An elimination game is a must-win situation for the team trailing in a series.
That’s what the Sharks will be facing Saturday night at HP Pavilion as they trail Anaheim, 3-1, in the best-of-seven quarterfinal series. If San Jose wants to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, they have to win the remaining three games.
“There are no more second or third chances,” defenseman Dan Boyle
“Basically, it’s a Game Seven for us and the desperation has to be there,” Captain Patrick Marleau
said. “We have to play our best game. We need to have that fight and to win battles.”
The key question facing the Sharks is how they will fix what hasn’t been working for the better part of the series. Head Coach Todd McLellan said his top players need to rally the troops.
“We were outperformed and outbattled,” McLellan said. “We didn’t need the video (the next day) to confirm what we saw.”
If San Jose’s core players -- which include the likes of Joe Thornton
, Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov and Boyle, among a few others -- step up, McLellan said the situation will change.
“Each team has five (to seven) players they rely on more than others,” McLellan said. “If our core can raise their game, we’ll be fine. The best players have to be the best players.”
San Jose’s top players aren’t arguing with the assessment.
“Our line, we have to play better,” Thornton said. “The last game, we didn’t play well. It was a great opportunity to get back into it.”
McLellan has noted it’s more than just one game affecting the Sharks.
“Right now, our character is being questioned and our job is to prove people wrong,” he said.
McLellan noted the questioning has been brought up internally.
“Nobody likes to hear that,” he said. “We talked about that a little bit. It’s disappointing. We’ve worked all year to overcome it.”
McLellan says responsibility belongs to everyone to raise San Jose’s character.
“We all have a part in it,” said McLellan, noting the coaches were included.
A key factor in trying to quickly solve the character and production issue is McLellan says the answers are readily available inside the group.
“I believe in the character in the room,” McLellan said. “Do we believe in this group? Absolutely.”
The Sharks players know they can’t view the series as winning three in a row, but have to take each game and each shift one at a time.
“You can’t look too far past the first shift,” Thornton said. “We’re optimistic. We’ll still try to be positive.”
Of course, the mood during Friday afternoon’s 30-minute practice was better than the postgame atmosphere on Thursday night.
“It stung a little bit (the previous night),” Thornton said, “but you wake up in the morning and you realize as a team we can do this.”
Much is expected from the core players. However, as always at this time of the year, a total team effort is necessary if the Sharks are going to rally to win the series.
“It’s the way our team has been all year,” center Joe Pavelski
said. “Everybody has contributed when we win. Our line can contribute more than it has been. Everyone can right down the line.”
GAMES FIVE AND SIX
Monday’s potential Game Six in Anaheim will start at 7:30 p.m.
Tomorrow’s Game Five will start at 7 p.m. and will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s telecast of last night’s San Jose Sharks-Anaheim Ducks Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals delivered an average 3.2 television household rating. More than 77,400 households were watching in the San Francisco/San Jose television market. The game drew a peak audience of more than 101,600 households (4.2 rating). Average Sharks playoff ratings have increased 164 percent when compared to the regular season ratings (3.7 playoffs vs. 1.4 regular season).