SAN JOSE -- After four days of training camp, the competition between Alex Stalock and Harri Sateri to be the Sharks' backup goaltender will ratchet up Monday when San Jose opens its NHL exhibition season at Vancouver.
Both Sateri and Stalock will dress against the Canucks, with No. 1 goalie Antti Niemi staying back in San Jose, coach Todd McLellan said.
McLellan wouldn't commit to playing both goaltenders in Monday's game but said he's been pleased with each of their performances so far in camp. He said he will lean on assistant general manager Wayne Thomas and goaltending development coach Corey Schwab to help with the decision on who stays with the team to start the season.
They're "in a dogfight," McLellan said. "That's maybe not the right assessment, but that's what they're in. Both have worked hard in practice, both have been attentive."
Thomas believes both goalies are ready for the NHL and wants the two to make the organization's decision a hard one.
"It's always a competition," Thomas said. "They certainly don't want to get outworked, knowing how hard the other guy is working. They won't let that influence our decision."
Mueller's first practice coincided with the Sharks' most physical skate of camp so far. But Mueller, 18, came out of it well and was happy to get the initial experience of playing with NHL players out of the way.
"First thing I noticed was they practiced really hard and really fast," said Mueller, whose already sore back was aggravated by a cross check in the Sharks' first game of the YoungStars Tournament against Vancouver in British Columbia earlier this month. "It was a really high pace today, and it felt good to get back out there."