SAN JOSE -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan and his players on Friday expressed faith in their offensive system that has proved in the past that it can produce enough scoring chances and goals to win on a regular basis.

But the Sharks also talked about adopting a much simpler, grittier style to help break out of their current offensive malaise, a more defensive approach that might not be as pretty to watch from a spectator's standpoint but can at least give them a chance to come out with two points every game.

"If we have to keep plugging away and winning games 3-2 or 2-1, then that's what we have to do as a team," McLellan said. "We have to accept that, but that doesn't let anyone off the hook as far as offense goes.

"Sometimes you have to look at what you are, and how you can win games."

The Sharks have used a passing, puck-control style in recent years and did not have many problems generating goals relative to the rest of the NHL. They were 13th in the league in goals per game last season (2.67), and were in the top seven in the three seasons before that.

This year, though, the Sharks are 29th in goals scored with 2.14 goals per game, ahead of only the Nashville Predators. As they enter Saturday's matinee tilt with the St. Louis Blues at HP Pavilion, the Sharks have not scored more than two goals in regulation and overtime in any of their past 12 games.


Advertisement

"We have to play a simpler game, be less of a puck control team and more of a dump it in and go get it back team," said Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart, who has five assists in 22 games this season. "You have to adapt sometimes to whatever suits the players you have on your team, and that's the way you play.

"We're not as much of a goal scoring threat this year, we all know that. So for us to try and keep playing that way, it's not going to work for us."

Entering Friday, the Sharks' were third in the league with a 2.14 goals against average. San Jose's 4-1 loss to Calgary on Wednesday was only the second time in the last nine games it has given up four or more goals in regulation, and the Flames' final goal was an empty-netter.

McLellan said a major problem in that game, which was tied 1-1 after two periods, came when the players were too aggressive on offense in trying to create scoring chances, leaving the team vulnerable on defense. After the game, defenseman Dan Boyle did not hide his frustration with the team's offensive woes the past few weeks.

Boyle was in a better mood Friday but said there's no easy way for the Sharks to break out of their scoring slump.

"The hunger and the drive to score, I guess I want to see more of that," Boyle said Friday. "I like to think if you put in the work, and you're talented enough, you're going to win some hockey games. Certainly in Calgary, maybe I wasn't happy with what I saw, but at the same time I have to stay positive.

"I believe in this team. We have to go out and earn it on the ice."

  • Tommy Wingels, who has been on injured reserve the last five games with an upper body injury, practiced with the top six forwards on Friday and should be back in uniform Saturday. Bracken Kearns was reassigned to Worcester. Wingels was hurt Feb. 23 when he went headfirst into the board in a game against Dallas.

  • Backup goalie Thomas Greiss did not practice with what McLellan labeled as a sore neck and will not play Saturday, McLellan said. Greiss was involved in a second-period collision with a pair of Calgary forwards on Wednesday but still played the third period.

    With Greiss not available, the Sharks recalled goaltender Thomas Heemskerk from the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL to participate in Friday's practice. But that doesn't necessarily mean Heemskerk will be Antti Niemi's backup Saturday. The Sharks do have in options in Worcester goalies Alex Stalock and Harri Sateri.