“They’re the best,” says the 11-year-old, who was in the Sharks dressing room untying big brother Scott Hannan’s skate laces and chatting with him after practice Friday.
While the Toronto youngster is understandably biased, a lot of hockey fans would agree that the Sharks have the upper hand going into Game 2 of the NHL Western Conference semifinal Saturday (3 p.m. ET).
San Jose won the opener 2-0 Thursday, and that was without being anywhere near their top form. They were saved by the fact most Red Wings attacks lacked finish.
“I think you can expect a better game from both teams,” said Scott Hannan. “I thought we played a good road game last game but in the second game I expect a lot more intensity.
“You know they’re going to come out strong. It’s a big game for them. We just want to come out and get the pucks in deep, maybe play a little more physical. Now that we’ve won one, we want to win two.”
San Jose players blocked 18 shots by clogging the shooting lanes from the blue-lines in Game 1, and a lot of that had to do with the fact the Red Wings had the puck much of the time.
“We’ve got to bring a lot more to the table offensively if we want to be successful in this series,” said Wilson.
He’s reinserting Mark Bell into his lineup to try and boost the offence.
“He’s played a lot in the past against the Red Wings and he’s hungry to get back in there,” Wilson said.
Detroit missed crease-crasher Tomas Holmstrom on their power play in Game 1 – it went 0-for-3 – and he isn’t expected to be available for Game 2 because blood still hasn’t sufficiently cleared from the left eye struck by Craig Conroy’s stick in Calgary last weekend.
“He’s such an integral part of our power play and even 5-on-5,” said Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary. “But you can’t mope around waiting for Homer to get back.
“We have to step up now, when he’s out, and make sure this series doesn’t get out of control. He’ll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later. We’ve got guys who are willing to go to the front of the net. They might not do as good a job as Homer but we’re certainly going to try.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock knows his team can play much better, which is why he wasn’t overly worried about the loss the day after.
“I’m not jumping off any bridge,” Babcock said. “I think we’ve got a real good team here with a good opportunity.
“We’ve only lost one game.”
The Wings feel they have something to atone for.
“The boys were fired up and excited,” Cleary said. “That was a good practice.”
Lack of second and third scoring chances on San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov kept the Red Wings scoreless.
“That’s what was missing so we worked on that in practice, getting a shot and then going for the rebound,” said Detroit goalie Dom Hasek. “It’ll be very important (for Game 2).
“Everybody was so disappointed after the first game so there was not too much talking during the practice. We had a meeting before that and watched the game. We did some good things. They didn’t have too many (scoring) chances. We had maybe more chances.
“We know they are a very, very good team – better than (first-round opponent) Calgary. So, we are down 1-0, but nothing is over.”
Red Wings forwards will have to be more creative on the attack.
“If someone is in the shooting lane, you don’t shoot it,” said Babcock. “You pass it around.
“We’ve just got to see through the coverage, like a quarterback in football.”
“Maybe it’s taking wrist shots and getting more pucks to the net to get those second and third opportunities,” said Kris Draper. “We did a great job against Calgary getting things through and (Thursday) we got too many shots blocked, especially at key times.”
Babcock said he was satisifed with his Cleary-Draper-Kirk Maltby line and with his Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Kyle Calder unit, and by skipping mention of the line of Robert Lang between Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen he put the onus on it to step to the plate.
“We need four lines going,” he said.
The Sharks aren’t thinking split before heading home Saturday night for Game 3 Monday, says defenceman Kyle McLaren.
“We just have to try and keep things rolling,” said McLaren, who blocked five shots in Game 1. “We don’t want to sit back on a one-game lead. We want to go right after the next one.”