Thanks to a Game 7 victory over Phoenix, the Detroit Red Wings will be San Jose’s opponent in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Sharks players are excited to find out their next opponent is and are looking forward hearing when the series will begin.
“They have tremendous puck possession and they don’t seem to get too rattled ever,” said Rob Blake.
“They’re a veteran squad that has been there before,” said Manny Malhotra. “They have experience and that always counts for something.”
That experience can make Detroit very poised as an opponent and the Sharks will have to be on top of their own game.
“They are patient and they play well defensively, they wait for you to make mistakes and then they capitalize going the other way,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We’ve known for a number of years Detroit’s power play can be really successful.”
The Red Wings may not be rested after a seven-game battle, but they will be riding an emotional high.
The Sharks players have been preparing for either Phoenix or Detroit prior to Tuesday evening.
“It’s a little funny at practice because we’ve been doing different systems for different teams,” said Scott Nichol. “It is nice to know who we are playing.”
The Sharks don’t know when the series will open, but wouldn’t mind starting sooner rather than later.
“We’ve had enough rest, we don’t want to wait until Sunday,” said Nichol. “That is our mind set, we want to get going.”
The Sharks coaching staff was going to watch the Detroit-Phoenix game at Sharks Ice in order to begin prepping as soon as possible once an opponent was decided. That way the battle plan will be in place the moment the team hits Sharks Ice for practice tomorrow.
“We’re going to watch it here because we’ll be working trying to get prepared for both teams,” said McLellan. “As the night narrows down and we know more, we can concentrate on one team.”
McLellan noted that Dany Heatley was getting close to being back “to where he needs to be”, but wasn’t sure if he would reshuffle his lines.
“There are some variables coming into play, (like) who we play against,” said McLellan. “What their lines look like. I like the way it finished with Mitchell playing with Patty and Joe. I thought he gave them some good speed and tenacity. Manny and Heater and Logan clicked well. We’re not going to try and fix a lot of things that aren’t broken, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adjust them as time goes on.”
McLellan called it “questionable” if Jed Ortmeyer would be ready to go for Round 2.
The Sharks players would have been watching the Phoenix-Detroit game whether the outcome affected them or not.
“Game 7’s are always fun,” said Malhotra. “It’s the epitome of what sports is all about. On any given night, anybody can beat anybody when it comes down to one game.”
The Sharks could play as early as Thursday, but the team will deal with whatever starting point they are given.
“Whenever they tell us, we’ll be ready,” said McLellan. “I sense the guys being anxious a little bit. To keep that energy going, it would be nice to play on Thursday. We’ll react to whatever they throw at us.”
The Sharks are two weeks into what they hope is a long playoff run, but for some the playoff beards look like they already had a two month start. Several players have strong playoff looks going, but even in the beard growing contest, there is a pecking order as to whose is the best.
“I’d say Pavs,” said Nichol. “It’s a quiet bushman look and all red. You can’t really see it, but it’s thick. I give it to the Wisconsin cheese eater. Boyler’s got a pretty good one. Wally is solid. He’s up there for sure. He got his in three days though, so it doesn’t count.”
“The best, maybe Wally,” said Dany Heatley. “Jumbo is always good. I’ve got to go with my roomie Scottie Nichol.”
For others, and it definitely applies to the younger set of the team, they are struggling a bit to fill in the facial hair. So who has the worst look going in the postseason.
“Probably Logan, but he’s only 21,” said Nichol. “Ginner has a pretty bad one. It looks like he’s shaved big old pork chops on the side of his face.”
“I’ve got to be close,” said Heatley. “Pickles (Vlasic) is the worst playoff beard. The best Scottie Nichol, the worst Marc-Edouard Vlasic
(who got the vote because he wouldn’t turn around to let Heatley fairly judge him).”
Couture may have had a two goal playoff game already, but he now knows he is not immune from a little playoff ridicule about his beard.
“That’s not fair, I think Ginner has the worst playoff beard,” said Couture. “He’s patchy. His isn’t even dark. At least mine is dark.”
McGinn was not going down without a fight in the playoff beard attack.
“You can’t sewer the roommate like that,” replied McGinn. “I’m just happy mine’s almost connected where Jr. is just sideburns. Logan cheated, he started about three weeks early.”