Wings-Sharks: LeBrun's Game 5 preview

May, 8, 2011

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Neither the Sharks nor the Red Wings held a morning skate before tonight's Game 5, but San Jose players held a team meeting this morning at HP Pavilion.

One area where the Sharks can improve is their starts. They've been outscored 13-4 in the first period of these playoffs.

"For whatever reason, we've been outscored in the first period and I don't think it's from lack of being prepared," veteran blueliner Dan Boyle said Sunday morning. "Just for whatever reason, we're not putting the puck in the net. We're just looking for a strong, controlled start tonight. We're going to come out with a lot of energy tonight, but we need to be smart with that energy and not get out of position or out of control."

The Sharks have counteracted the slow starts by pulling off comeback after comeback. But a strong start tonight would take the pressure off a bit.

"It would be nice to be able to do that and play a different game late in games," Sharks forward Patrick Marleau said. "Being up a couple of goals would be nice and close it out that way."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said his team usually responds well early in games at home.

"We capture the energy that's given to us by our fans," he said Sunday morning. "But [the Wings] got some veteran D-men, they have the ability to settle things down and get the puck out. We'll do everything we can to have a good start and maintain it from there. We can't just play a 10-minute game, we have to be able to play a full 60."

Marleau slumping

His linemates Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi have had some big offensive moments in this series, but Marleau doesn't have any points through four games in the second round.

"It would be nice to get on the board, but I think I'm doing some things to help the team win," said Marleau. "Got to stick with it and eventually it will come."

The Sharks need him to produce.

"He has to eventually hit the score sheet, and he will," said McLellan. "He's done some good things away from the puck, the faceoff circle and the penalty kill. He's used his speed in this series to get to some loose pucks. But eventually, he's got such a tremendous shot, we rely on him to score some goals."

Lineup change?

We believe there is a possibility winger Jamie McGinn will be back in the Sharks' lineup tonight, although McLellan didn't announce any changes Sunday morning. He instead hinted at possible line-tinkering during the game if the Sharks fall behind.

"There's some potential adjustments," he said. "I'm not sure it goes as far as tinkering with lines and moving people on and off. It's more about play and battle commitment. Our play around the blue paint at both ends can certainly get better. If need be, then we always have a plan for some juggling [of the forward lines]. But we'll likely start the same way we ended."

Getting rest

The Sharks saw Vancouver miss a chance to end its series against Nashville on Saturday night, and it was just another motivational tool in trying to end their series Sunday evening and get some much-needed rest.

"It would be nice to get some rest for the guys," said Marleau. "But we know it's going to be hard-fought tonight and we have to try and take care of it tonight."

Jumping back on a plane to cross three time zones to Detroit is the last thing the Sharks want to do.

"We don't want to prolong this any longer," said Boyle. "You guys flew all the way here. It's not that fun to go across the country and have to play a couple of days later. We're not looking past this game at all."

Power-play meeting

The Sharks held a power-play meeting Sunday morning. The Red Wings had struggled on the penalty kill in the opening three games, but made adjustments for Game 4 that proved useful.

"Yeah, they changed a little bit and we have to be ready for anything they throw at us tonight," said Marleau. "There's different things we can do better."

Specifically, the Wings made the Sharks' entries into the zone a little tougher, a huge improvement over Game 3.

"They made some adjustments on their forecheck and their stand at the blue line," said McLellan. "We obviously have to adjust and make sure that if they do throw that at us again, we'll be better prepared. But the way the game was going and the power plays going so late, I think that we didn't engage ourselves early to be sharp in those situations. We'll look for a good start, a good five-on-five game, and that will lead to a sharper power play."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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