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Sharks trying to stay physical during down time

by Eric Gilmore
SAN JOSE -- After two days off, the San Jose Sharks got back to work Friday, and coach Todd McLellan put them through the gauntlet.
Actually, "the old gauntlet" drill," as forward TJ Galiardi called it.
One by one, each player fought his way past every other teammate, who was lined up along the boards.
"It's a fun drill," McLellan said. "Most of them enjoy doing it, have a lot of fun with it.  We haven't practiced for so long, and the physicality part of the game right now is something you can't lose. After taking a couple days off we wanted to bump and grind."

Galiardi said the Sharks did the gauntlet drill one other time this season, after "a bad game" against the Los Angeles Kings.

"We did it for 20 minutes," Galiardi said. "That was an actual gauntlet. This one was just fun. I think it's to stay sharp a little, get the body contact going. We weren't hitting much in the drills. You got to let [Brent Burns] have his fix too. He needs body contact."

The Sharks, who swept the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series, are waiting to learn who they'll play in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the Anaheim Ducks win their series against the Detroit Red Wings (Game 7 is Sunday), the Sharks will face the Chicago Blackhawks. If the Red Wings win, the Sharks will face the Kings. Either way, the Sharks will open on the road.

"The potential opponents we have all give us different challenges," McLellan said. "Once we do find out we will be able to narrow down areas of the game we have to focus on. Today, there was some focus on some of the things that some of our opponents might throw at us. It was more about us than them. But there will be power-play and penalty-kill situations that we have to talk about. Once the opponent is known we can focus a little bit more on situations."

Defenseman Jason Demers (left ankle) and forward Martin Havlat (lower body) skated before practice but were not on the ice with their teammates. Demers missed the final four regular-season games and all four games against Vancouver but appears to be making strong progress. Havlat, who was injured early in Game 1 against Vancouver, skated for the second straight day but has yet to skate hard.

Fourth-line forward Adam Burish (right hand) already has been ruled out of the entire second-round series; Tim Kennedy skated in his spot during practice. Kennedy was in the lineup for Game 2 against Vancouver following Havlat's injury but was a healthy scratch for the final two games when center Scott Gomez returned from an injury.

McLellan said he has yet to decide how his lines will look in the next round.

"We have a number of different choices, but Kennedy played well in Los Angeles at the end of the year," McLellan said. "He was very competitive and he played well in Vancouver, and that's not easy for a guy that didn't play a lot down the stretch. He remained sharp. He's a veteran of a lot of games in the League. So he has been through some of those nervous situations that others haven't, so we feel pretty good about him."

Kennedy played in six playoff games in 2010 with the Buffalo Sabres and has 125 games of NHL experience with the Sabres, Florida Panthers and Sharks. He said his playoff experience at Buffalo and in Game 2 against Vancouver will help him if he's called on to play in the second round.

"It was good getting in," Kennedy said of playing in Game 2. "I played in the playoffs a few years ago, so I knew what to expect. Just this time of the year the game gets harder. Mistakes, they cost you that much more.  You just try to play well in your own zone."

Galiardi said, "It looks like [Kennedy] will probably be in. He's played well for us, I think. He hadn't played for [six weeks], then he played against L.A. and had a really good game. Then he stepped up and played a good game against Vancouver too. It's a testament to a guy to just be able to step in and play like that. I think [Kennedy], he'll do a good job. ... He's a smart player. He's got more skill than I think he gets credit for. He plays hard, actually, for being a guy that's not so big. He'll fit in just fine."
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