SAN JOSE -- As much as the Sharks’ coaching staff has gone over systematic details over the past five days since training camp opened, the message headed into the two split-squad games with Vancouver on Tuesday night is much simpler.
Todd McLellan said: “I don’t want our players -- and I’ll tell them this tonight -- I don’t want them to think the game, I want them to play the game. Because we’ve worked on some systematic stuff, often we become the inhibitors at the beginning of the year because they’re trying to play the game that we talked about. Go play the game, and we’ll fix things as we go.”
Half of the group that still remains at camp flew to Vancouver, where it will meet the Canucks at Rogers Arena. That game will be picked up late by the NHL Network around 7 p.m. or so.
The other group will bus to Stockton Arena, and play the other half of the Canucks beginning at 7:30 p.m. That game will not be broadcast on television or the web.
Fans that attend the game in Stockton will get to see first round draft picks Nikolay Goldobin and Mirco Mueller competing in their first-ever preseason games, as well as second round pick Chris Tierney and forward Daniil Tarasov. Any of those four players could end up on the opening night roster.
“They’ll be nervous. They should be,” said McLellan, who will be with the group in Vancouver. “They’ll also be excited about what’s in front of them.”
“We’re looking for the best players. It doesn’t matter what round, and I think our organization has proven that in the past. It doesn’t matter what round you’re picked in, it’s whether you can get the job done.”
Roster cuts are expected on Wednesday.
“Tomorrow we’ll have something to work off of. Today we really don’t,” McLellan said.
Incidentally, the Sharks will not have any players in either game wearing letters. Former captains Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will be wearing blank sweaters, just like everyone else.