SAN JOSE -– Sharks tough guy John Scott was the only missing body from practice on Thursday, due to illness.
“Johnny was not feeling good so he didn’t skate today, and we kept him away from the team,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “Hopefully by tomorrow he’s back to normal.”
For a few moments in practice, defenseman Brent Burns took a few shifts as a forward in Scott’s place on the fourth line, but McLellan said not to read anything into it.
Burns, of course, spent the entire 2013-14 season and the latter half of the shortened 2013 season as a left wing.
“He just wants to go out and play, so he jumped in there,” McLellan said.
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Antti Niemi is likely to get the bulk of the work down the stretch, but Alex Stalock’s performance against Montreal was encouraging as the goaltender made 20 saves in a 4-0 shutout.
Stalock, whose save percentage had dipped below the goaltending Mendoza line of .900 before Monday’s win, is 6-7-1 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .904 save percentage on the season. He had allowed three goals or more in each of his previous five starts.
“It’s a really positive sign for him individually, and all of us,” McLellan said. “It’s a really good thing. I can’t tell you how happy the guys were for him.”
The Sharks have two back-to-back situations left on their schedule, March 28-29 in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and a home-and-home with Arizona on April 3-4.
Considering pending free agent Niemi’s future with the Sharks is murky at best, it will be curious to see how much Stalock plays the rest of the way.
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McLellan was asked about the team gaining confidence after a two-game winning streak, and suggested it could be related to the trade deadline passing.
“Having fewer people around here, and everybody wondering if they fit in or don’t fit in [before the deadline] might be a better thing for our team right now," he said.
“The guys that are here know for the most part that they’re going to play, or at least they have to play hard to stay in the lineup. I think that’s energized us somewhat. We also know that this is it. This is the group. There’s no cavalry or anybody else coming, so let’s play and let’s get it done.”
The Sharks are still carrying just 21 players, including 12 forwards, and have yet to recall any extra bodies from Worcester. A four-game homestand opens on Saturday vs. Vancouver.