The San Jose Sharks locker room was all business following their morning skate as they prepared for tonight’s Game Two at HP Pavilion. While they would rather be up 1-0, the Sharks know their situation isn’t any different than that of the Washington Capitals (the National Hockey League’s top seed), New Jersey Devils (No. 2 in the Eastern Conference) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 4). Like the Sharks, these higher seed teams also lost their series openers.
Plain and simple: it’s playoff hockey. Parity in the NHL makes it impossible to have an easy series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“In my opinion, there are 16 quality teams playing,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “For the most part, teams are very close and it is very tight.”
McLellan noted San Jose could see a lineup change for tonight, but wasn’t specific about what it might be.Defenseman Jason Demers skated the last two days in the same colored jersey as the defensemen, but that doesn’t mean the rookie couldn’t play forward when the game begins.
All McLellan would say in the post-morning skate presser: “We’ll make some game time decisions.”
SHOTS AND SIZE DO MATTER
McLellan was adamant the Sharks would need to get more shots to the net once they gained control of the zone and felt a lot of those could come from the blueline as just one defenseman (Rob Blake, three) recorded a shot in Game One.
He also wants the team to use their size advantage a little more.
“When you’re bigger and stronger, which I believe we are, if you get on the smaller player quickly and create a battle, strength should take over,” McLellan said. “We have to protect the puck a little more.”
San Jose’s top line of Patrick Marleau (220 pounds), Dany Heatley (also 220) and Thornton (230) has size.Forward Ryane Clowe, who skates with Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi, weighs 225. The size, when it’s in the right position, can be a terrific advantage.
OUT OF THE WAY
Rookie forward Logan Couture is glad he got his first NHL playoff game out of the way and is looking forward to his second game tonight.
“We came out to the rink and everyone was waving their towels. It was cool,” Couture said. “I had a big smile on my face. It’s something you’re rarely a part of, having 17,000 fans screaming for you. I wish we would’ve won the game, but it is a best of seven.”
He said there was one noticeable difference from the regular season to the playoffs: the intensity.
“It’s more intense,” Couture said. “You can’t have a mistake at any time.”
THE NUMBERS GAME
Comcast SportsNet California’s telecast of last Wednesday’s Game One delivered an average 3.85 television household rating and is an 84 percent increase in viewership compared to the regular season high of 2.09 (Sharks/Ducks, Jan. 21, 2010). More than 96,000 households were watching in the San Jose/San Francisco television market. The game drew a peak audience of more than 108,000 households (4.33 rating). In addition to the game rating, the network posted an all-time rating high for “Sharks Pregame Live” with a 1.78.
Demers had his beard growing back after shaving it off before the opening contest.
“I haven’t shaved it all the way down in two years,” Demers said. “I look too young without a beard.”
Game Two with San Jose and Colorado will be at 7:30 p.m. and will be carried on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.