Wings need more of the same
05.08.2010 / 4:57 PM ET
For whatever reason, the Detroit Red Wings have been dominant in elimination games this postseason. In the two contests they've participated in when their backs are against the wall, the Wings have outscored their opponents 13-2.
They avoided a sweep in this Western Conference Semifinal with a 7-1 victory on home ice against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. Now, they need to match that desperation again tonight in Game 5 at HP Pavilion.
"Unfortunately, that's what it seems to have taken down the stretch of the regular season and in the first series," said Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, who had a goal and four assists in Game 4. "We're going to need a huge effort. I think the first five or 10 minutes are going to be a huge indicator on how the game's going to go. It's up to us to dictate the pace of play. We've got to come out and be physical and try to get on the board early."
Without question, Detroit needs to get off to a good start. One could make the case that an early goal for the Wings could go a long way in forcing a Game 6 back at Joe Louis Arena on Monday. Just as important, they must stay out of the penalty box and not give San Jose's lethal power play too many opportunities.
"We're using all this clichés, but the reality is we've got to get prepared for a game here tonight," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The start in San Jose is always big. I thought we did a real good job in Game 2 of that, and then we got in penalty trouble in the third period. We'd like to go back and basically play the way we did in Game 2, and if we feel that if we do that, we'll have a real good chance to be successful."
Added forward Dan Cleary: "This is not a position we want to be in, but we played well in Game 4. Obviously, it's not going to just transfer over to Game 5. We've definitely got to play a lot better and be patient and disciplined tonight. They play real well at home. It's going to be important that we weather the storm early."
Other notes from the Shark Tank this morning:
-- Frustration clearly got the best of the Sharks on Thursday night due to the great disparity on the scoreboard. San Jose coach Todd McLellan is hoping his team does a better job of keeping its emotions in check tonight, because it could be a recipe for disaster if it doesn't.
"What I don't want to see is a steady parade to the penalty box," McLellan said. "Their power play for many years has been very strong. Having been on that side of the fence, you're not going to intimidate that group. What you'd like to do is be physical and slow them down in certain areas of the game. We did a poor job of it in the second half (of Game 4)."
-- Another capacity crowd of 17,562 is expected to be on hand tonight, which is music to the Sharks' ears. They love how noisy it gets in this building and they expect more of the same in Game 5.
"The fans bring it every night," forward Dany Heatley said. "Right from the puck drop, it's crazy and it gives us a lot of energy. We feed off of that as a group. They've been great all year."
-- Wings D Brad Stuart skated this morning, and, according to Babcock, will be a game-time decision. If he can't go, Brett Lebda will take his place.
-- F Patrick Eaves will not play, which means Mattias Ritola will likely be in the lineup again. Hey, if it ain't broke …
-- Brian Compton
Sharks know they have to close the deal
05.06.2010 / 12:19 PM ET
It has to be extremely difficult to not look ahead when you have a 3-0 series lead, but the San Jose Sharks insisted this morning that they're focused on the task at hand.
That would be eliminating the Detroit Red Wings tonight when the teams meet in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena.
"Anytime you start looking ahead before you finish it, then you're not going to accomplish it," Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi said. "Tonight, we need to win. You don't win in three. The series isn't over. It's not done until you get the fourth. It's going to be tough to get this one tonight."
Still, how is it so easy to not look ahead?
"We're playing the Detroit Red Wings," coach Todd McLellan said. "You can't look ahead. They do have that distinct threat of having the ability to come back. They're actually helping us in that preparation because we have that respect for them."
"You can't," added Patrick Marleau, who scored the OT winner in Game 3. "It's not over til it's over. We still need one more win to move on."
Other notes from JLA this morning:
-- It's unknown whether Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom will retire when Detroit's postseason ends, but the possibility does exist. Mike Babcock was asked about it this morning.
"I've been here five years, and he's been addressing it at the end of the season for five years," Babcock said.
When asked to compliment his captain, Babcock was more than willing.
"That I can do," he joked.
"He's a good man. He's been fantastic because leadership to me is about doing things right. He still says the right things, but it's more about his actions and what he does. It's always been about the team. The bigger the game, the bigger the stage, the better he's played.
"He's not 25 anymore, but he's still an elite player," Babcock added. "We're very fortunate that we have him. He's been a pleasure for me to coach. He doesn't mind giving you feedback. He helps you do your job."
