The San Jose Sharks seem to traditionally play a game on December 26, the day following the mandatory two days off for the players. This year, the Sharks had a full day of practice before playing a contest and it seemed to be the preferred route.
“I think so,” Patrick Marleau
said. “I don’t remember how often we’ve had this, but it’s nice after a couple of days off to get a practice in and get the legs going. They (the Kings) played last night.”
“I certainly needed it,” Dan Boyle
said of the two day break. “Most of the guys had family in town so it allows us to spend one extra day with our family. You get one good practice in.”
The Sharks are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the current NHL best winning streak at four, but San Jose’s players aren’t too concerned with the two days off as it probably helped a lot more than it could have hurt.
“It’s time to recharge the battery and relax and now we can get right back at it,” Marleau said.
“Not at this stage of the year,” Boyle said about any potential downfall to the time away from the rink. “You never want a break when you are playing well, but we’ll try to get it back where it was.”
Former Sharks winger Marco Sturm will be playing before the HP Pavilion as a member of the rival Kings. Sturm was part of the deal that brought Joe Thornton
to San Jose and is still tied for first on the Sharks all-time shorthanded goals list.
will be out with a lower body injury and defenseman Justin Braun
helped fill in up front for practice.
“Just go in straight lines and don’t stop skating,” Scott Nichol said about Braun filling in for the morning. “He’s a big body and can skate and move.”
Nichol joked that it’s not like Braun was having to man the middle for the on ice session that lasted less than half an hour.
“It’s not rocket science playing the wing,” Nichol laughed. “The centerman is the brains behind all the lines.”
Braun said he wasn’t looking for any career changes, but was happy to fill in.
“I played a little (forward) in college on the power play, but other than that, not since I was 10,” Braun said. “I’ve got to be ready to play D, that’s what I’m here for.”
is a defenseman, no doubt about it,” McLellan stated. “We’re not going to confuse a young player like that. As we went through the skate today, we had to fill in some spots. He’s very comfortable wearing black (the defenseman color in practice) on a regular basis and he’ll continue to.”
The Sharks know the importance of the four point swings that can happen within division games and finding a way to climb to the top of the Pacific Division standings is an important goal of theirs.
“The division championship will definitely allow you to get in the playoffs,” McLellan said. “After that, who knows what will happen? You could be second or third in your division and not make it. There is a constant external reminder (for the players) when they look at the standings and hear people talking.”
was the first Sharks goaltender off the ice at the morning skate, the usual sign for who will start the contest.
The Sharks and Kings will play at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or at the www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.