Sharks try to right the ship in Thornton's 1,000th game
Friday, 10.21.2011 / 10:47 AMSHARKS (1-3-0) at DEVILS (3-1-0)
TV: CSN-CA (HD), MSG PLUS
This is the only meeting of the season between the two clubs.
Big Story: Martin Havlat
is expected to make his Sharks debut while Joe Thornton
will be playing in his 1,000th NHL game as the Sharks visit Prudential Center to start a six-game road trip. Johan Hedberg will again start in net for the Devils as Martin Brodeur remains sidelined with a right shoulder injury. Colin White
returns to New Jersey as a visitor for the first time in his career. White spent 11 seasons with the Devils and won the Stanley Cup twice (2000, 2003).
San Jose hopes to find its groove on the road. The Sharks are 1-3 to start the season and their superstar duo of Thornton and Patrick Marleau
have combined for no goals and only 3 assists. San Jose has been dealing with injuries, as Havlat hasn't played yet this season while goalie Antti Niemi
missed all of training camp and the first three games of the season after having a cyst removed from his knee. Niemi started against Anaheim on Monday, making 19 saves in a 3-2 loss.
Havlat was used on a line with Logan Couture
and Ryane Clowe
in practice Thursday, so that should be where he starts Friday's game. Thornton, Marleau and Joe Pavelski
remained the Sharks' top line.
"He's got a skill level that is very high, and he's played a fast game throughout his career," coach Todd McLellan said of Havlat. "Will he be there in Game 1? I hope so, but I don't know for sure. When he does find his game he should make us faster and certainly more of a skilled team up front."
New Jersey hasn't played since beating the Predators in a shootout Saturday night in Nashville. The Devils have won three in a row since a season-opening 3-0 loss to the Flyers. Their last two wins have come in a shootout.
Ilya Kovalchuk has gotten off to a strong start under coach Pete DeBoer. He has 4 points through four games and he's averaging over 27 minutes per game, the most of any forward in the NHL. Overall, his 27:01 per game average was fourth in the League heading into Thursday's games.
Hedberg is also off to a sterling start with a 3-0 record, 1.41 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. Brodeur will be out at least 7-10 more days as he rehabs his right shoulder, so Hedberg will remain the No. 1 for the time being. Keith Kinkaid is serving as the backup, but it's unlikely that he'll get a start before Brodeur returns -- though the Devils also play Saturday in Pittsburgh.
"I can't say enough about (Hedberg) as a player and a teammate," DeBoer said. "A lot of the job in net is how hard the guys want to play for you, and to a man these guys play hard for Heddy."
Kovalchuk has 4 points in four games while Hedberg has been stellar in three appearances, including two starts. … Sharks defenseman Brent Burns
, who came to San Jose in a trade over the summer, has 2 goals in his first four games.
Brodeur (shoulder) remains out. Devils center Travis Zajac (Achilles) remains on the shelf for the time being. … Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki
(hip) remains sidelined after surgery.
The Sharks have outshot their past three opponents 110-65 but have been outscored 8-4 in three straight losses.
"This body has been going through wear and tear of over 1,000 games, so I'm going to rehab it and get it strong and get it to the point where it was before, but there is nothing to say it's not going to happen again," Brodeur said about his injured right shoulder.