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Will the real favorite stand up?
David vs. Goliath role reversal in Round 2
4/21/04 - By Erik Kuhre

It's a 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



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