Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sharks, Canucks sick of 'underachiever' tag

Categories: Conference Finals, San Jose Sharks, VAN vs. SJS, Vancouver Canucks

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Joe Thornton (19) of the San Jose Sharks and Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) are two players eager to prove their playoff stock in the Western Conference final. (Rich Lam/Getty Images) Joe Thornton (19) of the San Jose Sharks and Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) are two players eager to prove their playoff stock in the Western Conference final. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
The theme has been struck for this series - the historically underachieving against the recently underachieving. And predictably, it sat poorly.

"We're sick and tired of talking about this stuff," defenceman Dan Boyle said of the who-chokes-better-or-is-that-worse questioning. "We just have to win. I'm sure the questions are going to be asked of both teams."

And so is Vancouver, according to Sun columnist Cam Cole, who captured the mood elegantly, via Ryan Kesler.

"Wow, good questions today, guys -- very negative," Ryan Kesler said. "We're going into this series to win. If people want to say that sheds [a label] . . , There's a lot of franchises out there that haven't won the Cup yet [by last count, Atlanta, Buffalo, Columbus, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, Ottawa, Phoenix, St. Louis and Washington]."

"We haven't been there as a unit for 17 years," Alex Burrows added. "As a core group, we haven't been there at all. Last year they [the Sharks] didn't get the result they were looking for against Chicago, but I think they have a lot of players that have been there in big-stage games and been successful."

"If you're going into the playoffs as one of the favorites and you get knocked out early, it's really tough," said former Shark Christian Ehrhoff. "You try to figure out what's going wrong, and there were a few years like that when I was there."

No more, if the players have their way.

Healthy in San Jose


Ryane Clowe, who missed Game 6 but excelled in Game 7, skated again Saturday and pronounced himself in very workable health. San Jose is not expected to miss anyone for Game 1 Sunday, and the extra day before Game and 2 will negate even more of the lingering effects of the Detroit series.

One odd note, though: The Globe and Mail's thumbnail analysis of the two teams described Antti Niemi as "only average" in these playoffs. Technically, perhaps, as he ranks 123th in both save percentage (.906) and goals against average (3.01), but in fact he was awful against Los Angeles and exemplary against Detroit. His wildly uneven efforts against L.A. produced a GAA of 3.99 and a save percentage of .863.

Against the Wings, the numbers were 2.36 and .931. In short, average is misleading.

SAN JOSE

Patrick Marleau   Joe Thornton     Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe    Logan Couture   Dany Heatley
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