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Enjoyment not always part of the equation of playoff hockey
4/15/11 - By Paul Krill -

I'll be blunt about this: I wasn't exactly enjoying most of Game 1 of the Sharks-Kings series.

Things started out great, with Dany Heatley scoring 28 seconds in and the Sharks dominating the first period. But then the game made an about-face. From the second period on into a few minutes of the third, the Kings were taking about 70 percent of the shots, evening up a shot count that had been wildly lopsided in the Sharks' favor.

The puck seemed to spend most of its time in the Sharks zone and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had so little to do somebody should have given him a book to read.

Then, the Sharks started to dominate again, but I just had this feeling - nothing was going to go in the net for them. And nothing did through that third period. This was not very enjoyable. Once the game went into OT, I had a very bad feeling the Sharks would come out on the short end. And when the Kings just missed an open net by a few millimeters in the overtime, that prediction almost came true.

But the Sharks held on and, as we know, Joe Pavelski, who had been kept off the score sheet all night, became a playoff hero once again. Then I was enjoying the game again, even though it was suddenly over.

If the Sharks want to beat the Kings and other teams such as the Red Wings and Canucks in these playoffs, they're going to have to do a little better in the puck possession aspect. Had the Sharks lost Game 1, they would have had their backs to the wall and the Kings would be in charge.

Now that the Sharks are fortunately ahead in this series, they need to play better to quickly dispose of the Kings. And, if the league is consistent in its new policy of suspending players for hits to the head, then the Kings should be without the services of Jarret Stoll for a few games due to his hit on Ian White in the first period. (White never returned to the game; no penalty was called.)

I was hoping for a nice, relaxing 6-0 blowout by the Sharks. That's the kind of game that's easy to enjoy. Unfortunately, things are not going to be that easy for the Sharks in this or any subsequent series. If the Sharks are going to advance in the playoffs, we can count on more close games and nail-biting endings. Relaxation just isn't part of the playoff equation.

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