SAN JOSE -– In their two wins in Vancouver this week, the Sharks have gotten away with falling behind early. They didn’t start either game particularly well, but managed to pick up two points anyway thanks to some strong third periods.
“We can’t continue to get behind and think we’re going to come back every game in the third period,” Logan Couture said. “It would be nice to get a lead in this one, jump out fast.”
Perhaps playing in front of a new goalie will energize them from puck-drop on Saturday, when they host Vancouver for the third meeting between the teams in seven days. James Reimer will make his first start in teal, exactly one week after the club acquired him from Toronto to be its new backup goalie.
In 32 games with Toronto this season, Reimer is 11-12-7 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. It will be his first action since Feb. 23.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Reimer said. “I was excited to come here so now I’m excited to hopefully get two points.”
The 27-year-old has had just one morning skate, one full practice and another optional skate on Saturday morning to prepare. It took several days for him to get his immigration issues worked out before he finally met the team on Wednesday night in Vancouver.
He didn’t seem too concerned about getting used to his new teammates in such short order, though. Reimer already knows Nick Spaling and Roman Polak from this season in Toronto, and also played with Brent Burns and Joel Ward in the World Championships.
“It’s gradual, but I think you integrate pretty quickly. You get more practices, more reps, more games, it becomes smoother and smoother,” he said. “I think you accomplish a lot in the first couple touches.”
Pete DeBoer said: “I don’t think there’s as much [time needed] as bringing in a defenseman and putting him with a new partner. There’s more feel and communication needed in those situations than with a goalie.”
Reimer didn’t express any nervousness ahead of his first Sharks start. Perhaps that has something to do with the spotlight being a little dimmer in San Jose than it was in Toronto, where the daily routine of dealing with dozens of media members can be exhausting.
“You just adapt to whatever surroundings there are,” he said. “In Toronto, it’s just something you get used to, really. It’s just part of your daily process. … Obviously here it’s a little more relaxed, less stressful –- I don’t know if stressful is the right word -– but just less of everything. You enjoy the game of hockey.”
“Obviously one game isn’t going to [be] make or break. You just do what you have to do. You don’t put too much pressure or unrealistic expectations on yourself. For me to just go out there and compete hard -– if that happens, then usually good things happen.”
Couture said the Sharks already know that Reimer is a reliable NHL netminder.
“We all know what he can do. He’s been around the league for a while. Not much to prove to us as players, but I’m sure he’s going to want to make a good first impression on the fans. We’re going to try and make him feel comfortable.”
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Melker Karlsson remains out of the lineup with what looks to be an upper body injury, so Micheal Haley will remain in on the fourth line with Dainius Zubrus and Chris Tierney.
Haley’s game is similar to the now-departed Mike Brown in that he won’t typically be much of an offensive threat, but he isn’t afraid to throw his body around or drop the gloves. Also, like Brown, he has the respect of his veteran teammates.
“Oh, for sure,” DeBoer agreed. “What’s not to like? He comes up, he does a lot of dirty work, and he keeps people on the other team honest, which I think everybody appreciates.”
“I love what he brings every time he comes up. You know what you’re getting.”
On Thursday, Haley dropped the gloves with Canucks fourth-liner Derek Dorsett after Dorsett took a whack at Joe Thornton.
Is Dorsett, who has three goals and 153 penalty minutes in 61 games, one of those guys that’s been running around a bit through the first two games?
“He might have been one of those guys, yeah,” DeBoer said with a laugh.
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Joel Ward missed Friday’s practice, but is fine to play against Vancouver, per DeBoer.