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With Hertl out, rookie Nieto gets big opportunity

Dec 29, 2013, 1:58 PM EST

EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 15: Matt Nieto #83 off the San Jose Sharks skates against the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Rexall Place on November 15, 2013 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks have a daunting task ahead of them tonight as they look to end the Anaheim Ducks winning streak at 10 games. In preparation for that, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has shaken up the team’s lines, according to CSN Bay Area.

The trio of Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, and Joe Thornton has been great so they’ll stick together. However, that line was formed by bumping up Pavelski when rookie Tomas Hertl suffered a major knee injury. So while it’s worked out, it also made the Sharks more top heavy.

They’re hoping that another rookie in Matt Nieto can help alleviate that. The most noteworthy change from McLellan’s shakeup was moving Nieto to a line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. Nieto, 21, has just six points in 26 games this season, but he’s also been averaging a mere 11:44 minutes per contest.

“If I am [on that line], obviously I’ll try to make the most of it,” Nieto said. “It’s a good opportunity for myself. I’ll work hard, and try to support those guys.”

Tommy Wingels, Tyler Kennedy, and James Sheppard are projected to make up the third line while Andrew Desjardins, Mike Brown, and John McCarthy are likely to serve as fourth liners.

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