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Overcoming the Obstacles

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
Overcome. That was the mantra from Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan prior to the Colorado series beginning. No team makes a long run without roadblocks and even though the Sharks have had three series worth of quirky goals in three games, the scenario is just part of what must be faced in the postseason.

San Jose must win the next game instead of dwelling on what could have been.

“It doesn’t matter how we get to that moment where we have to overcome, when we get there, we have to,” said McLellan.

“We have to win the next one and that is all there is to it,” said Joe Pavelski.

Heck, rather than be upset about what has occurred in how Game 3 ended in a crazier fashion than Game 1, the Sharks are able to look at the events and chuckle a bit.

“Score on the right goalie I guess,” joked McLellan about what the Sharks could have done differently. “We can be a little bit humorous with it today. I think we need a little bit of an opportunity to smile.”

Following the game, Dan Boyle had time to see the play that Ryan O’Reilly redirected for the game winner. Less than 24 hours later, Boyle is beginning to reconcile what happened, but says he won’t fully put it behind him until he steps on the ice for Game 4.

“The only problem is I need to play, I want to play right now,” said Boyle. “Unfortunately I have to wait another day. This is where I need to show my leadership and try to come through and bounce back. I wish I could say I turned the play already, but I haven’t. I need to play. Until we drop the puck, it’s going to be with me and stay with me until the series is done. If we win the series, I can officially turn the page. Ten years ago, it would have been a scary thing as a young guy; I would have been a mess.”

Boyle did get a chance to see the play and could analyze it better than the previous night.

“Absolutely,” said Boyle about O’Reilly touching it. “It was a fraction of a second after me. On TV it’s not obvious, but right away he puts his stick right there and I’m trying to go around the boards with it and it goes in the net. A horrible, horrible bounce.”

The least of McLellan’s worries is how Boyle will bounce back as the former Stanley Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist is a true champion and his mental strength is the equal of his one ice talents. Remember, this is a man who wasn’t drafted and was moved from his first NHL club for a fifth round pick. He is the epitome of McLellan’s mantra of “overcome.”

“Dany Boyle has won a Stanley Cup, he just won a gold medal, he’s a high end player whose game is built on integrity and he is fine,” said McLellan.

The rest of the team is fine as well.

“The first thing we said is to stay upbeat,” said Ryane Clowe. “The guys still had a lot of energy after the game. We were so positive about our game. We felt like we took the next step. That’s two games in a row where everyone brought their A game. We’ve got a great mood right now. We just want to know when the next game is and that is a good sign.”

McLellan reiterated his hope that Dany Heatley will return Tuesday.

“We’re in a stage where he is getting treatment this morning and I really can’t tell you any more than what we had yesterday,” said McLellan. “We expect him to play tomorrow night. He is that close and the report is still day-to-day.”

The Sharks bench boss says the lack of Heatley may have been a factor, but not an excuse, in coming up empty on the power play in Game 3.

“I think it does,” said McLellan. “Any time you take a 40 goal or a 50 goal scorer out of your lineup. I’d like to think if he is in the lineup and we have another 50 or 55 shots on goal, and he’s in on them, the puck will eventually go in the net. It hurt us, but I was especially proud of the players for the way they picked up the slack.”

While the ideal end result would have been a Sharks goal in regulation, McLellan is satisfied with what has happened the last two games. Still there is one important factor missing.

“What it comes down to is we’re now at a stage of the season where we have to win games,” said McLellan. “It doesn’t matter how well you play. You can play very poor and win a game and it’s a great thing. We can take solace in the fact we played the game we wanted to play, that we played very hard and very well, but ultimately when we woke up this morning we were down a game. We’ve got to go back out, play that same game, but win next time.”

San Jose will look for their own efforts to help bring some luck their way as the saying of being better lucky than good has been never been more true.

“It’s just a matter of getting a bounce to go our way and when that happens, we’ll earn that bounce and get more and more,” said McLellan. “It has to eventually happen and go our way. What I don’t want our team doing is pressing so much offensively that we forget we have to play in the other end. We still have to take care of that end first.”

“We’ve had a couple of bad bounces, but I think the hockey gods are going to come with us soon,” said Clowe. “We’ve got to keep plugging. I think if we need to get where we want to get, we’re probably going to go through a few more of these tough nights. It’s something that is going to make us stronger.”

McLellan wants his players to know he is proud of their efforts and to keep their morale up.

“They need to know that we believe in them as coaches,” said McLellan. “If they have any type of inkling we are second guessing them, it’s going to be pretty ineffective. We’re not a young hockey club. We’ve got some guys who have played a long, long time, players who have been in the situation before. Players that have probably scored on themselves before and they’ll overcome. We expect them to.”

Each game in the contest had been dead even after 59 minutes of action and the trend will likely continue.

“These are the games you expect in the playoffs, one goal games,” said Joe Pavelski.

The Sharks did not practice on Monday, but they did have a few details to attend to.

“We have a treatment plan. At this time of year everyone has one or two (bumps and bruises) that need to be taken care of,” said McLellan. “Two, we’re going to let them rest their bodies physically and let their minds get away from the game. The third thing we’ll do is meet later on in the evening and put last night to rest. They’ll have a team dinner and then be ready to play tomorrow.”

McLellan said it’s almost a must for coaches to find some time off for the players.

“We’ve played a lot of hard hockey lately,” said McLellan. “During the season, we tried to get a day off every seven days. The last one we had was last Sunday, so this was day eight. We’re trying to keep our routine the same. It’s good for them to get out in the sun a little bit. The players like being at the rink. Sometimes we take them away from it for their own good and that’s what we’re doing today.”

The Sharks appear to be the more rested team as the games go on and that is why they are able to keep pushing the play in their offensive zone.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Clowe. “The last two games, we’ve had a lot of offensive zone time. Wearing them down takes away from their offense. We’ve been really physical as far as getting in there and finishing checks. I love the way we’re winning battles right now. Just not giving up, kind of a dog on a bone mentality. The results are going to come.”

“I think so,” said Pavelski about wearing the Avalanche down. “We’ve had a couple games with that many shots and we got in the forecheck enough. They came at us pretty hard early and we weathered that and took to right back to them. You could tell a little bit the lasts two periods when we started to take it over a little bit more, but we still have to find a way to get that puck in the net. Otherwise it doesn’t matter.”

Comcast SportsNet California’s telecast of last Friday’s (April 16) San Jose Sharks-Colorado Avalanche game two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals delivered an average 4.40 television household rating An average of over 110,000 households were watching in the San Francisco/San Jose television market. The game drew a peak audience of over 133,000 households (5.33 rating).

Game 4 will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday night and will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and

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