LOS ANGELES -- A loss was not the way San Jose wanted to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy but they will take it.
The Sharks played hard for sixty minutes but could not best the Los Angeles Kings this afternoon at STAPLES Center, falling 4-3 despite converting three of six power plays.
“The power play did the job tonight,” said defenseman Dan Boyle
. “But our five-on-five in the second half has been the key issue. Hopefully we will get a rebirth of energy of sorts and hopefully get our legs going again for the playoffs, get excited again.”
Excited they should be, as the Sharks are now proud owners of the best regular season record in the NHL due to a 6-1 loss by the Boston Bruins earlier in the day against Buffalo. Today’s game against the Kings did not end up affecting the NHL standings, but it can still place some pressure on young shoulders.
“The season is over and it is time to start a new one,” said sophomore forward Devin Setoguchi. “You gotta forget about these games because in the playoffs you have got to forget about it right away.”
Though the atmosphere inside the Sharks locker room understandably was not that of a team that just clinched the best regular season record in the NHL Understandably, since the team dropped its final two games of the season against the bottom two teams in the Pacific Division.
“It’s certainly not the way that that you want to finish your season with two losses,” said Boyle. “Both games there have been some good things, we are just trying to focus on that. Without a doubt there have been a lot of mistakes and turnovers, key defensive mistakes and that is what we have to get rid of.”
Winning the Presidents' Trophy without winning a game was not part of Sharks head coach Todd McLellan’s plan, but that does not mean his team did not earn the honor.
“53 wins I don’t believe is backing in [to winning the Presidents’ Trophy],” said McLellan. “Boston had the opportunity to win today and they didn’t do it.”
Now that the Sharks have the Presidents’ Trophy, they also enjoy home ice advantage through all four rounds of the playoffs. And for this team, the advantage is real.
San Jose is a league-best 32-5-4 at home, winning six of their last eight at the Shark Tank. But at this point, the team has to look forward to next week where they face one of three potential opponents.
“We might be up against three teams that will be desperate and excited to play,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. “We have to be ready for that. It is going to be a big challenge for us, any of the three of those teams.”
Fortunately for the Sharks, there is a good mix of veteran and younger players, to bring both youthful energy and the calm that comes with experience as they embark on their playoff run.Dan Boyle
will be one of those calming voices, as a former Stanley Cup Champion himself.
“More than anything it is what I do on the ice, showing some poise and not panicking out there,” said Boyle. “If other guys can see that some of us are calm out there then it calms everyone down. That is a big factor in the playoffs; you can’t press the panic button because you are going to be in certain situations where everything is so magnified.”
Now what is left for San Jose is to wait until tonight to find out who takes eighth seed in the Western Conference and start planning their attack.