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McLellan Reflects on Game One

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
On Monday, May 17, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan spoke with members of the media following the Sharks practice. Below is the transcript from the discussion.

Q. Have you seen anything different now that you had a chance to look at the game tape?
COACH McLELLAN: No, not dramatically different. After watching it again, it was the game we thought we saw. I thought it was a helluva game. Both teams played very hard, played well.
Goaltending was good at both ends. You know, at the end of the night, we didn't get the second or third goal that we obviously needed, and they got one.

You know, if we can continue to play and turn it up a little bit more, I think we're right there.

Q. Last two series you talked about the big line doing other things in order to get the job done if they weren't getting on the scoreboard. Dany Heatley, two goals in his last 18 games, if you go back in the regular season. My question is, don't you need him to score as well? Doesn't he have to put the puck in the net?
COACH McLELLAN: Well, he does. You know, that's why Dany's a part of our organization. That's what makes him a tremendous player, is the fact he had the ability to put the puck in the net.

I'm going to answer the question with a collective reply. I think we all have to find a way to get one more past Niemi and not leave it on Dany Heatley's shoulders. But he does have to find a way to put the puck in the net, especially on the power play. That's what he's here for. That's what we believe he can do. I believe he will get that done as the series goes on.

Q. Maybe some losses you feel like you want to revamp everything. I get the sense the practice was short, couple things you worked on, but really there isn't a sense of you needing to change a whole lot.

COACH McLELLAN: There's some areas of the game that we definitely have to improve on. When you look at our faceoffs, we were the better team as far as winning and losing them. But we certainly weren't the better team as far as execution. It's an area of the game we have to improve on.

I think we can get a little bit more traffic in front of Niemi. Certainly on the power play, we worked hard for the puck, created some chances, but he saw a lot of them. There's another area we have to improve on. When you look at the transition game that Chicago has, when you're feeding it, what I mean by that, if we're Chicago's sixth skater at that time, it can be extremely dangerous. We've got to find a way to manage the puck a little bit better, especially in the second period.

Q. Do you like what Heatley is doing, his movement, the defense, the overall game?

COACH McLELLAN: Well, when you look I guess we're talking about Dany in particular. He got a little banged up in one of the series. He's worked his way through it now. I think he's not injured anymore. He's not hurt anymore. He's getting his legs underneath him.

The stat isn't a real encouraging one. The fact he had some real good looks at the net the other night, a shooter like him, it's eventually going to go in. I think he ended up with five or six shots on goal. There's some good offenses with his offensive part the game. Defensively they've been quite trustworthy throughout the playoffs. We expect that to continue.

Q. Nobody would turn down a zero penalties game. If you look at that from a distance, I'm sure you like your discipline. But do you think maybe there's an indication you could have been harder on them, more aggressive?

COACH McLELLAN: No, I don't look at it that way at all. When we look at the tape, when we had opportunities to be physical, we were. When we had to contain, use positioning and proper sticks, we were. There's not many nights that team's kept to two goals. Then when you look at the penalties, the situation, I thought we've been very disciplined throughout the playoffs. I turn on that, listen to it, all the hockey pundits out there are absolutely shocked the Sharks didn't take a penalty. I know Devo and Brad Watson didn't sit down and use their 2300 games of experience and sit there and say, 'Tonight is going to be the night where we're not going to give them a penalty.'

It doesn't work that way. They are some of the best officials in the world.

I'm proud that our team can continue to play with a very disciplined style of game.

Q. Todd, Dan Boyle is playing about 27 minutes a night for you. What does he bring? Seems like a guy, if you had your way, you could play 60.

COACH McLELLAN: I think if Danny had his way, he'd play 60 as well. He's that competitive. There's some characters that you're unable to see through the blind eye, and that's the locker room. That's his competitiveness. You might see that in his game. The fire in his eyes and in his belly in the locker room, the ability to grab people, take people with them as he's competing, he's very, very strong in that area. There's a real resilience to his game, not only the ability to bounce back, but to play the longer shifts, to get caught on the ice when he's tired. He competes hard in that area.

