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Mitchell To Use His Speed

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks' Patrick Marleau, right to left, Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray, of Sweden, celebrate Joe Thornton's, centre, goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the first 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, Jonathan Hayward)
In Game 1 of the 2011 Western Conference Final vs. Vancouver, the top lines showed up for both teams, but the Sharks playoff success this year has been built on scoring contributions from three lines.


That means as San Jose rallies later in the series, some of the “other” forwards will be required to find the scoresheet. Maybe not with the consistency of the top lines, but they will need goals from people besides Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

It has happened the entire postseason, so there’s no panic that it won’t happen again and one of those players who could be involved is Torrey Mitchell. McLellan mentioned Mitchell by name on Monday in saying he can make a difference with his speed.

“I definitely feel like I can be a difference maker,” Mitchell said. “(My speed) is what I’ve got to keep using. For me, I feed off that to get momentum.”

Mitchell and his line (Joe Pavelski and Kyle Wellwood) were held scoreless in Game 1, but they’re focused on quickly rectifying the situation.

“It was a little frustrating yesterday that I couldn’t get anything going,” Mitchell said. “The top two lines get checked so well, that I can be a guy they forget about.”

While the offensive contribution is the goal, Mitchell’s main emphasis is on defense.

“It’s key that I get in on the forecheck and disrupt their (breakout),” Mitchell said. “Then get the puck to Pavs and Welly because they’re super creative.”

“I think he’s a smart player. He’s strong defensively, for as good as a skater as he is, he’s committed to the defensive side,” Pavelski said. “We’ve been so good in our end at times, we feel like it’s led to a lot of offensive ability.”

When Mitchell uses his legs effectively, the opposing puck carrier is in big trouble.

Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo, left, stops San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
“I think that’s a good way to (put it),” Pavelski said. “When he’s skating that’s his biggest asset. He’s found it more as of late and he’s made more and more plays.”

Pavelski and Wellwood are the playmakers on the line, but Mitchell’s elements are just as important.

“With our line when it’s going good, he’s at the top of his game,” Pavelski said. “When the puck goes to the corner and you think you’re going to get there and he comes flying in from nowhere and he beats you there, then you’re both there and supporting each other.”

Mitchell missed all of the 2008-09 regular season due to a broken leg suffered in preseason. That same injury limited him to 56 regular season games and this year, he missed 15 due to a lower body injury.

“The last few years have been tough at times and right before his injury he was (playing) good. You can see he’s getting back to that form and you can see it in his play and his confidence,” Pavelski said. “It’s great because we need him as much as anybody. When he is going, he’s creating energy for everybody else.”

Pavelski can see the hard work paying off soon with a vital tally.

“Chip in, make little plays and create energy. When he scores it’s going to be a big goal for us,” Pavelski said.

As a line, the trio will look to up their contributions Wednesday in Game 2 by being more aggressive.

San Jose Sharks' goaltender Antti Niemi, of Finland, makes a save as fellow teammates and members of the Vancouver Canucks fight for the puck during the second period of game 1 of NHL Western Conference final Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, May 15, 2011. The Canucks went on to win the game 3-2. (AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
“We’re good at little battles and that’s one area we can be better about from the last game,” Pavelski said. “Creating those little battles. Getting the puck in deep a little more, then getting there and getting our time. We’re not going to beat a whole lot of guys 1-on-1. We need each other to be good and that’s what we’ve had.”

GOT TO EARN THE CALLS
The Sharks realize they need to dig deeper to earn more power play chances. They scored on their lone chance in Game 1.

“We definitely didn’t work hard enough to get them,” Dan Boyle said. “There were questionable calls out there for sure on our part and a lack of on the other side. You have to work hard to earn your penalties.”

There were some direct comments about Vancouver’s theatrics to possibly earn a call or two against Nashville in their semifinal series. These thoughts may be creeping into this series already.

“We were aware of what Nashville was accusing them of in the series before and I saw it first-hand last night,” Boyle said. “Even the penalty I got, I’m thankful (Maxim) Lapierre got a diving penalty for it. Their heads are going back like they were shot with a gun. It is what it is. Hopefully the refs see it most of the time. They got one right at the end, but unfortunately I had to go with him. It’s unfortunate that it’s got to be that way.

“They’re getting away with it and it’s working for them,” Boyle added. “If it’s working why are you going to change it? For us, we just hope the referees see it. Hopefully the referees watch tape like we do and they see some of the things some other people have seen.”

LET’S GO TO THE VIDEO
Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin, right, of Sweden, scores the game-winning goal against San Jose Sharks' Antti Niemi, left, of Finland, as his twin brother Daniel Sedin, centre, of Sweden, watches during the third period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference final playoff series, Sunday, May 15, 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl
The coaching staff and the players both said the video clips they watched of Game 1 reinforced what they need to fix.

“We watched the video today and did not like what we saw,” Boyle said. “Us having the puck, coming through the neutral zone and doing absolutely nothing with it. Guys busting their hump to get up the ice and the guy that has the puck turns it over or does nothing with it.”

ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT THINGS
That San Jose lost a third period lead was part of the talk Monday, but it’s better to be ahead than to try and come from behind.

“That’s the positive. Now we’ve just got to find a way to finish it,” Boyle said.

WHAT’S ANOTHER 24 HOURS?
While normally a fan of playing again sooner rather than later, McLellan noted the extra day between days could be a positive for his club.

“You always want to get back on the horse as quick as you can,” McLellan said. “In this case I believe the extra day will help us.”

YOU PLAYED FOR ME
Forward Ryane Clowe played for Vancouver Head Coach Alain Vigneault and Vigneault knew Clowe would make the National Hockey League on “sheer will alone.”

Clowe appreciated his tutelage under Vigneault at the junior level.

“One thing we all knew is he was a pro coach coaching junior and he was going to get back to the NHL,” Clowe said. “I think more than anything, he helped me with accountability. There was no one on that team in junior who got left off the hook. It’s like Todd here, everyone is accountable. I liked that as a player. He challenged you and would pat you on the back as well.”

DON’T STOP THE MUSIC

The Sharks and Canucks couldn’t play Game 2 on Tuesday because of a performance by Kid Rock at Rogers Arena.

GAME ON!

Game 2 will be at 6 p.m. The game will be on Versus, 98.5/102.1 K-FOX FM and www.sjsharks.com.

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