The San Jose Sharks are riding a four-game losing streak after dropping Tuesday night’s contest against the Calgary Flames — playing in the second night of back-to-backs, the Sharks will face off against a familiar face, ex-head coach Todd McLellan.
It will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Sharks and McLellan “mutually” agreed to part ways at the end of last season. McLellan, San Jose’s winningest coach in franchise history, spent seven seasons with the team, and had been the only coach several of the Sharks’ youngsters had ever played for at the NHL level.
Forward Logan Couture will be playing in his second game since returning after sustaining a fractured fibula, he reflected on Monday before the teams road trip began to CSNBayArea’s Kevin Kurz on what it will feel like seeing Todd behind another team’s bench.
“Different. I respect that whole coaching staff so much,” Couture said. McLellan’s assistants, Jay Woodcroft and Jim Johnston accompanied the bench boss during the relocation.
“I hope to see [McLellan] in the morning, talk to him a little bit, catch up. I’ve texted back and forth here and there with him. Just to see him will be fun, but we want to beat him.”
Current Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is in his first season at the helm in San Jose, and he reflected a bit on McLellan’s tenure, and the impact his coaching had on the group. DeBoer and McLellan worked together last May, coaching team Canada during the World Championships.
“I’ve got a lot of respect and time for Todd. He’s a good man. He’s a good coach,” DeBoer said.
“For him, obviously he’s got a lot of emotional investment in this group, this city and this team. I think for him, I’m sure it’s going to be a special game, and probably for a lot of our players who Todd spent a lot of time with and did a hell of a job with for a long time. For me, coming from the outside, I’m a little removed from that, but I know that’s going to be an important game on a lot of different fronts.”
Currently second in the Pacific Division, the Sharks will need to bring their A-game against McLellan’s group of players, led by a core of talents such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. San Jose will need to play a much cleaner brand of hockey against Edmonton and avoid a repeat performance as the one displayed against the Flames, where the Sharks took seven penalties — the Oilers power play paces the middle of the league table, currently ranked 15th.
The defense in front of the net will need significant improvement as well, sloppy defensive play from Brent Burns has been a trend for the better part of a year now, but in a strange turn of events, the defensive reliability of veteran Paul Martin has become a question. In 23 minutes of ice time Tuesday night, Martin recorded zero’s across the statistical board.
David Barclay is an byteclay.com staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DJamesIII