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Signing of Dainius Zubrus gives Sharks hope for fourth line
24 ноября 2015 года. Gackle, Paul. Oakland Tribune

SAN JOSE -- Since the first day of training camp, coach Pete DeBoer has preached about the importance of turning the Sharks into a true four-line team.

He's hoping the addition of veteran forward Dainius Zubrus will help him turn words into reality.

After practicing with the Sharks for a full week, Zubrus, 37, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the club on Tuesday, giving DeBoer another option for his floundering fourth line.

"When I look at how we want to play, what we've been preaching since day one, I think he's that type of player," DeBoer said, referring to Zubrus. "He's versatile. He can play either wing. He can play center. He can kill penalties. He plays a heavy-hard game."

"I just think he can help."

The Sharks fourth line has been a rotating door since Logan Couture's injury forced DeBoer to shuffle up his lineup on Oct. 16. The team has recalled several players from the AHL's Barracuda -- Micheal Haley, Bryan Lerg and John McCarthy -- this season in search of the right combination for the fourth line. But as the team's six-game road trip progressed last week, the fourth line's minutes vanished as DeBoer shortened his bench to nine forwards in the third periods of games against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

Haley, for example, saw just 4:47 of ice time against the Blue Jackets and 5:31 against the Flyers. Mike Brown, who's been the only constant on the fourth line since the beginning of the season, skated for 5:17 on Thursday, 5:23 on Saturday and 4:56 on Sunday.

Zubrus skated on a line with Chris Tierney and Brown at Sharks Ice on Tuesday and is expected to suit up for the team's contest against the Chicago Blackhawks at the SAP Center on Wednesday.

"Absolutely," DeBoer said, when asked if the addition of Zubrus gets the Sharks closer to being a four-line team. "Again, that's going to be up to him, we're providing an opportunity. But I'm excited about him coming in, and I feel he can help."

The confidence DeBoer expressed in Zubrus is more than just the standard pumping of the new guy's tires. Zubrus spent three-and-a-half seasons playing for DeBoer with the New Jersey Devils and is intimately familiar with the brand of pressure hockey that he wants his teams to play.

"Even the practice today, there were a couple of drills I've seen before," Zubrus said. "The system is tweaked a little bit, it's not exactly the same thing. I'll go through, go to video just to kind of make sure, but being familiar with it definitely helps."

The Sharks also plan to use Zubrus on the penalty kill, which has been ranked in the bottom third of the league for most of the season.

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