Usually in sports, if you are winning, everything is fine. For the Sharks Joe Thornton
and Patrick Marleau
, that has not been the case for those with an external viewpoint. Even as they, along with Dany Heatley, and whoever else has on their line, did a lot of the critical little things necessary to help the Sharks advance in the opening round, the outside world only looked at the goal total. Those goals weren’t there every game of the Colorado series, but that does not mean the players weren’t doing their part.
While not a direct goal, it was the play of Thornton that started the sequence which kept San Jose from falling behind 2-0 against Colorado. They banged bodies with the Avs first unit of defense and played a major role in eventually breaking Colorado down. Yet, the goal total is what people kept looking for.
“They were playing hard and taking whoever they were matched up against, usually the top two D-men,’ said Ryane Clowe
. “They help wear those guys down. People see San Jose lost and they check to see how many points Joe had and they never see a whole game, maybe just the highlights. We see how hard they compete and it inspires us. We know they are going to be there and the results are coming.”
“They’ve got the biggest responsibility on the team,” said Torrey Mitchell
. “Not only are they counted on to score goals, but they’re going against their best D pairing. It’s not easy. They are playing a lot of minutes and putting a lot of wear and tear on those guys.”
The offense is flowing now, but the physical work they were doing earlier is still there, making for a lethal combination.
“I think they’ve been playing great the whole series, for Patty to get us the goal and the win, it is huge,” said Devin Setoguchi. “It’s a big morale boost for our team and we’re going in the right direction.”
While there were a lot of external doubts, internally there was never an issue.
“It’s a big thing in our lockerroom, but we believe in those players way more than the outside world does,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I don’t know how this evolved, but I’ve only been around the two years. I saw a very determined 19 tonight. I thought Patty played his way into the game and played well.”
That the duo’s clutch overtime goal gave San Jose a strategic 3-0 series lead on Detroit was not much of a surprise to the other 18 men in teal.
“They want to play and want to win and they want to be in positions to help this team,” said Rob Blake. “Numbers are for the media and the outside to look at. We don’t care about the points. Show up and battle and they are doing that.”
Marleau said it was simply a matter of timing before the offense started to flow.
“I think for Joe, especially in the first series, he set me up a ton,” said Marleau. “He’s done all the things asked of him. If I would have buried a few, the numbers would have looked better for us. Last night was a big step and a big confidence booster for us.”
“It was a matter of time before they were going to contribute a lot,” said Torrey Mitchell
Heatley has only played with the duo for a year, but understands what the two are going through.
“It’s an easy target,” said Heatley. “The guys that put up numbers are expected to do that every time. That’s good and bad. You expect it out of yourself, but sometimes the puck doesn’t go to the net. I thought in the Colorado series, that was the case. The puck just wasn’t going in the net.”
“You understand the heat they take because they are our top players, but they are working hard and it’s nice when they come through big like last night,” said Clowe.
And when Thornton’s line is going in sync with Pavelski’s, a team is good enough to overcome a two goal deficit in a tough road rink like Joe Louis Arena.
GOOD PLACELogan Couture
has thoroughly enjoyed scoring his first regular season and playoff goals in Detroit, but there were more excited people in the stands than the rookie on the ice.
“They were pretty happy,” said Couture about his parents being at the game. “My grandma flew in from Florida and was here too so it was good for her to see. I think they were as excited as I was.”
So is Joe Louis Arena his favorite road NHL building?
“Right now I’d say it is, two games and two goals,” said Couture.
LOOKING TO CLOSE
Detroit will have their backs to the wall Thursday night as anything but a win will mean elimination.
“This will be their best game and they will come at us with everything they have,” said Blake. “We have to have our best effort of the series.”
“There is a lot of work still to be done,” said Marleau. “They’ll come out with their best and we have to match that.”
Game 4 with Detroit will be Thursday at 4:30 Pacific time and will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.