DALLAS -- The question is one Sharks coach Todd McLellan keeps hearing as his team's stretch drive turns into a serious playoff push.
Is it fair to say the Sharks are faster after the departure of three veterans in the 10 days leading up to the trade deadline? After all, since the first of the deals that sent Douglas Murray, Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe elsewhere, San Jose is 8-1-1 and generally has looked rejuvenated.
It's a somewhat delicate topic. After all, McLellan doesn't want to bad mouth, even indirectly, his former players who still have the respect in the San Jose locker room. But after the Sharks captured a 3-2 shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings, the coach gave it his best shot.
Yes, he said, this probably is a faster team.
"We're playing with a little more speed, a little more tempo. We're getting pucks up the ice a little bit quicker. We're spending less time in our zone and more time in the other team's zone," McLellan said.
Then he hedged just enough.
"I'm not sure," he continued, "if that's due completely to the change in personnel or the change in mindset that we need to play a certain way and everybody buying into it."
"We're living day to day right now. I don't think there's any comfort in a seven- or an eight-point lead," he said, noting things could change four or five games from now. "Right now, the focus is just to solidify a spot. As we move on, if we're lucky enough, we'll start talking about home ice."
Wingels, a college friend of the late Brendan Burke whose life and death inspired the project, serves on the You Can Play advisory board after having a role in its development.
"Obviously it's great news," Wingels said. "The support from individual guys around the league had been great to this point. But to see the league as a whole partner with the NHLPA and come together as a group .... is remarkable."
After Couture scored a beautiful backhand goal in regulation and another in the win over Detroit, McLellan noted that it was likely Red Wings coach Mike Babcock could again be behind the bench for Team Canada if the NHL participates in the 2014 Olympics in Russia.
"I think he's one of the top players in the league right now," McLellan said of Couture. "And when it's all said and done, he was probably playing in front of the Olympic coach here and he was trying to make a point. For my money, he can play on our team any day."
Sharks (21-12-7) at Dallas (20-17-3), 5 p.m. CSNCA