To go a long way in the postseason, a team needs every line on the ice to take the scoring mantle and run with it for a while. In the early going of the first round, it has been the trio of Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi that is currently running with the baton.
Clowe scored the only tally of Game 1, Pavelski scored the tying goal to force overtime in the final minute of Game 2 and Setoguchi scored twice, including the overtime game-winner, Friday night.
They are clicking on all cylinders right now and may be playing the best hockey they have played all year.
“We’re playing well and have a good thing going,” said Setoguchi. “Everyone is using their asset and everyone is doing it together. We’re not trying to do things out of our comfort zone. If you work hard and smart, it’s a pretty lethal combination.”
Each is maximizing his overall talents and truly displaying his unique skill set. The trio seems to have a combination of every possible ability and that is what makes them so dangerous. You can’t try to match them with just speed or size.
“They’re clicking right now and that’s good for us,” said Boyle. “I think Clowe’s got the power forward thing going. Seto’s just got tons of speed to burn and Pavs is your smart all-around, defensive player and they’re going at the right time.”
“I think so, but I think we’re working as hard as we have all year,” said Pavelski of his line playing their best hockey. “It has to be the foundation of your line. If you do that, you create a little bit more and that is when things click.”
For Setoguchi, his game might be the easiest to spot as he is flying around with his speed and looking to shoot any chance he gets. He is also not hesitant to bang his 200 pound frame into anyone in his way or into someone who may have the puck.
“He’s got great speed and skill,” said Pavelski.
Clowe’s game can be found by simply seeing what is not happening when the puck is on his stick. Opponents are simply finding it hard to separate him from the puck as he’s using his massive frame as a large shield.
“He’s a big and strong and holds onto pucks,” said Pavelski. “He’s getting more pucks to the net than he has in the past.”
“Clowe is being a bull,” said Setoguchi. “He takes the body, holds onto the puck and it’s tough for guys to take it away from him.”
Intelligence on the ice may be the most difficult thing to see as sometimes it makes it look like the player is getting lucky. It’s not luck when you end up being in the right place at the right time almost every time. Think back to last February and recall that Pavelski was part of the last minute game-tying goal for Team USA in the gold medal game against Canada. Considering that, it’s easy to understand that he put himself in the right position for the tying goal Friday night when the Sharks were in danger of going down 0-2.
“It’s always big, but it’s one of those things, it’s desperation time and if you don’t score, you’re talking about being down 2-0,” said Pavelski of the big moments.
“Pav’s has got a nose to score goals,” said Setoguchi. “He finds those spots. He protects pucks well and has a quick release, but he always seems to get to the spot where the puck seems to go. He sees the ice really well and that is why everyone sees him as a playmaker. The guy is so smart he can almost see the play develop before it happens. That is what a lot of the good players do. If you can be a step ahead of the play or know where the puck will go, you will be a step ahead of the opposition.”
That San Jose is showing they can get goals from any group on the ice will be very important throughout this series.
“One of our concerns (from last year) was secondary scoring,” said McLellan. “When you look at the people who have produced goals for our hockey club, you can generally say that’s secondary scoring. That is a positive sign.”
The big guys will get going soon enough, but it’s impossible for any line to be on fire for the entirety of the playoffs. The early results show the Sharks won’t have to be reliant on one line for extended periods.
FIRST GOAL Scott Nichol may have lived the glory of scoring his career playoff goal the other night, but he also learned first-hand there are things more important some times. His family was in the stands, but missed the big moment.
“They were, but they actually went to the bathroom when I scored because there were 20 seconds left in the period,” said Nichol. “They saw it on the replay and Hayden was all pumped and telling the lady at the concession stand hid dad scored and she gave him some M&M’s for it. It was good.”
Plans were put in place to ensure Nichol’s second playoff goal would not be missed.
“I got home and went to kiss them good night and he opens his eyes and says ‘nice celebration, but Dad, next time you score can you make sure I’m sitting in my seat?’ I think that’s the first time I’ve scored with both of them at the game and they were there and cheering us on.”
Regardless of who witnessed it, Nichol was glad to find the back of the net.
“It was a good feeling, especially when it happened in the last 20 seconds to tie it up at home going into the third period,” said Nichol. “That is what you play hockey for. You play to score goals. Sometimes you don’t get to do that because of different roles you have. The bottom line is we all dream about playing in the NHL to score goals.”
McLellan liked the goal, but said it was the usual play of Nichol that was important.
“He created some energy that our guys had to follow,” said McLellan.
NOT QUESTIONABLE Some in Colorado were attempting to question a hit Rob Blake made in overtime, but the Sharks aren’t worried about hearing anything further on it.
“Honest to God, I haven’t even seen it, it wasn’t that hard of a hit,” said Blake.
“I would be shocked,” said McLellan about any possible actions from the league.
EVEN McLellan was asked if the momentum was now with his club heading into Game 3.
“We’re even, that is all we are. We don’t have home ice advantage anymore and we’re even,” said McLellan. “Yesterday’s game was important for us to experience because we had to scratch and claw and muck and grind and dig for 65 minutes and it was that tough to get the one win. Maybe we’ll realize how hard it is and how hard we have to be moving forward.”
ORTMEYER Jed Ortmeyer returned to the lineup after missing Game 1 and playing with a lot of zest, even drawing the overtime power play that led to the game winning goal.
“His line was good,” said McLellan. “He and Scotty Nichol seem to have a chemistry between the two of them that is important. They play their best when they are together. Both of them, with Ginner’s help, were really effective.”
“He’s been fighting some bumps and bruises lately and to see him give all he had last night considering he was banged up was important,” said McLellan.
It was exciting for Ortmeyer to be called upon for Game 2.
“It was a great team effort,” said Ortmeyer. “We had to get some energy and got the crowd back into it, got some hits and got some energy going.”
NEXT GAME San Jose and Colorado will hook up for Game 3 on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.