As they prepare for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series with the San Jose Sharks Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, the key for the Detroit Red Wings right now is to minimize.
Trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven set, they can't big-picture their situation, because that would mean focusing on the fact they must win four of the next five games to survive.
"You just have to take them one game at a time," Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. "It's definitely a must-win situation [in Game 3]. We've got to go out there and just worry about ourselves the next couple of games. We've just got to focus on Game 3 right now and we can't look too far into the future.
"All you can worry about if you're me is stopping the puck one save at a time. For players, it's about taking it one shift at a time and one game at a time. You can't look too far ahead."
For two teams who thrive on a puck-possession game, it all starts at the faceoff dot, and San Jose is dominating the battle there, winning 81 of 139 draws through the first two games.
"You've got to give them a lot of credit," Detroit centre Darren Helm said. "They're good in the faceoff circle.
"It's been a pretty big struggle, trying to win draws, trying to win the battle. We're not getting any freebies from them. They're working harder on the draws, and I think the puck is bouncing their way more than ours."
The Wings will again be without checking winger Patrick Eaves, who missed Game 2 with a right elbow injury. Jason Williams suits up in his place, which might seem insignificant to the everyday fan, but to Windsor coach Mike Babcock, considering the way the series has unfolded, it's a huge development.
"Williams is real good at what he does - playing on the power play," Babcock said. "Patrick Eaves for us is a forechecking, banging penalty killer. That's where we miss him.
"When you take 10 penalties a game (as the Wings did in Game 2), you could use another penalty killer."
Painting the corners
The odour of fresh paint was clearly evident in the hallway outside the San Jose dressing room Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena. Back when Scotty Bowman was coaching the Wings, there was a curious need to paint around the visitor's room at playoff time.
So, are the Wings desperate enough to draw from the Bowman playbook of psychological warfare?
"Whatever happens, happens," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said with a chuckle.
"You've just got to play."
Babcock was taken aback by an inquiry about the series from of all people, his wife.
"My wife mentioned it [Monday] when we were driving the kids around," Babcock explained. "My wife said to me, 'Where is that [Joe] Pavelski from?' I said, 'He's from Wisconsin. Thanks for the tip.'"
Pavelski has four goals for the Sharks in the series.
"I think Pavelski's outplayed whoever's been against him thus far, so we've got to do a better job at that," Babcock said. "We've got to play him harder than we have."
The Wings have won just five of 19 best-of-seven series when losing the first two games - in the semifinals against Boston in 1945 (4-3) and Chicago in 1963 (4-2), in the second round versus Toronto in 1987 (4-3) and in the first round against the Minnesota North Stars in 1992 (4-2) and Vancouver in 2002 (4-2). The series against the Blackhawks in 1963 was the only occasion in which the Wings rallied after losing the first two games of the series on the road.
"I think it helps, being in similar situations before," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.
The Sharks have won three of four series in which they've led 2-0. They defeated Calgary in 1995 (4-3), and St. Louis (4-1) and Colorado (4-2) in 2004. They lost to Edmonton in 2006 (4-2).
As pleased as they are to be up 2-0, the Sharks aren't looking back as much as they are concentrating on carrying their strong play into the next two games in Detroit.
"It's nice that we have a two-game lead in this series, but come Game 3, it's a brand-new game," San Jose centre Manny Malhotra said. "We have to re-establish ourselves, re-establish that type of game and work for our opportunities."
At the same time, they are pleased to have put themselves into such a solid position in the series.
"Anytime you have an opportunity to take advantage of home ice it's huge, especially against a team like Detroit that plays so well at home," Malhotra said. "We realize going in there it's going to be the same type of game - very emotional, very tight-checking and we're going to have to work for opportunities."