Sharks enjoy mini-break before visiting Anaheim

Sharks enjoy mini-break before visiting Anaheim
April 7, 2014, 11:45 am
We’ve been in that situation before where we’ve had to play a number of games back-to-back with travel, and we know what it feels like physically and mentally. It’s another challenge for our group.
Todd McLellan

Programming note: Watch Sharks-Ducks on Wednesday night at 7:30 on the NBC Sports Network.

SAN JOSE – There were no festive celebrations coming from the San Jose coach's office after the Anaheim Ducks lost to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night, 4-2, if you believe head coach Todd McLellan.

If anything, it reminded him of some of his team’s recent failures, including on Saturday night when San Jose dropped a 3-0 decision at home to Nashville, keeping them in second place.

“We can’t control what Anaheim does. All that does is drive home the nail a little deeper into us that we didn’t take advantage of opportunities,” McLellan said.

Still, the Ducks’ loss means that San Jose still has a fighting chance to overtake them for first place in the Pacific Division. Anaheim continues to lead the Sharks by one point, and will play its final game in hand on Monday in Vancouver. If the Canucks win in regulation, the Sharks can leapfrog the Ducks in their head-to-head meeting on Wednesday at Honda Center. Each team will have two games left after that one.

The Sharks should be the more energized club, too, as Anaheim will be playing its third game in four nights while San Jose will have been off since Saturday. The Sharks had Sunday completely off, and almost everyone refrained from skating on Monday, too, after gathering at the practice facility for an off-ice workout.

[REWIND: Second period malaise costs Sharks in crucial defeat]

“We’ve been in that situation before where we’ve had to play a number of games back-to-back with travel, and we know what it feels like physically and mentally. It’s another challenge for our group,” McLellan said.

“It’s nice, it’s really nice,” said James Sheppard of the mini-break. “We have to make sure we don’t get too relaxed with the days off, but we’ll have a workout here today, a real good skate tomorrow, and hopefully just be fresh for the game.”

San Jose lost its only other match at Honda Center, 6-3 on New Year’s Eve.

“We have to go into that building and play well. We didn’t do that in the one other trip in there this year. It doesn’t matter to us if they’re tired or fresh or not, we have to play our game, and play it well.”

They’ll have to be better than they have been recently. Although they beat Los Angeles on Thursday, the team got away with a subpar effort against Edmonton last Tuesday in a 5-4 win, and lost its previous two games before that one to Colorado and Winnipeg.

“On the offensive side, on the defensive side, we can be a lot better,” Joe Pavelski said.

Tomas Hertl, Raffi Torres, Jason Demers, Marty Havlat, Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock were the only players who went on the ice on Monday. Torres and Demers were trying out new skates.