Determined to bounce back from Thursday night’s 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, a focused San Jose Sharks club hit the ice on Friday for a high-energy practice that further emphasized consistency and the will to compete. In addition to the usual skating and passing drills, the 90-minute session featured one-on-one drills along the boards, in the corners and in front of the net.
“The main thing for us is we’re looking to find consistency,” said winger Jonathan Cheechoo. “One win, one loss is not going to cut it in this League. You’re not going to make the playoffs doing that. We have to find consistency in our game and come out ready to play the whole game, every game.”
Cheechoo, who was held scoreless in his first five games, seems to have found his offensive stride, notching goals in back-to-back games while getting plenty of pucks to the net. Along with linemates Joe Thornton
and Ryane Clowe
, the three dominated play in the third period in Vancouver and started well against Detroit. But once the team fell behind by two to the Red Wings in the third period, San Jose’s top unit was kept at bay by a veteran defense anchored by Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios.
Though the Sharks have not yet won consecutive games, they have also not lost consecutive games showing resiliency and the ability to adjust on a game-to-game basis. While there is cause for concern just seven games into the young season, Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
is one of many on the squad not ready to push the panic button.
“We have to find our groove and get on a roll,” said Marleau. “We can’t be win one, lose one all year. I think everybody knows that. We just have to do the grunt work. We have enough talent, enough good character guys that nobody’s panicking by any means. We have to play to our strengths: speed, physicality and strong defensive play. If we do that, the results will be there.”
Head Coach Ron Wilson pointed to the one-on-one battles as being paramount to the team’s success, but also said that the team must be ready to face the opposition’s “A” game
“We have to have all our big guys competing,” said Wilson. “It’s not about hits. It’s about competing and winning little battles: faceoffs, along the boards, a battle in the trench in front of their net to find a loose puck and stuff it home, that’s the stuff I’m looking for. Not one big hit and that’s the end of our physicality, it has to be consistent. Big hits are nice, but it’s more about the little battles than the big hits.
“To me it’s only one word: compete. You have to compete for every inch of ice. We’re a team that everybody circles on the calendar because of what’s expected of us. We’re going to get everybody’s 'A' game every night and we have to bring ours just to be even with them. That’s how you have to approach it, with a warrior mentality. You’re not going to let the other guy take what’s yours and what’s yours is the puck.”
ROENICK DAY-TO-DAY, OZOLINSH TO WORCESTER
Sharks forward Jeremy Roenick didn’t skate on Friday, but the veteran was at the practice facility working out while the team was on the ice. Roenick continues to nurse a minor knee injury and Wilson “doesn’t expect him to play tomorrow.” He is listed as day-to-day.
Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh is on his way to Worcester, the team announced on Friday. He signed a professional tryout agreement (PTO) with the Worcester Sharks and is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday when Worcester takes on the Lowell Devils. For more information, visit sharksahl.com.
MURRAY CUT WITH SKATE
The team was given a big scare during practice on Friday when defenseman Douglas Murray
suffered a laceration on his throat after being struck by Captain Patrick Marleau
’s skate blade. Murray left practice holding a towel over the cut, but appeared to escape a major injury.
“I was defending Patty in the corner and he turned around right when I kind of leaned forward with my stick to poke check him,” Murray said from the Sharks locker room. “As I was leaning forward he fell and his skate came up and caught me. Just a freak accident. Doctor is on his way.”
The Sharks conclude their abbreviated two-game homestand on Saturday night hosting the Nashville Predators at HP Pavilion. Game time is set for 7:30 PM and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in high-definition, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com