Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Greene returns; Sharks show respect
By Pierre LeBrun
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The next day often matters just as much as the game itself when it comes to a player returning to the ice after a lengthy absence.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene gave it a thumbs-up Wednesday.
"I feel pretty good all things considered," Greene said after practice.
The veteran played his first game of the playoffs Tuesday night, when the San Jose Sharks defeated the Kings 2-1 in Game 4 to tie their West semifinal series 2-2. Greene was noticeably trying to get involved physically early on.
"That's the easiest thing -- get a hit, take a hit. It gets you in the game," said Greene.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter had hinted Tuesday morning that Greene might be close to ready, talking about how he trusted veteran players more because they understood the difference between being injured and being hurt.
I asked Greene on Wednesday how the decision to play came about.
"Everybody wants to play right now," said Greene. "Sometimes maybe it's good that doctors step in there and tell you maybe you can't. But it was a combination of everything: I was feeling better, doctors OK'ing it and Darryl finding a spot in the lineup."
I'd count on Greene playing again Thursday night. At least given how Sutter rated Greene's performance in Game 4.
"I think Greener had trouble a little with the pace early, [his] competitiveness kept him in it, and as the game went on he played better. Which is refreshing to see," said Sutter.
Respect for the Kings
Back in San Jose, where the Sharks practiced before flying to L.A., it was clear the underdogs knew what is awaiting them in Game 5.
"They're a great team. You know, they're the champs," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton. "They've been good on home ice all year, but we feel like our game is getting better and better. Each series, it just keeps getting better. We have to go into L.A. and win one now."
The Kings outshot the Sharks 14-2 in the third period Tuesday night in a rally that felt just short.
"I think last game showed, as well as we played, that they just stick around," said defenseman Dan Boyle. "I think that's one of their strengths -- in the games or the periods that they could easily be down three goals, they find a way to just kind of stick around long enough to the point that a couple of late goals win games. I think they're a good, balanced team."
The Sharks have won two straight, but they don't believe they've seized momentum.
"In the playoffs, you turn the page after a win or a loss,” said Boyle. "I don't believe in momentum that much come playoff time."
Added Patrick Marleau: "It's only good if you re-establish your game early on in the next game. You've gotta continue it, I guess. You can't sit back and rest on it."
The Kings have won 12 straight at home, a well-known fact in the Sharks' dressing room.
"Their record proves they're a pretty darn good team there," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. "They have been for a number of years. The energy that they gather from their fans is a factor, as well. We know that, for us to accomplish our goal, we have to take something away from them in their building.
"This crack is our first chance at it, and it could be our last, so may as well do what we can right off the bat."
Quick in the middle again
One storyline that won't go away is how the Sharks will deal with Kings netminder Jonathan Quick and the aggressive manner in which Quick comes out to the top of his crease to stop pucks.
Quick has complained about contact from Sharks players, and it's a flash point in this series with on-ice officials fully on the lookout for it.
"The thing that kind of bugs me about him -- I don't know if I should say it -- is a little embellishment every now and then," Sharks winger T.J. Galiardi said Wednesday of Quick. "You skate by and you don't even touch him or you barely even touch him and he's throwing his hands in the air. But it's playoffs. Everyone is trying to draw a penalty. Whatever."
Galiardi himself has been accused of diving. But in this case, the Sharks winger says to just look at video of Quick for the proof.
"You guys see it," said Galiardi. "With video, something we like to say around here is, 'The ball don't lie.' It's an old basketball term. When you watch video, the video doesn't lie.
"When I'm skating by and I barely touch him and he's throwing his hands in the air, it's kind of one of those things -- he looks bad on video, not me."