Numbers and facts don’t lie.
The San Jose Sharks are down two games to none after losing Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the Anaheim Ducks, 3-2, on Sunday night.
On Tuesday night, the Sharks play the first of consecutive games on the road at Anaheim’s Honda Center.
No doubt the odds are stacked greatly against the regular season Western Conference Champions.
“We’re down 2-0 and that’s the reality of things,” defenseman Dan Boyle
said. “Most teams don’t come back from that.”
But after Sunday’s game, the Sharks locker room didn’t resemble a morgue. Head Coach Todd McLellan’s postgame presser wasn’t filled with depression.
“I don’t feel a lot of panic around here, that’s for sure,” right wing Ryane Clowe
said. Clowe’s goal at 5:38 of the second period was San Jose’s first 2009 postseason goal and tied the game at 1-1.
“A lot of the issues from Game One we addressed and we were better in those areas,” McLellan said about getting traffic in front of Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller, winning faceoffs and putting pucks on the net. “If we were still in the process vs. the result scenario, the process was pretty good tonight but the results weren’t what we wanted.
“But I don’t think the ‘doubt’ factor has crept in,” McLellan concluded. “It’s not like we’ve been spanked and we have our tail between our legs. And that’s important.”
“We feel like we’re playing good hockey. We really do,” center Joe Thornton
said. “We just need to continue to play the way we’ve been playing.”
McLellan and Thornton have a point. The Sharks did better on faceoffs Sunday night, winning 53 percent. In Game One, San Jose won 44 percent. San Jose outshot the Ducks, 44-26. Thornton had four of those shots, compared to just one in Game One. Left wing Milan Michalek led the Sharks with seven shots on Sunday night and like Thornton, he had just one on Thursday.
But still, San Jose has scored just two goals on Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller in two games. The power play, which was third in the National Hockey League during the regular season, hasn’t scored in 12 chances. Yet in the two games, San Jose has put 25 shots on Hiller with the man advantage.
“Frustration is a word I’d use to describe what’s going on,” Boyle said. “But not to the point where we’re all scratching our heads.”
San Jose has six players and two coaches who’ve won a Stanley Cup. Out of those six, one (right wing Claude Lemieux) has won four and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff most valuable player. So, veterans like Lemieux will now have to take more of a leadership role to make sure this series returns to San Jose on Saturday night.
“It’s the best of seven. It’s not the best of two,” said Lemieux, who played his first Stanley Cup Playoff game since 2003 with Dallas. “That’s what makes playoff hockey exciting. You don’t want to get too high or too low. I’ve been down two (games) many times and have come up on the winning side. You have to put this one behind you right away and prepare for the next game.”
“It’s plain and simple,” Boyle said. “We have to decide if we’re going to be like most teams or do we want to be something special. This is going to be a tough task, but we’ve got the right guys to turn this thing around. We’ll see what happens.”
WHAT WENT RIGHT
There was definite disappointment in the Sharks locker room on Sunday night following their 3-2 loss to the Ducks. San Jose had made good on their word to get more traffic in front of Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller and jump on rebound opportunities. They outshot the Ducks 44-26 and improved their faceoff percentage to 53%. But as Head Coach Todd McLellan explained in the post game press conference, their “puck luck” just wasn’t there.
“The process was pretty good tonight, but the results weren’t what we wanted,” said McLellan. “I thought we were much better tonight at getting to the net – making Hiller work for first saves and second saves. There was improvement on the power play, but obviously no results. Faceoffs were better in that area on the power play.”
Captain Patrick Marleau
was also able to take some positives from the loss, but added that the team needs to start burying rebounds.
“I think a lot of positives came out of it,” said Marleau. “We were getting the puck in deep and getting our cycle going. We’re getting lots of shots. We just have to go to those hard areas and the puck will find our sticks and we’ll find the back of the net.”
Right wing Ryane Clowe
benefitted the most from the extra traffic in front of the Ducks’ net. When Clowe scored his game-tying goal in the second period, it was his line mate Joe Pavelski
that was screening Hiller.
“That’s something we’ve been working on the last couple days,” explained Clowe about Pavelski’s positioning. “Obviously we’ve been talking a lot about getting people to the net. It was a good screen and obviously he (Hiller) didn’t see it because what he sees he stops. ”
In the end, the execution was there, just not the end result.
“I thought we worked hard enough to get those lucky bounces, but we’re hitting posts like there’s no tomorrow,” added Clowe.
“We’ve got to find a way,” said defenseman Dan Boyle
about scoring on the Ducks. “Their second and third goals were nothing pretty. They just shot the puck at the net. The second one wasn’t pretty and the third one was just a shot with a couple guys in front and a tap in. We need to get some of those.”
“Obviously we still need to get the power play going. We gotta find a way to score there and that would be our biggest concern. But a lot of the other issues we had heading into Game 2 from Game 1 we addressed and we were better in those areas. In the process versus the results areas we talked about all year, the process was pretty good tonight, but the results weren’t what we wanted. So we’re disappointed, but I don’t think there’s the doubt factor that’s crept in.”
“[The penalty kill] is what they do – it’s very effective. I’m telling you the same thing I told you the other night. They’re very good at it. I thought our power play was better tonight. We created more chances, more traffic at the net. I think we had 26-27 shots on goal with the two games power play-wise, with traffic tonight. Eventually if we keep getting those chances, it’ll go in and it will work in our favor.”
“I don’t think there’s any doubt. I’m not too sure the guys in there – after the two games, if you asked the guys, they’d probably think they were the better team. You have to give Anaheim credit: they found a way to win.”
Ducks HEAD COACH, Randy Carlyle
“Sometimes it is more important to prevent a goal, than it is to score a goal in these tight games”
“We stopped skating in the last six minutes. Once we scored the goal we went into retreat mode, and they activate their defensemen, and throw everything they have at you.”
“We rather have two wins rather than two losses. The bottom line is that we are playing a very, very, very good hockey club. They have had success in our building, so we know they can play at a very high level. It’s going to take more than we delivered in these two games, to win the next one I’m sure.”
The Sharks will travel to Anaheim for Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Tuesday, April 21 at 7:30 pm. The game will be broadcast on VERSUS, 98.5 KFOX FM and SJSHARKS.com.