Skip to Main Content

Sharks get McLellan back for key game with Oilers

by Eric Gilmore
SAN JOSE -- After missing three games with a concussion, San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will return to the bench for Tuesday night's game against Edmonton at HP Pavilion.

"I'm going to give the bench my full attention," McLellan said after the Sharks' optional skate Tuesday morning. "I'll see how it goes from there. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm anticipating that I'm going to feel good and that I'm going to be alert and I'm going to be sharp. When we ask the players to do that and contribute for a full 60 minutes, we better be able to do that as a staff. So I'm going to be as sharp as I possibly can."

McLellan hasn't been on the bench since being hit hard in the head by a stick during the Sharks' 4-3 loss at Minnesota on Feb. 26.

McLellan was on the ice and conducted practice Friday but didn't respond well and missed his third straight game Saturday night game against St. Louis. McLellan conducted practice Monday and had better results.

"Friday I did not feel good at all," McLellan said. "Yesterday I felt better. I didn't feel 100 percent yet, but I felt much better. Wore down a little bit later in the day and had a good sleep. I feel good this morning. Again, we're flying by the seat of our pants. We're going to go out there and see what happens."

While McLellan was out, the Sharks beat Philadelphia 1-0, then lost 1-0 to Buffalo and 3-1 to St. Louis. They've gone 2-7-1 in their past 10 games and enter tonight's game in eighth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Los Angeles and Colorado and three in front of Calgary.

With just 17 games left to play, the Sharks are officially in desperation mode.

"We're letting some games slip away and not picking up enough points," forward Logan Couture said. "Sitting eighth in the conference with L.A. a point behind us, it's going down to the wire. We need to find some way to get some sort of points out of games, almost every game from now until the end of the year. It starts tonight against a good Edmonton team."

Getting forward Ryane Clowe untracked would go a long way toward getting the Sharks out of their offensive funk. He has 1 goal and 7 assists in his past 15 games and just 11 goals and 24 assists for the season. Last season, Clowe had 24 goals and 62 points, both career highs.

"I know if I produce a bit more the team's going to have a better chance of winning, for sure," Clowe said. "It's time to make it happen. We're in a position now where every game counts. I'm in the same position. Every game counts for me. I've got to make sure to start producing a bit more."

According to McLellan, Clowe's trouble scoring goals stems in large part from him trying to do too much to help his struggling team.

"Clowie's a very noble, honest guy, and I think right now he's taking more on than he needs to," McLellan said. "If he just does what Ryane Clowe does -- and that's protect pucks and get to the net -- I think he'll have some success. But if there's one or two guys in there that really take struggling to heart, he would be one, and the tendency is to try to do more, and often you get less.

"But Clowie knows that. I thought the other night when he scored against Philadelphia that weight of the world would be off his shoulders, but it seems to be back there again. We have a ton of confidence in this young man. He's a very important part of our team and he will continue to be."

The Oilers will be playing the second game of a back-to-back after losing 4-2 Monday night at Anaheim. What's more, they're well out of the playoff race with a 25-34-6 record and just 56 points. The Sharks, though, know better than to take Edmonton lightly. They suffered a 2-1 shootout loss in Edmonton on Jan. 23 and slipped past the Oilers 3-2 at HP Pavilion on Dec. 17.

"They played us hard both times we played them," Couture said. "They play tough, they play fast. They're a young team. They're going to come out and they're going to give effort. We know what to expect when we play them."

The Sharks can plan on seeing an Edmonton power play that ranks No. 1 in the NHL.

"They're very creative," McLellan said. "They have a youthful creativity to their game, and that shows through on the power play. Their young players have a lot of confidence and courage with the puck. They're not afraid to err with it, and sometimes that allows them to be very successful offensively, and we see that on the power play."

San Jose's penalty kill ranks 28th in the NHL, which is one reason why the Sharks acquired Dominic Moore, Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi before the trade deadline. All three have been solid penalty killers, and McLellan said he's ready to start giving them more time on the PK now that they've had more time to learn the Sharks' system.

"Some of them have had some minutes already," McLellan said. "We're hoping to get to the point where we potentially could throw a pair of them out together. But they will get some minutes. Hopefully we're not penalty killing and we won't have to worry about that."

View More