The Sharks received some good news for Sunday’s practice when Steve Bernier stepped on the ice. It was a definite concern, seeing how he was flattened from behind by Alexander Radulov in Game 2. The NHL did suspend Radulov for one contest, but the Sharks know that it could have been much worse.
“I feel good,” said Bernier. “I woke up today with no headache and feel ready to go.”
Bernier still hasn’t seen the hit that took him out of Game 2.
“I tried to watch it on TV, but I missed it,” said the man his teammates call Big Bear. “It’s in the past now. I remember getting hit and I had now idea who hit me. I recovered my memory very fast.”
Bernier played against Radulov in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but had no personal history with him. Then it was pointed out that Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
was a teammate and friend of Radulov in junior hockey.
“I’m not buddies with him,” said Bernier.
“Hopefully he’ll feel as good tomorrow as he did today,” said Ron Wilson.
Jonathan Cheechoo, who was severely limited in Game 2 because of a dirty play by Scott Hartnell, hopes to be in better condition for Game 3.
“I feel a little better,” said Cheechoo. “I had a few open looks and had chances that I didn’t score on. I’ve got to bear down. I had one chance at the end of the second. The puck skipped through my legs and if I closed them, maybe it would have bounced in.”
The Sharks plan to keep playing the physical game without crossing the line Nashville has.
“The only thing we didn’t do was play dirty,” said Bernier. “Tomorrow we’ll go back to putting pressure on the puck. We need to do the little details, get the puck in deep and finish every check.”
He was rumored to be Jonathan Cheechoo’s replacement for Game 2, but when Cheechoo played, Joe Pavelski
watched his second consecutive contest from the press box.
Now it looks like Pavelski will jump in for Game 3.
“It’s exciting,” said Pavelski. “If you take a look at any team that goes a long way, they used multiple players. It’s fun and exciting to get my shot. I’ve watched two games from the press box and warmed up for one.”
“I like Pavelski in because of his offense, and he is a right shot that will help in faceoffs and on the power play,” said Wilson. “
“I played with Patty for a couple of months,” said Clowe. “I don’t know if I have to change my game. I’m still going to go in and get the puck to those guys.”
Clowe is enjoying time on the ice this postseason a bit more comfortably than last year.
“This year I have a full season under my belt,” said Clowe. “Going in, you know you’re going to be a factor and you’re a lot more confident.”
For Bell, he is obviously disappointed, but he is one of the better team players in the league and will step back in whenever called upon.
“Obviously you’re not happy anytime you’re not playing,” said Bell. “I’m sure other guys are chomping at the bit to get in. You try not to be too mad and stay even keel. My chance will come again. They made the decision that will be best for the team.”
Bell was thought to have scored the series’ opening goal, but a whistle right before the puck crossed the line discounted the tally.
CHEAP SHOTS LIKELY QUIET FOR GAME 3
With the Radulov suspension, and the NHL heavily watching the game, the dirty hits may be gone, at least for one contest.
“Chances are the ‘cheap stuff’ is behind us,” said Wilson.
Even the five-on-five battle at the end of Game 2 was initiated by the Predators.
“Tootoo asked Clowe to fight and he started the whole thing going,” said Wilson. “I imagine had Tootoo not challenged Clowe, nothing would have happened. The cheap shots have come from them. Intent to injure with injuries resulting.”
But, if Trotz’s crew keeps coming with shots to knees and heads?
“If they want to continue, they’ll get more and more players suspended,” said Wilson.
Plus, the extra day off between contests also may have simmered some tempers. Others wish Game 3 would have been the next night for other reasons.
“When you lose, you want to get right back at hit,” said Marleau.
And if Nashville continues to take cheap shots to the head?
“Our hope is to get the win,” said Cheechoo. “If they want to continue it, they can. Either way, it’s hockey.”
“It’s always nice to take the ice at home,” said Marleau. “If you’re down, they can help you and if you’re up, they can keep you going.”
San Jose knows that coming home tied at one is what they needed to do and now they need to protect what they earned.
“It takes four to win and now we have home ice and it certainly is an advantage,” said Marleau.
The Sharks having always enjoyed their home ice advantage due to the noisy HP Pavilion crowd, but there are dangers in San Jose.
“You have to control your emotions and not be too worked up,” said Marleau.
All modern NHL rinks have the same dimensions, but the fans make the difference.
“I think it has to do with the energy the fans bring,” said Wilson. “Most polls say we have the loudest NHL building. Hopefully we can bring our A game and if we do it early, it makes it loud.”
POWER PLAY OUTAGE
The Sharks won Game 1, partly due to a power play goal, and could have tied Game 2 at two apiece if they had scored on a five-on-three. There is no need to panic, but Wilson will not let the status quo of Game 2 stand for Game 3.
“We addressed it some,” said Thornton. “We touched on little things to get it back on track.”
“We’ve got to get more shots on net,” said Cheechoo. “They’re snuffing out the low play.”
If the Sharks had struck on the extended major as they did in Game 1, they might have a 2-0 lead in this series.
“We have to fix our power play,” said Wilson. “It is our big weapon.”
Wilson noted that there will be very few pretty goals, power play or not, in the postseason.
“We’ve got to be ready to start (using) one-timers,” said Wilson. “If we want the perfect play, it’s not going to be there. Maybe early in the season, but in the playoffs, it almost never happens. It can’t be how you dream or imagine it. You have to adjust with what they give you. The common wisdom is that Marleau, or Cheechoo in the slot (will shoot the one-timers), but other teams are thinking that too.”
The Sharks penalty killers have done a strong job, but Wilson feels they are being tested too much.
“We don’t want to take penalties in the first and second period when it doesn’t matter,” said Wilson. “Both teams are capable of pulling a rabbit out of the hat. Five-on-five, we’ve had more chances, but they’ve scored more goals.”
Game 3 will take place at HP Pavilion at 7 p.m. on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.