Wings forward Patrick Eaves (arm) is not expected to play tonight.
-- Brian Compton
Let's do this already!
05.02.2010 / 2:40 PM ET
"What can we talk about today?"
That's the first thing San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan said when addressing the media at this morning's press conference, and you could hardly blame him. With two full off days in between games, this best-of-seven series will finally resume tonight at 8 o'clock Eastern time.
It was a very quiet morning at HP Pavilion. Few players skated -- mostly those who won't be in the lineup tonight -- due to the early start on the West Coast.
The only certainty that came out of Sunday morning is that Patrick Marleau will be back in the lineup tonight. Marleau, who scored a team-high 44 goals for the Sharks this season, missed Game 1 on Thursday due to the flu. He will likely replace Jed Ortmeyer, who was one of the few players on the ice this morning. Ortmeyer received only 3:51 in ice time in Game 1.
McLellan is also hoping his team can bring the momentum earned from Thursday's 4-3 victory into Game 2. A fast start would certainly help that cause.
"I'm not a believer that you carry over momentum from game to game," McLellan said. "I think you have to come out and establish it and earn it again. We start at scratch. We have to come out and establish how we want to play. Our execution has to be better than it was in Game 1 for us to have a chance of winning. You've got to play for 60 minutes. You take 5-7 minutes off, you could be out of the game."
-- Brian Compton
A 2nd off-day in San Jose
05.01.2010 / 3:59 PM ET
Things were quite relaxed in the Sharks' dressing room after practice this afternoon. Several players stood around and watched the sensational game that took place back in Boston between the Bruins and Flyers. Others became excited when remembering that Floyd Mayweather is fighting tonight.
Naturally, the intensity will be picked up in the morning as the preparation begins for Game 2 at HP Pavilion. For now, though, it's the calm before the storm as both teams are forced to wait another day to get back at it due to an Eagles concert at the arena.
"You want to play every day," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. "After you win, you want to try to keep the momentum going. But it's good for some guys to get some rest and heal their injuries. But we'll be pretty excited to play tomorrow, for sure."
The biggest news coming out of Sharks practice today was that Patrick Marleau was back on the ice and appears to be nearing 100 percent. Marleau was forced to miss Game 1 due to the flu. My colleague, Rick Sadowski, will have all the details on this in a bit.
Other news from today:
-- One of the many reasons why the Sharks won the Western Conference is because their big guns are talented enough to play in all situations, including the penalty kill. San Jose coach Todd McLellan explained to the media that several teams around the NHL have embraced the concept.
"I think you're seeing it more and more in the League," McLellan said. "Top players have very good instincts. They want their minutes, and that's a way of getting them minutes. It keeps them in the game. I don't think we're the only team in the League that does that. It's worked out pretty well for us."
Thornton is one of the players who fits into this group, as is Marleau, who had four shorthanded goals during the regular season. Thornton said he's thankful that McLellan gives him the opportunity to kill penalties.
"I think your good players should play in all situations," Thornton said. "I think some coaches have the philosophy that some shouldn't, but Todd does. We like getting out there and doing our little part on the power play and the penalty kill. You have more input in how the game ends when the top players play in all situations."
-- Detroit recorded 23 shots on goal in Game 1, but fired more than 40 that were either blocked or missed the net. While McLellan would love to take credit for having his players in the right spots, he's not about to pat himself on the back.
"When you get the puck, you're relying on instinct," McLellan said. "As much as we'd like to think as coaches that we have systems and whatnot, it's instinct. Do you shoot it or pass it? We did what we wanted to do. We blocked shots and got sticks on pucks, but that's not any different than the Red Wings or the Canucks. It's the same game plan every night."
-- San Jose will take the ice at 9:15 a.m. PT tomorrow at HP Pavilion in preparation for the 5 p.m. (PT) start.
-- Brian Compton
Marleau is on the ice
05.01.2010 / 2:05 PM ET
The San Jose Sharks have just taken the ice at their practice facility, and Patrick Marleau has joined them.
Marleau, who missed Game 1 on Thursday night to the flu, had 44 goals during the regular season. Sharks coach Todd McLellan has said all along that he fully expects Marleau to be in the lineup when this series resumes at HP Pavilion tomorrow.
