Game 3 is as important a game as there can be in the San Jose-Chicago story.
“It’s probably a must win game for both teams,” said Joe Thornton
. “They win, they’ve got a strangle hold on the series. If we win, we’re back in the series. Game threes in the post season are always very vital.”
A Sharks win makes it a one game deficit again and changes the outlook.
“We want to get ourselves back into this thing and we’ll get that pulse and be a better team,” said Dan Boyle
“3-0 or 2-1, those are two totally different scenarios, obviously we like the latter of the two and will look to cut their lead in half,” said Patrick Marleau
While there are some game adjustments happening, the mental approach is not drastically different.
“We have to come in here as we have all playoffs and be prepared,” said Rob Blake.
Many questions are being asked about Dany Heatley and that he hasn’t performed up to what many outside expect from him.
The sniper who was acquired in the summer wants more offensively, but is doing a strong job in all areas of the game and still seeing chances.
“Yeah, you got to score goals. You know, I haven't had that many so far,” said Heatley. “Again, just trying to do the right things, create chances, make some good shots. I’m getting shots, getting chances. Sometimes it goes in for us, sometimes it doesn't. (We’ve) got to find a way to score some goals.”
McLellan is aware of Healtey’s numbers, but isn’t in a panic over it as he has confidence in Heatley’s track record and that he is working hard.
“Yes is a real simple answer,” answered McLellan when asked if Heatley needs to score more. “As coaches, we're always aware there are 19 others that play the game as well. We need that from some others. Heater has the skill and the ability. In the past that he's proven that he can put the puck in the net. There is some pressure on him right now. He feels it. I'm sure he'll handle it appropriately.”
Much has been made of Chicago matching lines to have their checkers out against the Marleau line, but even if that happens every shift, McLellan says it is something that must be dealt with.
“The simple fact is, if our big line ends up on the ice against those three, they have to find a way to outplay them,” said McLellan. “There's nothing that we can continually do to get away from it. They're going to be up against them. At the end of the night, they have to find a way to be productive.”
There is also the possibility that McLellan tweaks his lines if he deems it necessary. All of his top six forwards have shown the ability to play well in different formations during the year.
“There's a real good chance of that,” said McLellan. “Obviously, we talk again of the match scenario. We've only scored three goals in the series. We have to find a way to be a little more offensive. With that said, we can't open up the game so much. We respect their offense enough, that you can't open it up totally. That's what happens when you're chasing a series. We're now behind and we're chasing it. You've got to adjust in one area, but you have to make sure it doesn't affect the other.”
The Sharks are a veteran team that has played in virtually every scenario, so even a building that can rival HP Pavilion for noise (a players’ poll recently ranks HP Pavilion 1st and United Center 3rd) won’t rattle them too much. In fact, whether home or road, a good atmosphere simply makes it fun to play in.
“I love playing in this building,” said Thornton. “It's pretty electric. 20,000 fans going crazy, it's a good building to play in. We've had some success here in the past. We're looking forward to that tomorrow.”
The media was offering up that Vancouver and Nashville had previous success in the building against Chicago this postseason, but Blake was having nothing of that talk.
“You don’t get to this point if you are vulnerable at home,” said Blake. “Every team is prepared and is willing to do what you have to at home or road. Whether it’s at home or the road, you have to take charge.”
The Sharks coaching staff is working to keep the Sharks playing the style they have all year, all the while trying to tweak what they can form what they’ve learned in the games.
“We saw some video that showed we can be better,” said Thornton. “We’ve addressed everything and we’ll be better tomorrow.”
Thornton was asked if he could talk specifically about what the team went over.
“No, you’ll see tomorrow night,” said Thornton, drawing laughter from the media.
“Whatever we’re doing as a team has not worked,” said Boyle. “We need to execute differently.”
San Jose still wants to get their physical game started by dumping the puck with purpose in order to retrieve it deep in the offensive zone.
“It’s the key to our game, getting pucks behind their defense,” said Devin Setoguchi. “If their backs are turned to get pucks, you can finish the check. They’ve got such an elite defensive corps that if their eyes are up, they are going to make a play and jump on you.”
“We’ve won a lot of games in a row this postseason and we know how to do it,” said Setoguchi. “It starts tomorrow night when we come here ready to play.”
Niclas Wallin recalled the year when his Carolina Hurricanes rallied from down two games against the Montreal Canadiens.
“We can’t look back and look at (the first two games),” said Wallin. “I’ve been down 2-0 and you have to believe in your system and keep playing. We can play much better and can play much better. It’s a best of seven and we’re looking forward. We are confident in here and tomorrow will be a big game for us. You’ve got to play for it.”
Many of the television cameras at the morning skate set up and started shooting when the Sharks players held their warmup game involving the soccer ball.
Game 3 will be at 5 p.m. on Versus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.co