SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings should be closer to full strength for Game 2 of their second-round playoff series.
The Sharks are expecting their leading goal-scorer from the regular season back after Patrick Marleau missed Game 1 with an illness. The Red Wings feel much more rested after playing the series opener less than 48 hours after knocking off Phoenix in Game 7 of the first round.
Those two factors should lead to a different dynamic for Game 2 on Sunday night when the Sharks try to take a 2-0 series lead.
“We have to come with the same mentality,” Sharks forward Manny Malhotra said. “Our intensity level has to go up. It’s nice that we got the first win in the series. That’s nothing unless we build on it. We have to be hungrier than we were last game and make sure we’re setting the tempo of the game.”
The Red Wings didn’t practice Friday to try to get some rest. Coach Mike Babcock said he would have preferred that extra day off before the series started, but that didn’t happen because the Shark Tank was unavailable Friday and Saturday for an Eagles concert.
“I’m not a big fan of extra days off on the road,” Babcock said. “It makes no sense to me. Especially in a series that’s going back and forth. Why isn’t the day off after a travel day. I don’t know the answer to that.”
While the timing of the day off wasn’t ideal, it was extremely beneficial to a Red Wings team that had played eight games in 16 days while crisscrossing the country five times.
Even though they were somewhat drained in the opener, they managed to fight back from an early 3-0 deficit before losing 4-3. They failed to convert on five power-play chances and gave up the fourth goal on a questionable power-play chance and still had an opportunity to tie the game late.
“We had a total day off yesterday, which was well-deserved and something everyone needed,” forward Kris Draper said. “We had a good skate today and we get back out there tomorrow. That’s the beauty of the playoffs.”
The extra day off also gave Marleau more time to recover from the illness that has sidelined him the past few days. He was unable to keep any food down Wednesday night and missed the morning skate that day. He took an IV when he came to the rink Thursday night and skated before the game to see how he felt.
After meeting with the training staff, it was a joint decision that Marleau would be unable to play. He watched the start of the game from the rink before heading home. He didn’t practise Friday but returned to the ice Saturday and is expected to play Game 2.
“I’m starting to feel better now and able to keep some stuff down,” Marleau said. “There are some sicknesses you can play through. I’ve been able to do that in the past. This one was a little bit tougher than I expected.”
While Marleau has struggled this post-season with only one goal in the first-round series against Colorado, the Sharks know that their post-season success will hinge heavily on getting Marleau back to the level he was when he scored 44 goals in the regular season.
“Patty brings so much to the table with power play, penalty kill, even strength,” teammate Joe Thornton said. “He’s a big part of this team and he’s been a big part of this team all year long. To have him out last game was tough but to have him fresh for (Sunday) night will be huge.”
Marleau spent much of the season on San Jose’s Olympic gold medal line with Thornton and Dany Heatley. But that trio managed only one goal combined in the first round and have been broken up at times in the playoffs. Thornton, Heatley and Torry Mitchell formed a strong unit in Game 1, with Heatley scoring his first playoff goal of the year.
Logan Couture joined Thornton and Heatley at practice Saturday with Marleau spending much time on a third line with Malhotra and Mitchell. Sharks coach Todd McLellan said not to read much into how his players were broken up in practice.
“We’re still rolling the numbers around a little bit,” he said. “It’s what they do when they’re together. If Patty’s with the big guys then they have to produce. If Patty’s somewhere else or Heater is somewhere else, they will have to produce.”
The Red Wings also could have a change in their lineup. Patrick Eaves didn’t practise because of an arm injury sustained in the first round. Babcock hopes Eaves can play Sunday, but Jason Williams skated in his place at practice.