The San Jose Sharks have done what they could to point out the differences between last year’s series with Detroit and this year’s version. However, with two one-goal victories preceding a Game 3 in Detroit, the characters may have changed some, but the results have been on the money.
Just like Game 3 in Hockeytown last year, Detroit fans will be in peak form and the opponent will come out fully charged. San Jose will be hoping for another repeat from last year: a Game 3 victory.
|Detroit Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula, of Finland, center, collides with San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers (60) and right wing Dany Heatley (15) during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL Western Conference semifinal Stanley Cup playoff hockey series game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, April 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) |
“It’s different circumstances, but for the most part we’ve got to play a desperate game and play like it’s a 0-0 series,” Jason Demers
said. “We’re not looking too far ahead, just what’s in front of us. They’re going to be desperate and we’ve got to match that.”
“It seems with them coming home, it will be the hardest one and we expect tonight will be the hardest push,” Torrey Mitchell
said. “We know they don’t want to fall far behind in the series and 3-0 is a pretty big mountain to climb. We expect their best hockey.”
The fan noise at Joe Louis Arena will be part of the push for the Wings, but playoff crowd noise can be a rush for both squads.
“Every building in the playoffs gives a lot of adrenaline and it’s fun when the fans support their team,” Demers said. “Personally, I enjoy it.”
The Sharks players know that a 3-0 series lead would be much different than a 2-1 advantage. They would still have the lead either way, but history says their odds would be dramatically better with a Wednesday victory.
“It’s very difficult to come back from a 3-0 deficit. We’re expecting their top game tonight,” Joe Thornton
“Our mindset is to continue to play desperate hockey even though we’re not in a desperate situation,” Mitchell said. “It’s tricky because we’re not down 2-0, but we just need to come in and focus on playing desperate. Two separate years but with the experience of going through it, hopefully we can do the same thing this year.”
Coach Todd McLellan noted the similarities between the two teams has taken a lot of the guess work out for the coaches and players.
“I think it eliminates most of the challenges,” McLellan said. “It’s black and white. It’s the 18 skaters completing hard. There aren’t secrets or trick plays coming into play. I know Mike (Detroit Head Coach Babcock) well enough to know he’s not changing the way he plays at this point. He believes his team can play harder and I believe our team can play harder. It’s very simple. It’s easier in that sense.”
The boards in Detroit have a well deserved reputation for sending the puck quickly back into play, but the Sharks players are prepared for those oddities.
“They’re lively so you have to be ready,” Patrick Marleau
said. “Any shot that goes toward the net could end up in front of the net, even if it misses. It can work to your advantage or your disadvantage, so you have to be ready at all times.”
A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE THIS YEAR
Demers was a seventh defenseman or a healthy scratch at times in last year’s postseason. Now that experience has been beneficial as he holds a regular defensive spot.
“It’s different for sure,” Demers said. “Last year, I just had to be ready for anything (playing or not). I enjoy this more. It’s more fun to know what’s going on all the time. It’s different with a little more experience. There are no surprises.”
TV FOR YOULogan Couture
’s parents would normally make the drive to Detroit from Ontario to watch him play, but they're dealing with expired passports and will have to rely on the television.
“They’re stuck in Canada to watch at home,” Couture said. “I think it’s both of them. If it was just my mom’s, I’m sure my dad would come over. And vice-versa.”
KNOWING THE OTHER TEAM
Babcock pointed out his line situation when addressing the media and then stated that McLellan would respond by flipping positions with Marleau and Couture.
“When it comes to that, it’s not going to matter,” McLellan said. “It’s going to be five players on the ice competing. They’re all talented, they’ve all played in these situations before. We never get exactly what we want as a coach anyhow. I think way too much is made of matches.”
If Marleau does indeed center a line and Couture plays on the wing with Thornton, McLellan pointed out one advantage.
“Size down the middle,” McLellan said. “(Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg are very talented players, but they’re also strong on pucks. Patrick Marleau
is 6-foot-2, 225 pounds and can skate very well. Not that Logan Couture
can’t do it given that opportunity. (It’s) to put size and strength down the middle.”
I'M PLAYING AND THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT
Babcock said he was putting Kris Draper into the lineup, but Draper was pretty funny after the morning skate when it was pointed out that Babcock had yet to officially designate him.
“He didn’t confirm, eh,” Draper said. “I’m going. I’ll confirm it.”
The veteran, who hasn't played the first two games of the series, definitely drew laughter during his media scrum after the morning skate.
Game 3 will be at 5 p.m. on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 K-FOX FM and www.sjsharks.com.