SAN JOSE – Sure, the Sharks haven't played the Boston Bruins yet this season. But the team is well aware of what kind of Boston squad they'll be hosting Monday night at SAP Center.
The Bruins visit the Tank riding a five-game winning streak that's showcasing playoff-style play. For San Jose, this is an opportunity to get a taste of postseason hockey.
"It's a great test for our group. We talked about that this morning," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said following Monday's morning skate. "I likened it to Washington coming in last week. I thought we didn't pass that test – this is another opportunity to play a team that everybody is talking about being right there at the end."
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski also likened Monday's matchup to the Valentine's Day loss to the Capitals. San Jose entered that game riding a six-game winning streak, but was overpowered by the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"I think we got caught off guard with Washington," Pavelski admitted. "Just the commitment they had coming into the game. And Boston will be similar."
One adjustment the Sharks are hoping to make against the Bruins is staying out of the penalty box. While San Jose's penalty kill has been solid after the bye week, the Sharks probably don't want to be skating in and out of the sin bin like they were in Saturday's win over the Vancouver Canucks. They really don't want to be caught short-handed against a Boston team that can capitalize on those chances.
"They're elite in certain areas like their power play," DeBoer said of the Bruins. "Last game we took too many penalties. When you play a team like this you have to be clean in all those areas."
San Jose will want to play a clean defensive game in general, given Boston has scored three-or-more goals in six of its last seven games. To play that playoff-style of game, defense is even more important.
"I think when you get to those 16 teams who are playing at playoff time, everybody's tight, everybody's good defensively," DeBoer said. "You might get the odd night where pucks are going in, but there's going to be a lot more of the 3-2, 2-1 games."
If San Jose can lock its game in early, an eighth win in its last nine games is definitely possible.
"They're engaged right from the puck drop," Pavelski said. "So for us, it will be important to have a total group effort."