With hours left before the Sharks Game 3 tussle with the Flames in Calgary, San Jose’s players concluded their morning skate and headed to the hotel for the traditional afternoon nap.
Appearances showed that the Sharks would likely be running the same lineup for Game 3 as they did Game 2, but that is never a sure thing for the postseason.
There has been little that has caught either club off guard at this point as the Western Conference foes have faced off four times in the regular season, and now twice in the playoffs, and are well schooled in each other’s game.
“We knew what they’d come with,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson. “They’re physical, hard and tough.
Wilson just wants his club to keep doing the same things.
“We’ve got to continue to play the same way,” said Wilson. “Play strong defense and finish our checks.”
Wilson was asked the difference between the Sharks play during their 18-0-2 stretch to close the regular season and the current series tied at one.
“The only difference is we didn’t have to play Kipper,” said Wilson. “I expect a tight series that will be battled to the end. Goaltending can neutralize anything.”
Wilson said the evidence of that was in Joe Thornton
only having one point and Jarome Iginla not having a goal. He said he expected the excellent goaltending battle between the Sharks Evgeni Nabokov and Kiprusoff to continue.
One building that can rival HP Pavilion and Sharks fans for noise is the Pengrowth Saddledome. San Jose’s players know a firestorm will await them, but they also know they can find some positives of their own out of it.
“We’ll know they’ll come out and they will cheer them, but we have to use the energy ourselves,” said Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
TRAVELING TOILET SEAT
Media in the Sharks dressing room were quick to note a toilet seat hanging in the Sharks lockerroom that had the Sharks logo on it. The players and staff were relatively mum on the subject.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss it,” said Marleau.
“It’s all fun and games,” said Brian Campbell.
The bathroom item was the topic of Wilson’s media session for at least the first three questions.
“It’s an inside joke for our team,” said Wilson.
DEPTH ON D
While Christian Ehrhoff was not out for the entire morning skate, and he will likely rejoin the lineup the moment he is healthy, the Sharks have the luxury of possessing NHL depth ready to go. First it was Alexei Semenov, then Matt Carle, and Stanley Cup winner Sandis Ozolinsh is available if called upon. Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manger Doug Wilson has ensured the Sharks won’t suffer too severely from any one injury on the backend.
“It’s certainly been nice,” said Craig Rivet. “If it’s Semenov, Ozolinsh or Carle, we’re very fortunate that they are experienced NHLers. We can lose one or two and they will still fit in as top tier defenseman.”
The Sharks nine blueliners are not carbon copies of each other, but it seems what may be lost in one, another quality is brought with his replacement. The Sharks have players that would be regulars on another team.
“Everybody brings something different,” said Kyle McLaren. “No two guys are the same.”
“All the guys bring a different skill set,” said Douglas Murray
. “You don’t go away from what you do best. If I started rushing the puck, like Campbell, we would have a problem.”
“We have a lot of offensive defensemen and a lot of defensive defensemen,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. “Everybody brings something.”
One area the Sharks blueliners do have in common is the initial pass in the zone. Some may be more adept at it, but the group is great as a whole at starting the breakout.
“We worked on it throughout the year,” said Murray. “We weren’t as good early.”
However, defensively, they all play a part in the Sharks being among the NHL’s best defensively.
And when the replacements are called, they are in great condition.
“The guys work really hard,” said Rivet. “The guys not playing keep themselves in great shape. The new player can step in and have an impact right away.”
“We’ll need them all at one point,” said Kyle McLaren. “That depth is key.”
HEAR THAT A LOT?
Campbell laughed when asked to compare the difference between hockey in the East versus the West.
“That’s about the 800th time,” said Campbell of how many times he’s heard the question.
When Joe Thornton
passed by and asked if the question was referring to their friendship going back to their youth, Campbell retorted, “That one is 700 times.”
In the early portion of this year’s playoffs, the club that has scored first has won every playoff game.
“As we’ve seen in the playoffs, every team that has scored first won,” said Wilson. “In the regular season, if it’s the worst team, it’s about 80 percent. If it the best team, it’s about 90 percent. Right now in the playoffs it’s 100 percent. It psychologically affects the game.”
Wilson was asked about the ice conditions prior to the game.
“The ice seemed fine today,” said Wilson. “I was shocked it was a little warmer in the building. I wonder if someone was trying to slow the ice down. I’m sure they’ll try to cool this building down.”
Game 3 between the Sharks and the Flames will be at 7 p.m. on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.