Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sharks plagued by slow starts

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

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San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau has been held off the scoresheet so far against Detroit. (Ben Margot/Associated Press) San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau has been held off the scoresheet so far against Detroit. (Ben Margot/Associated Press)

The Sharks had a meeting to discuss a power play that been barely adequate on the road and dreadful at home (2 for 22), but the topic of their miserable starts also came up.

"It would be nice to be able to do that," said winger Patrick Marleau, who is point-less (as opposed to the other meaning) in the Detroit series. "And play a different game late in games. Being up a couple of goals would be nice and close it out that way.''

But the truth is, San Jose has been one of the two worst teams in the playoffs in the first period. The only one as bad has been Philadelphia, which was outscored 18-9 (to San Jose's 13-4 disadvantage), and the Flyers spent much of that time playing with an apparently empty net.

Plus, they were mediocre in the first period through the regular season as well, outscoring the opposition only 69-65.

"We normally do in our own building," head coach Todd McLellan said. "We capture that energy that's given to us by our fans and we can take it and run with it. But they've got some veteran D-men, they've got some poise on their blue line. They have the ability to settle things down and bring the puck out.

"But we'll do everything in our power to have a good start and then maintain it from there. We can't play a 10-minute game, we have to play the full 60 and see what happens after that."

The first 10 still count, though, and the 10 after that as well. They outshot Los Angeles, 84-42 in the first period in the first round, the Red Wings have been dramatically better (50-48 in shots, much more imbalanced in zone time and puck possession).

In short, this is when the best players are supposed to show why, and the Sharks have gotten first period goals from Dany Heatley, Ian White, Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture.

Marleau's name has been absent, and in fact from any scoring at all in the Red Wings series, bringing back all the old story lines about his inconsistency in the big moments.

"It would be nice to get on the board," he said, "but I think I'm doing some things to help the team win. Got to stick with it and eventually it will come.''

If he says so.

San Jose's expected lineup

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

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

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki