However, when it came time for the so-called second unit, they rang up two of their own goals. Devin Setoguchi, Logan Couture
and Ryane Clowe
, seeing a lot of time with the same point-men, are just as dangerous in their own right and when both groups are clicking the Sharks are lethal.
“I think it’s really important,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan of the production from both groups.
The Couture trio has been together since camp opened and made a quick statement for themselves in Sweden.
“Seto, Couture and I have been together since training camp and they are doing what they can not to break us up,” said Clowe. “We have good chemistry.”
To begin with, Couture’s group brings a different dynamic than Thornton’s group. Couture operates different than Thornton and Clowe is a different player than Marleau. There might be some similarities but they operate distinctively with and without the puck.
“Both are hard to defend,” said Marleau. “It keeps the other team on their toes. We are different the types of players that make them think on the fly.”
“That is what makes them (Couture’s group) dangerous a little bit too. Everything from breaking out sometimes to entering the zone, they are different,” said McLellan. “The way they set up in the zone is different. I think you have to have that (difference) between a couple of power play units to give other teams a different look.”
Part of what can make Couture’s unit work is the rookie in the middle.
“It shows the confidence we have in him right now,” said McLellan. “We feel as the year goes on and he feels more comfortable, he will be more productive. Yet he’s already put one in in Stockholm. It was a very big goal at that time. We obviously have confidence in him.”
The depth can almost be intimidating for the opposition playing a man down. The Sharks players don’t rank each other, but see themselves as two individually successful groups.
“Some people look at it as first and second units, but we really don’t want to use those terms,” said Boyle. “The ten guys that go out there are capable of doing the jobs. Everyone is pretty creative out there and so far it is working out.”
“I think when you look at it, we have skill out front,” said Thornton. “No matter what group goes out, it is expected to do good things. It doesn’t matter if it’s our group or Logan’s. Our power plays aren’t one and two. It’s more like 1A and 1B, we are both skilled and capable of doing the job.”
There is also a friendly competition within the groups that can serve as a motivator.
“It’s a momentum thing,” said Boyle. “We’ll feed off of each other. The other good thing is it pushes you. If you are not doing the job, they are going to find somebody else. Whether you’re on the power play or the penalty kill, it is an honor to be out there. It’s something to be proud of, but you have to work hard and can’t take a night off. It’s nice when there are five other guys pushing you to make you better.”
“We put that tag that the first unit is Jumbo because of the players, but if the other group is doing what they are supposed to do and performing better, they might get to start the power play situation,” said McLellan. “When you have competitiveness between the two units, it makes them stronger. I think we’ve got that going on right now.”
The power play won’t score two goals a game all the time, but when the confidence is rolling, it can seem like they might score at will.
“I think it’s a mentality where if you put in the work, and work even harder (when up a man), you can get the momentum going your way,” said Marleau.
“If you get some chemistry going like the last games, we start feeding off each other,” Clowe.
It makes for a true feeding frenzy on the power play.
McLellan held true to his word that if he got an “honest day” out of practice on Tuesday, there would be a day off on Wednesday. The honest day made for some tired players on the ice and in the lockerroom.
“We earned our stripes today. If you work hard in practice the games are easier,” quipped Thornton.
Wednesday’s day off should be the final remnant of the European trip.
“When Thursday comes, we’re done with the European (trip),” said McLellan.
Jamal Mayers continues to work on preparing for his Sharks debut.
“Jammer didn’t skate today,” said McLellan. “I thought he might be back on the ice today and he wasn’t so we’ll have to re-evaluate on Thursday.”
The Sharks will host Atlanta in their home opener on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be carried on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.