Cheechoo had said the decision to play was up to him. If his knee swells or the pain worsens, he said he would not play. But he wore nothing on his knee for the morning skate and appeared fine as he warmed up before Friday night’s faceoff.
San Jose coach Ron Wilson said the decision would be made at game time and that he was mentally preparing to play rookie Joe Pavelski. San Jose won the opener 5-4 in double overtime Wednesday night, with Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Friday night.
Cheechoo, who had a team-high 37 goals during the season, hurt his right knee nine minutes into the second period Wednesday night in a knee-on-knee collision with Nashville forward Scott Hartnell. The Sharks had hoped for a one-game suspension that did not happen.
An MRI showed only a sprain, and Wilson said he would talk to the team doctors about whether Cheechoo could further damage the knee if he played. The Sharks have the advantage of two days off before Game 3 in San Jose to let Cheechoo rest.
Cheechoo is a key piece of the Sharks’ top line, and his 130 goals are the most among players entering the NHL since 2002-’03.
The Predators contend the collision was unintentional. Cheechoo doesn’t agree.
“He stuck out his knee whether he wants to admit it or not,” he said. “I’ve seen the tape.
“His knee came out.”