SAN JOSE, Calif. --Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he's always looking for ways to improve his team but added Sunday that the present roster is perfectly capable of getting back to the level of hockey it displayed during the first two weeks of the season.
After a 7-0-0 start, the Sharks are mired in a seven-game winless skid that, entering Sunday, has seen them fall to a tie for fifth in the Western Conference standings and tied for second in the Pacific Division.
The last time the Sharks had such a drought, a 10-game winless skid that lasted for most of November in 2005, it preceded the acquisition of All-Star center Joe Thornton. But given what the Sharks did accomplish in January, and that six Sharks--including the five highest-paid players--have no movement clauses in their contracts, according to capgeek.com, a shake-up of that magnitude seems unlikely.
"The answer lies within that room," Wilson said, pointing to the Sharks' dressing room. "If we hadn't seen the glimpse of the seven-game start, that would tell you something. There are other teams that have gone through phases of losing some games, other very good, talented teams out there that are not on top of their game to the level they want to be.
"We're more concerned about our group and getting back to the things that led us to the first seven games."
Saying the talent level hasn't changed, Wilson has seen some "little things slide" over the past few games and individual players stray from what made them successful earlier in the season. Overall, he has been pleased with the team's goaltending and its penalty kill -- which ranks sixth in the league at 86.4 percent.
"We've lost four games out of 14 in regulation. That's the reality," Wilson said. "We're not pleased with where we've been the last little while, but you've seen the glimpses of what we're capable of. Get back to the things that we need to do and want to do to be successful."
--The Sharks spent a good portion of Sunday's practice working on the power play, which is just 2 for 38 in the last nine games.
"We stripped it right down and went back to the basics," coach Todd McLellan said. "We talked about what our goals were and what we wanted to do with it. I thought our competitiveness went up from where it has been in practice."
In one stint, forward Tim Kennedy, in his first lengthy practice with the team, worked with the No. 1 power-play unit of Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle. Kennedy, who had the Sharks' lone goal Friday against Chicago, has received some power-play time in his two games with the Sharks.
"Those are elite, world-class players. You just do whatever you can to help out," Kennedy said.
McLellan and the rest of the Sharks' coaching staff became more familiar with Kennedy during the lockout when he was playing for Worcester in the AHL.
"We didn't recall him to come up and be the savior. We want him to be a piece of the solution," McLellan said of Kennedy, who has averaged just over 15 minutes of ice time in his two games. "I think in his two games he's given us everything he has."
--James Sheppard, who was injured in practice Thursday, did not practice Sunday with a lower body injury and is questionable for Tuesday's game in St. Louis.
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