The San Jose Sharks got what they wanted when their core players stepped up and delivered in dramatic fashion for their 3-2 overtime victory against Anaheim in Game 5. The bigger name offensive threats were also the driving force in San Jose’s Game 3 victory, their only other one of the series.
However, to take the next two games, it will likely be necessary for someone outside the core to step up and provide a tally or two.
“It takes all lines rolling,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “If you’re missing one or two bodies, the odds of you winning are greatly diminished. You’re not going to win without having 20 guys playing at a high level.”
Efforts in Game 5 from Jonathan Cheechoo, Torrey Mitchell
and Jeremy Roenick were indicative that a magical goal scorer could come from the grouping.
“If you have a fourth line that has energy like we did last night it helps, but we have to find a way to put the puck in the net,” said Roenick. “We had a lot of chances. We have to step up to another level going into their building now.”
Maybe the tally will be from Joe Pavelski
’s line as Milan Michalek used his speed to spring himself on a shorthanded breakaway situation in Game 5.
“At times during the season they carried us,” said McLellan. “We’re going to need their input as the series goes on, especially in power play situations. I thought a couple of them had better games last night. I still think there is more there from the three of them.”
Maybe it will be someone on Marcel Goc’s line or from a blueliner like Douglas Murray
who is more of a physical threat than a goal scoring option.
“That’s what you need in the playoffs,” said Vlasic. “You can’t rely on the top lines for seven games. They stepped up last game and we might need someone else to step up the next game. I think someone will.”
No matter where it comes from, San Jose will be looking for help responding for a Game 6 win.
When the other lines are going, it has an avalanche affect on the whole team.
“It’s nice to see our third and fourth line going out there and playing hard and getting opportunities,” said Marleau. “It gives everyone a lift on the bench when they have really good shifts out there. It’s part of the winning in the playoffs.”
To find the goals, the Sharks will have to continue to find ways past Jonas Hiller.
“He stopped me seven times last night,” said Cheechoo. “He’s played really well. We just have to keep throwing pucks at him.”
THE OTHER SIDE
With Thornton’s line coming up in a big way, Anaheim will look to their offensive leaders to try and close the series out at home.
That means Marc-Edouard Vlasic
and Rob Blake will be on the ice as often as possible to slow them down. Vlasic knows that goals against will come during a series when playing against top offensive performers, but his goal is to minimize the chances.
“It’s a big challenge for me personally,” said Vlasic. “Shutting down a top line in the playoffs is even more important than the regular season. Just like our top line, at some time they are going to get points. You try to shut them down as much as you can, especially five-on-five.”
With the exception of one contest, the efforts of the blueline have allowed the series to stay close.
“In one game they had a lot of five-on-five points,” said Vlasic. “Other than that we held them to one point five-on-five. It is a good challenge. They are big with a lot of skill.”
Vlasic knows that you can’t help pitch a shutout every game, but it doesn’t mean he likes it when goals are scored.
“I hate being a minus,” said Vlasic. “Hopefully I can get more pluses at the end of the series, but I hate getting scored upon more than anything else.”
With the series in peril after Anaheim rallied to tie Game 5 at two, Jeremy Roenick help rekindle the Sharks flame on the bench.
“I have a really big mouth,” said Roenick. “There is no question about it. I talk really well. There’s a lot of pent up energy in me. I tried to instill in everybody to be afraid like it was your last game.”
Game 6 against Anaheim will take place at 7:30 p.m. and will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.