Sharks-Blues: What to watch for

Sharks-Blues: What to watch for
April 16, 2012, 7:29 pm
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Programming note: Blues-Sharks Game 3 coverage begins with Sharks Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. followed by Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda calling Sharks hockey at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California!
SAN JOSE The emotional and frustrating defeat in Game 2 aside, the Sharks have to be somewhat content they are tied with the Blues at a game apiece as their first round playoff series shifts to the Bay Area.

Sure, road teams are 11-8 in the Stanley Cup playoffs so far, but Sharks will take their chances playing in front of what should be a raucous crowd, eager to see its first playoff game of 2012 after the postseason was anything but a certainly in late March.

Its a great place to play. Its fun. Its playoff hockey, and its tough to beat at The Tank, Joe Pavelski said. Hopefully it brings a little speed to our team and we can play that faster game.

Does the home ice really make a difference when the puck is dropped? Pavelski believes it does.

Its definitely extra energy thats brought to you and your team, and were happy to be here right now, he said.

Said Patrick Marleau: It definitely gives you a lot of energy. Our fans are great, and its always so much louder here in the playoffs. Theyre going to be ready, and we have to be the same.

Emotions boiling over: There was a total of 132 penalty minutes doled out in San Joses 3-0 loss in St. Louis in Game 2 on Saturday. Emotions ran high thanks to several hits on both sides that several of the Blues and Sharks labeled as dirty.

The Sharks would like to keep that emotional level at a peak for Game 3, so long as it doesnt mean taking avoidable penalties.

You have to push to that line and find that line and not go over it, Pavelski said. You definitely want to be on the power play more than youre killing.

Ryane Clowe said: You cant go out there and take penalties or do something thats stupid. The ultimate goal is to win four games and win a series. You dont want to put yourself in a hole. Emotions are high and will be tonight, too. Thats just the way it goes.

Dan Boyle has seen it all when it comes to playoff hockey. According to the defenseman, the extracurricular activity diminishes as the games become more and more important.

But, not always.

At the start of playoffs everybody is so energized and I think as the series and stuff goes on, the physical play plays a role, he said. Things tend to taper off a little bit usually. That doesnt happen always, but both teams pride themselves on being physical. Theyre probably saying the same thing, but weve got to keep that going.

Top line scoreless: The Sharks top line of Joe Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau has yet to register a point in the series, primarily matched up against the David Backes-David Perron-T.J. Oshie trio of the Blues.

That didnt matter in Game 1, when St. Louis top line also didnt score and Andrew Desjardins goal in the third period forced overtime, where the Sharks won on Marty Havlats marker. In Game 2, Oshies slick set up of David Backes gave the Blues an important insurance goal, while the Sharks failed to get on the board.

McLellan wasnt giving any hints as to what matchup hell seek now that he gets the last change at home. But, he did talk about how important it will be to get his top guys on the scoresheet.

You can be OK with that when your third and fourth lines find ways to contribute, McLellan said, citing the goal from this fourth line in Game 1. If theyre not contributing offensively, somebody else has to find a way to get it done. Then, playing even isnt satisfactory.

Clowe seemed to suggest that line matchups are a little overrated.

Its not so much who youre playing against, its how you line up against them, and if youre ready to out-compete them, he said. Weve got to do a better job there.

Elliott in goal: The Blues will go with Brian Ellliott, who came in to relieve an injured Jaroslav Halak on Saturday, for Game 3. Elliott was the NHLs leader in goals-against average and save percentage during the regular season, and made 17 saves to preserve the 3-0 win on Saturday. Jake Allen will back him up.

The Sharks saw Elliott and Halak twice each in the regular season, going a combined 0-4. Not surprisingly, they didnt seem too concerned with who is manning the St. Louis crease.

I dont put too much stock in any goalie, really, Boyle said. Goalies are at this level for a reason. Theyre all very good. Its the same answer every time. Get more shots, traffic, rebounds. It doesnt matter.

Clowe would like to see the Sharks test Elliott early. When he entered in the second period of Game 2, San Jose went more than six minutes without a single shot on net.

I thought he came in last game and we gave him a chance to feel comfortable, and we didnt get much action on him early, he said. Tonight, we have to try to sustain pressure and get some second chances, more than anything.

Lineup changes? McLellan predictably wouldnt comment on any potential lineup changes for Game 3. Defenseman Colin White and forward Brad Winchester both came off of the ice earlier than usual, so theres a chance that either or both of them could see their first action of the series.

TJ Galiardi and Dominic Moore did not take part in San Joses optional morning skate on Monday.

The Blues will re-insert Chris Stewart, who was a scratch for Game 2, back into the lineup for Matt DAgostini based on line rushes on Monday morning.

Tommy Wingels saw a lot of the Blues bottom two lines in Games 1 and 2.

I think the players may have changed, but I dont think what they were trying to do changed at all, he said. As the third and fourth lines, your job is to get momentum and wear down the other team. They won the game last game, so it might have been more effective in that sense, but I think well try to play the same way regardless of who were matched up against.

Odds and ends: McLellan would like to see his club improve on faceoffs. The Sharks lost the battle in the circle in each of the first two games. The Blues are 2-for-9 on the power play in the series, while San Jose is 1-for-7. Havlat, Boyle and Clowe each have two points in the series, leading the Sharks. Patrik Berglund, Oshie and Andy McDonald lead the Blues with two points each.