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All The Right Moves

by Alison High / San Jose Sharks
There’s a Rubik’s Cube that sits on my desk and when people get stressed out, they come over and turn the sides, shifting the colors and changing the patterns.


San Jose Sharks coach Ron Wilson. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
I’ve heard the analogy that Coach Ron Wilson adjusts his lines like he’s cracking a Rubik’s Cube, moving them around until he finds a combination he likes. I can just imagine him sitting at his own desk, turning the pieces, looking for a way to solve his playoff puzzle.

With the Sharks down 3-0 and facing elimination in their Western Conference Semifinal series vs. Dallas on Wednesday night, Wilson adjusted his lines looking for a way to combine desperation with talent and heart with experience. The final product had veteran Curtis Brown back in the lineup for the first time this series. And the decision paid off.

Brown, a 14-year National Hockey League veteran, provided leadership on the penalty kill and poise to a desperate team.

“The game doesn’t change, situations change,” Brown said following a light workout at Sharks Ice at San Jose. “I think the more situations you’re in, the more comfortable you are when you’re out there. I’ve been on the losing side of the Stanley Cup Finals (1999 with Buffalo, who lost to Dallas). I feel comfortable that whatever comes at me, I’ve had enough experience to handle it, because I’ve been there before.”

Brown’s veteran leadership on the penalty kill allowed San Jose to keep Dallas scoreless on their three power plays in Game Four. In the faceoff circle, the 32-year-old center led the Sharks by winning seven of his 11 faceoffs. Wilson was counting on Brown to excel in these categories – and he did.

“I needed to make a change and Curtis did a great job,” Wilson said. “He’s good on faceoffs and I didn’t think he’d be affected by the pressure or the moment. I gave him the opportunity to help the team and he did it.”

Brown’s efforts were part of the reason why San Jose is playing a Game Five on Friday. The Sharks are pining for a chance to make history. Only two teams have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a Stanley Cup Playoff series. In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs did that in their Finals series vs. Detroit. Thirty-three years later, the 1975 New York Islanders repeated that performance in the quarterfinals vs. Pittsburgh. And ironically, it’s been 33 years since that Islanders-Penguins series.

This could be a great omen for the Sharks.

Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco, right, stops a shot attempt by San Jose Sharks center Curtis Brown. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
“It’s an awfully big mountain to look at if you say, ‘We have to win four’,” Brown said of the Sharks elimination situation. “We have to take little steps and win one. And then hopefully another one. That’s how you take little bites out of that big hill.”

“We know what the task is,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to win four games in a row to win the series. It’s happened before. If you think you’re facing an impossible situation, then we shouldn’t even bother playing the game.

“The advantage for us is that we have two of the next three games at home,” he added. “We can hold our home ice. We just have to win one more game in Dallas. You just try to find any way to look at something positive.”

Tomorrow, the Sharks will fight to keep their postseason alive for the second time in three nights. The stress of the situation could be suffocating, but as they did before Game Seven of the quarterfinals against Calgary, many of the players were playing ping pong in the locker room after the workout.

Meanwhile, just around the corner, about 100 feet away, Wilson was sitting in his office before beginning his post-workout presser. Like most NHL head coaches deep in the postseason, Wilson was probably playing with his lineup in his mind, trying to find a way to beat Dallas in Game Five and prolong the season.

GAME FIVE TICKETS
A limited number of single seats still remain for Friday’s playoff game. To purchase tickets, click here to buy online or call 408.998.TIXS or 415.421.TIXS

WORCESTER SHARKS TO HOLD SEALED BID JERSEY AUCTION
Worcester Sharks President and CEO Michael T. Lehr announced that the Worcester Sharks will auction off game -worn jerseys from the 2007-08 season via a sealed jersey auction open exclusively to 2008-09 full and half season ticket holders. The auction will conclude at 5 p.m. on May 23.

Season ticket holders may bid on Worcester Sharks game worn jerseys via mail, fax, or in person. The highest bidder for each player will win the game worn jersey. Each season ticket holder may bid on three jerseys and winners will be contacted by the Sharks during the week of May 26 and jerseys must be paid in full by June 1. Full and half 2008-09 season ticket holders will receive a flyer in the mail with complete instructions on the sealed jersey auction.

Not a Worcester Sharks season ticket holder and would like to make a bid in the jersey auction? Put a minimum $25 deposit on a Sharks 2008-09 Full, Full Flex or Half Season ticket packages to get your bids in today! Adult Half Season ticket packages start at just $287 and all packages will secure your ticket to the 2009 AHL All Star Classic at the DCU Center next winter.

NEXT GAME

The Sharks play hosts to the Dallas Stars in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 2 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on VERSUS, 98.5 KFOX FM, Sharks Radio Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.
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