Setoguchi has scored six times to lead the Sharks in the postseason category, but it’s his two overtimes shots that have given him the big-goal reputation as he took down both Los Angeles and Detroit with a single pull of the trigger. Setoguchi is playing with two high-end talents in Joe Thornton
and Patrick Marleau
, but it’s his own work that is providing the raised level of play.
“He’s finding those areas, finding those holes,” Marleau said. “Joe’s been finding him with the puck and he’s got a heck of a shot. When he does that – gets in there on forecheck and continues to use his body – it helps everybody go.”
Setoguchi vows not to sit back on the goals he already has, instead focusing on where he is at the moment.
“It’s been going pretty well,” Setoguchi noted. “It’s a new series and you start each series with zero points and zero goals. You’ve got to start all over. You have to keep getting better and moving forward.”
|San Jose Sharks right wing Devin Setoguchi, who is third generation Japanese-American, shows off his tattoo with his name in Japanese during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., Friday, May 13, 2011. The Sharks won the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series on Thursday, May 12, by defeating the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Game 7. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) |
When Marleau sits on the opposite wing, it provides what is likely the NHL’s fastest skater on the line, but Setoguchi brings another type of speed to the table as Thornton masterfully distributes the puck. Setoguchi has that point guard explosiveness that catches people off guard.
“He’s definitely quick side to side and in short bursts,” Marleau said. “That’s how he gets into those open holes so quick.”
In addition to the goals, Setoguchi brings other things to the table when he’s going full speed. While not the biggest Sharks player, he enjoys the physical game and giving big hits when the opportunity arises.
“He’s very explosive when he hits, so it’s nice to see,” Marleau said.
If Setoguchi can find an overtime winner in a third series, it would undoubtedly put him in rare NHL company.
The line posted both Sharks goals in Game 1 and Marleau sees no reason why it can’t continue.
“I think it’s going pretty good,” Marleau said of the playoff scoring and chemistry. “We’re trying to get better each and every game in the playoffs. When we try to do the little things right is when we can stay in the other team’s zone as much as possible.”
Even with the two goals, they know they have to help the Sharks score more Wednesday night.
“We’ve played together for a couple of years,” Setoguchi said. “We’ve been able to feed off each other very well. We still have room for improvement and we can be better. We can have more offensive time and get in their zone and be more productive around their net.”
|Members of the San Jose Sharks gather during practice in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The Sharks are scheduled to play the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals on Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward) |
San Jose may have lost the series opener for the first time in these playoffs, but that hasn’t shaken them in the least.
“You’ve got to be a confident group,” Setoguchi said. “You’ve got to believe in the group we have in the room. If we prepare and play the way that we can, we can get a win (in Game 2). If we have 20 guys working hard, we’re going to be all right.”
It’s not a dramatic change necessary for San Jose, just being a smidge better in a few areas.
“It’s as simple as hard work,” Setoguchi said. “When you’re working hard, a lot of things seem to fall into place. When you’ve got your legs, you can get to pucks, win the battles and execute plays because you feel good. If we bring the energy, bring the work ethic we need to tomorrow, everything else tends to fall into place.”
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there will be times when the opposition seems to be skating at a higher level, but the Sharks know they have to find a way to fight through those times.
“There are four teams left and there is no excuse for not being able to work,” Setoguchi said.
Not many cities can match San Jose’s passion for the Sharks, but right now, an entire country is cheering on the Canucks and the energy is noticeable.
|San Jose Sharks' Scott Nichol skates during an optional team practice in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday, May 16, 2011. The Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks are scheduled to play Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals on Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) |
“Just being in Canada feels good,” Setoguchi said. “Being from Canada, coming home to play in an atmosphere that you watch on TV, to be a part of it feels pretty good. In Canada, hockey is the sport. It’s the way it is, it’s a way of life around here.”
“I think hockey here is bigger here than maybe football is in the States,” Douglas Murray
said. “It’s huge and it makes it so much fun to play in a Canadian city. You can tell that it means a lot to everyone here.”SPLIT
Home ice is big in a series with two evenly matched clubs, but the Sharks know if they can defend the HP Pavilion ice, they only need one victory out of Vancouver.
“Game 1 is over and we want to win Game 2 and take the home ice advantage,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic
said. “The next game is going to be huge for us.”
“You obviously want the home ice and the only way to get it is to win a road game,” Douglas Murray
Until the puck drops on the next game, the Sharks will continue to be questioned about losing a third period lead. That San Jose’s one-goal game mark in the playoffs is so strong, combined with their perfect 5-0 record in overtime, shows it’s not a bad mental sign. Still, they are aware of the stat.
“We haven’t had good third periods. We need to get better in that area,” Setoguchi said. “As Todd would say, be on our toes instead of on our heels. Push back instead of being pushed around.”NEXT GAME
Game 2 will be at 6 p.m. and will be on Versus, KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM and www.sjsharks.com.