Wing player Alexander Barabanov tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, coach Bob Boughner said, but the Sharks could have another forward ready to join their top-six striker group again.
Rudolf Balcers, who had missed the last six weeks with a lower body injury, was again a full participant in Wednesday’s training and said he will be available to play on Thursday when the Sharks host the New York Rangers at the SAP Center.
The Balcers have not dressed for a game since the last time the Sharks played Rangers on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden. But his return could help mitigate the loss of Barabanov, who has been on one of the Sharks’ top two strikers since the start of the season.
Barabanov, 27, is sixth on the Sharks with 20 points in 32 games. He is also fifth among all Sharks strikers in ice age, averaging 16:49 per game. match.
Boughner said Barabanov would likely be in the NHL’s COVID protocol, meaning he could potentially miss the rest of the team’s home court. Boughner indicated, however, that Balcers could take Barabanov’s place on the Tomas Hertl line with Timo Meier, even if he had to be careful not to put too much on his plate right away.
“We just try to fit guys in different positions every day when something else happens,” Boughner said. “I think it’s a good place for him to start. They should have a lot of puck possession. Tommy and Timo play well.
“We’ll have to wait and see how we can keep up with that ice age. There may be some changes over the course of the game because (Hertl’s) line has played a lot. But it’s definitely a good place for him to start. . ”
Balcers had 10 points in 24 games and had on average just under 16 minutes of ice time per game. fight before he was injured.
Nick Bonino and assistant coach John MacLean have been in isolation in Philadelphia since Saturday, and it was not immediately clear when they would return to San Jose.
The Sharks have won three games in a row, but are heading into yet another difficult part of their program, as eight of their next nine games before the NHL all-star break are against teams that entered a playoff position on Wednesday. .
The Rangers were right in first place in the Metropolitan Division, and Saturday’s Sharks opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins, had the top wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Sharks finish home on Monday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings and then play five of the following six games from Jan. 20 to Feb. 1 away.
The nearly two-week stretch features two games with two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and one each against the Seattle Kraken, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes. While Kraken is in last place in the Pacific Division, the Capitals, Panthers and Hurricanes were number seven, first and third in the NHL’s overall standings, occupying Wednesday.
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