Programming note: Predators-Sharks coverage starts Saturday at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California with Sharks Pregame Live
SAN JOSE – Marc-Edouard Vlasic could return to the Sharks’ lineup on Saturday against Nashville.
The invaluable defenseman missed Thursday’s game with Minnesota and much of Tuesday’s game with Edmonton after taking a hard check from the Oilers’ Tyler Pitlick. Officially out with an upper body injury, Vlasic took part in an optional skate at Sharks Ice on Friday and looked fine.
“Something came up in that [Edmonton] game and I wasn’t able to continue. I feel great now,” Vlasic said, sticking to the company policy of not revealing too much detail about the injury.
Todd McLellan said: “I saw him when he came off [the ice]. He was smiling and giving it to Mirco [Mueller] about something, so he must have felt pretty good. I’ll have to follow it up and see how he feels tomorrow, but it’s a positive sign.”
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What’s the process now?
“If I feel great, I’ll tell them I feel great. After that, it’s out of my hands,” Vlasic said. “Ultimately the coach decides who goes in. I feel great today, so he’ll know that. We’ll see tomorrow morning.”
When it was pointed out to the 27-year-old that McLellan would obviously put him in the lineup if he were healthy, Vlasic quipped: “That’s a pretty good assumption. I would go with that. If I feel great, then I would assume the best, right?”
Vlasic added that had Thursday’s game with the Wild been a playoff elimination game, he probably would have been in the lineup.
While Vlasic could return, McLellan revealed that Matt Nieto would miss his fourth straight game with an ankle injury.
In goal, Antti Niemi is likely to start after getting dinged up in the pregame skate on Tuesday. Alex Stalock has started the last three games.
After Saturday, the Sharks won’t play again until a home game with Edmonton on Thursday, Dec. 18.
“I would like to get Nemo a game before we get into this break,” McLellan said.