CSN Bay Area reporter Brodie Brazil was the first source (via Twitter) reporting that San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe would have his hearing by phone at 10:00 a.m. PST Monday, Feb. 25, rather than travel in to the NHL offices. Yet word did not break until hours later that he would be suspended for two games, with a full video explanation supporting the decision.
The key elements of the decision were Clowe's lack of a previous suspension and the fact that he was standing before the hit as he would to make a legal line change. This dropped him from the 10-game suspension to a much less serious infraction. Players are still not allowed to make a change and engage a player, so the league sent decided one more game beyond the one he already sat out in Dallas was sufficient.
Clowe is not the only player the team can no longer put in the lineup. CSN's Kevin Kurz also reported Monday that Brent Burns will miss at least two games with a leg injury. Tommy Wingels and Martin Havlat were also not on the ice for practice for what the team likes to call "maintenance days" but are still under consideration to be active Tuesday when the team hosts the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30 p.m. PST.
Wingels was hurt late in the Dallas game when he went head-first into the boards, but continued to play. Burns played just 2:07 before leaving the game for good, and Havlat played almost 20 minutes over the course of Saturday's game. But that does not mean any of them will be sorely missed.
Havlat blew two scoring opportunities Saturday because he was not establishing position close enough to the net. The Sharks first loss came in the game in which he celebrated a Ryane Clowe goal that obviously was not scored rather than make sure by stuffing it in.
Clowe still does not have a goal and has four more giveaways than even leading puck-handler Joe Thornton. He is not adept at either takeaways, blocks or in the circle. The Sharks did not especially miss him Saturday and will get by without him.
The same can be said of Brent Burns, who has no points in six games. He made two terrible plays Friday night and has been on the ice for five more opposition goals than San Jose scores. He has looked tentative, out of breath or hurt so far, and Jason Demers would probably serve the team better.
There has been no word on whether anyone would be called up, nor about how the defensive pairs were divided. But Kurz reported the lines in practice as follows:
- Logan Couture-Joe Thornton-Clowe
- Patrick Marleau-Scott Gomez-Joe Pavelski
- James Sheppard-Michal Handzus-Tim Kennedy
- T.J. Galiardi-Adam Burish-Andrew Desjardins
Most likely, Clowe's absence moves Pavelski back to the first line and Kennedy up to the second. Either Havlat or Wingels is a natural choice for the third-line right wing, but if neither can go then look for Burish to slide up to the third line wing and for Desjardins to return to center.
That would force the Sharks to call someone up for the one remaining game of Clowe's suspension. Matt Pelech seems a better choice than Matt Irwin given he is capable of playing on the wing or blue line, providing flexibility for a roster thin at both positions.