SAN JOSE –- For the first time since a frightening head injury, Matt Tennyson was back on the ice on Wednesday at the Sharks’ practice facility.
Tennyson has been out since he was on the receiving end of a dirty hit by St. Louis forward Ryan Reaves on Feb. 22 (video above). The defenseman’s head was driven into the glass from behind, and the 25-year-old was cut and appeared dazed before falling and hitting his head again on the ice surface.
“Just seeing him around here is nice,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “He’s looking better visually, and talking to him he’s feeling better every day. It’s good to see him back.”
“It was a scary injury. Any time you have a head injury you never know what exactly you’re dealing with. He was down-and-out for a while. He’s feeling better and it’s a good sign, and it’s nice to see him skating again.”
Reaves was suspended for three games by the league for the hit.
In 29 games, Tennyson, a pending unrestricted free agent, has one goal and three assists for four points and a plus-one rating. He is essentially the Sharks’ eighth defenseman when healthy, after the club acquired Roman Polak just before the trade deadline, bumping Tennyson and Dylan DeMelo down the depth chart.
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Speaking of dangerous hits, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun was on the receiving end of a check to the head by Boston’s Jimmy Hayes in the third period of Tuesday’s 3-2 win. Joonas Donskoi scored the game-winner power play goal on the ensuing advantage.
Braun stayed in the game, and DeBoer was asked if Braun was still OK on Wednesday.
“I believe so, yeah. No issues that I’ve heard of,” DeBoer said.
None of the Sharks that played against Boston skated on Wednesday before the team’s flight to Phoenix. Johan Hedberg manned the net for Tennyson and Tommy Wingels.
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No word yet on who will play goal for the Sharks against Arizona. James Reimer has won his last two starts, and has allowed just one even strength goal in three games since the trade with Toronto (2-1-0, 1.69 goals-against average, .937 save percentage).
Martin Jones started the previous two games before Boston, losing to the Devils but defeating the Capitals. Could he get two straight games to rest?
“We haven’t decided that yet,” DeBoer said. “We’ll make that decision today or tomorrow morning.”
Mike Smith will go for the Coyotes. The goaltender returned from core muscle surgery that kept him out for more than three months on March 12, recording a 44-save shutout against Edmonton.