On the eve of their preseason opener in British Columbia on Monday, the Sharks held an intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday afternoon at Sharks Ice.
A few notes and observations…
- After a strong rookie game against Anaheim, Joonas Donskoi continued to impress. He opened the scoring goal on a shot from the slot past Alex Stalock that appeared to deflect in, but was all over the puck and strong along the walls otherwise. He nearly scored a second regulation goal, but was stoned by Troy Grosenick in the second half.
Coach Pete DeBoer said of the 23-year-old: “He’s had a good start. We’ve got a long way to go to opening night, but he’s definitely grabbed our attention.”
- Stalock was forced to make a number of good saves after the goal, including one flurry that began with a Jeremy Roy point blast. He looked strong, while Martin Jones was rarely tested. Grosenick and Aaron Dell played in the second half (the game was divided into two 25-minute halves with a running clock).
- It’s easy to see the potential with defenseman Roy, chosen in the second round (31st overall) in the 2015 draft. He’s a smooth skater and showed an ability to get the puck on the net.
- One of the biggest hits came about midway through the first half, when 2015 first-round pick Timo Meier nailed Joonas Donskoi along the boards. Marleau didn’t seem too pleased with it. There were no penalties called in the scrimmage, and that was by design. DeBoer has already emphasized the need for better 5-on-5 play, so that was likely the reason.
- Meier had a goal waved off in the second half, whacking a puck in with a high stick on the rebound of a point shot by Paul Martin.
- Joel Ward took a puck to the skate blocking a Brenden Dillon shot and was shaken up. He returned, though.
“Just a little stinger. Actually, a heavy stinger,” Ward said afterwards.
- Marleau played well. He sped around Brent Burns and took the puck to the net on one early play, and later scored a breakaway goal on a backhander over Jones with three minutes left in the first half. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.
- Raffi Torres did not play, a good indication that his road back to the NHL is going to be anything but smooth. DeBoer called it “precautionary.”
“[Torres] skated hard yesterday, looked good in practice [Saturday],” DeBoer said. “The nice thing is, right now, time is on our side, so we’re not going to push it.”
- After the scrimmage, the teams played seven minutes (running time) of 3-on-3 overtime. It took all of 40 seconds for Logan Couture to walk in and flick a wrist shot through Dell, and Donskoi and Patrick McNally also scored goals before it was through.
Each squad iced units of two forwards and one defenseman. Is that the plan moving forward?
“I don’t know, we’re going to work through those things,” said DeBoer, who watched the scrimmage and OT practice from a perch. “We’ll work through some combinations. I don’t know if you’re playing the Eastern Conference where the points don’t sting as much, maybe you go for it a little bit more as opposed to the West. Those are all things that we’re going to discuss.”
Joe Pavelski said: “At times, there was a lot of space. At times, everyone is sitting back and it’s tough to get speed going. You’ve got to be smart with it.”
There will be more time to get used to the new format. The Sharks will play an overtime period, regardless of score, in their preseason games on Sep. 22, Sep. 25 and Oct. 2, per a league mandate.