Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sharks need to get power play going

Categories: SJS vs. DET

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San Jose bench boss Todd McLellan has coached with and against Detroit’s Mike Babcock.  (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) San Jose bench boss Todd McLellan has coached with and against Detroit’s Mike Babcock. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In his constant search for more reasons to get an ulcer before age 50, Todd McLellan has now located his team's spotty power play - even though, as he says, "If we don't get that power-play goal last night, we're talking about a 1-0 loss instead of a 2-1 win."
Indeed, the Sharks did get that power-play goal, from their own personal Mister April, Joe Pavelski, swatting an airborne puck midway through the third period of Friday's win over the Red Wings.

But at 10.3 per cent (3 for 29), the Sharks have the second-worst power-play record in the post-season, behind only the Boston Bruins, who are 0-for-23 and also have a 1-0 advantage in the second round.

So maybe this is just a matter of "however you bell the cow," more than "the power play will kill us all in the end."

And yet, it isn't.

McLellan was actually borderline agitated about the number of face-offs the Red Wings won when the Sharks were on the power play, which was actually a not overwhelming 7-for-12.

"They broke out on that a lot, and that's no good at all," he said while watching Bruins-Flyers in his office at the team's practice rink.

McLellan's first Sharks team lost to Anaheim two years ago in part because of a mildly substandard power play (4 for 24, 16.7 per cent), but got to the conference final last year by converting at a 21.6 per cent rate (15 for 70). Total - 22 of 123, 17.9.

Compared with the three previous years under Ron Wilson, when the Sharks were an even more troublesome 12.4 per cent (23 for 185), this is true firepower. But in a series that figures to be razor thing, any statistical hiccup in a storm to amuse the rabble until Sunday's game.

"We have to better because we know they will continue to put pressure on us," McLellan said, concentrating more on the puck possession aspects than the actual scoring. "We don't want to give them a chance to work us that way."

By the way, Detroit is 4 for 17, 23.5 per cent. But they're probably not getting ENOUGH power-play chances. So it's always something, even if it really isn't.


Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi
Dany Heatley-Logan Couture-Ryane Clowe
Torrey Mitchell-Joe Pavelski-Kyle Wellwood
Ben Eager-Scott Nichol-Benn Ferriero

Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Jason Demers
Ian White-Niclas Wallin

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

Red Wings know what they need to do

Two factors that led to the demise of the Detroit Red Wings at the hands of the San Jose Sharks in the second round of last season's playoffs were again in evidence as the Sharks scored a 2-1 overtime decision Friday in the opening game of their Western Conference semifinal series.

The Wings put San Jose on the power play six times, and once the Sharks' big forwards got their cycle game going in the second period, Detroit's defence struggled to deal with San Jose's size and strength on the puck.

"I thought we were [physically engaged] in the first period," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "They came out with a better push in the second period. We were pushed back a little bit."

The Sharks pelted Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with 46 shots, 18 of them in the second period as they gained control of the contest.

"As the game continued on they kept funneling pucks to the net, putting it deep and going in and hitting our D, making it tough on our D," Howard said.

Datsyuk's day off

Wings coach Mike Babcock told his players they weren't required to practice Saturday, but only centre Pavel Datsyuk opted out of the skate.

"I gave everybody the option of who was going on, who was going off, and Pavel wasn't going on," said Babcock, who indicated Datsyuk would play Game 2 Sunday afternoon at HP Pavilion. Mike Modano skated in Datsyuk's place between Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg.

All of Detroit's other forward lines from Game 1 remained intact and Babcock allowed that he was still debating whether he'd make any lineup changes for Game 2.

"I'm not 100 percent certain," Babcock said. "I haven't decided yet."

All A's for Z

Zetterberg, who made his playoff debut in Game 1 against the Sharks after missing the first round against Phoenix due to a left knee sprain, reported no after effects the day following his performance.

"It was nice to be out there again," Zetterberg said. "It's fun to be playing playoff games again."
Productivity-wise, there was little for Zetterberg to get excited about. He was held pointless and was a plus-one in 19:36 of ice time, delivering three shots on goal and losing four of six faceoffs.

"I was a little rusty," Zetterberg said. "I'll definitely be better [in Game 2]."

Stuart stews

The picture of Detroit's sudden defeat in Game 1 was punctuated by defenceman Brad Stuart. After Benn Ferriero's overtime winner banked off the shaft of Stuart's stick and between Howard's legs, Stuart heaved his stick angrily at the side boards.
"I was pretty [ticked] off," Stuart said. "That's what happens when you lose on a [crappy] goal like that. We'll get over it.

"At the end of the day we had a chance to win. It was just a bad bounce.''

Sugar Ray Howard

Howard stopped 44 shots in Game 1 and delivered a few of his own to the head of Sharks forward Joe Pavelski when he crashed Howard's crease during second-period play.

"It's playoffs," said Howard, who was assessed a roughing minor for raining gloved punches on Pavelski. "Just emotions there. Let's leave it at that."

Closing the Drapes?

He'll be 40 in about a month's time, he's playing in his 18th Stanley Cup tournament and he was a healthy scratch for Game 1, but don't try telling Wings centre Kris Draper that the finish line is near.

"I'm not going to get caught up in that," Draper said when asked if this might be his last playoff run. "I feel great. I'm not going to think that this is my last hurrah. I'm just going to go out and enjoy it and play hard, and hopefully, we can be the last team standing."

Though pointless in Detroit's first-round sweep of Phoenix, Draper, a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Wings, averaged 10:46 of ice time per game and was plus-three.

"Physically, I feel good," Draper said. "Mentally, I love the game as much as ever. I love training. I love coming to the rink. I haven't even really thought about [retirement] to be honest with you.

"I'm just going to enjoy this moment. I love playoff hockey. I love everything about playoff hockey."