NASHVILLE, Tenn. Saturday nights game in Boston was a good test for the Sharks, and not just because they were facing the defending Stanley Cup champs.
The game itself may have been the fastest paced game the Sharks have played all season, thanks mainly to Bostons aggressive forechecking style. Its the first game that the Sharks were on the short end of the scoring chances, although, to their credit, they were able to muster a 4-2 win.
Still, handling an aggressive, hard-working style of play is something they are going to have to get used to.
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The Nashville Predators (3-3-1), even though they have struggled at times to score, pride themselves on being one of the hardest working teams in the league. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said that Saturdays test should pay dividends tonight against the Predators.
I think its good for us to play that way because these guys (the Predators) play the same way, said Vlasic. They forecheck hard, with two guys very aggressive and a D that pinches. Its good for us to practice that before we play Nashville.
Part of their identity is of a hard-working, forechecking team, said Todd McLellan of Nashville. Whether its in our zone or through the neutral zone, they come very hard. They force others teams to err, and well have to be on our toes and be sharp to counter punch that.
Handling that forecheck and breaking out of their own zone was a focal point of Mondays practice.
We werent too satisfied with the way we broke out against Boston. Too many turnovers and odd-man rushes, said Vlasic. Weve got to clean that up, because sooner or later it will cost us.
Its not always pretty as far as breaking the puck out, but youve got to find a way to carry her in, said Dan Boyle.
There was a further anomaly on the stat sheet against Boston. San Jose stands at second in the league in faceoff percentage with a 54.9 percent success rate, but lost 34 of the games 59 draws against the Bruins who lead the NHL.
We had trouble with the faceoff circle, which led to a lot of their forecheck, said Joe Thornton.