LOS ANGELES – After joining the Sharks in the offseason via a trade with Pittsburgh, Sharks forward Tyler Kennedy played in every game this season with his new club.
Until Tuesday in St. Louis. Kennedy was made a healthy scratch for the 4-2 win over the Blues, and reacted to his removal from the lineup after Wednesday’s practice in Los Angeles.
“Obviously, I need to be better in my own end. That’s the biggest thing, making sure I follow the systems,” said Kennedy, who has three goals and eight assists in 33 games. “I kind of got away from it for a couple games there, not following the systems. I don’t think it’s anything about work ethic or skating or nothing like that, I think I’m doing that well. I think just getting into the system and playing the system a little bit better.”
McLellan did not seem overly displeased with Kennedy, who was acquired for a second round draft pick at the 2013 NHL Draft.
“There’s areas of the game – and I spent some time with Tyler today and he was very receptive and very coachable. There’s some areas of the game that we’d like to see him work on and improve,” McLellan said. “Like everyone else in the lineup, they have that responsibility.
“We just saw some patterns that we wanted to address with him and get him to reset his game, and come back and contribute.”
Kennedy spent the first seven seasons of his NHL career with the Penguins, and the 27-year-old could still be getting used to San Jose’s style of play, even though he said that the Sharks’ and Penguins’ systems were not all that much different from his perspective.
Regardless, he didn’t want to use it as an excuse for his play.
“I’m a professional, I’ve got to be prepared better,” he said. “Pittsburgh is right out of my system so I don’t know why you guys (the media) keep bringing that back. San Jose is my team, and I’ve got to make sure I play their systems.”
McLellan said: “Tyler was only in one organization for a long, long time. He played very well in that organization and has played very well in ours as well. When you’re in one place a long time and go someplace else, it takes awhile to adapt and change. He’s had some good days and he’s had some average days. We expect many more good ones.”
The head coach would not reveal whether Kennedy would return to action against the Kings on Thursday.
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Just 10 Sharks players skated on Wednesday at the Kings’ practice facility: Kennedy, Mike Brown, Andrew Desjardins, Matt Irwin, Jason Demers, Scott Hannan, James Sheppard, John McCarthy and goalies Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock.