In his fourth year as head coach with the San Jose Sharks, there is little Todd McLellan can do to affect this team. It is one of the reasons I suggested firing him if things do not turn around this week.
As the adage goes, it is easier to fire the coach than the players.
More to the point, the Sharks cannot change their available pool of players anymore this season. That ties McLellan's hands even more than the lack of practice time or fatigue from playing so frequently.
This is a veteran team. If they are no longer listening to McLellan, it is unlikely any new approach would change that.
(Since they also appeared to lack motivation under the last coach, Ron Wilson, the problem is likely the players. Does anyone else think a return by him as interim coach is possible? The sides split on good terms and his no-nonsense, defensive zone responsibility fits better with this team.)
But there are a few things he can do to alter this team's direction over the next 36 hours in Alberta, Canada. How he uses his personnel might save his job and even the season.
Right now, the Sharks top problem is a lack of scoring. They have just seven goals in their last six games (1.17 GSA) and 21 in their last 12 (1.75). McLellan needs to focus on improving the attack.
Because you do not change your system at this late hour, that leaves the team's approach and how he manages his roster.
The approach has improved. The team is doing what it does as well as any other team—winning faceoffs, getting pucks to the net and continuing to block shots. They are also laying more hits without taking too many trips to the penalty box and expose their biggest weakness—the penalty kill.
Massaging everything possible out of this roster he has is the biggest way McLellan can effect the outcome of games.
If it seems I have suggested line changes on this team before, I have. But the problem persists and is worth being updated.
The assessments of how to construct the lines remains the same and thus need not be laid out again. (It should be noted that one comment on the piece questioned the classification of Pavelski, and further detail was provided in my response.)
But the personnel and performances have changed who should play where. Here are the top 10 personnel decisions he can make to increase scoring and turn the team around...