Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sharks have to address burning questions

Categories: Detroit Red Wings, SJS vs. DET, San Jose Sharks, Second Round

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Patrick Marleau (12) of the San Jose Sharks is facing criticism for his quiet performance in his team's series with the Detroit Red Wings. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) Patrick Marleau (12) of the San Jose Sharks is facing criticism for his quiet performance in his team's series with the Detroit Red Wings. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
The Sharks traveled back to Detroit, trying to ignore the three most burning issues on their agenda:

1.    Is Devin Setoguchi's decision to get off Twitter ruining the team's power play?
2.    Is Jeremy Roenick really unhappy with the golf course at the Sharks' Alumni tournament?
3.    Did Joe Thornton really think that dive was either convincing or commendable?

First things first. Setoguchi's choice to drop Twitter has absolutely ravaged the Sharks' power play (what, you wanted a more detailed explanation?). Hey, it's the silly season.

The Roenick-Patrick Marleau thing, however, has become a bit of a thing, and whether you find the choice of the word "gutless" a bit stronger than strong, this much is clear.

He has two career goals in 27 games in Detroit. Two. He's also minus-17 in those games. Minus-17.

So if he wants to rid himself of the Roenick tag, he probably needs to do something really noticeable in Game 6 Tuesday. Like score. Like do things out of his comfort zone. Like not be quite so Marleau.

Whether he can or not is an open to conjecture. He remains a maddening player on so many levels that it is hard to get one's head around where he fits in the league pecking order. On the one hand, he is a superb sniper and skater who can do remarkable things. On the other, he never seems to mesh his best games with ones the Sharks need the most.

And they need something now, in a place that has never been kind to them, and as well as not from a player who has never really enjoyed his stays in Michigan.

Two goals. Minus-17. Twenty-seven games.

"He needs to be better. It's as simple as that," head coach Todd McLellan said. "We need him to be better offensively and defensively. But he's one individual. There's others on that line. There's a D pair on the ice. There's a goaltender. There's a number of people who have to pick up their play."

As for Roenick, he told the San Jose Mercury News' David Pollak, "The word gutless might have been a little strong. But I chose to use it and I'm not backing off it.

"What if Marleau has the game of his life tomorrow, the San Jose Sharks win the series and they go on and win the Stanley Cup? That's what I want to happen. As a loyal Sharks fan, I hope my comments are slammed down my throat and Patrick Marleau plays the best game of his life. And if he does, I will be the first one to give him kudos."

As well as picking up his jaw from the amazement.

San Jose expected lineup

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

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

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

Datsyuk shrugging off 'injury'

Pavel Datsyuk chuckled at the notion that he's playing hurt. The San Jose Sharks would probably also scoff at the idea, though no one in teal and black would find it to be a laughing matter.

Nursing an injured wrist that prevents him from taking faceoffs, Datsyuk dished out three assists as he engineered the Detroit Red Wings' comeback from a 3-1 deficit for a 4-3 victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal series between the two clubs.

"What wrist? Datysuk said, smiling. "I'm OK."

Detroit's top faceoff man during the regular season, Datsyuk even offered an explanation as to why he's not taking draws.

"I'm not good at faceoffs."

No one is believing him.

"At playoff time, nobody have injuries," Datsyuk said. "Everybody still plays. This is like, why NHL is so good."

Apparently, Datsyuk even has some of his teammates fooled.

"He didn't look hurt to me," suggested Detroit centre Henrik Zetterberg.

Momentum Swing?

San Jose still leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 with Game 6 slated for Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, but with two successive wins, the Wings look to be the team that's suddenly on a roll.

"You've seen a lot of momentum swings back and forth, even in the game last night," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "They had the lead, they were up 3-1 early in the third period, then we found a way to battle back, come back and score some big goals.

"I think that's what you're going to see the next game as well."

Wings coach Mike Babcock viewed the see-saw affair that was Game 5 as an example of what a fickle mistress momentum can be.

"That's what sport is," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It's a momentum thing.

"In the first and second [period] at times you'd say, 'Geez. This team looks out of shape. They're exhausted.'"

Babcock felt that the series scoreboard was being true to the outcome of the games.

"I think we should've won Game 3, and they could've easily won Game 5, Babcock said. We all kind of deserve what we got."

Modano's chance?

Babcock indicated that he still was uncertain as to the status of forward Johan Franzen, who missed the entire third period of Game 5 due to a sprained left ankle that's bothered him since early in the first round of the playoffs against the Phoenix Coyotes.

If Franzen is unable to answer the bell for Game 6, Babcock indicated he'd turn to veteran Mike Modano, who shares the active Stanley Cup goal-scoring lead of 58 with Boston's Mark Recchi.

"I don't know," Babcock said of Franzen's situation. "I'm not going to worry about that much. We'll see what happens. If he's not ready to go, we'll put Modano in."

The Wings felt very comfortable with the possibility of Modano stepping in with the season on the line.

"If that's the case, Mo's got a lot of experience, Lidstrom said. When he had a chance to play in Phoenix [in Game 4], I thought he played real well. He had a lot of jump, he used his speed and if he's in, that's what we expect from him, too."

Plane truth

The Wings met the media Monday at Detroit Metro Airport in the hangar where their private plane is stored, and advised the handlers of the plane to get it ready for a return trip to San Jose for Game 7.

"Oh, we're getting on it," Babcock said, looking toward the plane.

Datsyuk was also looking forward to adding to his frequent flier miles.

"Why not?" he said. "I have good seats."

Detroit GM Ken Holland felt it was that confident attitude which has got the Wings back in the series, when all seemed lost just a few days ago.

"When we were down 3-0, nobody wanted to go home," Holland said. "We plan to be flying back for Game 7."