Better power play paramount for Sharks in Game 6

McLellan: 'The true advantage of playing at home is your fans'

Better power play paramount for Sharks in Game 6
May 25, 2013, 2:15 pm
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The Sharks are 4-0 at home in the postseason, where their power play is a league-best 37.5 percent. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE – There were many aspects of their game that the Sharks didn’t like in the 3-0 loss at Staples Center on Thursday in Game 5. At the top of the list was an ineffective power play, which registered just four shots on goal in six minutes and had trouble getting set set up in the offensive zone. Joe Thornton said they lacked poise, while a much more blunt Logan Couture labeled it as “garbage.”

San Jose’s power play is fourth in the league at a 23.3 percent success rate, and among teams still alive, only the high-powered Penguins are better (28.3 percent). The Sharks have scored 10 goals in 43 chances overall, but just one of those goals came in a road game. Against the Kings, the Sharks are 3-for-9 at home but 0-for-10 on the road.

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Thornton revisited the Game 5 performance of the power play after Saturday’s practice.

“It wasn’t sharp at all,” said the captain. “Right from power play No. 1 it didn’t look sharp. It just looked sloppy. Our guys usually get confidence off the power play, and it kind of worked against us last game."

Patrick Marleau said: "I think we were a little bit anxious to make it happen, instead of working it around and let things materialize, from being in the right spots and moving the puck as quick as we can.”

The Sharks will likely have to avoid a goose egg in that department on Sunday night at HP Pavilion if they plan on forcing a decisive seventh game back in Southern California on Tuesday. In games three and four, three of the Sharks’ four goals came with a man advantage as they won both in front of the home crowd.

“If we can operate at 20 percent tomorrow, that’s one out of five, I think we’d be pretty excited with that considering they’re an elite penalty-killing group,” Todd McLellan said. “But more importantly, when we talk about numbers, it has to provide us with some momentum, and it didn’t do that in LA.”

Often times, a power play’s performance is a reflection of how the team is playing as a whole. An effective five-on-five game typically means the power play will be dangerous, too.

The Sharks didn’t have either on Thursday. Their best players all had off nights, and that includes the loaded up top power play unit of Thornton, Marleau, Couture, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle.

“It starts with us,” Pavelski said. “We’re going to get the [power play] time and all that, and usually how that goes, our team goes. I think if you talk to every guy, they feel they can do a better job. It definitely starts with us.”

McLellan didn’t want to pin the loss solely on his key guys, though. Everyone in the locker room will have to play better than in Game 5, or the Sharks’ summer vacation will start at right around 8 o’clock on Sunday night.

“I think their performance has been good. It’s going to have to go up a little bit,” McLellan said. “But, it sounds a little bit like I’m talking in the past. We’re not a top forwards team. We’re a team. … That was a team loss [in Game 5], it wasn’t three or four guys.”

The good news is the Sharks are 4-0 at home in the postseason, and their home power play is a league-best 37.5 percent.

“We’ve been deadly at home, and we just have to be good tomorrow,” Thornton said.

“Individually, there wasn’t a guy that sits in this locker room that was happy with his [Game 5], so collectively, if everyone gets back to on par or takes their game up a little bit, we’ll naturally be better,” McLellan said. “After that, we’ll look to have a good start here at home. We know that the crowd will be energized, and that will help us. I know it will.”