McLellan: Sharks 'still in the driver's seat'

McLellan on Vlasic's status and the need to respond to Kings

McLellan: Sharks 'still in the driver's seat'
April 28, 2014, 8:30 am
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We’re still in the driver’s seat. We like where we’re at ... I still think we have a great opportunity in front of us.
Todd McLellan

SAN JOSE – The Sharks are well aware that if they duplicate their effort and execution from Game 5 on Monday and again on Wednesday, they are destined to become just the fourth team in NHL history ever to blow a three-nothing series lead.

The Los Angeles Kings rebounded from playing some bad hockey themselves in the first two games of the series at San Jose. Now, it’s the Sharks’ turn, as they get another chance to move on to the second round on Monday night at Staples Center.

“The speed factor that we need to be successful was non-existent really,” Todd McLellan said of Saturday's 3-0 loss. “And, a lot of it had to do with our ability to skate well and have legs. Then, our execution and our puck support was poor. It played into their hands. Give them credit. They came and played a real good game. We have to respond now.”

Logan Couture said: "We just weren't good enough. A lot of mistakes, a lot of missed opportunities. A couple wide-open nets we missed that could have changed the game around. We didn't start very well. A lot of things we didn't do too well.”

The start of the game was particularly worrisome for the Sharks, who should have been energized to end their first round series at home. Instead, the Kings piled on 12 of the first 14 shots and took control of the game.

An early turning point according to Dan Boyle was a save on Andrew Desjardins by Jonathan Quick midway through the first, when the game was still just 1-0. Anze Kopitar made it 2-0 a couple minutes later, converting a juicy rebound off a Kings rush.

“I didn’t realize early in the game, I drop it Raffi [Torres] and he passes it over to [Desjardins] and he puts that puck away, it is a different game,” Boyle said.

At that point, though, it was evident that the Kings were getting saves from their goaltender, while the Sharks were not getting the same kind of performance from theirs, perhaps deflating the roster. Antti Niemi has become the team’s weakest link, while Quick has put his early performances behind him and brings a 68-minute scoreless streak into Game 6. The Sharks may go to Alex Stalock on Monday.

McLellan was asked how challenging Monday will be for his team, which once held a commanding lead, from a mental standpoint.

“That’s where leadership comes in. We’re still in the driver’s seat,” said the coach. “We like where we’re at. It would have been nice to get a win in Game 4, but it didn’t happen. We didn’t play well in Game 5, and it didn’t happen.
“I still think we have a great opportunity in front of us. … We’ve earned the right to be ahead and now we have to make good on it.”