Sharks Have A Chance At History Tonight
No Sharks Team Has Ever Swept A Playoff Series
|San Jose Sharks' Dan Boyle (22) scores the game-tying goal past the foot of Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in the third period to force overtime of Game 3 in a second-round NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey series as Detroit's Brian Rafalski (28) looks on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)|
“They’ll probably be loose which will work in their favor. I don’t want our team to be over tight,” Coach Todd McLellan said.
The Sharks know the Red Wings will be even more dangerous than the first three games. Last year at this time, the Red Wings found a way to extend the series to a fifth game, but the Sharks hope to prevent that possibility tonight.
“We know what to expect. They’re not going to roll over and die,” Joe Pavelski said. “They have a lot of good players that want to keep playing. We have to establish our game. The start is going to be big. You saw what kind of start they had last year. We’re going to have to be better than last year.”
“Definitely some desperation. They’re pretty proud hockey club over there,” Devin Setoguchi said. “If there’s any team that can come back from 3-0, we know it’s them. They’re going to come out early and really put it on us hard. If we’re not ready to go, then it’s not going to be very pretty for us.”
San Jose has the dramatic series lead, but is very aware of how close all the games have been.
“It’s a tough task,” McLellan said. “Just two good teams that are so close that a bounce here and a bounce there separates them. It’s as simple as that. We understand we have to be at the top of our game.”
The Sharks want to avoid the comparison to last year when Detroit completely dominated Game 4. However with every other similarity between the two series, the Game 4 comparisons keep popping up.
“It’s hard to avoid it,” McLellan said. “Their minds are going back to it. They’re well aware of what happened last year. As far as us addressing it, we’ve approached it by telling (the players) we’ve been in this situation before, not necessarily with Detroit, but we’ve been here before and we need to take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself tonight and make sure we’re ready to go.”
There’s only one way to know if San Jose has made the right Game 4 adjustments.
|San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) is defended by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, of Sweden, center, during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL Western Conference semifinal Stanley Cup playoff hockey series game in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, May 1, 2011. San Jose won 2-1. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)|
A NEW BROOM?
The Sharks have never swept an opponent in the playoffs. They’ve had several five-game series, including Detroit last year, but have never finished a series in four games. There’s a bit of extra excitement when a club has a chance to close out an opponent and advance.
“It’s fun to play in these kinds of games,” Setoguchi said.
SPECIAL POWER PLAY
San Jose’s power play has been vital to the 3-0 lead over Detroit, which is a nice for a group that was challenged during the opening round. It registered two tallies in the Game 3 victory.
“Our power play was pretty sharp the last game,” Ryane Clowe said. “We watched some video and reviewed it. It was crisp and executed well. We got what we wanted on the breakout and got in the zone pretty well.”
That the first power play unit scored twice limited the power play time of the second group, but that’s a situation everyone would take again.
“Our unit with (Logan) Couture and Heater (Dany Heatley) didn’t see that much time. I like that,” Clowe said. “It means the other unit is scoring.”
If needed, the Couture line is ready to do its part.
“We’ve been lucky enough to score a few goals on the power play. It’s an important part of the series,” McLellan said. “We feel like we have two units and when one isn’t going, one can pick up the slack. It’s an advantage we don’t necessarily have against Detroit, but we do against some other teams.”
McLellan appears set to dress the same 20 players he did for Game 3.
“We’ll likely go with the same lines,” McLellan said. “We want to make sure everyone is healthy and we’ll dress a couple extra players for warmup.”
Dan Boyle is very proud of his French heritage, although it’s not widely known since he’s from Ontario. When a few questions needed to be answered in French for the French-Canadian network RDS, Jason Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic anointed Boyle to take his turn at the microphone and he admirably performed.
“Both my parents,” Boyle said of where his French-speaking skills came from. “The background is Irish, but they settled long ago in Ottawa which is a bilingual town.”
NO MIKEY MO
Longtime Sharks nemesis Mike Modano doesn’t appear to be getting into the series as Detroit Head Coach Mike Babcock is locked into his Game 3 lineup.
Game 4 will be today at 4 p.m. and will be on Versus, 98.5/102.1 KFOX-FM and www.sjsharks.com.