SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Patrick Marleau is the team’s “hottest goal scorer,” in the words of Todd McLellan, but that didn’t prevent the coach from demoting the franchise's all-time leading scorer in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Vancouver.
After a late first period turnover by Marleau that led to the Canucks’ first goal, the 35-year-old was bumped to the third line, while Tommy Wingels slotted into Marleau’s spot on the Logan Couture line.
“I wasn’t happy with the turnover at the end of the first period,” McLellan said on Sunday.
The message wasn’t just to Marleau, but to the rest of the team as they scuffle to get back into playoff position. The Sharks remain four points out of a playoff spot thanks to a 5-9-2 record in their last 16 games.
“We have to do it right all the time,” McLellan said. “We can’t pick and choose when we want to do it. We have to do it right all the time.”
McLellan eventually put Marleau, who missed a tap-in goal in the second period that would have given the Sharks a 3-1 lead, back into his regular place.
“At that point I thought that he showed a commitment level that was higher,” McLellan said. “He didn’t turn it over, plus we’re looking for offense, and we have certain pieces that fit with certain people. [Couture] and Patty have been pretty consistent and fit, so it was an opportunity to go back. We needed to get a goal. And, he is actually our hottest goal scorer right now.”
Marleau has four goals in the last seven games, including three on the power play and one into an empty net.