| Quest begins with
Sharks must get past Colorado
4/13/10 - By Mike Lee
Sharks embark on another trek down the playoff path or peril on Wednesday, with
one goal in mind. Silence the naysayers. Three consecutive 2nd round exists was
upstaged last season by an embarrassing opening round defeat to the Anaheim
Ducks, so the Sharks have plenty of baggage to unload. The biggest lesson to be
learned from last seasons debacle is that San Jose needs to apply their
focus to the game in hand and not look past their opponent.
advantage San Jose has this season is that everyone expects them to fail. Even
this years first round opponent has been quick with the bulletin board
I think they had higher expectations than what they've
achieved. And it's going to be our job this year to try to make sure that
happens again," Colorado Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post.
San Jose cant look past the up and coming Avalanche. They
cant look past game 1 for that matter. The Sharks did that last year and
quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole before they even packed for Southern
California . Four games later, they were packing for summer vacation.
Here are the other keys to San Jose s success in round one:
Exploit the Youth
Colorado is a young team. Many of the Avalanche
players will be making their playoff debuts, including Calder Trophy candidate
Matt Duchene, who have no idea what it takes to win a Stanley Cup series. Every
player needs to learn the ropes by experiencing a playoff defeat, but the
Sharks need to apply that lesson by playing relentless hockey.
and Stewart combined for 119 points this season, but they have zero NHL playoff
experience, and Duchene may not even play in game 1. Forwards T.J. Galiardi and
Ryan OReilly have 81 games of NHL experience each and no playoff
Its simple. Outscore your
opponent. San Jose was shut down by a red-hot Jonas Hiller last spring, but
part of that can be attributed to the lack of execution when given the chance.
San Jose had 12 power play chances against Anaheim in the first two games and
they scored zero goals.
Execute on the power play and the 2nd round
will be waiting. Colorado s 21st ranked penalty kill in the regular
season is primed to be exploited by the Sharks 4th ranked power play unit. This
is the opportunity the Sharks must take advantage of.
Colorado goaltender Craig Anderson was 7th in the league
in wins this season, but he struggled late in the season. Evgeni Nabokov had
his own troubles following the Olympics, but Anderson just flat out bad.
Colorado lost 13 of 21 games in March and April.
Anderson also gave up a league-high 186 goals this
season. Granted he did play in 71 of 82 games this season, but Nabokov had just
as many appearances and allowed 16 fewer goals.
Role Players Must
In the six games the Sharks played in last spring against
Anaheim , only two players had more than one goal in the series and one of
those guys was defenseman Dan Boyle. Joe Pavelski, Mike Grier, Jeremy Roenick,
Marcel Goc and Travis Moen combined for 2 assists total.
Wilson tried to exercise the Sharks playoff demons by executing the removal of
all of those players except for Pavelski. In are Manny Malhotra, Scott Nichol,
Jed Ortmeyer to provide a more up-tempo involvement in the overall game plan.
That also means guys like Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi
need to show themselves in the Colorado series. Colorado will take the approach
that every other team has taken the last 5 seasons against San Jose , which is
to focus shutting down the Sharks top line, so the 2nd, 3rd and 4th line guys
must play a bigger role for the Sharks to succeed.
Lets face it. The Sharks cant afford a seven
game series against the Avalanche. They need to take this series in five games
or less if they want any chance of doing some damage in the later rounds. A
seven game series against a team like Colorado would crack an already brittle
San Jose needs to jump all over Colorado and put them down
early. Two win in San Jose are optimal. If they split in San Jose , the shark
must take games 3 and 4 in Denver . Anything less will probably mean a 1st or
2nd round exit once again.
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