Programming note: Watch Sharks Playoff Central tonight at 5:30pm on CSN California, and immediately after Game 3 on CSN Plus.
NASHVILLE – The consistent message coming from the Sharks after their goalie stole them a win in Game 2 is that they’ll have to be much better managing the puck as their series with the Predators progresses.
By Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s count, the Sharks had 29 turnovers on Sunday night in a game they ended up winning, 3-2. That number was likely tallied by the coaching staff, which keeps its own stats that can vary wildly from the official game sheet, which had the Sharks down for 13 giveaways.
Either way, the Sharks would like to fix that part of their game as they attempt to take a commanding 3-0 series lead on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.
“Most nights when we get into the game and we start to turn over some pucks, we catch ourselves as a group and get ourselves back on track,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “That didn’t happen the other night. Our guys recognize it. That’s the important part. I’m sure we’ll get it fixed.”
Vlasic said: “When you have a lot of turnovers, you feed their rush and feed their offense.”
From Nashville’s perspective, Peter Laviolette compared his team’s current situation to their last round. The Predators dropped Game 5 to the Ducks, 5-2 in Anaheim, but apparently the coach felt like they played a decent game. They returned home to capture Game 6, 3-1.
“There were a lot of good things that we did in that Game 5 in Anaheim, and we wanted to bring that in Game 6. That’s probably a comparable scenario to where we’re at,” Laviolette said.
“We’ve got to get better. We’re not winning games, so there’s things we can do better.”
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One number from Game 2 that stood out was Patrick Marleau’s playing just 12 minutes and 18 seconds. It was his lowest total of the season, and lowest in the playoffs for him since May 2, 2000.
Part of that was due to the Sharks getting only two power plays, including one where they scored just 33 seconds in, but Marleau has just one even strength point in the playoffs so far. In Game 2, he registered two shots on goal and was 1-for-6 in the faceoff circle.
Asked about his ice time on Tuesday morning, Marleau said it was, “just the way the game was with some penalties here and there, and some faceoffs in our zone. … You never know how things are going to play out.”
Marleau has primarily been the Sharks’ third line center this season, although he has been shifted to the wing at times, including for the third period of Game 1. There were no line rushes on Tuesday morning, but he’s likely to remain at center considering how DeBoer has handled his lineup so far.
The coach lumped Marleau’s Game 2 performance in with most of the rest of his teammates.
“I think his game was like our team’s game last game. He’s not in any different situation than any of our other guys,” DeBoer said. “He’s a critical guy, but I also like what he’s bringing to the table for us.”
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Now that the series shifts to Nashville, Laviolette will get the last change and therefore his preferred matchups.
DeBoer believes the Predators are more concerned with that than the Sharks are.
“I think they’re paying a lot more attention to matchups than we are. It’s not as big an issue on my plate,” he said. “I think if you look at their history through the Anaheim series and the early part of our series here, he’s got some matchups that he wants to get, and he’ll pull guys off to get them.”
The home crowd will also be a noisy one, according to former Predators forward Joel Ward.
“Usually the home team here rallies around the crowd. It gets pretty loud,” Ward said. “You’ve obviously got to play smart. No turnovers, and simple stuff. Getting pucks in deep and obviously getting the puck out of your zone as quickly as you can.”