Programming note: Wild-Sharks coverage starts Thursday at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California with Sharks Pregame Live
SAN JOSE – It’s been a busy few days in the Sharks’ medical room.
After Matt Nieto and Tyler Kennedy were both hurt in games last week, the Sharks had four more players suffer ailments on Tuesday. Antti Niemi (undisclosed), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper body), Melker Karlsson (undisclosed) and Mike Brown (lower body) all were injured at one point before the Sharks 5-2 win over the Oilers was in the books.
Vlasic, the Sharks’ best defenseman, was hurt late in the first period against Edmonton after a hard check into the boards from Tyler Pitlick.
He’s questionable for San Jose’s game against Minnesota on Thursday after missing the final two periods on Tuesday.
“We’ll know more in the morning,” Todd McLellan said. “Good day today. When Pickles came in today, he looked good and felt good.”
Is it fair to say he won’t miss much time?
“I believe that’s the case right now, yes,” McLellan said.
Niemi, who was stung by a shot at Tuesday's morning skate, practiced on Wednesday for nearly two hours and said he felt good enough to play. McLellan said there has not been a decision yet on the team’s starter vs. the Wild.
“Nemo looked fine,” McLellan said. “I’ll get a report on him, but better than we thought he might be.”
Kennedy (shoulder) and Nieto (ankle) will both remain out vs. Minnesota, although Nieto continued to skate and is getting closer. Karlsson did not skate on Wednesday after he needed stitches from a blocked shot on Tuesday, although he eventually returned to the game and is likely to dress again Thursday.
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Brown’s injury appears to be the most serious, and McLellan said again on Wednesday that the fourth liner would miss “an extended period of time.”
Brown’s right skate hung that in his locker stall was missing its laces, suggesting that they had to be cut off in order for the skate to be removed (broken ankle, perhaps?) Linemate Andrew Desjardins was in awe that Brown tried to get off of the ice under his own power after such an apparently serious injury that happened when Brown was finishing his check on Matt Hendricks.
After the Sharks lacked energy and passion in losses to bad teams earlier in the year, Brown seemed to bring that needed element after he was inserted into the lineup on Nov. 29, following a 22-game absence with a broken finger. The Sharks reeled off four straight wins, and are now 7-1 in games that Brown dresses.
"He just came back. You see him go down again...what a tough guy," Desjardins said. “He didn’t make a big scene and didn’t make a big deal. ... We all love him, and he just plays hard, and plays the same way. You never don’t know what you’re getting when he’s on the ice. He’s going to finish every check, and he just has that energy about him. I think that brings everybody else up, myself included.”
John Scott said: “We had a nice little run here where we’ve won a few with him in the lineup. He brings a lot, so it’s going to be hard to replace that.”
Brown has yet to find the scoresheet in eight games this season, but McLellan clearly indicated that judging Brown’s impact on the team based on statistics alone is foolish.
“If Mike Brown scores 20 goals we’re all going to be happy, but he’s more important to the team than goals. He blocks shots, he gets involved physically for his teammates, the energy he creates on the forecheck, the command he has around his teammates and in the locker room – those are all really important assets that he brings to the table,” McLellan said.
The Sharks are expected to make at least one recall from Worcester in time for Thursday’s morning skate.