Sharks stress they can't lose their bite
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|San Jose Sharks’ Joe Thornton (bottom) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Los Angeles Kings during overtime in Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final hockey game in Los Angeles, California April 25, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Todd McLellan doesn't want a deja vu of last year's Game 4 at the Joe Louis Arena.
So with the San Jose Sharks in a position to eliminate the Detroit Red Wings from the Western semifinal with a victory Friday, McLellan didn't pull any punches in a pre-practice meeting.
McLellan didn't want any of the San Jose players savouring the club's performance Wednesday, when Devin Setoguchi's goal in overtime completed a hat trick and gave the Sharks a 4-3 win and a 3-0 series lead over Detroit.
The Sharks were in the same position last spring and lost 7-1 to the Wings to force Game 5 at the HP Pavilion where San Jose wrapped up the series.
McLellan said that in a number of areas in Game 3, especially early, the Sharks didn't play well.
"I said during our run-through that should we play the same game over again (in Game 4) we probably won't come out on the winning end," McLellan said Thursday.
"We're trying separate last year from this year, but I think we learned some very valuable lessons (from Game 4 last year). We have to show some growth as far as responding better (in this situation)."
The Sharks swear they're not focused on what happened last spring in Game 4. But in 23 post-season series in franchise history, San Jose has never swept one.
"We don't talk a lot about it. We haven't wanted to talk about the past but you guys keep bringing it up," San Jose defenceman Dan Boyle said.
"To use percentages, you go out there and give 100%. If you give anything less, which is what I think happened last year ...
"It's not like we went out and didn't care, we just probably went out and gave 90%."
The Wings are trying to cling to hope. They don't really have any other choice.
"When we woke up and got here we had to stop feeling sorrow and get back to work," Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. "As a team you have to have that mentality of 'Why not us?' It has happened before.
"We can't get ahead of ourselves. In the playoffs, you can't get too emotional."
All the Wings can hope is they're still alive Saturday.