Changes necessary if Sharks are to compete with LA

Changes necessary if Sharks are to compete with LA
May 1, 2014, 10:00 am
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This is as low as it’s been for me.
Todd McLellan

SAN JOSE -- Dan Boyle was not ready to ponder his future with the Sharks organization just a few minutes after one of the worst collapses in the history the NHL playoffs.

Boyle, a pending unrestricted free agent, may have played his last game with the club after six seasons on the blue line.

“I haven’t even thought of that, to be honest with you,” Boyle said. “I’m so consumed with the game. I hadn’t thought of that.”

“The team we had -- the team we have -- it’s just very unfortunate, a missed opportunity. There’s a lot of good things here. That’s a devastating loss.”

[RECAP: Kings 5, Sharks 1]

Circumstances are much different now when compared to the end of the 2013 season, a seven-game defeat to the Kings in the second round. It was evident the Sharks were not going to dramatically alter the roster after the addition of Raffi Torres and position change by Brent Burns sparked the club to a strong end to the regular season and decent showing in the playoffs.

The battle cry headed into 2013-14 was that the Sharks had found their identity. After a solid regular season in which the team had to deal with some significant injuries among its forward group, it was getting healthy headed into the postseason.

The Sharks were set up for a long playoff run. Or so they thought.

“There’s a lot of proud moments in the organization and probably some that were not so good before, but this is as low as it’s been for me, and for the players that have been together for the six years that I’ve been here,” Todd McLellan said.

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The head coach admitted that the Sharks’ on-ice product just isn’t on par with the Kings, despite San Jose having a better regular season mark. Could changes be coming?

“I really don’t know. We made changes last year on the fly to become a faster team, and for the most part of the year we saw it. Obviously, we just saw the evidence. It’s not good enough right now,” he said.

Even some of the players in the Sharks’ dressing room after the game had to admit that Los Angeles proved to be the better team. That was the case in 2013, and it was again this time, too.

Logan Couture said: "I've said this since Day 1 before the series: They're a great hockey team over there. … It's just so disappointing that we were able to go up 3-0 and not find a way to have that killer instinct, to find a way to scrape and claw and win games like they did.

“It's tough saying it, but I think the better team won the series. They were better than us. We lost four games. It's tough."

Despite the series going the full seven, McLellan said this latest performance wasn’t nearly as close as 2013. The Sharks scored just two goals in their final three games, getting dominated 18-5 over four consecutive losses.

“We were a lot closer last year than we were this year. We’re kidding ourselves if we think we were closer this year, just because it went seven games,” McLellan said. “It wasn’t even close. We had a core group of individuals that didn’t get on the score sheet. Last year was a lot closer than it was this year.”

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The Kings don’t seem to be going anywhere, with most of their key players locked up for the long term. If the Sharks can’t compete with them as currently constructed, it may be time for significant change.

“You don’t win, that’s what happens. You’ve got to answer those questions,” Boyle said.