SAN JOSE It wasnt quite the textbook definition of a bag skate, as there were, in fact, pucks on the ice when the Sharks filtered out for their closed-door practice on Sunday on what was originally a day off.
But by the time the 50-minute session concluded with some one-on-one battle drills along the boards, after some high intensity drills and end-to-end rushes, most everyone on the team was in need of a breather. The players exited en masse after a Thats it, were done, proclamation from head coach Todd McLellan.
The Sharks have just one win in their last four games, and that only came via the shootout on Thursday against Montreal, after Ryane Clowes late goal forced the game past regulation.
Saturdays effort against the high-flying Panthers, a 5-3 loss that featured numerous misplays with the puck and a general lack of focus, were the biggest reasons for the Sunday-not-so-funday.
The intensity level wasnt a surprise.
It was pretty obvious. I think we all knew, said Brent Burns.
The coaching staff didnt take any pleasure in the day, but McLellan wanted to serve up a reminder to his club that it has to be more mentally prepared.
These days arent good for anyone, he said. Theyre not good for the players, because of the hectic schedule, and we get no satisfaction out of it. But, the goal was to remind them that the work ethic and commitment level has to come first. It comes before anything else systems, talent, power play, penalty kill.
Were human, and we all have to be reminded sometimes. I have to be reminded, my kids have to be reminded, and our team has to be reminded how important work ethic and commitment level is. Thats all today was.
McLellan saw some problems in the teams game dating back to its recent four-game winning streak from Nov. 17-23. He thought it was corrected when the Sharks lost a hard fought battle to Vancouver a week ago, in which the team played hard despite a 3-2 loss.
That was followed up by a poor effort in a 2-0 defeat in Los Angeles last Monday, Thursdays shootout win against Montreal, and Saturdays error-filled loss to Florida.
Former Wild and Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire used to talk about his team getting sick, and he used the analogy of the flu. By the times the symptoms show up, the bugs already in you, said McLellan.
We won four games and played some good periods and some average periods, but we felt we were getting sick a little bit. We addressed it, and I thought we responded well against Vancouver, but the germ is still in the team. Weve got to get it out.
Although they likely would have preferred to sleep in and watch football on Sunday, Burns said it was probably a beneficial day for the club.
I dont think its ever bad to do that, said Burns. You go out there, get a good skate, battle and kind of get back to basics.
Joe Thornton said: Its no problem. Thats what we do. We skate, were hockey players.
Odds and ends: Douglas Murray did not skate, taking a maintenance day, but McLellan said he should be ready for Tuesdays game against Minnesota. Marty Havlat showed no ill-effects from taking a knee to the back of the head from Floridas Sean Bergenheim, in which he was slow to get up. McLellan hinted that he might switch up his defense pairings before Tuesdays game.