For polishing off a four-game sweep of the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the San Jose Sharks earned a date with uncertainty.
The Sharks took care of business so quickly that they now must wait to find out who they will play in the Western Conference Semifinals, and when that series will start.
In the meantime, the Sharks plan on using what should be an extended time off to get Martin Havlat healthy and heal any other nagging ailments that may be running through the roster. They also face the challenge of maintaining the momentum the sweep generated despite not playing another game for several days.
“We’ll try and stay sharp and do what it takes to get some guys rested up,” said San Jose’s Patrick Marleau, who scored the game-winner in overtime Tuesday night to close out the series against Vancouver. “We’ll try and stay sharp and do what it takes to get some guys rested up. We’ll get some ice on the bumps and bruises. When it comes time, we have to be ready.”
If there is any thought that the Sharks clinched the series too early and the layoff could serve as a detriment, coach Todd McLellan isn’t buying it.
“The fact that we came away with a win – we don’t have to get on the plane tomorrow, we get some time to rest – will all work in our favor,” McLellan said. “Going back and looking at the experience, the seven games against Detroit after being up 3-0 (in 2011) didn’t help us going in to the next series. Bumps and bruises add up. We'll probably get the longest break we’ve had since the lockout ended. We’ll get a chance to get healthy as much as we possibly can. We’ll work on some of our game. We haven’t practiced very much.”
The Sharks’ most likely opponents in the next round are either Chicago or the winner of the quarterfinal series between St. Louis and Los Angeles. The Blackhawks, the top seed in the West, are leading their series against Minnesota 3 games to 1. Assuming Chicago holds on to win that series, San Jose’s semifinal foe will depend on the outcome of the series between Anaheim and Detroit, which is currently tied 2 games apiece. If the Ducks win, San Jose would play the Blackhawks. If the Red Wings prevail, they would play Chicago and the Sharks would take on the winner of the Blues-Kings series.
“We’re going to be ready to play whenever we get the chance,” Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. “We get a few extra days and we’ll take it from there.”
The Sharks went 0-3 against the Blackhawks during the regular season, getting outscored 11-5. But the teams haven’t met since Feb. 22. San Jose was 1-2 against the Blues, splitting games in St. Louis while losing in overtime at home. The Sharks and Kings split their four meetings during the regular season, with three of the games being decided by one goal, including one shootout.
“Just get lots of rest,” San Jose’s Joe Thornton said about the layoff. “When practice comes around, work hard and get ready. Watch some games. I’m sure we’ll see lots of video. But we’ll get our rest and get healthy.”