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One Word: Confident

Sharks Are Very Much Ready For Tomorrow’s Game 7

Wednesday, 05.11.2011 / 7:44 PM / News
By Tony Khing  - Staff Writer
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One Word: Confident
The team captain usually sets the tone in the locker room. When he talks, everyone listens. He’s the example everyone follows.

Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings and Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks go for the puck in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 8, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
And when one listens to Sharks Captain Joe Thornton, one gets the feeling good things will happen in tomorrow’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals between San Jose and Detroit.

“Confident. Very confident. Extremely confident,” Thornton said when asked about the team’s mental state. “Game 7s are a lot of fun. It’s going to be in front of our home fans. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. We’re looking forward to it.”

Based on the vibe around the Sharks locker room the day before San Jose’s seventh Game 7 in franchise history, Thornton has fulfilled the responsibilities that come with wearing the “C” on the sweater. (NOTE: A complete history of how the Sharks have done in Game 7s follows this story.)

“Jumbo said, ‘You have to stay loose. You’ve got to just play your game and work hard,’” Devin Setoguchi said. “We believe in ourselves. We’ve been in tight positions all season. You have to believe in your mind that if you do the right things and have positive thoughts that good things are going to happen.”

“You can’t be afraid,” Thornton said. “You’ve got to go out and play to win.”

While Thornton creates the atmosphere in the locker room, he needs help. Fortunately for him, he’s got a few teammates who’ve experienced their share of Game 7s. Their knowledge will be a big help to those who haven’t played in a lot of these important games.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin, of Sweden, celebrates his go-ahead goal over the Detroit Red Wings 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)
Niclas Wallin has participated in four Game 7s, two of those coming in Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup Championship season. One of those games was in the Final when the Hurricanes defeated Edmonton at home. Wallin’s words sound like they come from someone who’s been in two Stanley Cup Finals (2003 and 2006 with Carolina).

“You’ve got nothing to lose,” Wallin said. “Leave it all out there. Go big or go home. Just play the game and have fun. There’s a lot of guys who aren’t playing at this time of the year. They wish they were right where we’re at. You have to enjoy where you’re at.

“We have a great chance here tomorrow,” Wallin added. “You want to play. There’s no secrets to this game. You’ve got to want the puck. You’ve got to want to be part of the game. You’ve got to want it. They’re not going to give it to us. We’ve got to play for it. It’s as simple as that.”

Like Wallin, Dan Boyle has won a Stanley Cup (2004, Tampa Bay). During that memorable run, he played in two Game 7s (Eastern Conference Final vs. Philadelphia and Stanley Cup Final vs. Calgary).

“You’ve got to trust in your abilities,” Boyle said. “You have to try to keep all of the negative stuff on the outside. You need to believe in yourself and your team. It’s important to go out there, enjoy yourself and don’t be afraid. It’ll be fun.”

Douglas Murray, one of eight on the current Sharks roster who played in the team’s last Game 7 (2008 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Calgary – a Sharks 5-3 win), agreed with what Boyle said.

“We don’t have any doubt,” Murray said. “Anytime you question yourself as to whether you’re going to win or not, you’re going to be in big trouble. We’re focusing on what we need to do to win the game. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play in.”

San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) tries to deflect a shot in front of Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) in the third period of Game 6 of a second-round NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey game in Detroit, Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Detroit won 3-1. The series is tied at 3-3. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rookie Logan Couture will be playing in his first Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7. He did play in a Game 7 of the first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs for the Ottawa 67s. The game was Couture’s last game in Junior and the final game in the Hockey Hall of Fame career of 67s Coach Brian Kilrea.

Even though the experience is limited, Couture speaks as though he’s been in the NHL for years.

“You have to be confident in this game and not let anything affect you,” Couture said. “You have to be borderline arrogant to play this game. We’re confident here. We’re going to go into the game knowing we’re going to win. That’s the way we have to play. We’re going to be on our toes. We can’t sit back and let them take it to us.

“No one ever said winning a Stanley Cup was easy,” Couture added. “I’m looking forward to it and everyone else is.”

But according to Coach Todd McLellan, who coached a few Game 7s while in the American Hockey League with Houston, Game 7 history is just for the books. It doesn’t matter what was done in the past. Sure, the experiences will help in the present. But actually, it’s really all about a deciding Game 7 between two teams vying for the right to play Vancouver for the Western Conference Championship. And that the winner faces either Boston or Tampa Bay for the most coveted prize in all of professional sports: the Stanley Cup.

“We can talk about our Game 7 history. It’s all a bunch of crap when it comes down to it,” McLellan said. “It’s about tomorrow’s game and we’ll make our own history one way or another.”

ALL ABOUT GAME 7

In the 20-year history of the San Jose Sharks, they’ve played six Game 7s, going 4-2. They’ve only played one Game 7 at home (2008 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Calgary). Here’s a brief synopsis of those Game 7s.

APRIL 30, 1994
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
SAN JOSE 3 @ DETROIT 2

No. 8-seeded San Jose already surprised the hockey world with their now well-publicized record turnaround (a National Hockey League-record 56 points) from the previous season. San Jose took a 3-2 series lead into Game 6, only to have Detroit win, 7-1. In Game 7, the Sharks built a 2-0 lead on the top-seeded Red Wings with goals by Johan Garpenlov (at 47 seconds!) and Sergei Makarov in the first period. Detroit cut the lead to one when Kris Draper got a short handed tally at 19:47. The Red Wings tied the game at 2:36 of the second on Slava Kozlov’s goal. But at 13:25 of the third, Jamie Baker’s unassisted tally propelled the Sharks to the conference semifinals. Oddly enough, San Jose needed just 17 shots on Wings goaltender Chris Osgood for the win.

