SAN JOSE -- If the Sharks do play the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs, San Jose is going to have to play better than they have so far this season if it expects to advance. And Thursday night's game would be a good place to start.
Coach Todd McLellan didn't use those words, but that was his message after the Sharks' morning skate.
"As far as the games go between us, they have been the better team," McLellan said. They have been the better team statistically in a lot of categories and when we went back and reviewed the four games, it was a little bit sobering. We have work to do. I think that's a big challenge for our team."
The Sharks are 1-2-1 going into the final regular season game between the teams. The Kings, of course, eliminated San Jose from the 2013 playoffs in seven games, but McLellan didn't want to focus on what is lining up as another series match-up this spring.
"Who plays who after this game later in the playoffs, I don't know what's going to happen. I can think that far ahead," he said. "But we have to get our house in order. Without a doubt, they've been the better team in the first four games and we have to fix that."
McLellan said that would involve both solving the heavy forecheck style of play the Kings use and improving his own team's ability to hem Los Angeles in its own zone.
There were some indications McLellan plans to shuffle his lines as Tommy Wingels was wearing a top-six jersey during the optional morning skate and Matt Nieto was wearing the teal jersey generally reserved for third and fourth line players.
Wingels could find himself in a second-line spot alongside Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau while Nietos move onto a third line with Tyler Kennedy and James Sheppard. That would leave a fourth line of Marty Havlat, Andrew Desjardins and Mike Brown while the top unit stayed the same.
McLellan acknowledged there could be movement, but declined to go into specifics.
"Because I don't know what we're going to do for sure yet," he said. "We'll see when we get out there and see what their lines look like as well. This'll be their third game in four nights so they may make some changes, too."
Antti Niemi is expected to get the start in goal for the Sharks.