| Let the second season
SJ needs to be aggressors vs
The NHLs second season is here. For the
Sharks, this is arguably the most important post season in franchise history.
Outside of a Stanley Cup Championship, anything else will classify the 2008-09
season as a failure. Those were the expectations that this franchise hoisted
upon its own shoulders when they fired Ron Wilson last summer.
a Presidents Trophy only adds to the expectations, but this isnt a team
that currently exudes confidence. The Sharks were 5-4-1 over their last ten
games of the regular season, losing their last two games to Phoenix and Los
Angeles , both teams that failed to even qualify for the playoffs.
Jose won four of six games against Anaheim this season, but throw all of that
out the window. The playoffs are an entirely different animal, and both the
Sharks and Ducks know it. The last two games of the series were post-season
tune ups, but what they actually turned out to be was a preview of what will
undoubtedly be one of the most physical series in the NHL this year.
Now, physical and Sharks havent always been
synonymous, but the Sharks are focused on what they believe will be a knock
down, drag out series. If the Sharks intend on taking care of business, they
will need to be the pushers, not the pushee.
Dallas figured out last
season that the Sharks could be thrown off their game with a physical attack
that focused on beating up the skill players on San Jose s 1st and 2nd
lines. Doug Wilson tried to address that situation by adding more grit to his
Rob Blake wont fall victim to any shenanigans by the
Ducks. Dan Boyle has also been there, and also provides the scoring dynamic
that San Jose lacked last season. The addition of Claude Lemieux to the lineup
is simply a side show.
Dont look for Lemieux to make much of an
impact in this series. His 4th line minutes wont add up to anything of
significance, and Jamie McGinn has been added to the playoff roster as
The player that will be most intriguing in this series is
Travis Moen. The Sharks forward brings the sand paper that San Jose most
desperately needs, especially during a playoff series against a team known to
Oh, and that team also happened to give up on Moen on March
4th, when they dealt him to San Jose , along with defenseman Kent Huskins.
Hopefully the Ducks decision to kick Moen out of the nest, serves as motivation
for the left wing. Revenge is an interesting motivator, and Moen would probably
like nothing more than to show up his former employer by bouncing them from the
If Huskins sees any action in the post season, it will
be a plus for the Sharks. Having another seasoned defenseman who knows how to
win can only help San Jose . Hes yet to play a second for the Sharks, so
the chemistry question is an interesting one. The fact that Huskins has been
out for three months also means hell need to shake out the cob webs.
The Sharks havent been immune to injuries, especially late in
the season, so shaking out the cob webs is the order of the day for several
regulars. Ryane Clowe, Patrick Marleau, Rob Blake, Jeremy Roenick and Lemieux
are just a sampling of the players that recently returned to the lineup. Those
players will need to find their game in a hurry.
That applies to
Marleau more than anyone on the list. The Sharks captains 38-goal regular
season seemed to be a carry over from his big playoff performance last spring,
but like the Sharks big regular season, will be meaningless if the Sharks
falter in the playoffs.
This series will come down to how effective
the Sharks can be on the power play. Expect the Ducks to take their fare share
of penalties, even if Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle did some 11th hour
lobbying for some fairness in the number of calls his team sees.
That means the Sharks need to cash in on those opportunities. San Jose s
man-advantage was white hot at the beginning of the season, because it was
Being unpredictable is something San Jose s power
play will have to excel at. Having guys like Joe Thornton roaming in front of
the net would be a good start. Getting guys to stick their nose into places
that typically result in pain is another way for the power play to be
Finally, the Sharks need to get off to fast starts against
Anaheim , both at home and on the road. Falling behind at HP Pavilion
eliminates one of the biggest intangibles in this series for San Jose , the
fans. Sharks crowds are loud. Sharks playoff crowds are really loud, and that
provides energy for the home team. Allow the Ducks to jump out to a quick lead,
and Tank crowd can be muzzled.
Do the same thing in Anaheim , and you
take away some added fuel away from the Ducks.
In any case, the second
season is here. Lets hope its an extended one in San Jose .
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