SAN JOSE -- His team plagued by a monthlong goal drought, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson offered his assessment of the problem Friday -- and his rationale for holding off on any drastic action at this point.
The NHL has changed, Wilson said, and his team has not yet made the adjustment.
"We've become a pass-first team in a shoot-first league," he said.
After a 7-0 start to this lockout-shortened season, the Sharks went 2-6-4 in February and, excluding shootouts, scored only 15 goals in the 12 games. Heading into Saturday night's contest against the Nashville Predators at HP Pavilion, San Jose is a team on the playoff bubble.
That troubles Wilson, of course, but he said he wants to see his team at full strength before determining if a major shake-up is necessary before the April 3 trade deadline.
Because two key players are dealing with injuries -- Brent Burns is on injured reserve and Ryane Clowe has been playing with an undisclosed ailment -- Wilson said he wants a better sense of where things stand when they are 100 percent.
"I expect both those guys to be healthy and on top of their games in the near future," Wilson said. "If it wasn't the near future, we'd be having a different conversation."
Looking at his team through the first third of a 48-game season, Wilson said he likes what he sees in virtually every aspect of the game -- strong defensive zone coverage, solid goaltending, a penalty kill among
Without naming names, Wilson talked about players who have had success playing a different style of hockey.
"You have to adjust to what's working today," Wilson said. "It's not where you've been. It's where you are."
Wilson and his coach are on the same page here, something that should cool off whatever hot seat Todd McLellan is supposed to be sitting on by some accounts.
"When you're not scoring a lot, you should be a shoot-first team," McLellan said in a separate interview before talking about Joe Thornton in particular.
"Joe envisions himself as a passer. The shooters are scoring a lot of goals right now, and people are benefiting from it," McLellan said. "As the game evolves, you have to evolve with it. He has to shoot the puck more. We'll talk to him about it, but he has to be a threat to shoot it."
Wilson and McLellan talked about a pair of 2-on-1 rushes led by Patrick Marleau and Thornton that did not result in a shot on net Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings as a prime example of the problem.
A shoot-first mindset, Wilson said, "doesn't mean we're going to take your creativity away, but you do want to add the reality. These are the things you need to."
Wilson said he believed the coaching staff was getting the message across but that it was hard for players to change their mindset.
"It's not selfish to shoot the puck," Wilson said. "Shoot first because that's what's happening. Get to the net, get to the blue -- that's where the majority of goals are being scored."
If defenders shut that down, he added, turn to the passing plays such as the one Thursday night when Thornton set up Logan Couture for San Jose's only goal against Detroit.
"But we were doing the other stuff first. The priority was wrong," Wilson said. "If I'm the quarterback, I'm looking to my second option before I establish my first option."
If the problem continues, Wilson indicated the possibility of a trade increases. But with so many teams still in the playoff hunt, that might not prove to be the answer.
"Every team goes through the same process as us," he said. "Is this a team that's in position to win and do you mortgage some of your future to get them to that point? Are they a team that needs to play better to let you know that they are that type of team? Are they a team that's not at that point, and should the team be refreshed and reset?
"Those are all appropriate questions that performance and adjustment will dictate," he said. "We're in a phase of seeing where we are."
Nashville (9-7-5) at Sharks (9-6-4), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA