SAN JOSE -- Less than three days before the Sharks begin their opening-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, the name of San Jose's starting goalie for Game 1 remains a public mystery, as does the status of forward Raffi Torres.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Monday he was unsure whether Torres could play in the first game against the Kings and was unwilling to share whether Antti Niemi or Alex Stalock would begin the series in goal.
Neither question is likely to be answered until hours before the puck drops at SAP Center on Thursday night, although McLellan said last week he knew who would start in goal. As of Monday afternoon, McLellan said he had not yet informed the goalies who will start in net.
"I'm ready to name him," McLellan reiterated Monday. "I'm just not going to name him."
Niemi -- the Sharks' No. 1 goalie since he arrived in San Jose before the 2010-2011 season -- struggled down the stretch with three losses in five starts before Saturday, when he rebounded to make 30 saves to help lead the Sharks to a 3-2 win at Phoenix. Niemi has started all 34 playoff games since joining the Sharks, going 16-17.
Stalock has had an impressive season in spot duty, going 12-5-2 with a 1.87 goals against average. On Friday, he made 32 saves in the Sharks' 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Regarding the amount of consideration that went into the decision on who will start in net, McLellan said it's "the same amount that has gone into every other game that we've played in the playoffs and the regular season for the last six full seasons. That's the debate we have. We're a close staff. We include everybody, and we make decisions that we think are the best."
Torres hasn't played since March 8, missing the final 17 regular-season games, as the Sharks' trainers and coaching staff sought to ensure that he would be ready for the postseason.
Torres was a full participant in Monday's practice, skating with the third and fourth lines.
"We'll see where he is on Thursday if he's ready to play or not," McLellan said. "He skated today with the group. He has good days and bad days. He's good enough to play and contribute without hurting the team, certainly looking towards helping the team, he'll definitely be in.
"If he can't do that, then he won't play."
Torres missed the first four-plus months of the regular season as he recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in September. He returned Feb. 27 and played in five of six games before he sat with what the team described as general soreness from his surgically repaired knee.
Torres, who had three goals and two assists in five games, had said previously that when he did return, he wanted to make sure he would be able to play the rugged, on-the-edge style that he's employed for the duration of his NHL career.
Asked if he's capable of playing that style now, Torres said, "I think I am, but like I said, I won't really know until I get out there and get into a battle or something like that. That's kind of where I stand right now."
"For me it's more motivation because (it's) L.A.," Hertl said Monday. "My last game was injury. I want to beat L.A."
Hertl said his knee was sore after he played back-to-back games against Colorado on Friday and Phoenix on Saturday. Hertl was still a bit sore Monday but said he expects the knee to be fine by Tuesday.
Hertl said the series with the Kings was "personal."
"It's more speed, it's more fun. For me it's new, and I hope the first game is good," Hertl said. "It's very motivation because it's L.A."
sharks vs. kings
Thursday: at Sharks, 7:30 p.m., CSNCA, NBCSN, CBC
Sunday: at Sharks, 7 p.m., CSNCA, NBCSN, CBC
April 22: at Kings, 7 p.m., CSNCA, NBCSN, CBC
April 24: at Kings, 7:30 p.m., CSNCA, NBCSN, CBC
*April 26: at Sharks, TBA, NBC Sports Network, CBC
*April 28: at Kings, TBA, CBC
*April 30: at Sharks, TBA, CBC
* if necessary