McLellan: 'This one sucks'
After a 7-0-0 start to the season, the Sharks have lost five straight games, two in shootouts. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
NASHVILLE – It’s only been a little more than half a day since the Sharks lost convincingly to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the eagerness to quickly put the 6-2 loss behind them was evident after a team meeting at Bridgestone Arena.
The Sharks face the defensively stingy Predators in the second game of a six-game road stretch on Tuesday night, fresh off of their worst loss of the season.
[KURZ's INSTANT REPLAY: Predators 6, Sharks 2]
“You’ve got to learn from it, but at the same time you’ve got to move on,” Brad Stuart said. “You don’t want to dwell on it. You review it, see what you can do better and need to do better, and move on. It’s a good thing we’re playing tonight. It gives us a chance to do that.”
[RELATED: Sharks-Predators at a glance]
Todd McLellan and the coaching staff met with the team for approximately a half hour in the locker room at the arena on Tuesday morning.
“Message delivered. We’re looking for the response now,” McLellan said.
What kind of response?
“I want them to be pissed off,” he said. “I want them to be mad. I want them to be upset. We can live, and probably most organizations can live, with a high battle level and a competitive game and mistakes that lead to losses. You have to live with that. There isn’t a perfect game or perfect team or perfect player. But, the lack of the first two – the competitiveness and detail – is unacceptable.”
The Sharks jumped out to a 7-0-0 mark but a string of five straight losses (0-3-2), capped by the miserable performance in Columbus, has them reeling. The team hasn’t won in regulation since Jan. 27 against Vancouver, going 2-3-2 over that span, with the two wins coming via shootout.
According to Stuart, the loss against Columbus allows the team to hit the reset button, so to speak.
“It’s got to be a bit of a wake-up call for everybody. Maybe this is what we needed,” Stuart said. “We haven’t been playing our best for, I’d say, four or five games now. When you’re losing in overtime and one-goal games, you don’t maybe address things that need to be addressed. When you get a game like [Columbus], everything is out on the table. You look at it and move on, but it definitely is a wakeup call, and you’ve got to respond.”
Logan Couture agreed.
“It better be a wake-up call,” he said. “We weren’t very good at all, and they took advantage of us. You want to say they embarrassed us out there. I, as well as the rest of the guys, expect us to respond tonight and play a lot better.”
Stuart went on to say the coaching staff used video during the meeting to point out mistakes in the game against the Blue Jackets. McLellan said Monday night he was unhappy with some specific players that he did not mention by name, although he did point out Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s misplay on the Blue Jackets’ third period power play goal.
“You look at it as a team thing and as individuals, as well,” Couture said. “If you see yourself making mistakes, a lot of times players in this league are smart enough to realize that they screwed up. You look and try and learn what you could have done differently, and what you can do better if you’re put in that situation again. Learn from your mistakes and get better from it.”
It won’t be easy by any means, as the Sharks will face the team that surrenders the second fewest goals-per-game in the league in the Predators. Pekka Rinne is likely to get the start, and all he’s done is go 4-1-0 with a 1.16 goals-against average and .958 save percentage in his last five games.
The Predators already have a win over the Sharks, 2-1 in a shootout at HP Pavilion on Feb. 2. Last year, during the Sharks' abysmal February road trip, Nashville won 6-2 in its home building.
Couture remembers that game, as well as what happened to the Sharks on Monday night. He's anxious to prove the recent loss was just a minor bump in the road.
“I think the best thing is that we get to play again tonight,” he said. “We played an awful game last night, [so we] come here, and learn and watch video of what we did wrong. It’s good that we get to play again, because we get to go right back out there and do things right, and hopefully put forth a much better effort.”