January 20, 2015 By Paul Gackle

Are The Sharks Concerned About The Team’s Internal Drive?

SAN JOSE — In the aftermath of the San Jose Sharks 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Monday, head coach Todd McLellan said his biggest concern was his team’s drive.

As poorly as the Sharks performed in multiple areas — net play, special teams, team defense — it was the lack of “life” the team brought to the rink on Monday that stood out most.

Do the players in the locker room share their coaches concern about the team’s drive?

“Tough to answer on that one,” Logan Couture said. “Personally, you want to come to the rink and you want to win and you want to compete and you want to play your best every night — I think I know what he means by that. You’ve got to be energized every time, every shift, create something and bring energy to the rink, in the building. Obviously, we need to be a lot better than we were last night.”

Couture said his biggest concern, personally, is the team’s net play in the defensive zone. The Sharks surrendered one goal against the Devils where Jordan Tootoo was able to take three hacks at the puck from in close and another tally came off a rebound from in close.

On Saturday, the Calgary Flames game-winning goal was scored off a battle won in front of the Sharks net.

“Going back for a while we haven’t defended very well, we’ve given teams easy goals,” Couture said. “Being a forward and trying to score those goals, it feels like we don’t score many of those ones where they’re easy goals. We’re giving teams so many easy tap-in goals where our goalie makes one, two, three saves and then they score on the fourth one. That’s just from being out battled and outcompeted.”

But Andrew Desjardins said losing net battles is a reflection of the team’s drive.

“I think we can be a little harder, I think everywhere,” Desjardins said. “If it’s in front of our net or just one-on-one battles, we’ve got to play with a little bit more of an edge to show each other that we’re really into the game. You get sparks from that, too, when you see a guy really battling. I think that’s definitely a thing that we have to just set our minds to and do.”

Alternate captain Joe Pavelski said a team’s energy is something that ebbs and flows over the course of an 82-game season.

“Throughout a season there’s ups and downs and there’s going to be energy that’s created, just from certain things. We had a little shot in the arm not too long ago with the father’s trip here. It was fun, exciting and it breaks up a season,” he said. “It’s got to be on the guys to create that on a daily basis and we’ve maybe lacked it a little bit, at times. It’s probably showed in our play. It’s just the consistency isn’t there right now. I’m sure if we all pick up that part of our game, the rest will come, too.”

James Sheppard said lack of internal drive isn’t a concern.

“Sometimes on the ice it just doesn’t work out as well as you’d like it to. It’s not for lack of being a team or commitment,” he said. “It’s just sometimes the focus and whatever on the ice doesn’t translate.”

He went on the say that the Sharks aren’t a complacent team that’s just going to “accept it”. But as the squad worked on net-front battles at practice on Tuesday, it became evident that they can find more in the tank.

“Sometimes you just don’t see it as well and then you have a practice like this and you can kind of see it better and then you can do it better,” he said.

Alternate captain Marc-Edouard Vlasic said internal drive depends on the individual and he could only speak for himself.

“I love coming to the rink,” he said. “I love what I do and I love every time I step on the ice.”

“We love what we do and every night you’ve got to bring it, even if some nights you’re feeling great, some nights not so great. You’ve still got to find it in you to bring your A-game. I love to play this game. I love to show up and play games.”