Drubbing a wake-up call for Sharks
The San Jose Sharks headed home from Joe Louis Arena in search of answers and licking their wounds following a devastating 7-1 rout handed them by the Detroit Red Wings Thursday in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
The Sharks still lead the best-of-seven set 3-1 and before Game 5 Saturday at HP Pavilion, hope to figure out what went wrong and find out a way to finish off the Wings as soon as possible.
"We just have to take what we can from this game into the next game," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. "We just have to realize we're a better team than that."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan thought the punishing defeat would serve as a wake-up call for his team, a reminder that Detroit isn't going to go away quietly.
"Maybe this spanking will wake us up to know we're not out of the woods," McLellan said. "I'm saying it. We have to respond to it."
Bert earning respect
Lost in the four-goal performance by Johan Franzen during Game 4 was the five-point night turned in by Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi, a personal Stanley Cup high for the veteran winger.
Detroit signed Bertuzzi to a one-year, $1.5-million contract last summer and he rewarded the Wings with an 18-goal, 44 point season, playing in all 82 regular-season games.
"I think Bert's done a real good job," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He's been real good, he's been healthy, he's been light. He got himself in shape.
"When our guys were really hurt, I thought he was a real big performer for us."
Wings general manager Ken Holland has indicated he'd like to re-sign Bertuzzi and Bertuzzi has suggested he wants to stay with Detroit.
Long road ahead
Upbeat after their first win of the series, the Wings still understand there's a large and rarely-scaled hill yet to climb if they want to survive this series.
"It's just one game," Detroit centre Darren Helm said of the Game 4 win. "They've got three on us. They've got two games at home, if we make it that (far).
"Being down like that is frustrating, but we've got the character and the will in the dressing room to maybe get that done."
Bertuzzi is of the belief that Helm has a point.
"I think with who we have in the dressing room, just our leadership and all that, you look at these guys, you lean on these guys like Nick (Lidstrom) and Drapes (Kris Draper) and Rafi (Brian Rafalski) and those kind of guys," Bertuzzi said. "Those are the kind of guys that push you to be better.
"When you've got that kind of leadership in the room, you go out and give everything you got."
Wings centre Henrik Zetterberg was more cautious in his future predictions.
"It's fun to play a game like that, but it's still in the end only one win," Zetterberg said. "We still have to go to San Jose and find a way to win again."
The Wings seemed to be responding much better to adversity this season than in playoffs of recent past.
They are 2-0 when facing elimination in these playoffs and have been most impressive in each game. Before Thursday's rout of the Sharks, the Wings hammered Phoenix 6-1 in Game 7 of their opening-round series.
"It seems every time our backs are against the wall, we always come with the big efforts," Bertuzzi said. "Unfortunately, it takes that to get that out of us.
"Game 5 is going to be huge. We've got to make sure to do the exact same thing we did and hopefully, we get some puck luck and bring it back here for Game 6."
The Phoenix win ended a five-game losing streak for Detroit in elimination games. The Wings lost Game 7 of the Cup final last spring to Pittsburgh, were eliminated in Game 6 of the 2007 Western Conference final by Anaheim, dropped Game 6 of their 2006 opening-round series to Edmonton, fell in Game 6 of their 2004 second-round series to Calgary and were beaten in Game 4 of their 2003 opening-round series by Anaheim.
Prior to this spring, Detroit's last successes when facing elimination came during the 2002 Western Conference final, when the Wings rallied from a 3-2 deficit to Colorado by posting back-to-back shutout victories.