The fact the Sharks are in a heated battle for first place in the Western Conference really hasn’t changed their outlook on the next two games.
San Jose will play their next two contests at HP Pavilion. Team Teal has played 10 of their last 13 games on enemy ice.
“We’re at home,” said Dan Boyle
about a plus for the next two games.
There is still the carrot in front of them as they hope to retake first place in the Western Conference by Saturday. San Jose and Chicago are in a tie points wise, but the Blackhawks hold the advantage due to more overall victories.
“We’re still playing for something,” said Boyle. “We certainly want home ice, but at the end of the day, it’s how you are playing.”
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan says the club has to play well to be ready for the postseason, but acknowledged the race for first doesn’t hurt.
“We’re in the same situation (as last year), we have to prepare for the postseason, but there is more on the line,” said McLellan. “Our job is to do everything we can.”
This is the type of atmosphere and excitement Manny Malhotra signed on for when he came to San Jose as a free agent.
“That’s why we play the games,” said Malhotra. “To be in the pressure situations and meaningful games is something we want. A lot has gone the way I thought it would.”
Malhotra noted that this is the toughest time of year to play hockey as you are playing for positioning, to make the playoffs, or for your job.
McLellan pointed out it would be likely that Joe Thornton
, Patrick Marleau
and Dany Heatley would be riding together for a while.
“We’ll probably finish the year that way and give them a chance to gel,” said McLellan. “We had them apart for a couple of reasons. We expect a lot of offensive and defensive production out of them.”
With a couple of Wisconsin products and a Miami player on their roster, the Sharks lockerroom could be rather interesting the next few days.
Miami product Dan Boyle
hinted that he would be open to taking a lunch or two if Dany Heatley and Joe Pavelski
were confident enough in a potential Miami-Wisconsin matchup. Both would have to win in the semifinals for that game to even happen.
Sharks fans should check out Miami Captain Tommy Wingles as he is a top prospect for the club. The games are on today on ESPN 2.
McLellan was asked about the Sedin twins at the morning media session as Henrik leads the NHL in points.
“I think the Sedin twins are two of the best players in the world on their backhand,” said McLellan.
McLellan noted the best way to defend the Canucks top line is to keep the puck off their sticks.
“If we can win our faceoffs and make them play half their shifts in the defensive zone, that helps our team,” said McLellan.
McLellan was asked to address the situation of former Swift Current junior coach Graham James receiving a pardon. James was convicted of abusing a former player while he was the coach. McLellan came in as coach after James and had to help those in the franchise and the community deal with the aftermath.
“There are children all around the world and people need to know where he is. I was surprised and more disappointed it happened,” said McLellan of the pardon.
McLellan was broached about the subject of his former employer, the Detroit Red Wings, and how they might be the most dangerous team heading into the playoffs.
“That’s out there (in the media world), it’s not in there (the Sharks lockerroom),” said McLellan. “Regardless of who we play in the first round, we will have our hands full.”
San Jose’s bench boss noted there could be some lineup shuffling due to some bumps and bruises and there was a chance Jason Demers
could see some more time at forward.
“We’ll have to make some game time decisions,” said McLellan.
San Jose will host Vancouver tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.