Sharks players tuning in to the other Western Conference Semifinal last night between Nashville and Vancouver saw the visiting Predators extend the battle to six games. San Jose has taken note and wants to ensure it doesn’t happen in their series with Detroit. It’s easier said than done, but winning Game 5 is the plan.
“We want to finish them off tonight and get some rest,” Kyle Wellwood said. “They know they aren’t that far away from making a Game 6.”
With a 3-1 series lead, the Sharks are definitely in control. A 3-2 series lead would make it dramatically closer.
“You never want things to linger and give hope,” Devin Setoguchi said. “They’re a great hockey club, we know that. Any sort of life you give teams, especially a skilled hockey club like that, momentum can shift.”
“We don’t want to prolong this any longer,” Dan Boyle
said. “It’s not that fun to go cross country and have to play a couple days later. We’re not looking past this at all.”
The Sharks will bring the same intensity and focus to HP Pavilion that allowed them to capture the first two contests of the series.
“We don’t treat it any differently,” Setoguchi said. “We approach the game the same way as we do any other game. We need to be sharper in our own end and execute our game better. They know if they lose one more game they are out and we need to win one more game to get through. It’s going to be a battle either way.”
The world doesn’t end if San Jose falls, but the world would be much easier if they prevail. Besides the fact the win would obviously move them to the third Western Conference Final, it would not force another travel day across to the Eastern time zone.
“Nobody likes to play more games, especially when you’re looking at a long flight there,” Wellwood pointed out. “They are tough in their building, they played us (tough) both games in Detroit and we were fortunate enough to get the split.”
Part of the Sharks earning a win Sunday would be getting a better beginning than they’ve had the past two games in the Motor City.
“I think the first period is going to be crucial for us and we’re really going to have to feed off our fans here,” Jason Demers
said. “We have to come out hard and take away their will . . . and take away their momentum.”
“That’s one of the things we haven’t done that well since I’ve been here is get the leads,” Wellwood began. “It’s just a matter of us finding our game as early as we can.”
Somehow Team Teal hasn’t allowed slower starts to affect their outcomes too often, with Game 4 being a notable exception.
“We seem to be able to get behind, find our game and beat teams in the third and overtime,” Wellwood said. “It would be nice to stay away from that formula. We’re looking to bring more energy and more speed. We didn’t have our legs that well in Games 3 and 4. Tonight we’re hoping we’re the fresher team.”
In the perfect world the Sharks could get out to a big lead and hold on, but with every game of the series being a one-goal affair, no one is betting the bank on that.
“It would be nice to be able to do that (build an early lead) and play a different game late in the game. Being up by a couple of goals, it would be nice to have that cushion and close it out that way,” Marleau said.
The reality is another one-goal affair is in the making as eight of the last nine playoff games between the two have been decided by a single tally.
“The chances are pretty good,” Marleau said of another one-goal contest. “It’s been that way, with the Game 4 exception last year.”
San Jose will be looking to play a little more physical than they did away from home.
“They talked about our D men having some easy nights the first two, I think we need to punish their guys a little bit more than we have the last couple of games,” Boyle said. “Be in their end wave after wave.”
They would ideally like to limit Detroit to one goal as they did as well in the first two games.
“We have to defend from the inside out and deny them the second and third opportunities,” Jason Demers
DETROIT FREE PRESS
This is from the Detroit Free Press online edition today.
The Red Wings may be without forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen as they try to avoid being eliminated by the Sharks in Game 5 tonight. Both will be game-time decisions following warm-ups.
Franzen has struggled all series, nearly immobilized by a sprained ankle suffered in Game 2 of the first round. Datsyuk is dealing with a sore wrist, which forced him to miss Saturday’s practice, the Free Press has learned.
Coach Mike Babcock said he’s told both Mike Modano and Drew Miller to be on stand-by in case either or both are needed.
Game 5 will be at 5 p.m. and will be on Versus, 98.5/102.1 FM and www.sjsharks.com.