Then obviously all his skills: power play, moving the puck, vision, all that type of stuff. So we're really happy that we have him on our hockey club and wouldn't want to be playing against him.

Q. In the last round, Chicago played Dustin Byfuglien, was a factor because of what he did in front. Yesterday, he scores about a 35 foot slapshot. Was his shot something that was ever addressed?

COACH McLELLAN: It was. Before the series, we addressed the team collectively, Chicago, what they think they might throw at us, what their strengths are. Then we look at some individuals, break down their games. Certainly one of the assets that we felt Dustin had was a quick release and a very good shot. He's an extremely strong man, so he can shoot the puck. He reminds me a little of Dany Heatley. He can shoot the puck with people draped on him. His goal last night, no one was around him. He is strong enough to get it away.

Q. You've been carrying seven defensemen. Is that something you're going to be sticking to?
COACH McLELLAN: The good thing is we have another 36 hours to decide what we want to do with our lineup. I thought the seven defensemen that competed for us last night did a pretty admirable job. There wasn't one real weak link. If we do choose to go that way, we feel comfortable with it.

Q. Were any other defensive adjustments you're considering? The way the Chicago forwards get active back checking, more to prevent some of the odd man rushes?
COACH McLELLAN: Well, we just played a series against Detroit. You know, if you take Detroit, San Jose and Chicago, I think all three teams are very similar. They play the same way. So we're well equipped. We've had that round of experience against a team that plays like this.

Where they become a very dangerous team is when Keith Seabrook, Campbell, even Hjalmarsson gets active in the rush. It quickly becomes, instead of a three on two, it can become a four on two, even a five on two. They're very active. We have to be very aware of that. Their first goal last night was a direct result of that. They activated their D man, joined the rush and it cost us.

Q. Can you talk about the pros and cons of using seven defensemen in a game.

COACH McLELLAN: It varies on how you're looking at it. One, you have to look at the lineup that you're playing against. Do we prefer to play a set of forwards, left winger, center, and right winger on that fourth line or would we like to move one of our people in and out of there. You have to look at how much matching is going on in the series. You have to look at the ability of your defensemen to play against certain players on their team, their lineup. Wallin is getting healthy enough or is healthy enough to play. He's a very big body. He helps in that area a lot.
There's a number of factors that come into play. We'll make our decision based on who they play and what we feel comfortable with.

Q. Todd, I know plus minus can be misleading. Joe's number jumps out. Is it misleading or does it need to come down a little bit?

COACH McLELLAN: That needs to come down a little bit. We're going to probably put the first two series behind us. We won, it's over with. To end up on the back end of two is something that we didn't plan for obviously. We'd like to change that.

Again, we can't just talk Joe. We have to talk a line, we have to talk a group of five or six, the goaltender included. I do think we can be better.

Q. The adversity you faced in the Colorado series, the same situation losing the first one at home, does any of that help you now or the team knowing you've been in this position before?

COACH McLELLAN: Well, it can't hurt us. But what I will say is this isn't Colorado, this is Chicago. So it's a completely different team and monster, if you will. The ability to overcome is going to become very important. Obviously we're behind in the series. We expect our players to rebound.

I felt we played better in Game 1 last night against Chicago than we played in Game 1 against Colorado. You know, it seems so long ago already. It's been almost a month since we played that first game. We've got to live in the moment and try to find a way to overcome this one.

Q. 45 shots last night. Vast majority of them good shots. Would you take that number and feel if you had that every game that you would come out pretty good?
COACH McLELLAN: Yes. You know, simple answer is yes. We feel that we could. Niemi did what he was supposed to do. He made some tremendous saves.

I did address some of our concerns earlier in regards to a net presence, finding second and third opportunities, making him scramble a little bit more will be a goal of ours. I'm sure it will be a goal of theirs. Every coach talks about it now. It's a not a secret. It's not like we're reinventing the game to do that.
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