“Confidence” might be one of the most overused words in sports, but it’s one of the most important.
No matter what the talent on the ice is, if the confidence isn’t there, the club could be in trouble.
Despite trailing 2-0 in their best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal series with the Dallas Stars, the Sharks are a confident group. It’s not as if the Sharks were out of any of the first two contests as they were either tied or leading in both games entering the final period.
“We’ve been in the games, leading them, but we’ve got to put in the full 60 minutes,” Captain Patrick Marleau
Teams trailing 0-2 have rallied to win a series just 37 times in the past 285 occurrences. The Sharks feel this could be the 38th occasion.
“I think a lot of us are really confident,” defenseman Brian Campbell said. “There’s a lot of confidence in this room. A couple of bounces and this could have gone the other way.”
Marleau helped lead San Jose from a 0-2 deficit to rally and tie Calgary at two apiece in 2004’s Western Conference Final series and the older players have addressed the possibilities in the room.
“The younger guys can feel it in the room,” Marleau said. “Now we have to transfer it to the ice.”
“We know we have a great team,” left wing Milan Michalek said.
The Sharks were the National Hockey League’s No. 2 club in the regular season and owned the League’s best road record. With those factors, and the closeness of the first two games in this series, that means Coach Ron Wilson won’t do much tinkering with his lineup.
“We just need to clean up a couple of little things,” Wilson said. “We hit a lot of posts and they have been opportunistic on their chances.”
“We need to do the good things we did all year,” center Joe Thornton
said. “We try to play the same every day.”
While “confidence” is an overused term, so is “desperation hockey.” And that’s what the Sharks need to play in tonight’s Game Three.
“It’s almost like a Game Six or Seven,” Campbell said. “For us, that is what we look at it as.”
San Jose can draw on some recent NHL experiences to rally the troops.
Both the Carolina Hurricanes (2006) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (2004) were down two games in a series on their march to the Stanley Cup.
“Carolina was down 2-0 to Montreal, they won the next two and went on to win the Cup,” Campbell said. “It’s good to look at past experiences. It’s good we’re a veteran team.”
That’s all encouraging, but first, San Jose needs to take it (and here’s yet another overused term) one game at a time and make the series 2-1 after tonight’s game.
“For us, it’s about getting the first one and going from there,” Campbell said.
Dallas has won twice, but a team needs four wins to take a series.
“We know it takes four to win,” right wing Jonathan Cheechoo said. “We’re still in it until the fourth is won by somebody. We believe in the group and that’s a powerful thing.”
SETOGUCHI SHINES IN DALLAS
One Shark who should feel real comfortable in American Airlines Center is rookie right wing Devin Setoguchi. After all, he scored his first two NHL goals in his debut at Dallas on Oct. 29 – the first Shark to accomplish this feat. In fact, three of his 11 goals have come in Big D.
“I think our team likes to play in this building,” Setoguchi said. “For some reason, I’ve scored a couple. I just hope it continues in the playoffs. You always remember your first game and your first goal. I feel good in this rink.”FEELING GOOD
One player feeling good in the series is Michalek, who has a goal in each game after being shutout in the quarterfinals vs. Calgary.
“The first goal was a relief,” Michalek said. “It made a big difference and I hope it continues and we get the win tonight to make it even better.”NEXT GAME
Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals against Dallas will be at 4:30 PST on Tuesday afternoon and will be available on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.