McLellan: Good time for practice

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McLellan: Good time for practice

SAN JOSE - Entering their game against Phoenix on Monday, the Sharks were on a roll.

The team won five of six games on a long and hectic road trip to close out October. Enjoying a six-game homestand the Sharks won three of the first four, and had dropped just one game in regulation in their previous 10 (8-1-1).

Thats when they failed to find the scoreboard against a Pacific Division rival in getting shut out for the second time this season, 3-0. The loss makes it a little easier to accept four days between games, if you're the head coach.

Had we played the way we were capable of playing the other night against a good team in Phoenix and come away with a win, I would have wanted to keep playing, said Todd McLellan on Monday. We had some points rolling and were doing our thing, but we didnt play very well, so I guess its a good time for some practice.

The team had a spirited skate on Monday, staying on the ice for about 75 minutes. Theyll have two more days of practice time on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursdays game with Detroit. The Red Wings play tonight in St. Louis.

Good work day. We havent had a chance to have a lot of those because of back-to-back games and travel, said McLellan.

The head coach was also asked to reflect on Saturdays loss to the Coyotes. Upon further review, he sees the game as one in which he can dissect the video and use it for various teaching points.

In McLellans mind, the team didnt play all that poorly. The Sharks out-chanced the Coyotes, but they werent mentally sharp enough to bury their opportunities. On the other side, some bad errors led directly to Phoenix goals. A better forecheck and more wins in the offensive zone faceoff circle are among the aspects of the Sharks game that could have been better.

I think within a season, every team whether its the Vancouver Canucks last year when they only lost 19 games youre going to have five to seven games where you can just throw the video out. Its not going to work. Then, youll have 12 to 15 games where it just goes your way and works and you throw that one out, because you cant even teach it, said McLellan.

Its what you do with those other 50 games, and how you become a one-goal win team in those 50 games, and how you overcome them. I think the other day was one of those 50 games. It wasnt one of those disasters or getaway games, it was one of those 50 games and we didnt handle it well.

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

Programming note – Sharks-Canadiens coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 14-9-1, 29 points, 1st Pacific Division
Canadiens: 16-5-2, 34 points, 1st Atlantic Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***It’s a battle of first place teams at SAP Center, as the Sharks lead the Pacific Division and the Canadiens are atop the overall league standings. The Sharks are in the midst of playing eight of 10 at home, and bring a 5-1-0 mark in their last six games into tonight.

The Sharks will wrap up a stretch of 10 games in 18 days before they get a chance to rest before Wednesday’s home game with Ottawa.

“It’s been a lot of hockey. It will be nice to get a couple days after this to relax and recover a little bit,” Joe Thornton said. “We know we don’t play for another five days, so to get this win would be huge for us.”

Montreal is playing the third of a five-game road trip. It began with a 2-1 overtime win in Detroit last Saturday, and was followed by a 2-1 loss in Anaheim on Tuesday.

***The undisputed best goalie in the world will be in net for Montreal, as Carey Price (13-2-1, 1.68 GAA, .947 SP) will face the Sharks for the first time since March 21, 2015. He’s 2-4-1 in his career against San Jose, with a 2.70 GAA and .924 SP.

Goals figure to be hard to come by. The Sharks lead the league with just 2.08 goals allowed per game, while Montreal is third (2.13).

“We have to be prepared to win 2-1 here tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “That has to be the mindset. If we can get more than that, we’ll take it.”

Martin Jones will go for the Sharks. In his last 10 games, he’s 7-2-1 with a 1.50 GAA and .942 SP with a pair of shutouts. 

***Tommy Wingels, who has missed the last three games with a lower body injury, will be a game-time decision. If he doesn’t play, expect Micheal Haley to remain in on the fourth line.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks’ center is heating up, and has at least one point in six of the Sharks’ last eight games (6g, 2a). He’s tied with Brent Burns for the team lead in goals with nine, and led the way in San Jose’s 4-1 win on Wednesday night in Los Angeles with two goals and one assist.

Canadiens: Shea Weber. The defenseman has had an immediate impact in his first season in Montreal, with 18 points (8g, 10a) and an NHL-best plus-18 rating. Arguably the frontrunner for the Norris Trophy, Weber will be seeing the Sharks for the first time since his miserable performance in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals with Nashville.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Tommy Wingels

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Canadiens
Paul Byron – Alex Galchenyuk – Alex Radulov
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – David Desharnais – Andrew Shaw
Torrey Mitchell – Phillip Danault – Brian Flynn

Alexei Emelin – Shea Weber
Andrei Markov – Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio – Greg Pateryn

Carey Price (starter)
Al Montoya

INJURIES

Sharks: Tommy Wingels (lower body) is questionable. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Canadiens: Nathan Beaulieu (neck) and Charles Hudon (fractured sternum) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“I’m biased but I think [our defense corps] is one of the top back ends in the league. They do a great job moving the puck, play well defensively, and I’m sure it’s tough for other teams to score on us.” – Logan Couture

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

LOS ANGELES – The Sharks jumped out to a first period lead and were never in any real danger after that in a 4-1 win at Staples Center on Wednesday. Three takeaways from the victory over their biggest rival…

1 – Having the Kings’ number

The circumstances were all in the Kings’ favor – they were more rested, one of the best NHL teams at home this season, and entered on a five-game winning streak – but the Sharks managed to beat them fairly handily, even if the game was probably a little closer than the 4-1 final would indicate.

Including the 2016 playoffs, the Sharks have won their last six games at Staples Center. What’s the secret to that success?

“I don’t know if there’s a secret,” Pete DeBoer said. “The one thing about any time we play L.A. is there is no speeches needed. We know it’s going to be a hard game, we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. Our guys have been responding to that challenge. [Martin Jones] has been excellent, too. That’s a big part of it.”

2 – Jones no worse for wear

The Sharks goalie was starting on back-to-back days for the first time this season, and continued his recent run of success. He’ll likely play on Friday against the Canadiens before he and his Sharks teammates get a rare weekend off with no games or practices scheduled.

“I felt fine,” Jones said after the game. “I thought the guys did a really good job keeping it simple tonight. We got pucks deep, and we worked them low.”

Jones and the Sharks’ defenders have been outstanding during their 5-1-0 stretch, allowing just eight goals in their last six games. The Sharks goalie got a major assist in the second period from Brent Burns, who dove into the goal crease to keep Trevor Lewis from cutting the lead to 3-2 when Lewis had Jones beat.

“It was a great play by Lewis and a great play by Burnzie to keep it out there,” Jones said.

DeBoer said: “Burnzie has been playing great. I thought he was very good tonight. … I thought [Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun] shutting down [Jeff] Carter, and Burnzie and [Paul Martin] – I thought our whole defense corps really played well.”

3 – Carpenter showing he belongs

It was another strong outing from 25-year-old Ryan Carpenter, who scored his first NHL goal, had two shots, three hits, and was 5-for-12 in the faceoff circle in 11:38 of ice time.

DeBoer said the Sharks’ fourth line, primarily with Carpenter centering Micheal Haley and either Melker Karlsson or Kevin Labanc, “might have been our best line tonight. They were excellent.”

Carpenter is making the most if his chance to show he’s a full time NHL player.

“Try to take just a simple approach, one day at a time,” he said. “The Sharks are so deep, they’ve got so many established, proven forwards, that any chance you’re in the lineup you’ve got to take advantage of it. Trying to do that. Any time Pete puts me in, I’m going to go all out.”