-- Brian Compton
Extra day just fine with Sharks
04.30.2010 / 4:48 PM ET
They had to wait five days just to return to game action last night, but the San Jose Sharks have no problem with the fact that they must wait around until Sunday before they play Game 2 of this seven-game series against Detroit.
For one thing, it gives Patrick Marleau more time to rid himself of the flu bug that forced him to surprisingly miss Game 1 last night. Marleau, who had 44 goals this season, participated in yesterday morning's skate and last night's pre-game activities, but was then scratched from the Sharks' lineup.
"It gives us a chance to get our top goal scorer healthy," coach Todd McLellan said after his team held an optional skate at its practice facility. "I think there's been some talk about fatigue and rest and all that type of stuff. It's the playoffs. You've got to play through it, whether you're sitting and waiting for a long time or you're playing a lot. You have to be prepared to play. Nobody's going to create breaks for you. We'll take it as it comes."
Game 2 can't be played here until Sunday due to the fact that The Eagles are having concerts at HP Pavilion tonight and tomorrow. Still, the Sharks believe any momentum they may have gained with Thursday's 4-3 victory won't be lost while both teams are forced to sit and wait.
"Not at all," San Jose captain Rob Blake said. "It's a different series than Colorado. It's more physical in the sense that they're bigger and they control the puck, so they make it more physical that way. The extra day here is probably good for both teams. From that point on, we're going every other day."
Other notes from today:
-- Detroit coach Mike Babcock apparently had a major problem with the high sticking penalty that was handed to Valtteri Filppula in the final moments of the second period, claiming that Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi was embellishing. It was the second penalty called on the Wings in 56 seconds and led to a power-play goal by Joe Pavelski less than a minute into the third period.
"You're from western Canada," Babcock said of Setoguchi, who hails from Taber, Alberta. "Don't do that."
Setoguchi said he received several text messages from friends back home about what Babcock said, then watched the interview himself. This afternoon, he basically laughed it off.
"Emotions get high in the playoffs … people say stuff," Setoguchi said. "If you're watching me throughout the year, I don't think I'm considered a diver. I'm just doing my part out there and trying to help my team out. It's just one of things where he's a little emotional after a game. I thought it was kind of funny.
"Anyone who clearly saw the replay … it was a one-handed slap right in the face," Setoguchi added. "I actually got hit pretty hard. It's just a play that happens in the game."
McLellan, who coached under Babcock in Detroit, also shrugged off the idea that his player was selling the penalty.
"The two referees who reffed the game last night have done close to 2,000 games," McLellan said. "If they thought there was any embellishment going on by either the teal team or the red and white team, I'm sure they would have put a stop to it right off the bat. I think the 2,000 games speaks for itself."
Asked if he believes Babcock is trying to add a psychological element to this series, well …
"You don't win Stanley Cups and you don't win gold medals without having that tact," McLellan responded.
-- For the doubters out there who think McLellan was sending a message to his team by scratching Marleau, the Sharks' coach put a stop to that theory in a hurry.
"Everybody is going to guess or second-guess," McLellan said. "He had a temperature that wasn't healthy. He was at the rink today. He's looking a lot better and he's got some fluids into him. We expect him to play on Sunday."
-- Detroit nearly battled back from a 3-0 deficit last night, but one has the right to at least wonder if fatigue was a factor considering the Wings played a Game 7 in Phoenix on Tuesday. Babcock said it had "zero" impact on the first game of this series, and the Sharks agreed.
"They're always dangerous … not too many things seem to rattle those guys," forward Scott Nichol said. "We've got to stick to our game plan. We have a little letdown and it's in the back of our net. We've just got to keep the foot on the gas and keep going at them. They're a great team."
Added Pavelski: "They didn't look tired, but that's what you expect from a team with that much experience."
-- Both teams will skate at the Sharks' practice facility tomorrow. As expected, the Red Wings took today off.
-- Brian Compton
Nabby gets it done
04.30.2010 3:00 AM ET
He didn't exactly steal the show, but Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov was steady in a 20-save performance to help his club earn a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series.
Here's a Q&A session Nabokov had with reporters after the win:
Q: The Red Wings are awfully good at creating traffic in front of the net. How were you able to deal with that tonight?
Nabokov: You need to be able to fight through it and make saves. It's not easy, but as long as you put effort in, it's good enough for me.
Q: It's only one game, but this team really seems to have matured as a group. Is that accurate?
