Greetings from SAP Center in San Jose, where the Sharks held their morning skate in advance of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold a 2-1 series lead, chose not to skate and instead conducted meetings at their suburban hotel.
Sharks Coach Peter DeBoer said left wing Tomas Hertl will miss a second straight game because of a lower-body injury and that Hertl’s status remains day to day. DeBoer said he’s debating whether to move Logan Couture into Hertl’s spot on the top line alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as he did in the late stages of the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime victory on Saturday, or leave Melker Karlsson in that spot.
Putting Couture on that line would be similar to the Penguins putting their most productive players – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel — together on one line. That has the advantage of forming an imposing trio that would pose a huge scoring threat, but has disadvantages, too.
“You have three great players playing together, but in order to do that, that hurts you in other parts of the lineup,” DeBoer said. “You have to be comfortable you can survive doing that with the other parts.
“We got away with it the other night. We shortened the bench. We had some guys, I thought, give us some real supreme efforts underneath that group. But I don’t know if that’s something that we can go to all the time.”
The Sharks have yet to hold a lead in the Final, unlike their dominant performances in the previous three playoff rounds. That’s a concern to DeBoer.
“Yeah, we’d like the lead. The game plan isn’t not to play with the lead. We’re trying,” he said, his double-negative and sense of humor drawing laughter from the assembled media.
“I think early in the playoffs it was a huge part. I think the L.A. series, we had the lead almost every game, maybe other than one. It’s a big part…For some reason we haven’t started well here in the three games, as far as scoring. We’ve got to do that. I’d like to be in that position. I think the game changes at that point.”
The league brought the top prospects for this year’s entry draft to San Jose to meet the Sharks and Penguins and chat with the media. Check back for a report on what they had to say.