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Let's Get Physical

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are a big physical club and they want to remind everyone, notably the Vancouver Canucks, of that entering tonight’s Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.

San Jose wants to make some minor improvements that will help them change the result from Game 1 (a 3-2 loss) and using their size is a stated goal.

San Jose Sharks' Devin Setoguchi, right, checks Vancouver Canucks' Alex Burrows during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference final playoff series, Sunday, May 15, 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
“We want to do a lot of things better, play more physical, be more competitive,” Douglas Murray said. “We have a group that has no problem handling the physical play and usually I think we’re the team that takes charge of it.”

The Sharks weren’t shying away from the hard hitting aspects on Sunday, but rather they weren’t giving themselves the right positioning to level a hit.

“When we move our feet, we’re physical and can get in on their D,” Devin Setoguchi said. “When you’re standing still, you can’t hit guys, you can’t do much.”

San Jose’s play in the neutral zone was mentioned as an area for concern and they want to be smarter between the blue lines.

“Have some poise, get our feet moving and put pucks where we can get them back,” Joe Thornton said. “Clean it up a little bit and get in on the forecheck.”

“We didn’t do it offensively and that started in the neutral zone,” Dan Boyle said. “We gave up the puck a lot.”

Specifically, San Jose wants to dump the puck in the right way. If they don’t, it can be a relatively easy night on the Vancouver defense.

“You can say you’re going to try and be physical, but it’s putting the puck in the place where you can get it,” Scott Nichol said. “We didn’t do that the last game, so it was hard to get in and forecheck. You saw in the Detroit series when you dump the puck and it’s a skill play instead of (putting it) wherever. You want to dump it to get it back or dump it to get a good lick on somebody.”

As far as the offense, the Sharks know you can’t score if you don’t shoot and retrieving those dump-ins will lead to more offense.

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton (19) Patrick Marleau, back left, and Dan Boyle, right, celebrate Marleau's goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference final playoff series, Sunday, May 15, 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
“I believe we led the League in shots on goal,” Boyle said. “They’re not all going to be scoring chances or Grade 1 chances, but if you shoot the puck at the net, as a defenseman, you don’t know where the rebound is going to go. It’s a tough play to defend against, so we need to do more of that.”

Short term, more offense will be the benefit, but a long term benefit of slamming into enough people is it will wear the other club down.

“I think it’s important to be more physical and it’s going to pay dividends down the road,” Boyle said.

And a couple of those good licks would go a long way.

“You’re not going to pass one of those (hits) up, it’s a layup,” Nichol said about the physical play. “It’s about wearing teams down and finishing your checks. It’s not going to be Game 4 or Game 5, but it’s going to be Game 6 and 7 where you make them pay the price to play the puck.”

More shots could lead to more goals and that would increase the chances of gaining a split in Vancouver.

“We didn’t execute the way we wanted to,” Setoguchi said. “In the (final four), the goalies are so good. If you’re not getting 35 shots, you’re not going to score more than two goals. We need to get more shots on him and get guys around the net for second and third opportunities.”

San Jose Sharks' Douglas Murray (3), of Sweden, looks on as as Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler holds his eye after the two crashed into each other during the first period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference final playoff series, Sunday, May 15, 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)
On Game 1’s opening faceoff, Thornton challenged Ryan Kesler to a bout, but Kesler declined the opportunity.

Thornton was asked if he would challenge Kesler again.

“Who knows, maybe Devin wants it,” Thornton said. “Maybe he’ll fight somebody (less tough).”

The reporters relayed to Thornton that Kesler said he wouldn’t fight in the playoffs.

“I’m shocked,” Thornton said. “Very shocked.”

Boyle still hopes the embellishment angle of how the Vancouver players are reacting to contact dies down.

“Like I said, hopefully the referees watch video and hopefully they catch it most of the time,” Boyle said. “Once you talk about it too much people are going to think you’re whining and I don’t want to go down that road. I don’t want it to be an excuse by any means. Hopefully it’s been put to rest and the referees, if it does happen, will catch it.”

With the Sharks advancing further in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Monterey affiliate station ESPN 630 AM (KIDD) has been finding increasing schedule conflicts with the station’s coverage of the San Francisco Giants. However, to ensure that radio coverage continues for both teams, station owner Buckley Broadcasting will air coverage of some Sharks playoff games on sister station Z-97.9 FM (KYZZ), which has a solid coverage pattern in the region.

Game 2 of the Western Conference Final will be at 6 p.m. on Versus, 98.5/102.1 K-FOX FM and

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