| Will the real favorite stand
David vs. Goliath role reversal in Round
4/21/04 - By Erik Kuhre
rarity when the higher seed in a playoff series is the underdog. But when that
series matches up the San Jose Sharks against the Colorado Avalanche, that's
exactly what happens. Every prognosticator out there (besides us here at
TheFeeder) see the Avalanche "upsetting" the Sharks. Like last round where the
Blues were supposed to eliminate the Sharks quickly, the experts will be in for
a huge surprise.
This is likely to be the best series out of the four
Conference Semifinals. It has the previous playoff confrontation, with the Avs
taking both series in 1999 and 2002. It has the ex-teammate factor. While the
Sharks have Scott Parker, the Avalanche have two key elements who were former
Sharks in head coach Tony Granato and forward Teemu Sellane. Fans of the fin
will most likely give The Finnish Flash the Pronger treatment every time he
touches the puck.
The matchup is pretty even. The key will be special
teams. Colorado possesses the 2nd best power play in the postseason (28.6%),
while Team Teal has the 2nd best penalty kill (95.5%). On the flip side, while
San Jose is ranked 10th (9.7%) among the 16 playoff teams on the power play,
the Avalanche penalty kill is at 13th (81.8%). The Sharks must score on the man
advantage to have success in the series.
Both teams have multiple lines that can score. So this
can be a preview of a 2-1 game or a 6-5 game. The young defensive core of the
Sharks will be tested. Containing Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Paul Kariya, and
Teemu Selanne will be crucial, although exclusive containment of these players
will not guarantee a series victory. Colorado like the Sharks have core players
who can score out of the blue...or teal. Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will need to
be ready for a possible onslaught of shots.
On the Sharks side,
Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo will be heavily guarded. Look for players
like Vincent Damphousse, Wayne Primeau, Niko Dimitrakos, Scott Thornton, and
Mike Ricci to be open to set up scoring chances. If anything, the Avalanche
have the less experienced David Aebischer as goaltender. Note: Aebischer had a
pretty good teacher in Patrick Roy, and showed his playoff presence with
stopping the snipers from the Dallas Stars. Team Teal needs to be in front and
grab rebounds, while the defense needs to be more offensive, but at the same
time prevent cherry pickers going 1-on-1 against Nabokov.
In the end,
this series will go long and some games can be longer. And not to jinx
ourselves, let's hope for an earthquake-free series. I see the Sharks winning
in six games, but it won't be easy.
Blood, sweat, and tears will all
go away, but glory will last forever. CHOMP TO THE CUP!
Contact Erik at Puckguy14@aol.com
|What did you think of
article? Post your comments on the