When the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Wednesday, the Sharks will be going in with one of their deepest clubs ever and, when it comes to on ice production, everyone is playing a vital role.
San Jose finished the season with five members in the 20-goal club (Joe Thornton
, Patrick Marleau
, Dany Heatley, Joe Pavelski
and Devin Setoguchi) and 10 players who reached double digits in goals.
Sixteen different players have accounted for game-winning goals to show how the scoring variety is spread throughout the club.
For San Jose, numbers are part of the equation, but it is ability of so many players to do so many things that makes this team unique. If a player on the “top two” lines can’t be in the line up, skaters like Manny Malhotra, Torrey Mitchell
or maybe even red hot rookie Logan Couture
can step up and fill the role. While players will have their assignments, everyone is accountable and willing to go outside their boundaries if necessary.
“Those are important guys who can slide up and down,” said Dan Boyle
When it comes to the dirty work, the centers in the faceoff circle, along with the wingers who flank them, have done their job all year, and it’s not just the checking lines. San Jose’s faceoff leaders are among the league’s best no matter what line they play on, whether it’s Thornton, Pavelski, Manny Malhotra or Scott Nichol.
The Sharks have a nice blend of experience and youth which should serve them well. Experience is always a plus, especially in the postseason.
“It’s big,” said Heatley. “For the guys who have won the Cup, it’s a long grind.”
Then again, the San Jose can mix in some youthful exuberance that will be a benefit as well.
“We have young guys like McGinn and Couture helping out,” said Dan Boyle
. “They are just as important if they are playing five minutes or 25 minutes. It’s not how much, but what you do.”
The Sharks team knows they aren’t riding the coat tails of a few select players. No matter how well Evgeni Nabokov performs in net, it won’t matter if the team defense isn’t strong in front of him. The opposite is true on the other end that if the team’s defensive efforts aren’t on track, it won’t matter how many goals the Sharks elite talent puts up.
The top lines will put up a few more goals because of a lot of factors, but if the Sharks checking lines aren’t creating chances and jumping on the opposition’s top lines, that can make a major difference in the series.
“Our fourth line can score and wear other teams down,” said Boyle. “The way they play and wear down the first two lines, we get rewarded for that.”
Each night it will take every player on the ice and in the end that is what makes the Sharks so dangerous. They truly get effort from everywhere.
“It’s a good thing heading to the playoffs and we need everyone doing their part,” said Mitchell.
STRAIGHT AND SIMPLE
Evgeni Nabokov broke the playoffs down in a very simple manner.
“All the numbers and all the talk don’t matter, you have to come out and win hockey games,” said Nabokov.
It was pointed out to Logan Couture
that his shootout goal to defeat Phoenix in the season finale was the last difference maker between the Sharks being the first and second seed in the Western Conference.
“I guess it did help,” said Couture. “There were many shootout goals earlier that got us points. I’m happy I scored and got the opportunity to get out there.”
There is no NHL team that is completely healthy after 82 games of regular season action. That being said, the Sharks are happy with where they are starting the postseason.
“We are healthier this year than we were last year,” said McLellan.
That being said, the playoff mode has begun and don’t expect any relevant injury updates from any NHL team.
“It’s the playoffs, your leg should be hanging before you are out,” said McLellan.
The Sharks coaching staff put a lot of time into studying the Avs yesterday and today, but they will be careful not to over do it with information as to try and avoid “paralysis by analysis.”
The stream of stats and video will be critical to finding a crack with the Avalanche attack, but McLellan and his crew won’t reinvent the wheel.
“We know we’ll see them for (an entire series), we we’ll have to tweak the power play (and penalty kill),” said McLellan.
The San Jose and Worcester Sharks, along with the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears are the only NHL and AHL affiliates to see both clubs win their division.
SHARKS PLAYERS “FAVORITE THINGS” BASKET FUNDRAISER
Always wondered about Dan Boyle
’s favorite restaurant, Joe Pavelski
’s favorite DVD or what kind of music Patrick Marleau
listens to? Well, join the Sharks Wives and Girlfriends for the Sharks “Favorite Things” Basket Fundraiser during the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Baskets featuring some of your Sharks favorite items will be auctioned off at the Sharks Foundation booth (outside of Section 124) on the concourse via a blind bid format during the opening round. For more information, visit www.SharksFoundation.org!
PLAYOFF MYSTERY PUCK FUNDRAISER
Sharks Fans, the Playoff Mystery Puck Fundraiser will take place on Wednesday, Apr. 14 and Friday, Apr. 16. $20 will get you a wrapped puck, guaranteed to be autographed by a member of the 2009-10 team. Fans that find a “WINNER” tag on the bottom of their puck will receive an additional prize. Pucks will only be sold at the North and South Entrances. Fans must pay BEFORE making their puck selection(s) and can use cash or check. Visit www.SharksFoundation.org for more information.
San Jose will host Colorado Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.