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Preview/Lines #50: “We still have a lot of belief in that room right now.”

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

For the San Jose Sharks, their return from vacation has been anything but ideal. A three-game losing streak — part of a six-game skid that began before the break — ahead of the looming Trade Deadline and a push for a playoff wild card spot is frustrating, and as physically exhausting as the losses have been, the mental and emotional toll isn’t easy to bear for players either. 

Maintaining a healthy perspective can be difficult during losing streaks, especially when some fans are determined to remind players of their short-comings on social media. Part of being a professional athlete is learning how to balance high expectations, intense pressure, and the fallout from failing to meet those standards, self-imposed or from fans. It’s a skill that takes time to cultivate, but if there’s one thing James Reimer is known for, it’s his veteran sense of calm and self-assuredness that he imparts on the locker room. 

His perspective and leadership are essential in times like this, and he offered his point of view on the mental space the San Jose Sharks are at given the losing pattern, and what the team can do to dig themselves out of it.

“Trying to take one day at a time, and one shot at a time, to try and get the results we need. As a team, we’re competing hard, [but] it’s winning. It’s hard and it takes every single guy every single night. The last three or so haven’t gone our way but, tomorrow’s a new day,” said Reimer. 

“When you’re going through a slump, or things aren’t going your way, the magic bullet and magic solution is exactly what you’ve always done. There is no magic solution. You work hard. You work smart. And the next day, you do the exact same thing. When you’re winning, that comes easier, and you just naturally do the things you’re supposed to do.” 

But working day in and day out within the same formula without getting consistent results can be a struggle, and Reimer recognized that following their identity isn’t always easy when losing.

“When things aren’t going your way, it’s just harder to do because it’s the mental grind and it’s the mental battle of competing in high-level sports. And so, you have to stay confident in yourself and in your team knowing that, that what you do every day is enough.” 

But, Reimer likes the San Jose Sharks’ headspace. 

“We’ve been playing good hockey. Before the break, we played really good hockey, really good teams and we found a way to get points,” he said. “Then these last two games we’ve played fairly well again and just haven’t been rewarded.” 

Matt Nieto also had a perspective to offer on where the locker room sits. The winger was hurt, but still around the team last year when they went through a late-season eight-game losing streak that took them out of the playoff hunt.

“We talked to the group today and just talked about taking it game by game right now and only focusing on the task at hand. We’re all in good spirits and obviously, we know we’re going to have to play some really good hockey and get a lot of points here, down the stretch, but right now, we’re just focused on tomorrow and we’re all excited for it,” said Nieto.

A big change compared to last year’s locker room can be attributed to newcomers like Reimer, too, and Nieto nods towards the impact that has had, even just in this losing streak: “We added some veteran guys who know how to get out of things like this and, for younger guys, you could turn to the guys like that, and the energy of the room is a lot different than it was last year. We still have a lot of belief in that room right now.”

It’s a positive sign that even if on the ice the Sharks aren’t winning, the off-ice mentality has improved since last season. 

“Last year, we still tried as hard as we could, but our locker room is in a better spot this year than it was last year,” Nieto acknowledged. “Everyone in there wants to win and is willing to do what it takes. And, it’s about everyone doing their job and playing their role to the best they can. And I think if we do that, we’ll give ourselves a good chance most nights.”

San Jose Sharks (22-22-5)

Here’s how the lines look based on Bob Boughner’s comments this morning:

Anaheim Ducks (24-19-9)

The Ducks are playing hard for a wild card playoff spot after their early-season success. Per the Daily Faceoff, this is how the Ducks’ lines may look versus the Sharks, based on Anaheim’s lines in their last game: 

Milano – Getzlaf – Terry 
Henrique – Zegras – Silfverberg
Comtois – Lundesrom – Rakell
Grant – Steel – Deslauriers

Lindholm – Drysdale 
Fowler – Shattenkirk
Benoit – Mahura

Stolarz, Gibson 

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks is at 7:00 PM PT at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. Watch it live on ESPN+, Sportsnet1, Bally Sports California, Bally Sports SoCal, Bally Sports San Diego, and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network

 

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