| Happy times!
But that's about to change
4/12/08 - By
The Sharks won game two and earned a split. The Flames
won game one and earned a split. Fans in San Jose are happy, fans in Calgary
are happy or at least as happy as Canadian hockey fans can get. Coaches Mike
Keenan and Ron Wilson are not happy, but what else is new. Me? I'm happy my
taxes are done. Still, let's all remember this happy weekend when the sun is
shining in San Jose and we feel good. I hope it lasts.
Only sure thing
is that Sunday night will see a team up 2-1. Oversimplified, the Flames/Sharks
match-up is a tough team that needs to play good against a good team that needs
to play tough. Both teams need to be smart. The Flames were good enough and
smarter than the Sharks on Wednesday; the Sharks were tough enough and smarter
than the Flames on Thursday.
Mikka Kiprusoff and Evgeni Nabokov,
Kipper and Nabby to the Sharks' crowd, have both been at the top of game since
the first period of game one. There's no reason to expect anything different
the rest of the way. Except for rare moments the games were played at the
Flames' pace, not the Sharks. Slow down the other teams top line, keep them off
your goaltender, exploit turnovers; that's the way the Flames win games.
San Jose fans are used to this, it's Sharks' Hockey 2k01 version
complete with Kipper and Owen Nolan on the cover and Darryl Sutter in the
credits. Put a Jerome Iginla on one of Sutter's Sharks teams instead of Jeff
Freisen or Teemu Selanne there might be a Stanley Cup banner hanging over 208.
But today's Sharks' team is built to play faster and should be running that one
off the ice by the third period. Fast rushes will put pressure in front of the
goaltender without passes from behind the net into the high slot that so far
are getting taken away by the Calgary defensemen and centers.
part, Calgary needs to play smarter, stay out of the penalty box, and grind out
close wins. They're built for generic Northwest Division hockey where scores
run low. Depending on the fatigue of the team and the mood of the officials
this can result in a penalty parade like we saw the other night. If the Sharks
are content to play that game too, the Flames chances are good.
for the Sharks is to press their advantages in speed and size in the offensive
zone. Support Nabokov and avoid useless penalties on defense. Put Jody Shelley
on the #1 line with Joe Thornton to tie up the defensemen a bit if that's
what's needed to give Thornton and Milan Michalek or Jeremy Roenick time and
space. Thornton attracts a lot of attention from the Flames; if you can't
prevent it, take advantage of it. Don't be surprised if Ron Wilson's line
juggling comes into play here, especially if Thornton is a little more shaken
up from that hit in the third period of the last game than is being let on.
Referee review- Although the penalties on Thursday
were numerically one sided, the referees were calling what they saw in game
two. Game two referees Kelly Sutherland and Don Koharski missed an awful lot on
Wednesday; being out of position on several occasions around the net, and
failing to call a few obvious dives by Flames players. Thursday we saw Tim Peel
and Marc Joanette working their butts off to be in position to follow the puck
and keep out of the players' way.
We're sharing the referees with the
Dallas-Anaheim series. Koharski and Sutherland called eleven minors on the
Ducks last Thursday, must have bought some whistles at the airport. Peel and
Joanette were in Anaheim Saturday, so Koharski and Sutherland will probably
work Sunday in Calgary. Want Koharski to watch the puck? Fill it with jam or
put a hole in it.
Game 5 Warning for Flames fans- You found the Molson
stands behind 209 and 222 with no problem, not that we were that worried. But
please be careful what you put in your mouth, I saw a couple of you with a
bucket of Arena popcorn. Overall you folks are a class act, glad to see a few
of you in San Jose.
Contact Ken at at Kenin210@eudoramail.com
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