Wilson: Playoffs still the goal

Wilson: Playoffs still the goal
March 25, 2013, 4:00 pm
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We’ve got to play certainly better than we have for the last 22 or 23 games. That’s not acceptable.
—Sharks GM Doug Wilson

ANAHEIM – The notion that the move of Douglas Murray for a pair of draft picks puts the Sharks in the category of “sellers” in the lead-up to the April 3 trade deadline is premature, according to general manager Doug Wilson.

“This doesn’t take away our goal of trying to make the playoffs this year,” Wilson said in a conference call on Monday afternoon. “We have to play better on a 60-minute basis for longer periods of time, to accomplish that.”

The Sharks sit in ninth place in the Western Conference headed into Monday night’s game in Anaheim, and are just 6-11-6 since beginning the season with seven straight wins. Only three of those wins are in regulation.

San Jose is closing out a five game road trip, having won just one of the first four (1-3-0). A seven-game stint in San Jose, where the Sharks are 8-1-4, begins on Wednesday.

“After tonight, we’ve got a group of home games. But, we’ve got to play certainly better than we have for the last 22 or 23 games. That’s not acceptable,” Wilson said.

Wilson touched on a number of topics, including more on the Murray trade – to Pittsburgh, for a second round pick in 2013 and conditional second round pick in 2014 – and other points of interest surrounding the team.

On if the trade was a message to the team:

DW: “I don’t think our guys need any messages. The reality is, we haven’t played up to the way we think we’re capable of playing. We haven’t been very consistent. But, this is a hockey trade that involves a player I have tremendous respect for…he’s a pending UFA. Pittsburgh was willing to pay very full value for him.”

On if this could be the first of more moves:

DW: “Some of that will be based on performance, obviously. We’ve done some very good things this year; our PK, goaltending. But, we certainly haven’t moved the puck up the ice or attacked or created the offense on a team-wide, consistent basis that we need to. Can it lead to other deals? Sure it can. There certainly are a lot of teams that are in contact with us. This was a deal where Pittsburgh was very aggressive. They knew what they wanted, and they were very willing to pay the two picks that made the deal work for us.

"We have depth on the back end, guys that are healthy and back, ready to play. But, Douglas is going to be missed. He’s a very special guy. What a great competitor he is. We wish him nothing but the best, and thank him for his contributions.”

On the status of the coaching staff and Todd McLellan:

DW: “It’s a natural question. The coaching staff prepares this group. When you see us play well, it’s playing the right way. A lot of the time, as I say, [I’ve] talked to several other GMs and there’s a similar frustration. We’re a 57-minute team in a 60-minute league. In those two or three minutes, why the mistakes prevent you from winning games is very frustrating.

“But is that coaching preparation? No, I think it comes down to a player sticking with it, not altering our approach to a game just because we’re down a goal, or whatever. We’re not the only team going through that, but it’s one of those things. I think our coaching staff – the areas we wanted them to address, the PK, the goals against, how we play around our net. The offensive side, it’s hard to fathom. We’ve got some guys that have been goal scorers in this league that all went dry at the same time, or guys that were scoring at a very high clip before – our second power play unit, which was the best in the league last year and had a big impact on games – some of it was because of injuries, but that has not really been there. And, that has really impacted our scoring at important times during games where we were counting on that. It really hasn’t delivered what we needed so far.”

On if the Sharks could trade for a veteran scorer:

DW: “I don’t see that happening. I think the offense is there. If it’s not – you take a look at our team. I don’t want to single out players, but there are certain players that are not having even average type of years. If they were performing at a different level, I think we’d be at a different place today. Hopefully, that changes quickly. Thinking that we’re going to give up a prospect or even a pick to bring in a guy on a rental basis is very doubtful.”

On Brent Burns’ role lately as a forward, and if that could change:

DW: “That’s completely Todd’s call. Brent is one of those unique players, just like Dustin Byfuglien was, that you can use him in both positions. You can use him on the point for the power play, because he’s got a great shot and that’s what you need on the power play to make the defending team play you differently. He’s a dominant power forward. I don’t know how you handle a guy that size, that can shoot, and is fearless.

“There are different needs when you’ve got injuries or are looking for different things. It’s a great luxury to have a player like that. I think we all saw the impact Byfuglien had with Chicago’s success. Brent can be either one. I think he’s going to be a very impactful player for us. It’s nice to see him back healthy and skating the way he can. He’s played forward for four or five games, and every game he’s had three or four quality scoring chances. But also, with the shot, being able to put him on the second power play unit has a big impact. He’s just a hockey player. It’s just the position we start him in, or need him in. He may play both positions in certain games. That’s all situationally decided.”