SAN JOSE –- The Los Angeles Kings completely rearranged their forward lines for Game 5, but don’t expect San Jose to make any notable changes as it prepares for a do-or-die Game 6 at HP Pavilion on Sunday night (5 p.m., NBCSN).
Except for one. Indications are that Adam Burish will make his series debut from a broken right hand, as he skated with Bracken Kearns and Andrew Desjardins on the fourth line in practice at Sharks Ice on Saturday morning.
In typical playoff-speak, both Burish and head coach Todd McLellan refused to confirm whether Burish would suit up for the first time since May 7, when San Jose eliminated the Vancouver Canucks. Burish suffered the injury blocking a shot.
"I feel ready, yeah. I guess it's Todd's call, but yeah, I feel pretty darn good," Burish said.
What would McLellan like to see from the forward?
“If he does play, we want to see Adam Burish, his game,” McLellan said. “He’s a feisty player, he’s a very good right handed face off guy, he kills penalties, he adds a physical element to our game, and he’s got a past that he can reference in this situation. He’s been there with a team that’s won the Cup, and I’m sure they faced adversity through their run and he can bring that into the locker room.”
Burish said: “If I'm playing, I'm expecting to go back and not miss a beat. … I’m not going back in just because I’ve got nice hair. I want to contribute.”
It’s no secret just where exactly Burish’s injury is on his body. He’ll consider wearing some protection on the hand, in the event that a Kings player decides to test out his pain threshold with a little bump or slash.
"I may put a little extra something on my gloves, but that's it,” he said. “Nothing special. I don't like wearing something special. I don't feel normal then. I’ll think about it then. I'll be fine."
McLellan wants to make sure that Burish can start - and finish - Game 6. Marty Havlat returned in Game 3 from a lower body injury after missing five games, but left after the first period, leaving his teammates shorthanded.
“We have to make decisions on what’s best for the team and we’ve tried once already to put a player into the lineup, and he left us [after] four minutes. That didn’t help us at all," McLellan said. "If [Burish] can play and finish the night and remain healthy and contribute to the team, we’d love to have him back. I would say he’s awfully close to that.”
As for the remaining three lines, Joe Pavelski was back on the wing of Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, while Joe Thornton skated with regular linemates Brent Burns and TJ Galiardi. The third line remained Scott Gomez centering Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard.
Late in Game 5, McLellan shifted Pavelski to the wing of Marleau and Galiardi, while putting Couture on the Thornton line.
The Sharks got a notable offensive boost when they made Pavelski their third line center in late March, but don’t expect to see him return to that role in Game 6.
“Based on the injuries that we have we’re going to look at the hand we’re dealt and come up with lines,” McLellan said.
Pavelski had four goals against the Canucks in the first round, but is still looking for his first marker against Los Angeles. He doesn’t feel any more responsibility to put the puck in the net playing with Couture and Marleau than he did when centering the Sharks’ third line down the stretch and against Vancouver.
“When you’re playing, you always think you need to score a goal,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what line you’re on, you’re trying to contribute and you feel you’re going to be a big part of it. Definitely, we’ve got to create the offensive zone time when we’re together.”
Burish’s return means that Jason Demers will likely sit after playing less than four minutes as a forward in Game 5 in what can only be considered a failed experiment. After needlessly boarding Robyn Regehr at 13:24 of the second period, Demers played three seconds – the time it took him to skate from the penalty box back to the visiting bench.