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Sharks need second-liners to step up their game

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Sharks need second-liners to step up their game
The Sharks' second line of Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe, which dominated during the early part of the playoffs, has gone missing lately.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe, who all had been so dynamic in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, have gone missing of late.

The San Jose Sharks' second line combined for 15 goals and 30 points over the first eight games of the postseason. But going back to Game 3 of Western Conference Semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings, they have a total of 1 goal and 2 assists over their last five games -- and no points in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Blackhawks.
 
Setoguchi talked Wednesday at San Jose Airport before the team boarded a plane to Chicago about what's been ailing his line.

"Yesterday's game, we didn't get the chances that we wanted," said Setoguchi, who hasn't registered a point in his last four games. "I thought in Game 1 we had a lot of chances to score. We haven't produced so far. That our job -- to score goals and help out. But as far as scoring, it's just not going in. We just need to keep putting in the work and doing the things that have made us successful so far."

Setoguchi thinks his line isn't that far away from a breakout game and is just a half-step behind right now.

"We need to be a little more tenacious," he said. "A little bit more of an extra step. I think if we do that, get on them a little more quicker, then we're going to have more zone time and control the puck more."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday that it's more about what the Blackhawks are doing right as opposed to what his players are doing wrong.

"I think the opponent they're playing against for one, it's a stronger team," McLellan said. "The other thing they have to get going is a little speed in their game. We'll look at that, we'll talk about it today. They're still confident they can do the same job they did in the first two series and take some pressure off (Joe Thornton's) line.

With the Sharks not getting any secondary scoring in this series, that puts the onus on the Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Dany Heatley line to carry the load. Thornton said before the conference final that one of the major differences for him this season has been he doesn't feel the need to do all the heavy lifting -- but that's not the case against Chicago.

Thornton, who has a lone assist and is minus-4 in the series, might have shown his frustration at the end of Game 2. He took a slashing penalty on Dave Bolland, who has been living in his jersey in the series, and was part of a scrum in the final seconds where he took on Bolland and John Madden.

McLellan thought the show of emotion was a good thing, saying, "You're allowed to get frustrated, you're allowed to get emotional, you're allowed to be attached to the game, to be passionate. It was good for us to see a bit of that come out a little in the third period."

Whether it's Pavelski's line or it's Thornton's line, the Sharks aren't getting it done at even strength. They have just two goals at 5-on-5 in their last four games, both by Marleau. That's quite a long time to go without an even-strength goal for the second line.

Over the last two games, McLellan said it's just a matter of running into stiffer competition

"They're a very good 5-on-5 team. They're tenacious. They've got the checking line that's doing a very good job," McLellan said of Chicago's overall play. "But with that being said, I thought we've created enough opportunities to score more. We probably have to get a little more aggressive around the net."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DLozoNHL



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