- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Ryane Clowe was not on the ice for his team's practice Wednesday, but there is hope the valuable San Jose winger can try it out at Thursday's morning skate ahead of Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings.
"Better today," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday after practice. "He'll be a game-time decision."
McLellan said Clowe came to the team's practice facility "for treatment" and then went home. Clowe has an upper-body injury and did not accompany the team to Detroit for Game 6.
Meanwhile, Red Wings forward Johan Franzen (ankle) hasn't been totally ruled out for Game 7.
"We'll be on this flight for about five and a half hours," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters before leaving Detroit on Wednesday. "We'll kick everything around. If Franzen is lobbying [to play], we'll listen to that. We'll try to make the right decisions, and the only way you know if you made the right decisions is if you win."
Preceding Sharks practice Wednesday, there was a team meeting. McLellan told his players that the media already has written two stories for Game 7 -- one with the Sharks losing and another with the Sharks winning. It will be up to them which story hockey writers press "send" on come Thursday night.
"This is about us losing the 3-0 lead right now. It's a great story for the media," Sharks blueliner Dan Boyle said Wednesday. "Nobody's talking about Vancouver blowing a 3-0 lead right now; they're talking about them and who are they going to face in the [West finals]. We just have to find a way to win."
The comparisons to the Vancouver-Chicago first-round matchup are plenty given the similar script heading into Game 7.
"Everybody was counting Vancouver out," Boyle said. "I had kind of predicted that Vancouver would win Game 7, but it was a close one, as you know. They found a way to win, and that's all we're looking for."
Many Sharks players remember watching that seventh game in Vancouver and saw how the Canucks rose above the pressure to avoid a total series meltdown after being up 3-0.
"I think they played their game," Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray said of the Canucks. "That's what you've got to do. It's not about being a hero individually. If you see me trying to skate through the whole team, we're going to be in a lot of trouble. Everybody has to do their job. When everybody does their job at the top level, we're a great team."
The Sharks just didn't look like a great team in Detroit on Tuesday night.
"I expect the best from each of the 20 guys that will play," McLellan said. "We have to [raise our game]. Individually, collectively and as a complete team, we have to raise it a little bit because where we've been the last three games hasn't been enough or close. We need just a little bit, not much more. I'm not talking 10 percent; I'm talking a fraction."
Murray said the team isn't dwelling on having lost three straight games.
"It's no time to feel sorry for ourselves or worry about the negative stuff," Murray said. "We have a great team in here. We've done a lot of great things throughout the year; we played well a lot of games through the playoffs. We believe in each other. It's going to be a lot of fun."
There are not many people betting on the Sharks right now. That's OK, Boyle said.
"There's a lot of people out there that want to see Detroit win, and that's fine," he said. "But we have to rely on each other in this locker room and stay positive. We're aware of the situation we're in. I think a lot of people are looking for us to fail, and that's OK with me. You just have to rise above that."
They are believers
As you can imagine, the Wings are in great spirits entering Game 7 after winning three straight.
"Obviously we have an opportunity and that's all we can ask for," Babcock said. "This series could have gone either way. They could have won all the games, and we could have won all the games. That's how tight it's been. Now we can go into their building and we feel energized, and yet we have to go in there and win a game. We have to remain calm and understand what our plan is and be poised."
The coach was asked by reporters how important it was that the Wings have a lot of veteran leadership.
"Veteran leadership is a great thing, but determination is a better thing," Babcock said.
14dScott Burnside and Craig Custance