San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan keeps tinkering with his offensive lines, seeking ways to create more supplemental scoring.
His top line is a handful. Patrick Marleau scored 14 points in his first seven games playing with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. That trio fueled the team’s impressive 7-0-1 start.
With opponents focused on the Thornton line, McLellan would like his No. 2 and No. 3 lines to sustain more pressure in the offensive zone. That needs was evident in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Predators Saturday night.
He has some pieces to work with. Playmaking center Scott Gomez arrived as a free agent after washing out in Montreal. Forwards Martin Havlat and James Sheppard started the season in good health for a change, offering McLellan more options.
Sheppard, the ninth overall in pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, hadn’t played in the league since 2010. He suffered a catastrophic knee injury in an off-ice accident after that season.
The Sharks acquired him from the Minnesota Wild for a third-round pick and sent him to the American Hockey League this season to rebuild his career. He remains a project, but he has the skill set to fit with other skilled players.
McClellan looked at Sheppard on the second line with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe Saturday night. Havlat joined Gomez and 900-year-old Michal Handzus on the third line.