The San Jose Sharks are making no bones about it – they want all four points from their trip to Sweden.
“We got the first two points and now we’re looking to get the two points tonight,” said Captain Joe Thornton
. “You get a week to think about this game and it’s an important game. You want to have a good week of practice and be feeling good about yourself.”
“You come here to win hockey games,” said Devin Setoguchi. “It’s confidence for us. If we can win two games, we can go back, be confident in our practices and come game time in San Jose, we’ll be ready to go again. We’ve practiced hard this last week to get to the point we were yesterday. There is no satisfaction in the split.”
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan felt there was room to improve in spite of the win. The primary area of concern was the faceoff circles where the NHL’s top team on draws last year won just 43 percent of the time.
“The faceoff circle, which is normally a pretty good characteristic for our team,” said McLellan when asked specifically for an area to work on. “We didn’t have the puck very much. From there we’ve got to handle their forecheck a little better. I’d like to see us be a little smarter in penalty situations. We took three in the offensive zone that we’d like to avoid.”
McLellan wasn’t pointing at just his centers for the drop in production.
“When I say faceoffs, I think we all think about the centerman,” said McLellan. “There are a lot of people involved. It’s not just the puck being dropped into the red circle. It’s everybody contributing and getting something done off the win and the loss.”
There doesn’t seem to be much concern regarding Jamie McGinn’s scary play last night when a foul by Mike Commodore sent the Sharks winger awkwardly into the boards.
“It’s game number two and I’m not going to miss it, I’m not going to take myself out,” said McGinn.
Although McGinn appears set to play, it doesn’t mean the Sharks are happy about the scenario.
“I think the rule, in my opinion, is clearly defined. There cannot be any contact made in a race for the puck, whether you are the offensive or defensive player,” said McLellan. “Contact was made. Jamie is very fortunate he went into the boards the way he did. It’s over from our opinion. He got the minor penalty and if anything else is done it’s done at a level much higher than we are at.”
McLellan will switch up his netminders and play Antero Niittymaki in the rematch with Columbus. It doesn’t mean the two will split every back-to-back scenario, but just that McLellan is confident in both and still looking to see how each works best in various situations.
“It’s good to get the first win out of the way and hopefully I can do the same. He played well last night,” said Niittymaki of Niemi. “Hopefully we can play well tonight. They have a lot of speed and a lot of skill. Their power play looked really good last night, especially early on. They (Columbus’ star players) can make plays and shoot the puck.”
Much was made of Niemi’s first Sharks win and Couture’s first opening night game-winner, but Frazer McLaren earned his first fighting major of the season. Fighting is not common in the Swedish league, so the fans were standing when the gloves dropped last night.
“It was good to get into one,” said McLaren. “I didn’t really get into one in exhibition. It was kind of the first fight of the year for me. You go the whole summer without doing it, so it’s kind of a shock, but it was good.”
As with most fights, the battle ensued while putting the team first.
“I wasn’t looking for it, but I thought he took a bit of a run at Husky or Pickles,” said McLaren. “They were coming hard, so I just stepped in there.”
And he may have been part of a unique circumstance in the NHL’s foray into Sweden.
“I know the Swedish newspaper guys were telling me it was the first NHL fight in Sweden and it was on the front page of the sports today so that was cool,” said McLaren. “The guys were telling me the crowd was into it. It was good for them, they probably don’t see that very often.”
McLaren was a bit more popular with the autograph seekers heading back to the hotel.
Thornton was asked if he wanted more five-on-five play in the rematch since the first game was so penalty filled.
“Hopefully not, hopefully we’ll play a lot of five-on-four and they don’t,” said Thornton. “Who knows what type of game we’ll get. We’ll see when we get there.”
Thornton laughed that the reason he told Murray not to fight last night had nothing to do with hockey or the ensuing power play
“He needs some more face time here,” said Thornton about Murray’s countrymen wanting to see him play.