San Jose hasn’t played since Saturday and the four days off between games has the players anxious to begin the 2011 Sharks Playoffs, presented by El Camino Hospital.
“I think we’re excited,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “I hope there’s a little bit of butterflies and nerves. I think that would be a valuable thing for our team. I think we’re ready. We’ve had four good days of practice and I sense an excitement and it’s time to play.”
|Los Angeles Kings' Jack Johnson, right, skates with the puck ahead of San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, April 4, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) |
“I’m anxious to get going. It was tough to sleep last night,” Logan Couture
said. “I’m pretty excited and I’m sure everyone is going to have a tough time napping.”
Even if they had one day off from the regular season to the playoff opener, the players would be just as excited.
“It’s been a long time coming this year and playoff time is here,” Jason Demers
said. “The playoffs are exciting and I think everyone is ready to go right now.”
The Sharks will look to take advantage of home ice in the early games, something that hasn’t gone as planned recently. Not that it stopped them from advancing last year. But tonight, there’s a serious sense of urgency.
“Regardless of history, I think the first game is very important,” Dan Boyle
said. “It sets the tone for the series. I think it’s important to let the other team know you’re ready to go and ready to play. Give them a taste of what they’re going to see for the next little while.”
“We’d like to get off to a good start,” McLellan said. “I don’t know if the past predicts the future, but in the past we’ve had a little trouble getting out of the gate in Game 1 and we’re going to try and change that this year. We’d like to get out and establish our game. There’s a team wearing black and silver that is going to have something to say about that.”
Home ice is extremely advantageous, but only if the opportunity is seized upon.
“Home ice is only as good as you make it,” Patrick Marleau
said. “We’ll try and get that first one tonight.”
THREE ON A MATCH IS VERY GOOD LUCK
McLellan reiterated the importance of scoring three goals. That’s been a standard number of goals for winning clubs all season.
“Most games are settled at three,” McLellan said. “You don’t hand out half goals and to get to four is usually a special night. If you look at the games last night, there weren’t many four-goal games. We’ll have to put some runs on the board, if you will.”
It’s not likely either club would jump out to a 3-0 lead, just that finding that third goal at some point would put one side in an envious position.
“There has to be an element of patience in both team’s games,” McLellan said. “Would we like to get three right of the bat? Yes. If they’d give us three before we even start we’d take it, but that’s not the way the game is going to be played.”
IN THE BLACK
The Sharks players had a say and they’ve decided to run with the black jerseys for the first time in the postseason at home. San Jose has never worn anything but teal or white.
|San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton (19) celebrates his goal with teammate Patrick Marleau (12) and others during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, April 4, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) |
“We like being in the black and we’ve had success in it,” Patrick Marleau
“I’m excited to wear those black jerseys,” Couture said. “ I like they way we look in them and I like the way we play in them.”
Regardless of the reasons, the players love that black sweater.
“We like the color, it’s intimidating,” Demers said. “It’s a good color for us starting out these playoffs. I think everyone had the same thought process. We wanted to be black tonight.”
“I just feel better in them,” Boyle said. “Traditionally teal is the jersey, but I like it. Ask me in two months.”
THOSE SPECIAL TEAMS
The Sharks have a top-ranked power play and the Kings have an elite penalty kill. On the other side the rankings of the Sharks penalty kill and the Kings power play is not far off either. Whoever finds an advantage could put themselves in a favorable position.
“You go about things the same way,” Marleau said. “You’ve got to be aware of what they’re going to bring, the different things they’re going to throw at you. You get success from doing things over and over and doing it right. We want to get shots, battle in front of the goalie, battle for the loose pucks and do it all over again.”
“We’ll stick to our game plan and it’s been working for us,” Demers said. “They have a great penalty kill and we have to work as hard as them. It goes the same for their power play and our penalty kill. We have to work just as hard as them.”
For everything the numbers say, 82 games worth of stats mean squat starting tonight.
“Right now everyone’s got the same power play percentage and everyone’s got the same penalty kill percentage,” Demers said.
NICE AND TIGHT
Ben Eager went with the shaved head look to break out something new for the postseason.
HERE WE GO!
Game 1 with the Kings will begin at 7 p.m. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.