The Sharks power play is one of the most effective in the NHL, so in the postseason where everything is magnetized, even one night without a tally comes to the forefront.
San Jose’s rookie point man Matt Carle knows about the scrutiny the second time around and will not let the stats from an individual night bother him.
The Alaska native is tied for third among NHL rookies in scoring (two goals and two assists), and is a plus three after seven contests. The fact that the power play produced Game 1’s game-winning goal, and it was scored by Carle, was long forgotten by many after the power play didn’t score in Game 2’s loss.
“After a whole year, I’m a lot more confident,” said Carle. “The game tends to be a lot easier now.”
Partly because Carle knows what will work and what won’t work at the NHL level.
“You can’t do what you made work in college,” said Carle. “The plays get picked off.”
Carle’s goal in Game 1 was reminiscent of his Denver University days. On the play, he dropped down from his point and Joe Thornton
hit him in stride.
“When I was in school, I would roam round the left side and he would find me,” said Carle. “Joe makes it that much easier.”
Still, scoring now, even with the man-advantage, is much harder than the first 82 contests.
“Teams in the playoffs are all quality teams,” said Carle about playoff power play percentages shrinking across the board. “Sometimes you’re going to have off nights and sometimes you’ll struggle because you don’t get the bounce. Some nights you have all the confidence in the world and some nights you don’t.”
Carle likes his club’s chances up a man virtually every night though.
“We play five really creative players and the more creative we are, and the move we move it around, the more successful we can be,” said Carle. “If we do that, it will take care of itself.”
Plus the Wings are a very potent defense, including the penalty kill, with Dominik Hasek still performing his magic in the crease.
“Hasek has had some big saves,” said Carle. “You can’t let it get to you. In Nashville we struggled and the power play was big in Game 5. We just have to keep our confidence.”
After a one-game hiatus, Joe Pavelski
will return to the lineup alongside Patrick Marleau
and Bill Guerin and he will look to be as steady as possible and not find himself back in the press box.
“I take pride in my consistency,” said Pavelski. “It’s tough being in and out, but I’ve got to be better.”
Like Carle, Pavelski is noticing the dramatic difference from the regular to the postseason.
“It’s definitely more intense,” said Pavelski. “There are more battles, but it’s what you play for. Unless you’ve been through it, it’s tough to tell how different it is. Every shift can be the last shift.
Pavelski will man the middle with Marleau moving to the wing again.
“He’s a better wing than Pavelski,” said Ron Wilson.
TOUGH FOR BELL
Mark Bell was back in for just one game, but will return to the sidelines for Game 3.
“He’s had a lot of physical things, but at this point we can’t wait for people to get going,” said Wilson. “We’ll figure a way to get him back where he should be.”
Mathieu Schneider had been a thorn in the Sharks side for several seasons, but Team Teal has found a way to limit his powerful shot.
“On one-timers, if you’re in the shooting lane, most D won’t shoot the puck,” said Wilson.
THORNTON STILL STRIVING
continues to be a powerful force in the postseason and is currently tied for third in NHL scoring, and possesses a +4 plus/minus rating. Yet, many still look for more.
“He’s supposed to average four points a game to be successful,” said Wilson sarcastically.
TOUGH TO GET SHOTS
Fans looking for more offense must realize the stinginess of the Red Wing defense.
“They gave up the fewest shots in the league and had more than anybody else,” said Wilson. “That is not an accident.”