SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Devin Setoguchi isn’t angry by any means, but Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s suggestion that he took a dive to ensure drawing a crucial high-sticking penalty Thursday night did take him by surprise.
"It is what it is," the San Jose Sharks' forward said Friday following an optional practice at Sharks Ice. "Emotions get high in the playoffs and people say stuff. If you ever watched me throughout the year, I don’t think I’m considered a diver. I just do my part out there and try and help my team out and go from there."
Detroit’s Johan Franzen was in the penalty box late in the second period for tripping Setoguchi -- another controversial incident -- when Setoguchi fell to the ice after catching a high stick from Valtteri Filppula. The minor penalty gave the Sharks a two-man advantage that carried into the third period, and Joe Pavelski followed with his second goal of the game to give San Jose a 4-2 lead in an eventual 4-3 win in the opening game of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Babcock made his comment following the game.
"It’s easy for you and I to evaluate this after the fact," Babcock said. "The 5-on-3, it’s a penalty, but don’t dive and embellish it. If you’re from Western Canada, don’t do that."
Both Setoguchi and Babcock are from that part of the country.
Asked how he learned of the comment, Setoguchi smiled and said: "I got a lot of Canadian friends back home. That’s how I heard about it. Then I went and listened to it."
Setoguchi added: "For myself, I thought it was kind of funny. Any time there’s a direct comment towards you, you kind of … I don’t think I was trying to sell the penalty more than it already was. Anyone who saw the replay, you can watch it again. It’s right in the mouth, so it was pretty hard."
Setoguchi figures Babcock’s comment was a part of the gamesmanship that goes into the playoffs, when coaches and players from every team attempt to gain any edge possible, including with on-ice officials.
"Or trying to get into my head," Setoguchi said. "You try to do anything you can to try and win and move on. Whatever was said was said and we got a game to play Sunday."
Setoguchi is playing right wing on the Sharks’ red-hot line that includes Pavelski and left wing Ryane Clowe. The unit combined for 3 goals and 1 assist Thursday and has amassed 12 goals and 14 assists in San Jose's seven playoff games.
"It was just one of those things where I think he was a little emotional after the game," Setoguchi, who has 4 goals and 3 assists, said of Babcock. "I mean, we had a minute five on three after it and we got the winning goal out of it.
"It’s an emotional game. As hockey players, we wear our heart on our sleeves and we get fired up more than anybody in any other sport."
Setoguchi also was involved in the play that sent Franzen to the penalty box for the original penalty. The players collided and Franzen sustained a nine-stitch cut under his right eye when he was hit by Setoguchi’s stick. Franzen was assessed the only penalty, a tripping minor.
"That’s another play where I have no control over," Setoguchi said. "I haven’t seen the replay of it, but I was skating backwards and all of a sudden I got clipped. I’m trying to protect myself from falling backwards on my head or on my shoulders.
"We caught legs and I was heading back fast. It’s just kind of a reaction thing. I don’t know if I hit him in the face before or after. I couldn’t tell you."
Franzen, with blood dripping down his face, looked bewildered after the call.
"It didn’t feel good to get a penalty when I thought they were getting four minutes," he told reporters after the game.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan, a former assistant under Babcock in Detroit, wouldn’t be drawn into a he-said, he-said situation with his former boss.
"I’m not going to get into a tit-for-tat scenario," McLellan said. "What I do know is that the two referees (Paul Devorski and Eric Furlatt) who were at the game last night have done over close to 2,000 games, and if they thought that there was any embellishment going on from 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.
"They have a tough job to do and they don’t want to be shown up at all. I think the 2,000 games speaks for itself."
McLellan, who remains friendly with Babcock and holds him in high regard, also figures he was using a psychological ploy in an attempt to gain an edge for future games.
"I’m sure it is," he said. "I’ve been in that locker room before. I know he’s a very bright and intelligent guy. He sets himself up for his organization and his team well. They do a really good job of setting up Games 2, 3 and 4. You don’t win Stanley Cups and you don’t win gold medals without having that tact."