Many members of the Sharks met with the media Wednesday morning before departing for Chicago for Games 3 and 4 of their Western Conference Final series with the Blackhawks. San Jose is in the unenviable position of trailing 2-0, but they will not let an early series deficit deter their mindset.
“We have an uphill battle right now,” said Patrick Marleau
. “It’s a good challenge for our club and a great opportunity to come back.”
The Shark have stuck by Head Coach Todd McLellan’s mantra of “overcome” this postseason, whether it was the bad bounces and breaks against Colorado or the demons of Detroit. The situation with Chicago is more difficult, but the Sharks still have to put one foot in front of the other.
“I think we’re better that way,” said Scott Nichol of facing adversity. “Coming into the playoffs against Colorado, they beat us and everyone (in the media) was thinking here we go again and we proved them wrong. Nobody has confidence in us, but the guys in the room know we can get it done. We’re a pretty dangerous animal when we’ve got our back towards the wall and that’s the way we’re approaching it.”
No matter how hard they skate or smart they play, the Sharks can’t even the series in one game. Just like after their wins, the last game must go in the rearview mirror and the focus will shift to upcoming contest.
“We know what’s ahead of us,” said Nichol. “It’s the old cliché, one game at a time. Shift by shift, game by game. We are a good team and we are confident. We didn’t get to first overall in the Western Conference by fluke or luck.”
“We have to understand we can’t win four games out there,” said Sharks captain Rob Blake.
This time, overcoming includes addressing their own game, but also figuring out what the talented Blackhawks are doing well.
Scoring, which was not an issue in the first two rounds, has been more difficult to come by for the talented Sharks.
“When it’s a one goal game, we’ve got to respond with some offense,” said Joe Pavelski
. “You take a day and figure it out. It’s no secret, we’re not playing as crisp as we did in the last series. That is one thing we have to get back to.”
“We need to get the puck through the neutral zone the way we want to,” said Blake.
Ideally the Sharks would be up 2-0, but they are still alive in the battle for Western Conference supremacy.
“We’re still trying to find a way to four wins before them,” said Pavelski.
Team Teal knows the outside world is counting them out now, but Stanley Cup winner Dan Boyle
says the club will rally around that point.
“Everybody thinks we’re done,” said Boyle. “Nothing would make me happier than to come back and disappoint everybody because everybody thinks we’re done.”
Plenty of hope remains because the Sharks have shown already they have a lot of fight in their makeup.
“I’m certainly not going to quit. I know the guys around here aren’t going to quit,” said Boyle.
Current Sharks players Patrick Marleau
and Evgeni Nabokov are the two remaining members from the 2004 Western Conference Finalist club. That team also lost the first two games at home, only to respond with two quick road wins to even the series.
“I guess you can compare that in terms of going down 2-0, but it’s a different team,” said Nabokov. “We’ve got to win more battles. We have to maybe be a little quicker. Better around the net in both ends.”
“It’s been done in the past,” said Marleau. “The guys have to believe in each other, but we have to raise our game to another level. Especially going and playing there. It’s a big task, but we can do it. We’ve got to go in there and get the job done in Game 3.”
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Sharks have been in the comfy confines of San Jose for a week and a half, so going on the road may serve as a refreshing break. San Jose took two of three from Colorado at Pepsi Center and split two games with Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.
“I think it’s good, everyone gets together and we all go for dinners,” said Nichol. “We can really focus and dig our heals in. Just refocus and come together. We’re going to be a tough animal to cage.”
“It’s good to be on the road sometimes and eliminate some of the distractions you have at home,” said Boyle. “It’s good for us to go and get out of here and try to get this series back on track.”
“We’re going to go in there and try to do what they did to us,” said Blake. “We’ll worry about that game Friday night first.”
The series took its first turn south (in a good way) as the clubs showed a little dislike for each other at the end of Game 2.
“Maybe that last five minutes showed a little bit of that,” said Blake. “It develops over a series. We can increase our intensity and play harder.”
McLellan doesn’t mind the rough stuff, but doesn’t want to see his club get out of control.
“It’s a fine line, it depends how you describe nastiness,” said McLellan. “If we’re sitting in the penalty box, we have no chance of coming back in the series. We’d like to be physical and get after their defensemen down behind the goal lines and prevent them from jumping in. Nastiness, I’m not sure that is going to get us what we want. Tenaciousness is probably a better word for us. We have to get a little more aggressive around the net and we’ve said that for two games straight now.”
The extra day between Game 2 and 3 allowed the Sharks to travel on Wednesday without worrying about finding time on the ice.
“We’ll take it with the travel and the time change,” said Blake. “We’ll have a good practice tomorrow and get regrouped for that game.”
Sharks radio color man Jamie Baker is returning to a scene where he won a championship. As a member of the Chicago Wolves, he helped the IHL franchise bring home the Turner Cup.
Game 3 will be Friday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time and will be on Versus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.