Programming note: Coyotes-Sharks coverage gets underway Saturday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – Tyler Kennedy wants to increase his offensive production. Perhaps a new line will allow him to do that.
The Sharks forward, acquired for a second round pick from Pittsburgh on draft day, has one goal and four assists in 13 games while playing with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. While his linemates have excelled, and Kennedy likely has something to do with that by using his speed to create space in the offensive zone, the numbers for the 27-year-old haven’t been there.
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“I think I’ve got to pick it up a little bit. I want to be better,” Kennedy said on Friday.
Some rearranged forward lines for Friday’s practice saw Kennedy skating with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl, while Marty Havlat was in Kennedy’s place with Couture and Marleau.
Todd McLellan wouldn’t confirm that’s the look he’ll go with against the Coyotes on Saturday, but said after practice he’s not displeased with Kennedy’s season so far.
“I think he’s provided us with a burst of speed, some good defensive play. They’ve had some tough assignments on a nightly basis,” McLellan said. “He’s shot the puck a lot, and got it back. I’ve liked how he fit in. I think he’s a good piece for our team.”
When it was relayed to the coach that Kennedy seemed a bit down on himself, McLellan didn’t mind.
“I think that’s noble,” McLellan said. “I hope you haven’t found a player who says this is all I can do and is happy. They’re always going to tell you they can do more.”
Kennedy seemed excited to play with Thornton, and hopes he can contribute more on the scoreboard sooner than later.
“I think Joe is a great player to play with. I’ve got to make sure I get open, and make sure I start shooting the puck like I can,” Kennedy said.
“It’s going to take time, but I want it to start happening soon. Before you know it, it will be Christmas, and I want to make sure I’m flying.”
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As for Havlat, the winger will be playing his second game on Saturday after his return from offseason pelvic surgery. Late last season, Havlat found some success on a line with Marleau and Couture before he was hurt in the first game of the postseason. The winger finished with five points in his last four games, after getting just 13 points in his first 36 games of the 2013 season.
“It would be nice to get that chemistry back early,” Marleau said. “It’s Marty’s second game, but the tools are there to make that happen again. We’ve got to work hard together and communicate.”
Not surprisingly, McLellan won’t necessarily be married to his line combinations should the team struggle to generate offense. The Sharks are coming off of a season low in shots, with just 20 in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss in Los Angeles.
“If we start that way and we play that way, we’ll give it a shot. If not we’ll be prepared to flip it around,” McLellan said.