SAN JOSE – Quality practice time has been hard to come by for the Sharks since the All-Star break.
That’s mainly a function of 13 out of the first 18 games on the road, and a string of 14 in a row in different locations that finally ended with two straight in San Jose on Thursday and Saturday.
While most NHL practices this time of year aren’t all that rigorous, Monday still offered Sharks coach Pete DeBoer a chance to work on a few things with his club with less than four weeks remaining in the regular season.
The vibe was a good one, too, with the Sharks are coming off arguably their best win of the season, 5-2 over the Capitals.
“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff on video, it’s nice to be able to get out and practically work through some situations,” DeBoer said. “We had great jump today. A win always makes you feel better, especially against a good team. We’re in a good place right now.”
Paul Martin said: “A lot of times when you’re just playing games you don’t get that practice for timing, hand work. It’s good to have a practice every now and then just to work on some things like that.”
DeBoer has been tasked with integrating the Sharks trade deadline acquisitions into the fold, something that was a little more complicated with games and flights every other day. James Reimer, Roman Polak and Nick Spaling are all still new to the team, but Reimer and Polak, in particular, have already been having a positive impact even without lots of practice.
According to DeBoer, Polak was particularly effective on Saturday with partner Brenden Dillon.
“I think Dillon and Polak as a pair have gotten better every game. I thought last game was their best so far. So, that’s a good sign,” DeBoer said.
Polak said: “I don’t think [lack of practice] has a problem at all. We’re playing a lot of games, so you learn during the game. You do preparation before, so I think it’s not a big deal that we didn’t have that much practice time because we’re just playing the game. I think it’s better actually to learn during the game and see things in the game situation more than practice.”
The schedule will revert right back to being a hectic one beginning on Tuesday with the Bruins. In fact, the Sharks won’t have another two straight days off between games until next month, when they get an extra day to prepare for Minnesota on April 5 after competing in Nashville on April 2.
They have 14 games left, and those will be played over just a 26-day span.
“The nice thing for me is  of our 14 here are at home,” DeBoer said. “We’re eliminating the travel. The games are one thing, it’s the traveling that really bites you. I’m fine with our game schedule the way it’s laid out down the stretch, and I like the fact we’re at home.”