Shark-Infested Blogger

May 17, 2010 9:36 PM

Sharks Approaching Game Two the Right Way

After losing the opening game of the series, 2-1, despite having the game's only five power plays and recording 45 shots on goal, it would be easy for the Sharks to approach Game Two the wrong way.

Todd McLellan has already stated that he does not believe in must-win games unless you are facing elimination, but statistics show that over 80 percent of teams that jump out to a 2-0 series lead win the series, and the Sharks would lose the two at home. That is why it was refreshing to hear numerous players state the importance of winning Game Two:

"We've got to win tomorrow night, we realize that," Thornton said. "You don't want to go down 2-0 going into Chicago. Tomorrow is an important game and we'll be ready." Joe Pavelski also said after the game Sunday they obviously could not go down two heading to Chicago.

San Jose also showed the right approach when it comes to adjustments. In last year's series against the Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks got a lot of pucks to the net, and even when Jonas Hiller made almost every save in the two San Jose losses to open the series, the message the Sharks sent was that if they stuck to what they were doing, their fortunes would turn.

This year, after just one game in which they struggled in shooting percentage, they talked about things that would have to change in order for their scoring to increase. After watching video of the game Monday morning, they know they need to get more shots high and get traffic in front of rookie goalie Antti Niemi. 4614066992_206f070868.jpg

That concept is basic, fundamental hockey, but one that is too often overlooked in favour of shot volume. It is also one the team can thank the Colorado Avalanche and Craig Anderson for having already learned: Anderson stopped 180 of the first 189 shots the Sharks took before they made the very adjustments they must make against the Blackhawks.

"I had two or three he kicked right off his pads," defenceman Rob Blake said. "We generated a lot of shots, but we can get more traffic."

"We had our chances to score and there were a lot of pucks laying around for second opportunities," Pavelski said. "We have to get the puck up and by him. We had more than 40 shots and second chances. We need a few more goals than one. We've just got to find a way to keep putting them in.

"We need the same kind of effort, maybe a little more, and find a way to get the crowd into it a little more," Pavelski added. "He's an NHL goalie. If he sees the puck, he's going to stop it."

But the team does not lack confidence. After controlling the play for most of the game, they know they have what it takes to beat Chicago.

"We can't hang our heads," goalie Evgeni Nabokov said. "We have to follow the plan and keep going. We were disciplined and we were skating pretty good with them, but they still got the win."

Note: the source for quotes in this article was the team website.

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