-- What? The San Jose Sharks
Facing a 3-0 deficit in the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks
, one might think the Sharks would be doing some soul-searching one day after a crushing overtime loss left them in a hole so deep that it wouldn't be surprising if someone starting shoveling dirt on them.
But on Saturday morning at United Center, the message from most players was the same -- stay the course and good things will happen.
"We just have to stay the course and continue to do what we do," Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
"Just a goal here or there and we're probably up by a game or two," said Ryane Clowe
, who was also staying positive.
There's a fine line between being confident and living in denial, but Sharks captain Rob Blake
probably explained his team's situation the best.
"We played well, but we haven't played really well yet," Blake said. "We wouldn't be down 3-0 if we played really well."
The problem for the Sharks right now? Playing well isn't enough when the Blackhawks are playing like champions.
Games 1 and 3 certainly could've gone either way, but when the chips were down, it was the Blackhawks who stepped up to claim those one-goal victories. Nabokov played well enough to win most of the time in those two losses, but most of the time he isn't playing against a team of the Blackhawks' pedigree.
The margin for error is paper-thin with these two teams, and a break here or there is going to make a difference. With two of three games having been contested so closely, it isn't so far-fetched to think that if the Sharks continue to do what they're doing, they could climb back into this series.
"It's one thing if you're playing bad and you find yourself three-zip down," Nabokov said, "but if you're playing well, and we did play well, you just have to find a way to win."
"We've been there every game," Sharks center Joe Pavelski
said. "There hasn't been one time when we've felt overwhelmed. We felt these games could have went the other way just as easily.
"But that's not the case."
Even coach Todd McLellan
, who admitted he would like to see more offensive production from his players without naming names, is having a hard time believing his team is down 3-0 considering how well it's played.
"Quite frankly, they feel like they've been in every minute of this series," McLellan said of his players. "It doesn't feel like a 3-0 series, but it is."
The confidence has been there. The effort has been there. But the results just haven't been there for San Jose. There's no magic potion or wand that can be waved that will suddenly make the hard work pay off. It's a situation where the Sharks are saying they still believe in themselves and must have faith in the tried-and-true cliché that resulted in a historic comeback for the Philadelphia Flyers
against the Boston Bruins
in this year's playoffs.
Take things one game at a time.
"You just go and you try to win the next game because there's no other way to look at that," Nabokov said. "If you come out and you're going to be crying about this, crying about that … we have been showing the character."
"Sometimes it hard to say keep going when it's not working, but we feel like it's going to happen," Clowe said. "There's nothing else we can do. You look at (Game 3) and there's not much more really we can do besides put it in the net. I think 9 out of 10 times, an effort like (Game 3) will get rewarded."
Unfortunately for the Sharks, that effort needs to be rewarded 4 out of 4 times or their season will be over.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DLozoNHL