McLellan: 'Just as mad this time as last time'
DETROIT – In a different time and place, the Sharks’ practice after their uninspired defeat in Columbus might have looked a little different than it did on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. The Sharks gathered as a team and skated for the first time since Tuesday’s disappointing 4-0 loss, in which much of the team looked lethargic, and mental mistakes led directly to Blue Jackets goals.
The temptation to bag skate his club was probably floating somewhere in head coach Todd McLellan’s cranium, as he was visibly displeased immediately following his club’s first regulation loss since March 23. He resisted, though, and the some of the Sharks were on the ice for no longer than 15 minutes as they prepare for the Red Wings on Thursday night.
Now is not the time to send messages at the risk of draining the team's energy for another important game on the horizon. Just nine remain in the regular season, and the Sharks are still hardly assured of a playoff spot.
“The tendency is to get emotional and come in here and work them into the ground because they didn’t play real hard last night, but that’s not going to do us any good tomorrow, or for the rest of the road trip, or the season,” McLellan said. “We’ve got to do what’s smart.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic said: “It wasn’t long at all, three drills, but it was good. We worked on some things and did some video, as well. When you get a chance, video is basically practice, as well.”
The video session and on-ice drills were termed a “system review” by the coach, as the Sharks have had numerous off-days while trying to conserve their energy with the hectic schedule. The team has added some new players and changed roles for a few others, so Wednesday offered the opportunity for the coaching staff to remind the team how it wants and expects the team to play.
Furthermore, the Sharks are only two games removed from a seven-game winning streak, in which they surged up the standings to their current position of fifth place in the Western Conference.
“I think we just got away from our game last night,” Logan Couture said. “We didn’t get after their D, play fast, didn’t forecheck, and didn’t play the way we were playing at all. [The mistakes] are correctable, we saw we could do it for seven or eight games or whatever it was, and saw the results. We need to get back to it.”
Vlasic said: “We’ve played well lately, but obviously if you look at last night, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. But, over the last 10 games, we’ve been doing a lot of good things.”
Still, the Columbus game was concerning in that several Sharks players seemed to take the night off for reasons that are unclear. The top line of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Marty Havlat was particularly absent.
Brad Stuart said on Tuesday night that the Sharks failed at taking individual responsibility in regards to preparation, which is of utmost importance when there is a dearth of practice time. Tommy Wingels echoed those statements on Wednesday.
“The individual effort from each guy has got to be there and that aspect slipped last night,” Wingels said. "The onus is on each guy to be prepared and have 100 percent effort every night. There are certain things you can control in this game, and effort is the primary one.
“Games are every other day this time of year. Every team has that. People on this team, and the staff and the players, thought rest was what we needed. … Like Stuey said, it’s got to be on the individual to be ready and be prepared.”
There was no argument from McLellan.
“I think that was evident. The staff has the responsibility to prepare them technically for what to expect in a game. It’s our job to try to hold them accountable during a game, but the inner drive and commitment to grind it out in the game has to come from them right now. It’s their team.
“We just showed each other what we can do with a real honest, hard effort (during the homestand). We can’t give ourselves permission to take days off right now. We can’t afford that luxury.”
San Jose has 47 points, just six more than ninth place Dallas and 10th place Columbus. The Sharks have two games left against the Stars, and one more with the Blue Jackets.
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McLellan mixed up his forward lines on Wednesday, and could go with a new look against the Red Wings. Logan Couture skated between Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau; Joe Thornton centered Wingels and Raffi Torres; while Joe Pavelski was between Marty Havlat and James Sheppard. The fourth line was a mish-mash of the remaining forwards.
TJ Galiardi didn’t skate. He is “a little bit sore. We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” McLellan said.