McLellan: It's all about health

McLellan: It's all about health
January 15, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Martin Havlat played in just 39 games last season because of a hamstring injury. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Watch any of the NHL season preview shows, and you'll hear analysts say, "The Sharks can go as far as their star players can take them…"  

While that assessment is partially true in San Jose (and with every elite team), it's not the complete story.

"We all have high-end players that have to preform at the best of their abilities for us to have a chance to win," Todd McLellan told me. "But the supporting cast, is equally important.  Ours is going to have to pick their game up, we're going to have to get more out of them than we did last year."

On that front, it doesn't take much to look at a Sharks roster, or even watch the team practice, and realize that personnel wise, it's a very similar group returning to San Jose this season.  So how can you transform the same team, into a deeper one?

"In my opinion, it is health," McLellan stated.  "If you can stay healthy you're a much deeper team.  As soon as you start to lose people to injuries it taps into the depth of the organization or any other organization in the league."

Third-year defenseman Justin Braun is just coming off a wrist injury, and is the perfect type of player to add said depth on the blue line.  He also realizes the importance of wider-spread contributions in this shortened season.

"The games are a little tighter this year," Braun told me  "You're not going to have as much rest... back to back nights, you're going to need three to four lines, plus fifth and sixth defensemen to put up some minutes night in and night out."

TJ Galiardi was traded to San Jose late last season in an attempt to deepen forward lines for the stretch run.  While hampered by back injuries, he didn't get to make the first impression desired.  Now, he's looking for a turnaround and to take a hand in the success on the third line.

"In a short year you're going to count on us way more," Galiardi told me.  "You can only ride your horses for so long before they get tired, but any load we can take off them is what we're looking to do."

Newcomer Adam Burish was with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, on a team that defeated San Jose in the Western Finals,  and went on to win the Stanley Cup.  That particular group was known for being widely reliable from top to bottom on the roster.  

So what does he want here?

"That's what i want," Burish said.  "I want responsibility on the team and playing against these guys as long as i have, they're one of the elite clubs in the NHL.  They always are, but I think you talk about teams that have won championships and you ask guys... and depth is the key."