It’s Music City again for Team Teal as the Sharks will travel to Nashville to start the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Last year, the Sharks dispatched the Predators in five games. This year, Nashville built a club to overcome those playoff shortcomings and San Jose could be in for a more difficult matchup. In 2006, San Jose used their big one-two center punch of Joe Thornton
and Patrick Marleau
to create havoc for the smaller Predators. Since that time, Nashville has picked up Peter Forsberg and Jason Arnott to provide their own strong center combination.
“They are a fast, transition team and we have to eliminate our turnovers to help stop their speed,” said Jonathan Cheechoo. “They did add size and toughness. They’ve got good defensemen and goaltending.”
“We know they are tough with a lot of speed and skill,” said Scott Hannan.
Still, the Sharks had hoped that an overtime win could provide them home ice in round one and possibly more.
“Obviously, this is not the result we wanted,” said Cheechoo. “Home ice would have been nice, but we’ve got to deal with it. We wanted to make it hard on Anaheim, but we’ll take the way we’ve played the last few games.”
READY FOR THE PLAYOFFS
San Jose was fortunate to play in some postseason like atmospheres as the season wound down.
“The last week or so have had playoff intensity,” said Kyle McLaren. “We feel good about the way we’re playing.”
With Vancouver poised to win in regulation, Cheechoo banged home his 37th tally of the year to force overtime.
“Milan made a great play to get it over to me,” said Cheechoo.
Team Teal will take the Sunday off to rest on Easter and start practicing for the second season on Monday.
“We’ll take a day off tomorrow and get ready,” said McLaren.
SMART LATE PENALTY
In overtime against Vancouver, Joe Thornton
was sent to the box, leading to Vancouver winning on the power play. But Cheechoo points out that Thornton did what was necessary on the Vancouver two-on-one rush.
“Sometimes it happens,” said Cheechoo. “It’s a penalty you want to take. If you don’t take it, it probably is a goal anyway.”
SHARKS HEAD COACH, RON WILSON:
“They’re a better team, and we’re a better team [than last year]. They’ve addressed some issues, so have we. We’re much bigger, much stronger, probably much faster [than last season] and hopefully more ready than we were last year too. Not just to play a team like Nashville, but to play anybody that we’re going to face in this conference.”
“We’ve got our best player playing mean, big, strong and not taking any prisoners. We’ve got to get a few of our other leaders to play exactly the same way.”
“The way he is [carrying himself] on the bench, it’s clear to everybody else, ‘You better be willing to do the same things I’m doing.’ When your best player does it, everybody else had better do it. We didn’t quite get that tonight. I don’t know why a few guys didn’t seem to be into the game. When the puck drops on Wednesday or Thursday, they better be.”
CANCUKS HEAD COACH, ALAIN VIGNEAULT:
“Obviously our guys weren’t pleased with the way they played against Colorado, and I thought tonight they came out really strong.”
“Our guys have been resilient all year. It was a tough game, it was really physical. There were a lot of physical matchups on the ice, but we found a way to win two big points.”