| A Comeback or don't come
Sharks need to do some winning
5/20/10 - By Ken Smyth
Last week I was in western NY
on business, and outside of support from some long-suffering Buffalo Sabres
fans, the casual chatter was about an all-Original Six Stanley Cup final.
Philadelphia dampened that hope a bit by dumping Boston in a game seven and
then shutting out Montreal twice but there are a lot of new Blackhawk fans
hopping on board the bandwagon.
Why should there be much love for the
Sharks? The Detroit series is last week's news. Losing the first two at home
lets all those "Sharks choke again" articles be resurrected from their hard
drive tombs. Meanwhile, they go on the road Friday faced with a Blackhawk team
that out-skated them decisively last time out and holds a two-zero edge in the
series. Are the Hawks a better team? They sure looked it last Tuesday.
The next question here is does the better team win the series? Maybe half the
time. Check out the Eastern Conference where Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo
and New Jersey are all playing golf right now. It's not the better team that
wins, it's the one that first finds a way to win four games. (Just ask Dan
Boyle) The Sharks need solve the Blackhawks in game three or this series is
going to be over fast.
The Hawks weakness was supposed to be in goal,
but it's been Evgeni Nabokov who's given up softies. On the other end, Antti
Niemi is good when he needs to be and the Sharks haven't been able to sustain
offensive pressure for multiple shifts like they did against Colorado and
Chicago's top blueline pairing is Brent Seabrook and Duncan
Keith; Olympic gold team Canada's top pair. The Red Wings top defensemen were a
40-year old Nik Lidstrom and 36-year old Brian Rafalski. After Seabrook and
Keith there's Brian (hiss, boo) Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarsson. All of these
guys are quick enough to violate the "play the man not the puck" rule from
Hockey 101 and get away with it.
The Sharks didn't look like they were ready for a fast
scrappy defense and put a lot of ineffective long shots on Niemi. As for that
(Dustin) Byfuglien guy, he's a younger bigger Niklas Holmstrom (or for that
matter, Mike Ricci). Nothing the Blackhawks are doing is unusual, except that
they're good at it.
That's the challenge for the Sharks. If it hasn't
sunk in the dressing room that they're on the brink of getting eliminated and
embarrassed then it never will. Todd McLellan and the coaching staff have also
had a few days to digest that and make the "adjustments" that coaches and
chiropractors are always being doing. Good news is that like the Sharks, the
Blackhawks have a weird propensity for taking a home game or two off. Philly
got spanked in Montreal, too.
Oh, whether or not the Sharks are still
playing, your 2010-11 season ticket deposit is due by Tuesday. Not the sweetest
timing, is it?
Contact Ken at at Kenin210@eudoramail.com
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