Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson made an appearance on KNBR 680 this afternoon to talk about San Jose’s upcoming series against the Detroit Red Wings. The Sharks, who will be facing the Wings in the postseason for a second straight year in a row, head into the series fresh off an uplifting goal from Captain Joe Thornton that clinched the series in overtime of game six.
Throughout the series San Jose struggled with three major aspects of their play. Turnovers were prevalent in the neutral zone, the special teams were not as tight as many hoped they would be, and perhaps most importantly, goaltending was an issue. Sharks starting goaltender Antti Niemi posted a mere .863 SV% against Los Angeles, a team hardly known for their offensive firepower. Wilson addressed those concerns head on in his interview, citing the confidence the organization has in their former Stanley Cup winning netminder.
“He’s earned a lot of equity with his performances over the last couple of years. Often when a coach pulls a goaltender it’s reflective of the whole group, not just how the goaltender has played. You’ve seen that in the playoffs this year perhaps more so than ever,” Wilson told KNBR. “He (Niemi) is a guy that our coaches, our players, all believe in tremendously. They want to play for him. But Nitty is also a very strong goalie, we believe we have a really strong tandem.”
Wilson also expressed the feeling surrounding the team heading into the series. The Detroit Red Wings are one of the most widely-respected franchises in all of hockey, and perhaps in all of sports, primarily due to their levels of sustained achievemenets. With twenty straight postseason appearances to their name heading into the 2011 playoffs, Detroit has become synonymous with success.
Something that Wilson is quick to acknowledge when speaking of improvements that his team must make from the first round against Los Angeles.
“We weren’t pleased with our penalty killing most of the season this year, but they’ve come up very big when it’s mattered. Particularly the last game,” Wilson mused, referencing the 5 minute PK San Jose had to endure at the end of game six. “We know what our capabilities are. It’s now just being efficient and executing them to the levels that we expect.”
With Wilson poised to watch another battle between two Western Conference powerhouses, and Sharks fans everywhere anticipating what is bound to be yet another playoff classic between these two clubs, it’s safe to say the second round can’t come soon enough.
As we reported earlier today, Sharks-Wings is expected to kick off on Friday night at HP Pavilion. The official schedule will be released later tonight.
As always, stay tuned to SBN Bay Area for more breaking news on the Sharks quest for their first Stanley Cup.
To listen to KNBR’s interview with Wilson in full, please click here.