Fresh-faced Marc-Edouard Vlasic is starting to earn some battle scars. The Sharks defenseman, who turns 20 this month, is sporting a shiner under his left eye after absorbing a high-stick Friday from Vancouver captain Markus Naslund.
"Makes me look tough," Vlasic joked.
Vlasic, though, is continuing to make life difficult for the Sharks' opposition. Sunday in a 3-0 victory over Edmonton, Vlasic assisted on the first goal and led the team in ice time with 24:05.
Steve Bernier gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead by cleaning up the rebound of Vlasic's shot from the right point.
"When you get it on net, good things can happen," Vlasic said. "I try to do it as much as I can without getting shots blocked. The forwards work hard to get the puck out to you, so you've got to reward them."
The Sharks have put an emphasis on getting more pucks launched from the point, and Vlasic's recent uptick in this area has supplied a noticeable boost.
"He's worked on some things in practice, and he does get pucks through," Coach Ron Wilson said. "Craig Rivet manages to get the puck through too. That's an area that as a group we've got to get better at, but it's nice to see Vlasic improve as much as he has with his offense. Since we've made the trade, everything has kind of settled down on the back end and I think he's played ever better than he had previously, which is a nice thing."
Vlasic is the NHL leader among rookies in ice time (21:57 per game) but lacks the
eye-popping offensive numbers to give him a higher profile as a candidate for the Calder Trophy.
"In terms of value to his team among rookies, I'd be hard-pressed to find somebody more valuable than Pickles," Wilson said.
Defenseman Kyle McLaren netted his fifth goal of the season late in the third to help ice the victory. McLaren had a total of four goals in his four previous seasons.
Goalie Vesa Toskala has recovered enough from his groin injury that he dressed as the backup Sunday. Goalie Dimitri Patzold, who was returned to the minors, had been the backup in the previous three games.
- VICTOR CHI
It just occurred to me that "Predators" is kind of a bad name for a sports team, since nowadays the word is mostly used in the phrases "online predator" and "sexual predator".