Brad Stuart hasn’t been his typical reliable self lately for the San Jose Sharks, and because of his struggles it appears that Matt Irwin will be reinserted into the lineup in his place. Stuart has seen his ice time drop considerably in two of San Jose’s last three games. While averaging more than 19 minutes this season, he only spent 18:17 on the ice against the Vancouver Canucks and 16:30 when San Jose took on the Phoenix Coyotes on November 2.
It appears that the Sharks are looking to shake up the blue line a bit, and that it’s Stuart that will be watching from the press box.
Early indications are Stuart may sit as Irwin gets back in paired with Boyle.
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzCSN) November 10, 2013
This will be music to the ears of many, who have wondered why Irwin was given the boot as soon as Dan Boyle returned to action. Stuart has been shaky on most nights, and Scott Hannan isn’t nearly as dynamic as the 25-year-old Irwin.
Pairing him with Boyle is an interesting move considering they’re both offensive-minded defensemen. Irwin has a whopping 37 shots on goal through 13 games played and has a tendency to find seams and sneak through plays from the back end.
With the Sharks having lost four consecutive games now, a shakeup makes sense, and there are worse things than having a veteran like Stuart that you can take in and out of the lineup as needed.
The Sharks will take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight in Winnipeg, and the contest is the first in a five-game road trip for the boys in teal. Coach Todd McLellan seems to be digging for a lineup that works early on, and if the Sharks win with Irwin in the lineup it’s likely that he’ll stick for at least another game or two.