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Stanley Cup Final

Berube: Sharks may feel more relaxed in Game 4

Former NHL coach looks for San Jose's 'big boys' to pick it up

by Dan Rosen @DRosenNHL / NHL.com Senior Writer

For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Craig Berube to break down the action. Berube will be checking in throughout the series.

Berube, 50, was coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-15. He was a Flyers assistant for six seasons prior to being promoted to coach Oct. 7, 2013. The Flyers were 75-58-28 under Berube. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and lost to the New York Rangers in the first round in 2014.

SAN JOSE -- A 3-2 overtime win in Game 3 on Saturday erased the doomsday scenario for the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Final. Now former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube wonders if it will help the Sharks' top players be better in Game 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"What you might see is their big boys picking it up a little bit more," Berube said. "They might feel a little more relaxed."

He's talking specifically about forwards Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, and defenseman Brent Burns.

Berube said he felt Thornton and Burns, in particular, were better in Game 3 than they were in Games 1 and 2. Thornton had two assists and Burns had 17 shot attempts, with four getting on goal and 12 getting blocked by the Penguins, who had 38 blocks in the game.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm3: Murray stones Burns in front

Pavelski and Couture were each held to one shot on goal. Pavelski has no points in the series after leading the NHL with 13 goals and ranking second behind Couture in points with 22 through three rounds. Couture had assists in each of the first two games against the Penguins.

"Now with a win their big boys might relax and react a little bit to this," Berube said, "and that would be a benefit to them and their hockey team, that's for sure."

Berube also said he thinks it'll be a benefit to the Sharks if they can find a way to avoid getting so many of their shots blocked in Game 4. Though it's good San Jose had 79 shot attempts in Game 3 after averaging 53.5 in the first two games, there is a double-edged sword to getting so many shots blocked.

"It can be risky," Berube said. "Remember how it hurt the (New York) Rangers against the Penguins. Getting all those shots blocked means the puck can hit off a shin pad and go the other way [for a breakaway]. Stuff like that can happen. So the Sharks have to do a better job of getting the shot through.

"Even if you shoot for areas off the boards, looking for that carom, it might create some more offense for them rather than getting it blocked all the time. When they look at the tape they might see Pittsburgh's 'D' getting a ways away from their own net because they're trying to block shots, so maybe there is an area there in the middle that they can expose."

From the Penguins' perspective, Berube said their confidence should not take a hit just because they lost Game 3. It's quite the opposite, in fact, especially considering they haven't trailed in regulation this series.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm3: Lovejoy hammers it past Jones

"It's a tough game for any team to go into a building like that and they almost pulled it off," Berube said. "They've got to be confident. They were right there in that game. They're a good team and there is no reason for them not to be confident going into Game 4, none at all."

Berube said he feels the same way about Penguins goalie Matt Murray, who allowed three goals on 26 shots in Game 3, and probably should have stopped Joel Ward's uncontested 41-foot slap shot from the middle of the ice when the Penguins were leading midway through the third period.

"He's let in goals where he knows he should have stopped them," Berube said. "The two goals in Game 1, I didn't like those goals really, but he recovered. He just seems like he's good about that, getting over it and getting back in there. I think he'll be fine."

The one adjustment Berube thinks the Penguins could make is in how they get the puck out of their zone.

Pittsburgh loves to flip or float the puck out of the zone, because it allows the fast wings to skate it down, win the race and generate possession. That strategy worked well in Games 1 and 2, but the Sharks seemed to adjust to it in Game 3 and won more of those races to the puck.

"The Sharks were anticipating that to happen and they did a good job with it," Berube said. "I'm sure Pittsburgh will look at some things now and maybe do something different too. That's what it's all about, making little adjustments here and there. Not necessarily changing your philosophy, but look at tweaks here and there that can help you. San Jose made a couple and they came out on top, but these are one-goal games, so it still comes down to a bounce here and there."

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