With the Sharks down 2-0 to the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final that resumes in Chicago on Friday, Boyle spoke about his team making improvements. Heatley said the Sharks need to "get the puck in behind their D" (behind their goalie would be even better). Captain Rob Blake called for increased intensity.
Nichol actually spoke not only like he believed San Jose will get back in the series, but that they would win it.
"We're a confident bunch in here," said Nichol, who was one of 10 finalists for NHL FanHouse's Grinder of the Year award this season. "We didn't come first overall in the Western Conference by a fluke or luck. We've got skilled players. We've got a good team. So we've just got to go by that."
Nichol talked tough about San Jose's ability to come back.
"I think we're better that way," he said. "Coming into the playoffs, Colorado beat us (and took a 2-1 lead). Everybody was thinking, 'Here we go again,' all the media and stuff. We proved them wrong. Nobody has confidence in us other than the guys in our room that know that we can get it done. That's a good thing. We're a pretty dangerous animal when we've got our backs towards the wall. That's the way we're approaching it."
You can make the case that Nichol, who sees half the amount of icetime as Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, should not have the role as the most inspiring spokesman for the Sharks. That may be an indictment on Gentleman Joe and the rest of San Jose's world-class forwards.
From this vantage point, Nichol has earned the right. The 5-8 center has been a pro for 17 years, playing as many games in the minors as the NHL (496). Yet Nichol had only played in nine NHL playoff games before his 13 this year. He's never come close to winning a Stanley Cup.
Now he's on arguably the most talented roster in the game, and the Sharks are down 2-0 and playing the next two in Chicago. Who better to speak up than the guy who may want it more than anyone? Who better than a respected veteran who may never get this chance again?
As a first-year Shark, Nichol was asked if he sensed the team was losing confidence. The Sharks have a recent history of playing small in the playoffs. The smallest player on the team was emphatic.
"After we had clinched a playoff spot, a reporter came around and asked us, 'Do you know what game you clinched?' Went around asking 10 guys, and we had no idea. That wasn't our goal. Our goal was to win the Stanley Cup. Best-of-seven series. We're going to be a tough animal to cage, that's for sure."