Programming note: Sharks-Islanders coverage starts Thursday at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California.
ARLINGTON – Sharks defenseman Mirco Mueller is a pretty even-keeled guy. His calm demeanor, both on and off the ice, is undoubtedly a reason he’s one of the best blue line prospects in the NHL.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that he wasn’t down in the dumps or throwing a hissy fit that he sat as a healthy scratch for the first time in his career against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
As a 19-year-old, he understands that adjusting to the NHL is a process.
“I’m just playing when I’m in the lineup. I’m just going to focus on that,” Mueller said on Wednesday.
Todd McLellan explained the decision to insert Matt Irwin in for Mueller was: “twofold, to get Matt playing and to get Mirco a little bit of a breather – and when I say breather it’s not because he’s tired. He’s young and he’s in shape. It’s the ability to sit and watch a game.
“They play games in the NHL before they even watch them, and sometimes it’s good to see it from up above. … He’s still 19, and we’re still going to develop him slowly and do it the right way.”
Mueller agreed that watching a game from the press box was beneficial. The Verizon Center can be among the NHL’s loudest buildings, and as the Capitals steadily worked their way back into the game and eventually tied it in the third period, it got more and more bonkers.
What did Mueller learn?
“They just kept playing. I think they tried to stick to the plan. That’s what I saw from up top. They try to not get influenced by the crowd and all the hype that’s going on,” he said. “That’s important, just keep playing the way you’re supposed to and things will go well.”
Mueller’s NHL debut against the Kings was a success, but he struggled at times during the Winnipeg game Saturday.
McLellan said: “He’s going to make mistakes. We have 28-year-olds that are making those mistakes as well. It’s about building his long-term career, making sure that he’s feeling good in all those situations, having Larry [Robinson] and Jimmy [Johnson] take the time and sit with him and go through things.
"He’s going to be fine, and he’ll be back in the lineup.”