The San Jose Sharks know they haven’t been playing their best hockey as they’ve gone five consecutive contests without a victory, but they woke up to the NHL standings on Monday to see they technically didn’t have a grasp on first place in the Western Conference or the Pacific Division. Using the NHL tiebreaker of wins, the Los Angeles Kings, while tied with San Jose at 45 points, would hold the top spot if the season ended today.
For Todd McLellan and his crew, it is definitely a motivator.
“You see the gap closing, but it’s the parity in our division,” said Captain Rob Blake. “Dallas and Phoenix are also knocking on the door and we play Anaheim on Thursday.”
“I think we have to acknowledge we haven’t won in five and where we are,” said McLellan. “The most important thing is we as a group have to realize there is not a significant difference between the teams (out west) any more. We play 80-85 percent of our games against the west and there is not a weak team or a runaway team. It’s going to be that way the next 50 games.”
The Sharks current streak of five games without a win is something foreign to the current lockerroom.
“You take the last two years and this is the longest we’ve gone without a win,” said Blake. “So I don’t think it’s a little funk. When you go five without a win, you have to find the answer.”
One positive for the Sharks is they see what needs to be fixed and more importantly, it is fixable.
“It’s not physical, it’s not injuries, it’s not preparation,” said Blake. “Conditioning is not a problem. It’s mental. When we watch the video we see the mistakes. Guys need to get mentally engaged.”
“Right now individuals are missing assignments,” said McLellan.
Now the Sharks just have to fix the correctable problems.
“If it’s physical or skill, you have more concerns that require more (changes),” said Blake. “I’ve been on teams where it’s not so easy to correct.”
“We have to take what we are doing right and build on that,” said McLellan.
At the same time, the Sharks 45 points still has them tied for first in the Western Conference and tied for second in the NHL. It is not a bad place to be, but they want to do more and the standings today let them know they need to do more.
Even with the current state of games, the Sharks are doing many things right and they have to keep focused on those items as well.
“In the last five, we’ve given up two, two, four, two and two in regulation,” said Blake about the impressive goals against during the stretch.
In fact the Sharks have allowed two or less goals during regulation in six of the past seven games.
“It (averages to) about a half goal a game,” said Blake. “That is how close the league is. If you give that half goal to the opposition, you are going to lose.”
The two goals or less stat flies in the face of the recent struggles, but the defense must continue for the ship to right itself.
“We should win games in that situation,” said McLellan.
The best positive right now is the Sharks have three days of practice before their next game on Thursday.
“It gives us some practice time and we’ll use it,” said McLellan.
took the day off from practice as a result of the play in Phoenix near the end of the game, but there is a very real chance he plays on Thursday. Boyle has pointed the finger back at himself for the incident and not a member of the Coyotes.
“It’s my own fault,” said Boyle. “I tried to counter hit and put myself in a really bad position. He could have winked at me and I would have fallen. I’m sore, but I expect to be out there on Thursday. One good thing is we had five days between games.”
“I know he is a lot better than when we left Phoenix,” said McLellan. “We’re looking at it being day-to-day. In talking with Dan, it wasn’t anything dirty.”
The Sharks moved Jamie McGinn and Frazer McLaren back to Worcester.
The Sharks play Anaheim on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can still be found at www.ticketmaster.com and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.