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Sharks need production from non-scorers

by Eric Gilmore
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sharpshooter Devin Setoguchi had a hat trick in Game 3 of San Jose's second-round win against Detroit. He had 6 goals and 8 points after the first two rounds against the Kings and Red Wings, playing on the first line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

But in the first two games against Vancouver in the Western Conference Finals, he has as many points as goaltender Antti Niemi.

Joe Pavelski scored so many goals in the playoffs last year that he earned the nickname, "The Big Pavelski." This year he had 3 goals and 8 points against the Kings and Red Wings. But he's vanished as an offensive threat in the conference finals – his next point will be his first against the Canucks.

Second-line forward Ryane Clowe led the Sharks with 13 points after the first two rounds, despite missing Game 6 against Detroit with an upper-body injury. He came back for Game 7 and gave the Sharks an emotional boost, but so far against Vancouver he's been shut out – zero goals, zero assists, zero assists.

Dany Heatley, one of the so-called "Big Three," had 3 goals and 8 points in the first two rounds. So far against Vancouver, he has a lone point -- a Game 2 assist while playing on the second line with Clowe and center Logan Couture.

Third-line forward Kyle Wellwood entered the finals with 8 points but has yet to hit the scoresheet against his former team.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan didn't name names after his team's 7-3 loss Wednesday night in Game 2 at Vancouver or on Thursday afternoon after an optional practice in San Jose. But he made it clear that his team is can't win unless some key players start competing harder and playing better than they have during losses in Games 1 and 2.

The list of likely suspects is remarkably long for a Sharks team that has so much on the line.

"I think that we have a group of players that can take their intensity level up," McLellan said Thursday. "I believe that they're more competitive than they're showing right now, that the team is a sum of its parts, and we need more parts to participate at a higher level for us to have a chance at success.

"You've seen the effects that some of these players can have on a game.  You haven't seen that in the first two games.  I think it's evident from some of them. For us to win one game, that's all we want to do tomorrow, win one game, not the series, they have to step their game up a little bit."

Going into the series, the Sharks thought they had an advantage with their third line of Pavelski, Wellwood and Torrey Mitchell. But through two games, that line has been dominated by Vancouver's trio of Raffi Torres, Maxim Lapierre and Jannik Hansen.

"I think every series you have to kind of reprove yourself," Pavelski said. "I haven't showed up in the way I'd like. (I) can definitely be better in a lot of areas.  Just need to improve on that.

"I think a big thing that we've just been going over is protect the puck a little bit more, be a little bit cleaner with it, skate better.  If we start moving, start skating better, the other areas will take care of themselves."

McLellan said he expected much more out of both Pavelski's line and Couture's.

"We felt going in, especially after the first two series, the way we played down the stretch, that the Pavelski-Mitchell-Wellwood line had really contributed to our success, helped us get to this point, and were factors," McLellan said. "They haven't played that way the first two games.

"But with that being said, the (Logan) Couture line hasn't either.  We have two lines that we have to find a way to get going.  Jumbo (Joe Thornton), Patty (Patrick Marleau), Seto for the most part, their line has been competitive, involved in the game," he said of the first line. "They're playing against the other team's checkers."

Setoguchi, though, certainly didn't escape McLellan's press conference unscathed, and he went so far as to say that he "potentially" could tweak his top lines.

"Well, if you look at what Devin does well, Devin puts himself in a position to shoot the puck," McLellan said. "That's the first thing that he does.  He ended up with zero shots on goal last night and a minus three.  The second thing that he does well is he skates, he's quick, he hunts pucks, he stays in battles.  When he's doing that, he's very effective.  He didn't do much of that last night as well.  So he can be better."

Clowe said McLellan talked to him one-on-one after Game 1 and told him the Sharks needed more from him and the entire second line.

"In the past, we've had pretty good playoffs, so you set your level, you set the bar high," Clowe said. "First two games of the series, obviously we can be better as a team.  I know I can be better as an individual.

"You think this kind of series should suit my game a little bit, so I got to start playing in it that way.  I got to be a little more strong in the offensive zone with the puck.  Obviously, felt I had a better game than the first game last night, but still room there to improve.  Not only for me and Pav, but definitely as a team."

McLellan said the Canucks are proving the importance of rolling three lines that can score during a playoff series.

"When you have three lines you can trust, put out there, they can play well not only offensively but defensively as well, it's a powerful thing," McLellan said. "Our Heatley, Couture and Clowe line has been a tremendous line for us.  For as much as the other players have played well, they really contributed to getting us to that point.  They haven't been effective enough.  They haven't skated well enough.  They haven't won enough battles for us to win games in this series.

"That doesn't mean they won't do it.  We're counting on them doing it.  Tomorrow will be their opportunity to shine."
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