When the World Jr. Championship is underway, there is a little extra attention paid in Todd McLellan’s household as he worked for Canada’s youth programs in the past.
“For me, I’ve had a chance to be part of that program,” McLellan recalled. “I spent three years in that program with the under 18 team and the World Jr. team. It brings back a lot of memories.”
McLellan is enjoying watching his sons pay more and more attention to the event that captivates American’s northern neighbor.
“I know as Tyson get older he recognizes names and understands who the players are more, so it’s exciting for him to watch it,” McLellan said.
In an NHL lockerroom, the key to the event is who gets the last laugh in an international lockerroom.
“Being around the rink, there are always bragging rights,” McLellan said. “You can hear the different nationalities rub it in a little bit. It’s fun to be a part of. We talk about the Winter Classic, which is a great game, but this is another form of the Winter Classic in my opinion. It is a Canadian tradition. What is going on in Canada right now (Canada was playing Switzerland during the interview) people are glued to this.”
With the elimination games in progress, the lockerroom banter will pick it up a little bit as there is a Canada-United States matchup in the next round.
“Now it’s where the tournament really starts,” Joe Pavelski
said. “Hopefully the Americans can get off to a quick start. In those elimination games, the quick starts help get the team going.”
Pavelski said it’s one of the more well-balanced World Jr. tournaments in recent times.
“This year it’s more even with Sweden and Canada playing so well,” Pavelski said. “Finland is a good team. It’s going to be tough.”
There will be a lot of eyes glued to the matchup between the two North American powers as the game will be played close to the border in Buffalo.
“We’re watching a little bit, obviously the Canadian games,” Dany Heatley said. “It’s a good they are having it in Buffalo, it’s a good hockey town. They seem to be packing the rink pretty well.”
Players like Joe Thornton
and Heatley enjoyed their time representing their country as youth hockey players and definitely enjoy when their country has success.
“It was a lot of fun,” Heatley said. “Growing up watching it, you know how many people are watching at home around the holidays.”
This year, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby put together the NHL’s longest point streak (25 games) since Mats Sundin registered a point in 30 consecutive games.
Sharks winger Dany Heatley can relate to the point streak a little as he has a 22-game stretch on his resume. Heatley said when the games started adding up, it didn’t bring too much pressure to his game.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Heatley said. “It was hot and cold. Some days you think about it, some days not at all. When you are still in the 20’s, you still aren’t even close to any records. It wasn’t a big thing. In today’s game it’s tough to score points. Everyone watches video and has good defensive plans.”
A lot of skill is required to put together a run like Heatley and Crosby have done, but Heatley pointed out two other ingredients.
“You definitely need luck,” Heatley said. “You pick up a second assist on a power play. For every two or three point night you have, you grease (a single) one out on the power play. You also need your teammates to get goals (so you can pick up assists).”
NOT SO SPECIAL
Rookie forward Brando Mashinter may have made his NHL debut on the last road trip, but it wasn’t the biggest news in his family. That same day his sister gave birth to her second child.
“My sister had a baby that exact night,” Mashinter said. “Her second one. Everyone was excited for her, but there was a little of both. I think they were excited for me. It’s been a dream of mine to play in the NHL and it’s finally come true.”
Mashinter, like all rookies, quickly recognized the speed of the NHL game and the lack of time to make plays, but in addition to creating quality scoring opportunities, the big forward has been strong in his own end.
“I’m starting to get adjusted, knowing you don’t get as many scoring chances as you do in the AHL,” Mashinter said. “I’ve had two scoring chances in the last three and I’ve missed the net both times. Hopefully I’ll start to hit the net and it will get rolling. My defensive zone has been a lot better up here than it had been in the AHL. I’m concentrating a lot more on that.”
Mashinter says he is still nervous before the games, but that isn’t a change from his normal routine.
“I’m still nervous before every game, even in the AHL,” Mashinter said.
McLellan has been pleased with the young prospect’s progress since he last viewed him in person at training camp.
“You take Mash and compare him to where he was in training camp and he’s made significant strides,” McLellan said. “He’s able to keep that big body in the play. He’s skating better, reading plays better. He’s so big and strong, if he can keep the tempo up and stay in the play he is a very effective player.”
Mashinter has been consistent in using his six-foot-four, 235 pound frame.
“He’s finished some people and held his ground,” McLellan said.
The Sharks had some extra skaters on the ice Sunday as Joe Pavelski
and Torrey Mitchell
rejoined their teammates after missing the recent road trip.
“We will get healthy. They’ve all skated,” McLellan said. “Johnny McCarthy isn’t ready yet. The closest one would be Torrey Mitchell
and I doubt he is in the lineup tomorrow.”
The Sharks host Vancouver Monday night at HP Pavilion and the Canucks come in as one of the NHL’s hottest clubs.
“I read somewhere where they are 12-1-3 and probably the hottest team in the league and maybe the best team in the league right now,” McLellan said. “We open up this homestand with a very big test.”
San Jose plays six of the next seven at HP Pavilion.
“We’ll have a home friendly month and we’ll have to make some hay,” McLellan said. “We have to be good on this homestand and we know that.”
The Sharks will host Vancouver at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion on Monday and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com