CHICAGO -- After a few days of reading and hearing about how Dave Bolland is getting under their skin, the San Jose Sharks snapped back.
"I don't find him a difficult guy to play against at all," Joe Thornton said about the Blackhawks' agitator, who has received a good deal of credit for his team winning the first two games of the Western Conference Final. "He's a little guy. I'm a big guy."
His teammates were equally dismissive of the 6-0, 180-pound Bolland, who drew a slashing penalty from Thornton in the third and caused some mayhem in the final 20 seconds of Game 2, when the Sharks were called for a pair of roughing penalties and a 10-minute misconduct.
"The guys we're concerned about are the players like (Patrick) Kane and Jonathan Toews," said Dany Heatley, who has two goals and nine assists in 11 games this postseason. "I'm more concerned about the guys with a lot of offensive and defensive ability.
"Look, everyone talks," continued Heatley. "I saw them on TV a few times in their last series (against Vancouver) and there was a whole lot of talking going on. Actually, I think they've been pretty quiet against us. Maybe we're the ones who should be talking more."
Patrick Marleau was polite, but blunt with the press on the subject.
"It's a non-issue," said Marleau. "Not on our radar at all. If anything, you guys should ask them if they are getting under our skin. We have to win some games."
To do so, the Sharks' top offensive players like Thornton, Heatley and Marleau will gave to go through the line of Bolland centering wings Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd. Sharks head coach Todd McLellan acknowledged as much in his press conference after practice on Thursday at the United Center.
"We'll have a plan for that, continue to try and mix and match and move people around. But the simple fact is, if our big line ends up on the ice against those three, they have to find a way to out-play them. There's nothing we can continually do to get away from it. They're going to be up against them. At the end of the night, they have to find a way to be productive."