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With first-round series wrapped up in 6, Sharks have time to rest before round 2

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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With first-round series wrapped up in 6, Sharks have time to rest before round 2

The Canadian Press
By:

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks are playing a bit of a waiting game.

After knocking off Colorado in a gruelling six-game series to open the playoffs, the Sharks are getting some much-needed rest before starting the second round. They returned to practice Monday not knowing when they would play next or which team they would face.

"It certainly helps to get a couple of extra days," defenceman Dan Boyle said. "Guys that are banged up can rest, guys that are playing a little bit more get some time off. It can certainly be a benefit down the road."

Forwards Dany Heatley and Jed Ortmeyer and defenceman Niclas Wallin were given the day off Monday as they nurse injuries that sidelined them for part of the opening round.

Coach Todd McLellan said he hopes to have all three back in the lineup when the second round begins, which will likely be either Thursday or Sunday. The Shark Tank is unavailable on Friday and Saturday night because of an Eagles concert. The schedule for the second round won't be determined until the final two Western Conference first-round series are decided.

"Any time you can finish a series off early and get some rest, it works in your favour," McLellan said. "But the other thing that can come into play is you sit around too long. Right now we don't know when we'll play or who we'll play so we want to balance and juggle that. We don't want to lose our edge but we also want to rest and recover."

The Sharks didn't have the luxury of extra time off the last time they made it to the second round. After beating Calgary in seven games in the first round, the Sharks had two days off before playing Dallas in the next round.

They lost the opener at home 3-2, then dropped the next two games before finally showing some life in the series by winning two games. They eventually were eliminated in a 2-1 quadruple overtime loss in Game 6.

But with the injuries this year, the time off is probably a positive for San Jose.

Heatley sustained a lower body injury late in Game 2 against Colorado. He missed Game 3 and was severely limited in his return in Game 4. He assisted on two goals in Game 5 and skated even better in the finale when he had four shots and one assist in 17:57 of ice time.

"Dany has improved his ability to skate with every game," McLellan said. "He was more of a factor in Game 6 than Game 5 and more in Game 5 than Game 4. This time off will certainly help him. He should be ready to go."

Wallin, a mid-season acquisition, did not play after the first game. Rookie Jason Demers replaced him in the lineup.

Ortmeyer, who was slowed late in the season by a lower body injury, played in Games 2 and 3 against the Avalanche before sitting out the final three games.

Ortmeyer said he is feeling better each day and hopes the time off allows him to heal to play more regularly in the second round.

"We have a little time right now so I'm taking advantage of it," he said. "We don't want to sit around too long to wait to find out who we're going to play. But for me selfishly, it helps to heal."

Ortmeyer was also named one of three finalists Monday for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Ortmeyer must inject a blood thinner into his stomach each day to combat a hereditary blood-clotting disorder. While his teammates call him an inspiration, Ortmeyer says it's just part of his daily routine.

"I don't think about it much," he said. "Some days the needles hurt a little bit more than others. It's become part of my life."

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With first-round series wrapped up in 6, Sharks have time to rest before round 2