The Sharks do not face a must-win game Wednesday. But they do face a wow-it-would-be-a-really-good-idea-to-win game. Otherwise, they will fall behind the Vancouver Canucks by two games to none.

To avoid that, the Sharks need to be better at several things.

They especially need Ryane Clowe to be a better Ryane Clowe.

Among the human beings who understand this is Ryane Clowe. The best players in any sport are always the most accountable.

"Let's call a spade a spade," Clowe said Monday. "Our line was awful last night."

Clowe was not pointing fingers at the two other members of his line -- Logan Couture and Dany Heatley -- in an attempt to lessen the blame on himself. Clowe was merely stating a fact. He and his linemates were definitely not part of the solution in the Sharks' 3-2 loss Sunday. They were a major part of the problem.

That cannot continue. Last Thursday night, Clowe was an inspiration when he returned to the ice and helped the Sharks win Game 7 against Detroit after missing Game 6 with an unspecified "upper-body injury." Three nights later here, he was barely a factor.

Clowe entered Game 1 against the Canucks as the Sharks' leading playoff scorer, with 13 points in 12 games. But on Sunday, he took just one shot, which was blocked. At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Clowe is also the physical conscience of the Sharks' forwards. But on Sunday, he delivered just one barely noticeable hit during his 18-plus minutes of ice time. Meanwhile, fourth-line scrappers Jamal Mayers and Scott Nichol each had three hits in less than six minutes of action.

Every hockey team has a barometer player or two. When those players are hot, the team is hot. When those players are cold with occluded fronts and fog, so is the team. Clowe is definitely one of the Sharks' barometer players.

Which makes you wonder if the barometer has a hairline crack in it, or something similar. Clowe's unspecified ailment -- perhaps a sternum or ribs issue -- probably was caused by a crushing collision with Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall during the last series.