SAN JOSE, Calif. - Jeremy Roenick knows he should welcome every opportunity to rest his 39-year-old body in the heat of an NHL post-season. He just doesn't believe anybody in teal benefits from an extra day to ponder the San Jose Sharks' 147-minute playoff scoring drought.
"I hate it. It's driving me nuts," Roenick said after Saturday's practice. "One game a week? Let's go."
Indeed, San Jose has played just once since finishing its regular-season schedule last Saturday, when the club backed into the Presidents' Trophy with a loss to Los Angeles. Although the Sharks were the NHL's best team for most of the regular season, their middling play down the stretch bled over into Game 1, where Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller beat them 2-0 despite the Sharks' 2-to-1 edge in shots.
The defeat immediately conjured memories of three straight second-round playoff losses for the Sharks, who are well aware they're considered the NHL's biggest playoff underachievers. Given last season's four-overtime loss to Dallas in the Stars' series clincher, San Jose hasn't scored in a playoff eternity.
But while their fans light up message boards with panicked, here-we-go-again refrains, the Sharks are determined to keep their focus on what got them to the No. 1 seed.
"We can't get emotionally high or low," Roenick said. "We can't sit here and say, 'Here we go again.' That would be the worst thing we could do. This is a long, long process if you're doing it right, and we're committed to trying to do it the right way from the first game to the last."
The delay before Game 2 on Sunday night doesn't help, however. While the teams in the other seven NHL playoff series all had played two games by Saturday, San Jose and the Ducks were stuck waiting around the entire weekend, in part because a ventriloquist already was booked into the Shark Tank on Saturday night.
Nobody had to do the talking for San Jose coach Todd McLellan or Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle during their clubs' practices at the Sharks' training complex Saturday. Both coaches screamed at their teams early in the workouts, demanding more intensity and focus.
"The building got quiet," Carlyle said, giving the reason for his tongue-lashing. "Every day we go on the ice surface, we've got to accomplish something."
Hiller was the most accomplished Anaheim player in the opener. Carlyle doesn't seem terribly impressed with the rest of his team, bemoaning the Ducks' six penalties and noting that the top line didn't generate any goals or many scoring chances during the normal run of play.
"A lot of bounces went our way," Carlyle said. "Favourable bounces, them hitting posts, a crossbar. We have to prepare for a much more spirited hockey game on Sunday."
The Sharks believe their spirits will be lifted when they finally score, which they haven't done in the post-season in 147 minutes, 24 seconds. Joe Thornton, ever the upbeat optimist, thinks that is about to change.
"I felt we outplayed them (in Game 1), to be honest with you," said Thornton, who had just one shot. "I don't know what the final shots were, but we had some good chances. We just need to sharpen it up on the power play. We have a good group of veteran guys that's been in a lot of playoff series. We're not hitting the panic button. We have a solid foundation with a bunch of guys that have been together for a while."
Still, McLellan said he doesn't think it's too early to consider lineup changes, although the same four lines that played in Game 1 were together at Saturday's practice. Although not as quick to break up his scoring lines as former Sharks coach Ron Wilson, McLellan has tinkered with San Jose's groupings throughout the season, often in response to injuries - and often with great success.
McLellan also has thought about tinkering with his strategy of matching Thornton's line with Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi against Anaheim's powerful top trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. The Sharks thought Thornton's ability to control the puck in the offensive zone would limit the time Getzlaf and Perry would have around San Jose's net, but neither top line generated much heat.
"We had a lot of rebounds that got loose, and didn't have guys following up on them," Setoguchi said. "Guys have got to get there. It's that time of year when there's not going to be those tic-tac-toe passes that you have at some times of the year."