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Sharks balance rest versus rust while waiting for start of Western finals

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Coach Todd McLellan knows how delicate a balance it is to give players the proper rest in the post-season while avoiding the rust that could come from too much time off.

With the San Jose Sharks still waiting to find out their opponent and the start date for the Western Conference final after eliminating Detroit in five games, McLellan is siding with rest.

"There's a fine line between keeping the edge and recouping," McLellan said Monday. "Right now, recouping is most important."

McLellan gave his team a second straight day off the ice following Saturday night's series-clinching 2-1 victory over the Red Wings. The Sharks were completely off on Sunday, getting to spend Mother's Day at home with their families instead of on a plane to Detroit.

The Sharks then held a brief team meeting Monday and worked out individually but did not skate for the second straight day.

"Some people can look at rest as being a bad thing as far as not being prepared for the next game," defenceman Dan Boyle said. "But I'm all for it. I think it's important down the stretch. These games of hockey are tough. They're tough games to play."

San Jose will resume practice Tuesday. The Sharks will likely begin their first Western Conference final appearance in six years at home on either Friday or Sunday. Chicago leads Vancouver 3-2 in the series with Game 6 being played Tuesday night in Vancouver. If a Game 7 is necessary, it will be in Chicago on Thursday.

With concerts scheduled at the Shark Tank on Thursday and Saturday nights, Friday or Sunday look to be the most viable options to start the next round.

"I'm just hoping they go to seven games, beat each other up and we'll take whoever," Boyle said. "We'll see what happens."

Any concern that rust could seep in is eased by how the Sharks responded to having four full days off between beating Colorado in the first round and starting the second-round series against Detroit.

San Jose scored three goals in a 1:19 span in the first period to go on to a 4-3 victory over the Red Wings. McLellan praised the leaders in the locker room for making sure the team stayed prepared.

"We had a couple days after Colorado and we came out flying in the first game," forward Devin Setoguchi said. "Rest is key. It takes a toll on your body after a while. The rest factor is key. When you played so many games to this point that a couple of hard days of practice it comes back pretty easily."

The time off will also give defenceman Niclas Wallin more time to heal from a lower body injury that sidelined him for nine games this post-season. Wallin played the opener against Colorado and did not return until the clincher against Detroit when his size helped neutralize the power of Detroit's big forwards.

Wallin was acquired in a mid-season trade from Carolina just for this time of year, having helped the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup in 2006.

"He came into the game and you could tell he had been there before," McLellan said. "He's a veteran; very calm. He did good things with the minutes he got. This break will help him heal even more."


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