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Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary tries to get to the puck between San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goalie Martin Jones in game two of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Donald Wright

Sometimes San Jose Sharks veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau need to be coaxed off the ice.

"If you didn't tell them to get off the ice they'd be out there all day," Sharks defenceman Brenden Dillon said of the aging stars. "I think that's something they needed, maybe a little bit of 'Hey, remember you're 35, you're 36, this is your 18th, 19th season, you're playing every second, third day."'

That task fell this season to Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer, who has drawn rave reviews among his players for his ability to use rest as an advantage.

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DeBoer has pushed players to respect the need for rest and understand that, according to Dillon, "maybe when they've thought in the past they've been playing at 100 per cent maybe they were at 85 or 90 because they were a little fatigued."

Based in northern California, close geographically only to the Kings and Ducks, the Sharks logged some of the heaviest travel miles in the league.

It's not only the long flights, but the toll of jet lag on the body. It might be midnight when the Sharks arrive at a hotel in the east, but three hours earlier on the body's internal clock, which can make sleeping and day-to-day routines a challenge.

"Guys are still talking to their families on the phone or kids are just getting tucked into bed for school the next day," Dillon said of those late nights at the hotel.

DeBoer massages those concerns by scheduling extra off-days, fewer practices or meetings on the road that might start later than usual, simply for the added hour of sleep they might offer players.

"I think sometimes you need that to reboot yourself," said Chris Tierney, a Sharks forward from Keswick, Ont.

"It's a great job by Pete using rest as a tool, his strategies (of) when guys need off-days, when guys need to skate, stuff like that, make sure guys are fresh and are going all the time. He's done a good at getting the best out of everybody."

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Tierney makes note of the career years enjoyed by a few Sharks, including Brent Burns, Tomas Hertl, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Martin Jones, not to mention the resurgence of Thornton, who had 82 points as a 36-year-old.

It's those like Thornton and 35-year-old Marleau, who've played nearly 3,000 regular season games combined, that might need to be urged to rest more than they might like. It's paid off with the Sharks reaching their first-ever Stanley Cup final, though they trail 2-0 as the series shifts back to California with Game 3 set for Saturday.

"It's funny," Tierney said, "a lot of these guys want to skate every day, but Pete told them to stay off every once in a while. That's good for the team."

The club's vast experience with cross-country travel might just offer them the slightest advantage heading into a critical Game 3.

Coaching the Devils to a Stanley Cup final in 2012, DeBoer replaced Todd McLellan behind the Sharks bench at the start of the regular season. McLellan became the franchise's most successful head coach over seven seasons, but Tierney suggests his replacement may have offered a fresh take on top of the strategic changes he made with regard to rest.

"Sometimes you just need to hear a different voice, you need to hear a different way of playing the game," Tierney said.

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DeBoer's reputation evidently preceded him.

Hertl, the Sharks 21-year-old first line left-winger who had a career-high 46 points this season, heard about DeBoer from Czech friends around the league, including long-time New Jersey Devils winger Patrik Elias.

"Everybody told me he was a really good coach and guys liked him," Hertl said.

He was told, too, that he'd get lots of days off and as a result, feel very well rested.

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