Maybe it's the difference between a Stanley Cup champion and an also-ran that can't get beyond the conference final, but the San Jose Sharks seem to be showing the Vancouver Canucks a lot of respect.

When Chicago was down 3-0 and 3-1 to the Canucks, individual Blackhawks were united in their belief that the superior team was not ahead in the series.

Confident, cocky even, the Hawks had no doubt that they were going to win the opening round – and sat in stunned disbelief after Alex Burrows' Game 7 overtime goal ended their season.

With the Sharks, you hear a lot of "we'll try this," and "hopefully we can do this," and "give Vancouver credit."

They're even looking for inspiration to the Hamilton Bulldogs, who have pulled even with the Houston Aeros after having fallen behind 3-0 in the AHL Calder Cup semifinal.

"When you get to this stage of the season and you're playing Vancouver, they're too good to have eight or 10 guys going," hulking Sharks defenceman Douglas Murray said after San Jose landed in Vancouver. "We need all 18 guys going every night or you're in trouble."

One of those 18 tonight will be Joe Thornton.

The Sharks captain left Game 4 after being hit shoulder-to-shoulder by Raffi Torres.

Thornton didn't skate Monday morning at a Sharks optional before the club flew to Vancouver, but Todd McLellan said that meant nothing.

"He tells us he's ready to play," the San Jose head coach said. "He tells us that, so he'll be in the lineup and ready to go.

"What can Jumbo bring to [tonight's] game? Leadership, offence, defence, faceoffs – the same stuff he brought for games one through four."

In fact McLellan disputed whether Thornton, who with 17 points has answered critics, is hurt at all.