MAY 14, 1994
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
@ TORONTO 4, SAN JOSE 2

Like the previous series, San Jose had a 3-2 lead on the No. 2 seeded Leafs after five games. But this was the last year that the final two games were played at the top-seeded opponent’s home ice. Game 6 went to Toronto in overtime, 3-2. In Game 7, the Leafs had command all the way. Wendell Clark got the first two goals, one in each of the first two periods. Mark Osborne’s goal at 3:19 of the third sealed the win for Toronto. Igor Larionov got San Jose’s first goal at 5:21 of the third, but Doug Gilmour made the score 4-1 at 12:15. Todd Elik got San Jose’s second tally at 19:56.

MAY 19, 1995
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
SAN JOSE 5 @ CALGARY 4 (2 OT)

San Jose (No. 7 seed) won the first two games at the Saddledome , but Calgary (No. 2) took the next three. The Sharks won Game 6, 5-3, at home. Game 7 was a test of wills. Calgary outshot San Jose, 12-3, in the first period but the lone goal was scored by the Sharks Pat Falloon. The Sharks led, 3-1, early in the third and that’s when Calgary would score three of the next four goals. German Titov’s tally at 14:04 of the third sent the game into overtime. Sharks goaltender Wade Flaherty, who would face 60 shots, stopped all 17 he faced in the first extra period. Each team had just one shot in the second overtime, but San Jose’s lone shot by Ray Whitney at 1:54 got past goaltender Trevor Kidd for the series win. Interesting note: there were only three penalties for the game, one by San Jose’s Jamie Baker, which resulted in a third period power play goal by Joe Nieuwendyk.

APRIL 25, 2000
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
SAN JOSE 3 @ ST. LOUIS 1

The Blues were the top seed and had won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the best regular season record. After St. Louis won Game 1, San Jose took the next three. The Blues took the next two, including a 6-2 Game 6 win at San Jose Arena. The Sharks struck early in Game 7 as Ron Stern got the first goal at 2:51. But the second goal pretty much told the tale of the game. At 19:49, Owen Nolan surprised the crowd at Kiel Center and Blues goaltender Roman Turek with a slap shot from center ice. The puck handcuffed Turek, went past him and the goal line and the Sharks started the new millennium with one of the biggest upsets in NHL history. Interesting note: one of the Blues who played in the game is now with the Sharks – Jamal Mayers.

MAY 15, 2002
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
@ COLORADO 1, SAN JOSE 0

San Jose set franchise standards during the season for most wins (44) and points (99) as they won their first Pacific Division Championship. The Sharks reached the second round after dispatching Phoenix in five games of their quarterfinal series. The Avs and Sharks traded wins over the first four games and won Game 5. In Game 6 at San Jose, Colorado won in overtime on Peter Forsberg’s tally at 2:47. And Forsberg was the one who scored the series-winner at 17:50 of the second period in Game 7.

APRIL 22, 2008
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
@ SAN JOSE 5, CALGARY 3

Until tomorrow’s Game 7 vs. Detroit, this is the only time the Sharks have played hosts to a Game 7. San Jose had a 3-2 series lead when Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff pitched a 2-0 shutout in Game 6 at the Saddledome. In Game 7, Joe Thornton put the Sharks on the board with a power play goal at 10:57 of the first period. Calgary came back with a power play goal by Jarome Iginla and went ahead early in the second period on Owen Nolan’s tally. But then Jeremy Roenick, who would have two assists, scored the first of consecutive goals in the period. Joe Pavelski’s tally at 14:01 proved to be the winner.

GAME ON!
Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals between San Jose and Detroit begins at 6 p.m. You can watch the game on CSN California in HD and hear the game on 98.5/102.1 K-FOX and www.sjsharks.com.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 21 12 4 5 58 53 29
2 VAN 20 13 6 1 61 60 27
3 NSH 19 12 5 2 54 40 26
4 LAK 20 11 5 4 53 44 26
5 CGY 21 12 7 2 66 57 26
6 STL 19 12 6 1 50 39 25
7 CHI 19 11 7 1 55 39 23
8 WPG 21 10 8 3 43 47 23
9 SJS 22 10 9 3 59 60 23
10 MIN 18 11 7 0 53 41 22
11 ARI 20 8 10 2 49 62 18
12 DAL 20 7 9 4 56 68 18
13 COL 20 6 9 5 49 64 17
14 EDM 19 6 11 2 48 65 14

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Thornton 22 7 13 3 20
J. Pavelski 22 8 10 3 18
L. Couture 22 8 10 0 18
B. Burns 22 7 11 -5 18
P. Marleau 22 6 12 -2 18
T. Wingels 22 5 5 -4 10
T. Hertl 22 4 6 1 10
J. Braun 22 0 7 8 7
M. Vlasic 22 2 4 10 6
M. Nieto 21 1 5 -2 6
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 2 2 1 .925 2.38
A. Niemi 7 6 2 .917 2.56
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