San Jose Sharks center Andrew Desjardins (69) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at HP Pavilion. (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
SAN JOSE, CA - Once the regular season ended, it didn't take long for the usual Stanley Cup playoff gamesmanship to commence. Coach Todd McLellan fired the first salvo at San Jose's first-round opponent, the St. Louis Blues.
"St. Louis is a hell of a team," he said. "They were competing right to the last day for the President's Trophy. It hasn't been very many series (we've been) the underdog, and we certainly will be that."
The Sharks finished seventh in the West despite winning their last four games. Phoenix Coyotes managed to win back-to-back games on the road to clinch their first division title to end San Jose's reign of Pacific crowns at four straight.
San Jose needed overtime to beat Los Angeles in the season finale on Saturday, or it would have finished eighth and had a first-round date with Vancouver instead.
"(They're a) great team. We're going to have our work cut out for us," captain Joe Thornton said of the Blues. "They've played well ever since (Ken Hitchcock) took over, and it will be a good test for us."
And back to McLellan's gamesmanship.
"We also understand the pressure they're under. We've been there. We've been the President's Trophy winner, and the expectation that's put on you is very high," he said.
Of course, the Blues aren't the President's Trophy winners; that distinction was won by Vancouver. Just the same, San Jose figures to have its hands full considering the Sharks lost all four regular-season meetings to the Blues and were shut out twice along the way (scoring only three goals total in the four games).
"We start over now," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We want to erase what we've done against St. Louis this year. It wasn't very good."