Friday, May 2, 2008

San Jose Sharks - Shooting for the Stars

Anyone catch the last game in Dallas? 6 days ago I posted my thoughts on the Sharks/Stars match up. 4 games down and San Jose is looking at elimination is NOT what I had in mind. So, let me ask again ... Did anyone catch the last game in Dallas? The Sharks come out fighting, owning the corners, dominating the offensive zone. Marty Turco turns aside shot after shot … then, 5 minutes into the second period POW, Dallas scores and the Sharks pack it up. They might as well had their equipment truck back up to the zamboni entrance. San Jose’s game changed the moment they were down by one. Then, on an amazing breakout pass from Sergei Zubov, Patty Marleau pulls out another short-handed goal on Marty Turco (yes, 2 games in a row he did that!) I was shocked, and that is what energized them enough for Milan Michalek to convert the only power play (out of 6) to make it 2 – 1 by shoving in his third goal of the series, and Evgeni Nabokov had his strongest game of the series, and possibly of the playoffs, making 17 saves in the win, and the Sharks live to play another day. I bit my nails, Dallas threw everything they had at Nabby and the Sharks won!

The Sharks win came on the second night of a back to back games in Dallas because everyone expected there would be a Dallas Mavericks playoff game that night, but the Mav’s were eliminated by New Orleans. The win gives the Sharks a very small shred of hope, in that, this series is not quite over yet. What San Jose has done is planted that same thought, into the heads of the Dallas Stars, instead of hope, it’s in the form of doubt. It’s like a seed has been planted, and tonight, the Sharks need to do everything in their power to make that seed grow. If they play the “in your face” hockey they showed us at the end of the regular season I believe they can get Dallas to second guess their play and capitalize that into another win.

With Detroit completing their sweep of the Colorado Avalanche, the Sharks can hope that a possible date with Detroit could be just what they need to rejuvenate their passion into power. Just the thought about meeting Detroit for the Conference should have some Sharks players and fans licking their lips, thinking a possible revenge match could be waiting for them in the next round.

However, as we all know, one game does not make the series, and the Sharks aren't close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. A win tonight night will get them that much closer, plus keep them in the second round for one more game. As of now, there is no Game 6 or Game 7 that the Sharks can even think about, because if they don't win Game 5, then neither of those will ever exist. There are ways for San Jose to secure another trip to Dallas: A continued presence from guys like Mike Grier, Tomas Plihal, Torrey Mitchell, and Devin Setoguchi up front, not to mention Marleau’s continued hot streak, and the occasional appearance from Joe Thornton needs to become a little more consistent. Back that with pressure from the defense, Brian Campbell needs to show up and push San Jose’s Defensive lines like he did after the trade.

Kudos has to go to Ron Wilson for bringing Curtis Brown back … in his Stanley Cup debut this year his veteran leadership allowed San Jose the ability to hand the Stars zero points on their 3 power plays, Brown also won 7 of the 11 face offs. Brown’s efforts were part of the reason why San Jose is playing a Game Five on Friday. The Sharks are pining for a chance to make history. Only two teams have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a Stanley Cup Playoff series. In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs did that in their Finals series vs. Detroit. Thirty-three years later, the 1975 New York Islanders repeated that performance in the quarterfinals vs. Pittsburgh. And ironically, it’s been 33 years since that Islanders-Penguins series.

If you are into numbers … this could be a great omen for the Sharks.

“It’s an awfully big mountain to look at if you say, ‘We have to win four’,” Brown said of the Sharks elimination situation. “We have to take little steps and win one. And then hopefully another one. That’s how you take little bites out of that big hill.”

“We know what the task is,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to win four games in a row to win the series. It’s happened before. If you think you’re facing an impossible situation, then we shouldn’t even bother playing the game. The advantage for us is that we have two of the next three games at home. We can hold our home ice. We just have to win one more game in Dallas. You just try to find any way to look at something positive.”

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