Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sustaining attack focus for Sharks

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

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Down 2-0 to the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference Final series, San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan says his team must play each remaining game like a Game 7. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press) Down 2-0 to the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference Final series, San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan says his team must play each remaining game like a Game 7. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Todd McLellan decided not to pretend that Game 3 was Game 7 for the Sharks. He did, however, make it clear he didn't want any of the employees thinking about Game 4.

"If we have the approach that Game 1 is like Game 7, if Game 2 is like Game 7, that's a real good indicator of intensity and focus," he said. "But our plan is just to win Game 3. We know there will be a Game 4, and we'd like to play it at 2-1 (rather than 3-0), but what we have to do right now is win Game 3."

The pressure to do so is obvious and stark. Even though no team has come back from a 2-0 deficit in a conference final in 20 years, it still has happened. Down 3-0 is just asking for it, and the Sharks not in a mental or physical place to ask themselves to do so, not against a team as good as Vancouver is, or has been in the first two games.

Mostly, McLellan sees the secret to avoiding the death-hammer is to improve the team's spotty forechecking from the first two games.

"For me it's more of a sustained attack in the offensive zone," he said. "We've been there.  We've thrown pucks to the net.  But all too often we're one-and-out.  When we were playing well against Los Angeles and Detroit, we were able to roam around a little bit in their end, have sustained attack, get fresh people out on a line change.  We've done a poor job.  Vancouver has done a real good job of changing that. As a result, it sends the puck back out to the neutral zone, (and you have to) start over.  So I think a lot of focus is made on the neutral zone.  For me it's more about the offensive zone and sustained time."

Oh, and the third period issues, where they have given up 19 goals in 15 games this post-season?

"Funny, first period wasn't very good to us against L.A., and then it's changed.  We're now into the third period.  If we're fortunate enough to move on and get to play, then we may even be talking about the second period."

Depending on how they do in Game 3. See, it's all in the math.

McLellan also said he was still mulling line and lineup changes for Game 3, and all available living Sharks were on the ice save defenceman Jason Demers, who is injured and looks increasingly like he may not see any action in this series.
 
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 - Niclas Wallin
Kent Huskins - Ian White

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki