybe because he had his legs underneath him and he had a sense of timing.”
McLellan on Clowe
Ryane Clowe’s name has been among the most frequently mentioned as the April 3 NHL trade deadline approaches. McLellan was asked how he thinks Clowe is dealing with the potential added stress of leaving the only place he's called home in the NHL.
“That’s easy with Clowie. It’s so simple, he’s such a professional,” McLellan said after Saturday’s game. “He comes to the rink every day and wants to make everybody around him better. He’s handling it very well. He’s doing a very good job, and brings his energy level up. He’s not letting it affect him at all.”
Clowe had one of his stronger games against the Coyotes, including a couple great chances to get his first goal of the season.
“Clowie’s played well since he came back from his injury,” McLellan said, referring to Clowe’s four-game absence with a shoulder issue. “I really like his game. I don’t know how many chances he had tonight, they teed him up with one-timers. He’s really, really played well for us since he came back, and we’re excited about him continuing to do that.”
The Sharks have already discussed with Clowe’s agent potential destinations for the winger, with Boston and Montreal the frontrunners for his services.