Nabokov: Well, that's what we're working on -- let's put it that way. We've been addressing this all year long and working hard. You've got to give our guys credit. As a group, we're fighting. No game is easy. We're playing well defensively and we held them to 23 shots, which I think is pretty good against Detroit. But the work ethic is pretty good. The guys are willing to do whatever -- block a shot -- that's what we need. That's what we've been talking about all the time.
Q: You only found out right before the game that Patrick Marleau couldn't play, but the guys stepped up in his absence. How big was that?
Nabokov: Well obviously, that's huge. Patty's a huge part of this team. When somebody takes his place, you have to step up, whoever it is. I thought we did a good job.
Q: What's it like as a goaltender to see your team take a 3-0 lead so quickly?
Nabokov: The thing is it's 3-zip in 10 minutes, but there's two-and-a-half periods to play. To be honest with you, I don't get too excited. If it's a three-goal advantage with a minute left? Yeah, I will get excited. It's Detroit. They were coming and they were coming. But we stood our ground.
Q: How important was special teams tonight?
Nabokov: Huge. The penalty kill did the job and the power play did, and that was different tonight. But on top of all this, I think the way we worked today all over the ice was pretty good.
-- Brian Compton
Marleau out due to illness
04.29.2010 / 9:10 PM ET
In a stunning turn of events, Patrick Marleau has been scratched for tonight's game with what was being reported as an illness that included a high fever.
A Sharks representative said Marleau, who had one goal in San Jose's opening round series win against Colorado, is day-to-day.
Jed Ortmeyer was inserted into the Sharks' lineup.
-- Brian Compton
Right back at it
04.28.2010 / 4:30 PM ET
Less than 48 hours after sending the Phoenix Coyotes home for the summer, the Detroit Red Wings found themselves at HP Pavilion preparing for tonight's Game 1 against the top-seeded San Jose Sharks.
For those who think the Wings are bothered by the lack of days in between games, think again. Sure, Detroit has shifted its attention to San Jose, but the Red Wings are still riding high off that phenomenal performance they put forth in Tuesday's 6-1 win at Phoenix.
"Whether you get a few days rest or get right back at it, I don't think it matters when you're in the playoffs," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "You're just so excited about moving on."
San Jose hasn't played since last Saturday, when it eliminated the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 at the Pepsi Center. But Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg doesn't believe that rest will be much of a benefit, especially at this time of the postseason.
"I think both teams will say it's better," Zetterberg said. "It's still early in the playoffs. No teams are tired. We're looking forward to getting the second round started. It doesn't really matter if you've had a few days off or if you've played all along. You have to keep playing well. If you do that, you have a good chance of winning."
Other notes from Thursday morning:
-- Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle seems pretty tired of answering questions about his franchise's postseason history, but he handled himself well when it was brought up after the morning skate.
"You guys keep harping on this reputation we have about past playoff failures," Boyle said. "The only way to change that is to go out and change it ourselves. It starts with a (series) win against Colorado. Now, we've got to beat Detroit, which is going to be a huge task."
Sharks forward Dany Heatley agrees that beating the Red Wings would certainly be one way of silencing the critics.
"Every series is a big test," said Heatley, who had four assists but no goals against the Avalanche. "(Detroit's) been a great team for more than a decade. It's a big challenge and we're excited about it. For us, it's playing our game and doing what we do best. When we do that, we're a tough team to beat. That's our focus right now."
-- Despite winning the Western Conference in the regular season with 113 points, the early feeling from many seems to be the Red Wings will win this best-of-seven series. That's just fine with the Sharks.
"Most people are probably picking them to win, but it really doesn't matter," Boyle said. "It's a new year, a new season. We're going to be looking to play Sharks hockey. If we do that, we'll have a good chance of winning."
Added center Joe Pavelski: "Everything's going to happen on the ice. It's a big series for us and it's going to be a great test. What we've got going now can change in a hurry if we don't come ready to play."
-- Detroit possesses two of the best two-way forwards in the game in Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Zetterberg told NHL.com this morning he looks forward to the challenge of stopping San Jose's top two lines, which features some of the more talented players in the sport.
"It's part of the game," Zetterberg said. "In playoffs, you've got to have good defense, otherwise you won't go deep. It's part of the game and I'm looking forward to it."
-- These are always subject to change, but below appears to be the forward line combinations heading into Game 1:
-- Just a quick reminder that tonight's showdown begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Enjoy the game!
-- Brian Compton