SAN JOSE -- Raffi Torres is under the microscope. Both he and the Sharks know it.
As Torres prepares to play his first game since a series-long suspension in the playoffs, he understands that he has to make adjustments to his hard-charging -- some would say reckless -- style.
"There's no doubt that everything I do out there is going to be magnified," Torres said Wednesday, later adding: "My past isn't on my side."
Friday night's exhibition game against the Anaheim Ducks at the re-christened SAP Center is likely to be his initial chance to put an updated approach into practice.
"I'm definitely going to focus on what I've been working on and talking about with the coaches -- stick-on-puck first and then kind of rubbing the guy out instead of going for the big hit and then lifting the puck," Torres said.
A questionable hit on Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll in Game 1 of the second round of last season's Stanley Cup playoffs ended Torres' postseason. The Sharks backed him, general manager Doug Wilson first receiving a $100,000 fine for complaining about the suspension, then signing Torres to a new three-year, $6 million contract.
Torres' arrival at last season's trade deadline helped transform the Sharks into a quicker team that played a drive-the-net style. He brought speed and scoring as well as hard hits, chipping in two goals and four assists in 11 games with San Jose. His playoff goal in overtime against the Vancouver Canucks helped the Sharks sweep their first-round opponent.
"When I came here, I'd never held onto the puck in the last three years more than I did the month and a half I was here," he said. "I was skating with the puck, moving my feet."
Coach Todd McLellan sees Torres as a player who can help the Sharks win in multiple ways if he continues to play hard without crossing that invisible but very real line.
"We've worked with him and will continue to remind him," McLellan said. "What we don't want is him backed off. He'll continue to have our support all the way through. It's not a daily thing, but it's an ongoing thing."
The Sharks, he added, want Torres "to play hard and to finish hard -- just to do it the proper way. If he does that, we have a great asset."
Torres said he knows the proper way involves playing smarter and giving up past practices that have gotten him in trouble as the league cracks down on high hits. And that means more than avoiding head-on collisions.
"For me it's going to be about just focusing on keeping my feet on the ice and try not to clip guys from the side," Torres said.
At the same time, he, like his coach, wants opposing players to be concerned about what might happen next.
"Hopefully I'll be in other guys' heads, you never know," Torres said. "I'm sure everybody thinks that maybe today's the day he throws that big hit again, and he's going to get in trouble."
Torres is likely to play on several lines this season. The first week of training camp he was skating with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, a combination that was successful against Vancouver. Wednesday, he was alongside Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels.
Wherever he ends up, Torres wants to keep his game the same.
"Just keep getting to the net, up and down my wall, pucks off the net and finishing hits," he said. "Just stay in that rhythm."
For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks.