HP Pavilion has always been friendly to the Sharks, but when they venture away from home, they have no problem finding more success on the road.
Obviously San Jose is among the NHL’s elite clubs and that will bring victories no matter where the games are played, but there is a pride in the Sharks room when they win on the road and they look forward to those challenges. And they will have a big challenge in front of them Tuesday night at Staples Center with their Game 3 tilt against Los Angeles.
“We look at it as us versus 18,000 or 19,000 every game,” Patrick Marleau
“We enjoy it and we have fun with it,” Captain Joe Thornton
said. “We’re just focused and ready for the rink.”
The bonding that takes place on the road simply can’t happen at home with family accommodations to consider. On the road, the players only have themselves and it seems to bring them closer together.
“I think we like to be together on the road,” Dany Heatley said. “We’ve got a great bunch of guys in here. Going to another team’s rink with their fans, I think we thrive on that. You always like to be home playing in your rink, but it’s nice to come on the road. It’s going to be a really loud building in here and we’re excited for tonight.”
There is no fear for the Sharks upon entering enemy territory, only “excitement.” The Sharks feel the craziness of other buildings reminds them to stick to their basic game plan, which in turn breeds more success.
“I think it’s the simplicity of hard work,” Setoguchi said. “It’s definitely harder in the playoffs to win in other buildings, but when we get on the road we just come to play and work.”
It is hockey and hockey only and that is great for business.
“You can get away from some distractions and just think about hockey,” Setoguchi said. “On the road you hang out with the guys for dinner every night. We just kind of talk and clear the mind.”
The men in teal won’t be the only ones prepared for tonight though.
“You know they are going to be ready to go in their building so you’ve got to match that intensity and work ethic,” Setoguchi.
The Sharks hope to copy the recent road success of Detroit last night in Phoenix.
“In the playoffs teams come out to the early start,” Setoguchi said. “If you watch, it happened last night in Phoenix, Detroit came out and had a big start. Phoenix was down 2-0 after the first five minutes. You’ve got to be prepared to start the game or you could find yourself down a couple of goals.”
Some players have a knack for getting the job done on the road and Logan Couture
is a prime example.
“We love playing in our home rink, it’s so loud and the fans are so intimidating,” Couture said. “Myself, it seems I score all my goals away from the home rink. Maybe it has something to do with being with the guys more, but I really couldn’t tell you.”
Couture is happy he’s already experience a road hockey game as it can affect a young player the first time around.
“You come into another team’s rink and they are going to be loud,” Couture said. “Last year playing in Chicago, one of the loudest buildings in the entire league, really prepared me for it. A little bit of experience leads to a little bit more confidence.”
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan provided the biggest road hockey incentive for the players heading into Game 3.
“How about impressing the guy that sits beside you in the lockerroom, the guy that’s on your line,” McLellan said. “That will be our goal tonight. I want our guys to go out, play the first two or three shifts and come back and be able to look at the guy beside them and say ‘I’ve given you everything I have.’”
It’s now official and Ian White will return to action in Game 3.
“I’ll play tonight, I feel good, I feel ready,” White said. “The real test will be to get out there at game speed.”
While short lived due having his head rammed into the dasher boards, White made his NHL playoff debut in Game 1 and earned an assist on the Sharks first goal, contributing to the victory. He hopes to have the same positives in Game 3 and is excited about his first road playoff game.
“Every building brings a different sort of electricity,” White said. “They’ve got some passionate fans here too. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play tonight.”
White’s return does not mandate that blueliner Justin Braun
is a coach’s decision for the contest.
“We still have to make a decision on the lineup,” McLellan said. “We have the potential of playing seven (defensemen).”
CALDER FINALISTLogan Couture
was named a Calder Trophy Finalist Tuesday as one of the NHL’s three best rookies in 2010-11.
“This year there are a lot of great rookies in the league and to be named one of the top three is a great honor,” Couture said. “I owe a lot to everyone here in the Sharks organization from Doug to the coaching staff to all my teammates.”
There will definitely be a Couture family gathering at the NHL awards show when the playoffs conclude.
“I told my dad and he was saying how he is already planning the trip out there,” Couture said. “He’s pretty excited and my whole family is all pumped up.”
For now Couture is more worried about Game 3.
“I’m sure when the season is over, I’ll reflect on it, but right now I want to focus on the playoffs,” Couture said.
Couture’s coach had plenty to say and delivered some well deserved praise.
“We should all be very proud of him,” McLellan said. “It’s great to have a Calder candidate in our organization. It’s a reward for his tremendous year, his commitment to his teammates and his team. We’ve got our fingers crossed he can finish it with a win.”
Game 3 will be at 7:30 p.m. and is on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 FM and www.sjsharks.com.