SAN JOSE - Enough of these grueling, lengthy practices already. Lets play another hockey game.
Thats what Joe Thornton is saying, and you can assume every other player in the locker room is thinking something similar.
I just want to play. Enough of this practicing, said the captain. Its been a long time. Give me four-in-four, I dont care. I just want to get some games in now.
The Sharks will finally get back into game action on Friday night when they visit the Anaheim Ducks, trying to improve to 2-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season. San Jose beat the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Saturday, but has endured a number of long practice sessions at the hands of Todd McLellan and the coaching staff with no games on the schedule for five full days.
We practiced hard. Was it the right thing? I guess well find out over the next little bit, said McLellan after Thursdays practice. The intensity level, we really tried to keep it high - very competitive in the corners, a lot of bumping and grinding. We hope that sets us up for some good games moving ahead.
The intensity was very high, said Thornton.
The Sharks wont get any sympathy from the Ducks, though. Anaheim has not played since last Saturday either, and it didnt get the benefit of playing at home or even in North America. The Ducks began the season as one of four NHL teams taking part in games in Europe, as the Sharks did last season.
Anaheim split its games there, winning in a shootout over the New York Rangers on Saturday but losing decisively to the Buffalo Sabres the night before.
Is there a chance they will be jet-lagged or lethargic on Friday night? The Sharks dont think so.
We expect their best game and I think thats what were going to get, said Joe Pavelski, who tallied two power play goals against the Coyotes. They will be excited to come home and play, and its our first road trip so we want to start off on the right foot. Its almost like another start to the season.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic said, Its pretty even. Both teams are well rested and ready to start, really, the regular season.
The beginning of games is always important, but the start to this one may be even more so. It should be evident early which team better dealt with the long layoff.
McLellan has a few things hell be looking for in the first 10 minutes.
Id like to see us match their commitment level, he said. They are going to come out and establish a forechecking game and try to hem us into our end. In turn, Id like us to be able to handle that well and play with a tempo that we played in Game 1 here fast, aggressive, getting to loose pucks and hemming teams in.
If we can do that, well have a chance. If they are doing that to us were going to be on our heels and probably not playing that well.
Another consequence of the layoff is that the Sharks will now have more games in bunches, including a stretch of three in four nights. San Jose hosts the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and the Ducks on Monday.
I think well know a lot more about our team on Tuesday morning than we do right now, said McLellan.