The San Jose Sharks may be up 3-0 in their series with Detroit, but they are showing the ultimate respect for the team who played in the last two Stanley Cup Finals.
“They have a lot of experience and a lot of great players,” said Patrick Marleau
who scored the game-winner in overtime Tuesday. “We don’t expect anything but their best. We’re going to expect their best and it’s going to give us a chance to up our game as well. There is a lot of fight left in them.”
Added Devin Setoguchi: “At any time they can turn it around. We have to refocus and come prepared to play the game we want to play.”
San Jose should be well commended for taking the commanding 3-0 lead, but each of the contests had been a one-goal game by the same 4-3 count, so in no way will they be able to coast to close out the series.
“They’ve been really tight games and we got some bounces here and there,” said Marleau. “It’s good to be up what we are, but there is still lot’s of work to get the fourth win.”
Sharpshooter Dany Heatley said that because all three previous games were close the Sharks expect tonight’s game to be equally as tightly contested.
San Jose plans to focus on their game to match Detroit’s intensity and will treat Game Four as just another playoff game in some respects.
“It’s about the task at hand,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “If they are talking that way, the leaders are doing what they are supposed to do and we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Many Sharks can recall first-hand the fight they showed themselves two years ago when they rallied from down 3-0 to Dallas to force a Game 6 that ended dramatically in four overtimes. With that knowledge, the Sharks would like to close out the series tonight.
Even with that hope, the Sharks aren’t looking ahead one bit.
“You can’t,” said Marleau. “It’s not over until it’s over. There is one more needed to move on and that’s what we need to do. Stick with what’s been working for us in previous games. You have to keep your emotions in check and still play the game.”
“It’s not done until you get the fourth win,” Setoguchi echoed. “That one is the toughest and it will be tough to get that one tonight. Anytime you start looking ahead before you finish (a series), you haven’t accomplished it. Tonight we need to win. You don’t win with three.”Dan Boyle
said the absolute worst thing Team Teal can do right now is look ahead.
“There is too much respect in this room for the other team,” Boyle admitted. “We aren’t looking past anything.”
The Sharks know that any window left open for Detroit is too much of a window.
“You always try to win four and as fast as you can, however you can do it,” said Sharks postseason leading scorer Joe Pavelski
. “This is a new challenge and a new test.”
McLellan said that San Jose has a very difficult task tonight in their attempt to win their fourth consecutive game in this series.
“But because it’s Detroit, it might make the coach’s job and the leader’s job even easier because they do have that distinct threat of having the ability to come back,” said McLellan of his former club.
Detroit played in a must win game just to get to the second round when they handily defeated Phoenix in Game Seven, so they know the type of game to bring.
“Dave Tippets’ comments about a hurricane,” said McLellan referring to the Phoenix coach’s comments after Detroit came up big in the deciding contest. “They are going to come out and play hard. If we’re on our heels, we’ll have a hurricane on our hands. If we’re on our toes, we’ll find a way to deal with it. Their special teams that night were exceptional.”
The last and only time the Sharks led 3-0 was in 2004 against Colorado. The Avalanche won two games before the Sharks closed things out in six.
PLAY OF THE YEAR
Miikka Kiprusoff is up for Play of the Year on TSN and it was for a save against San Jose’s Scott Nichol.
“Yeah, it deserves to win because I don’t score many goals, so that really hurt when I thought I had one there,” said Nichol. “It was a nice save. I remember, I thought it was in and he kicked his heel back and saved it. It was a pretty spectacular save. Hopefully I’m on the other end of that award next time. I’ll try a couple of spin-o-ramas, you never know.”
The Sharks defensive duo of Kent Huskins and Jason Demers
received well deserved praise for their play in Game Three.
“I thought they maybe were our best pair, especially the back half of the game,” said McLellan. “They did a real good job of getting the puck out of the zone. They moved the puck out quickly. Husky had to leave the game for 6-7 minutes because of the stick to the eye, but he came back and played really well.”
Game 4 will be at 4:30 Pacific time and will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.