SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski took in a Giants game on Saturday, as did several of his teammates. Logan Couture said he didn’t get off the couch for more than two hours all weekend. Joel Ward was able to catch a Toronto Raptors NBA playoff game.
Such are the benefits of quickly wrapping up a first round playoff series.
On Monday, though, the Sharks got back to work with a spirited, hour-long skate at their practice facility. They don’t know yet whether they’ll face the Ducks or Predators in the second round, but they all seemed to enjoy one another’s company in their first full team gathering since flying home from Los Angeles on Friday night after eliminating their despised rival.
“It was nice to rest and watch some hockey and get the body back to feeling good again,” Couture said. “Today was a great practice. I thought it was high tempo, and it was a tough practice.”
Coach Pete DeBoer said: “I think there's a fine line there in these situations between rust and making sure you're sharp, and that's what we're trying to find."
The Sharks will likely begin the second round on either Thursday or Friday. Their opponent could be determined later on Monday, as the Ducks, up three-games-to-two, will attempt to win a clinching Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena. San Jose would travel to Anaheim should the Ducks finish off the Predators, but would stay at home to face lower-seeded Nashville for games one and two.
Either way, they will essentially have had a week off between games, but based on previous second half breaks that potential rust factor might not be an issue. The Sharks had a four-day respite from Jan. 2-7, and when they returned they lost a hard fought game against the Red Wings before beginning their second half surge.
They had another four days off between the end of the regular season and Game 1 against the Kings, and promptly won the first two on the road in that series.
DeBoer said “every layoff is different,” but the coaching staff is “definitely using the same formula" right now.
He also made sure to give the players themselves credit for keeping ready.
“Nobody prepares like these guys do. I think that's part of the reason we've been able to take the approach we have with them,” DeBoer said. “You're never worried about them getting soft or losing that edge because they don't allow themselves to do that. That's a nice luxury to have."
Pavelski said: “Before playoffs we had four days off to rest up, and everyone contributed [against the Kings]. It was good to see. Those were hard-earned games and everyone had a piece of it.”
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DeBoer and his staff didn’t get any down time over the weekend, as they’ve been preparing for both potential opponents. If the Ducks win, the Sharks players will get a few Anaheim-centric lessons on Tuesday morning.
“We've got a lot of the foundation stuff for both groups already,” DeBoer said. “There's two schools of thought -- you'd like to know so you can get really dialed in, [or], you always want the series of the team you're playing to go as long as possible."
Regardless of when or where they start, the Sharks – seemingly at full health, with every player on the ice on Monday – should be the more energized club.
“I think rest is key,” Ward said. “A lot of guys have some bumps and bruises for sure, but I think our mindset to refocus is pretty solid. Today was a pretty good workday. A lot of guys were buzzing.
“I think we’re just hungry to get after it.”