With Colorado being the home club, the Sharks will have to endure their first game of the playoffs with the crowd being revved up for the opponent.
“You expect these fans to be intense, they support their team and always have,” said Rob Blake, who won a Stanley Cup with Colorado. “They are loyal fans.”
Sometimes, the talk is of hanging on for the first five or ten minutes of the game, but the Sharks will look to drive the tempo themselves.
“I wouldn’t say surviving, we need to pick our game up,” said Blake. “We know what we need to do and we need to increase our intensity. We need to take it up a notch tonight.”
“They’ll come out strong,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. “It’s their rink and their home fans. Weather the storm, but at the same time we want to start the game off well. We’ll be pumped as well.”
“Don’t think about surviving and sitting on your heels, get after them, get pucks to the net and make them play in their end a little bit,” said Ryane Clowe
Both clubs will bring everything to try and take the 2-1 series lead.
“They are ready to sacrifice, just as our team is,” said Blake.
Key for the Sharks will be playing the same format as they did in Game 2 where they were able to limit Colorado’s shots and were able to fire away as they desired.
“We didn’t allow too many shots. We want to score six goals, but not allow five,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. “We want to bring the same intensity and play the way we did the last game.”
The question always comes up about the altitude when playing in the Mile High City.
“It plays in your mind too, but keep short shifts and don’t get caught out there,” said Blake. “They are in the same situation. They were out in San Jose for five days and had to come back.”
There is no doubt the Sharks are using their aggressive style to hit Colorado whenever they can and it was on full display the last game. Now the Sharks hope to do that and more Sunday night.
“I’d like to think we can sustain it,” said McLellan. “It’s a must to slow down their team. You have to bump and grind. It’s not about running out of position, but when you get an opportunity to finish or to battle for a loose puck, you’d better be prepared to do it.”
In Colorado the Avalanche coaching staff will be able to have the last line change, but McLellan doesn’t see it as a major factor thus far.
“It may change now, but it’s been 1-2 versus 1-2 and 3-4 playing 3-4. I don’t think that’s a big issue, but the ball is in their court and they may want to change the way it’s going and we’ll have to adjust to that,” said McLellan. “I don’t think it’s one of those series where we’re jumping through hoops to get the right people on the ice.”
San Jose put up more than 50 shots in Game 2 and would have had close to 70 if not for the shot blocking of the Avalanche. San Jose will have to deal with that all series.
“Adjust the shooting angle a little bit,” said McLellan. “We’re aware they are a team committed to that. Get the puck off your tape a little bit quicker. We’re going to have to make their goaltender work.”
The Sharks have called up Dwight Helminen, but as with most personal issues, there will be very little insight provided as to whether it means the player will skate in the game. Helminen played in four games for San Jose this year and produced a goal on his only shot.
“Dwight Helminen is back,” said McLellan. “He is skating with the team today and we’ll see what we do with him tonight. Another option.”
The bounces in the series just seem to be going the Avs way and it should be pointed out that they should get credit for making their own luck. However, the Sharks know if they keep exuding the same effort as Game 2, they could get a little luck of their own.
“If you look back at the highlights, they are getting bounces, but we’ve never talked about that in here,” said Scott Nichol. “Just go out there and get it done and it will come. We’ll get our own bounces as long as we’re putting the work in. Good things will happen.”
The Sharks will play Colorado at 6:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.