April 26, 2016 By Paul Gackle

Rink Notes: Reimer, Zubrus Still Contributing To Sharks Success

SAN JOSE — The role isn’t sexy, but it’s one that goalie James Reimer will gladly play.

After spending the entire first round of the playoffs on the bench, Reimer, the Sharks backup goalie, is still finding ways to contribute, bringing his best game to practice.

“I’m just staying ready, practicing hard,” Reimer said. “Obviously, you want to practice your best so you can keep everybody as sharp as possible.”

Riding the pine in the playoffs isn’t exactly a bad place to be for a goalie who spent his last three springs on the golf course, playing on a cellar dweller with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Although Reimer posted extraordinary numbers (6-2, 1.62 GAA, .938 save percentage ) after joining the Sharks in a trade on Feb. 27, he was expecting to be Martin Jones’ understudy in the playoffs, which is why he’s simply trying to bring energy to practice and a positive vibe to the locker room.

“You just want to be super positive, keep the guys up, keep them excited,” Reimer said. “You just want to make sure you’re doing your part when you’re on the ice whether it’s practice, warmups, pregame skates. You want to be in a good mood and working hard.”

Dainius Zubrus, who signed a contract with the Sharks in November, is taking a similar approach to his role as the team’s extra forward.

After skating in 50 regular season games, Zubrus was scratched from the Sharks entire first-round series as head coach Peter DeBoer opted to ice a speedier lineup against the heavier Kings, slotting Nick Spaling and Tommy Wingels alongside Chris Tierney on the fourth line.

Zubrus said he’s trying to stay sharp in practice because an injury is always around the corner.

“As long as we’re winning, we’re winning, that’s the main part,” he said. “But when you’re able to put a good run together, unfortunately, sometimes, guys get hurt or bumps and bruises, so I’ve just got to stay ready.”

DeBoer commended both Reimer and Zubrus for being “great pros”.

“We know if we get where we want to go, we’re going to need everyone in there and we wouldn’t be here without either of those guys and their contributions so far,” DeBoer said.

“They’re important pieces for us. The nice thing is they’re no maintenance. Those guys, they know where they’re at, they know the opportunity that’s going to present itself at some point, and they’ll make sure they’re ready.”

Winging It: Preparing for the playoffs is slightly easier this time around.

DeBoer is coaching in the playoffs for just the second time in his eight-year career as an NHL coach and he acknowledged that the experience of taking the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup finals in 2012 is paying off.

“I was just winging it last time. It’s true, I really was,” DeBoer said. “I feel much more prepared this time around.”

The Sharks coach said the biggest lesson is learning how to stay even keeled during the highs and lows of playoff hockey.

“Not celebrate too much when things are going really well and don’t overreact when they’re not,” he said. “It really is a marathon, an almost two-month marathon, so that’s the approach we’re taking.”

Little Tweaks: The Sharks will need to wait another day to find out who their second-round opponent will be.

The Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators will play a decisive seventh game on Wednesday, putting a wrench in the Sharks preparation work.

But DeBoer said the uncertainty isn’t really changing his team’s approach to practice this week.

“We’re always working on our foundation, which is applicable no matter who we’re playing,” he said. “Obviously, when we find out who we’re playing there will be a couple little tweaks or some extra emphasis on some situations or things that a particular team brings.”

“For us, where we’re at right now in the week, we thought we’d run the same practice we did today regardless if we knew who we were playing or not.”

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