Todd McClellan, Kings gear up for San Jose – Press-Telegram

Through a three-game losing streak and, more broadly, a step-forward-and-step-back season, the Kings will face a well-known foe in confines all too familiar to their head coach, Todd McClellan.

They’ll dive into Shark Tank in San Jose on Friday, where McLellan captained the Sharks from 2008 to 2015. While he said there were some salutes and bumps to go around, McLellan pretty much saw the visit as just another game.

“I’ve been gone from there for a long time. I have a lot of friends there and things like that, and there are always my odd memories. But going back to that building doesn’t do me much good,” McClellan said.

Four players remained from his tenure: strikers Logan Couture and Thomas Hertel, defender Mark Eduard Vlasic and winger Matt Nieto who was the only player in the group to leave Promise.

“Great players, good people, but Kobe, Kempe, Lizotte and those guys are really important at the moment, not a lot of Coach and Pickles and those guys,” said McClellan.

Under the leadership of McClellan and his successor, Pete DeBoer, the Sharks were a model organization, due in large part to the shrewd management of General Manager Doug Wilson. Wilson spent nearly 20 years as CEO at San Jose, but gave way to Mike Grier, the NHL’s first black general manager, prior to this season.

Having picked up momentum that culminated in a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and a run to the Conference Finals in 2019, much of the Sharks’ running back over recent years has had to do with poor goaltending. At times this season, the Kings could certainly relate to those struggles.

The Kings rank last in save percentage with a minuscule 0.82 mark. That burden was shared by Jonathan Quick (.892) and Cal Petersen (.876). McClellan said both guards made some great saves and the skaters in front of them need to limit errors that lead to high-risk scoring opportunities.

“I would say there are concerns,” McClellan said. “But we, as a group, have to work on that save percentage. Not just the goalkeepers, but as a group we have to raise that number.”

However, McClellan also acknowledged – and lamented – the back-breaking nature of two goals that played a large part in the last Kings’ loss. Both were badly timed and, from the goalkeeper’s point of view, could have been prevented.

Against the Seattle Saturday, the Kings took a 2-1 lead and then conceded the tying goal that knocked Petersen cleanly between his pads after just 18 seconds, eventually resulting in an overtime loss. The New York Rangers produced a similar momentum swing on Tuesday. After the Kings tied the game, the Rangers scored less than a minute later with an apparently harmless short-side shot that Petersen would no doubt love to get back.

Although the Sharks have continued to falter this season—they are the only team other than the Kings to have played 22 games but have seven fewer points to put near the Pacific Division cellar—they delivered a historic challenge to the Kings across both the high seas and the low tide.

The two clubs have split their past six meetings, but San Jose has played eight of the previous nine. The Sharks have won the lion’s share of regular season games, but the Kings have triumphed in two of three playoff series, including a rally from an 0-3 deficit in 2014 that propelled them to a Stanley Cup win that went along a razor’s edge.

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