The San Jose Sharks had a statement game Thursday night against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and they made it loud and clear to the rest of the league that they have their own Stanley Cup ambitions. Detroit scored a quick goal to start the second period, but Team Teal responded with four unanswered tallies for the 4-2 victory.
“We played the runners-up (Pittsburgh) and the champs (in the last two games),” said Ryane Clowe
, who chipped in the game-winner. “We stole their assistant coach and it was a big night for him.”
It is still just an eighth of the way into the long, 82-game NHL season, but Team Teal is sitting pretty at 9-2-0 and in first place in the highly competitive Western Conference.
“It’s definitely early, but it’s obviously where we’d like to be,” said Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but the work done in training camp and in the last few days is paying off.”
To the Head Coach Todd McLellan, it was just another win even though it came against his employer from last year and the franchise he earned a Stanley Cup ring with as an assistant.
“The fans aren’t here for the coaches,” said McLellan. “They (the players) are the ones out their sweating. People come to watch them play and not watch us.”
The players felt differently.
“He didn’t mention it, but we all knew,” said Clowe. “We made sure he had a smile after. He didn’t show us.”
The Sharks are happy with the win, but acknowledged the Wings may not have been at their best.
“They were coming off a big physical game in Anaheim last night,” said Marleau.
“I’m not sure the fans or the media understand how hard back-to-back games are with the travel,” said McLellan.
SETO THE PLAYMAKER
Devin Setoguchi has been known in his junior and professional career for finding the back of the net, but it was his playmaking that directly resulted in two of the Sharks four goals against Detroit. On the first, with a defender draped all over him, he slipped a pass along the boards to Joe Thornton
who then gave Patrick Marleau
the easy play for the Sharks first marker.
Later for the insurance tally, Setoguchi was fighting for control along the half board and spotted Joe Pavelski
charging in on a line change. The perfect feed let Pavelski score with nobody covering him.
“I just saw him coming off the bench,” said Setoguchi. “It was kind of lucky on my part.”
Setoguchi’s coach saw more than luck.
“It was his board play that set things up for him,” said McLellan.
“Seto got in there and created havoc,” said Clowe.
2ND GAME 1ST GOAL
Jamie McGinn broke into the NHL in a Sharks victory again Pittsburgh and in his second game against Detroit, he posted his first NHL goal and assist.
The goal came while his line was grinding the Red Wings down low and the rookie was hammering away at a loose puck out front.
“It was a special game,” said McGinn.
When McGinn hit the bench, he was greeted by the perpetually young Jeremy Roenick who gave the rookie with a hug. As McGinn was pictured on the big screen for 17,496 to see, Roenick grabbed McGinn’s glove and helped him wave to the crowd.
“I didn’t know what to do,” said McGinn. “It was a great reaction from the fans and J.R. helped me along.”
It may have been late in Eastern Canada, but McGinn knew who he was quickly going to call as soon as he finished his media obligations.
“Definitely my parents,” said McGinn.
His energetic play may earn McGinn some continued ice time with the first place Sharks.
“To play Pittsburgh and Detroit to start his NHL career, I’m really excited for him,” said McLellan
While happy with the complete game on Thursday, McLellan will continue to find improvements for his emerging club.
“Tonight’s lesson is we’ve got to learn how to win games,” said McLellan. “We sat back a little. We’ll address it and hope we respond the next game.”
Brad Lukowich took a hit into the boards during the contest and had to miss a few shifts, but he returned like a true hockey player.
“A little duct tape and I’m fine,” said Lukowich.
Pavelski now has seven points in his last six games (4+3=7).
HE’S YOUR LEADER
Marleau scored his team leading sixth goal of the season. The Sharks captain also leads the team in points with 10 (6+4=10).
Detroit had a couple of former Sharks in the lineup in Brad Stuart and Mikael Samuelsson.
RED WINGS HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK
“I thought they were better than us. They had more spark than us. That is the bottom line”
“Once we got through the first, I thought we could get our legs. We survived the first (period) and then we scored first and I thought we were right there.”
“We tried to do things and they just did them better. Those things happen during the year. We look forward to playing them again. We are only eleven games into the season.”
“They are very organized and they look real excited. They are in first place in West and I am not a bit surprised.”
San Jose will not play again until Sunday when they visit Colorado in a 5 p.m. game that be available on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.