Game 7 will answer many
|5/11/11 - By Steve Flores -
Is everyone nervous enough? C'mon you can admit it!
The possibility that the San Jose Sharks could become the 4th team in NHL
history to blow a three games to none lead in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is
definitely on your mind.
Don't feel bad - the Sharks playoff history
of, well, whatever you want to call it - underachievement, not living up to
expectations or just plain choking, have made their fans very sensitive and
wary once the post-season begins.
The opening round troubles with a
banged up Los Angeles Kings team did nothing to dispel those thoughts of
playoff no-success yet to their credit the Sharks found a way past their So cal
But now the Sharks are facing the team that
they have been built to resemble, led by the coach that they plundered from
that same franchise. And although, a season ago the Sharks 4-1 series win in
this same round seemed to have exorcized the Red Wing demon - here they are
once again making a stand and showing Sharks fan's and the world alike that the
Wings have all the guts that perhaps the Sharks do not!?
To the Sharks credit they played a pretty solid game 5 for 40 minutes.
The final 20 however, to say the least left a lot to be desired. It is said
that a game-clinching win is the hardest thing to accomplish. The Sharks seem
to be so aware of this adage that it seems to be sticking to them like fly
paper. The Wings are a class organization. They win championships and they have
world-class coaches, players etc etc etc.
We all know the factoids.
These Sharks however seemed to be a different team throughout the second half
of the season. They showed fortitude of a kind never before seen on ice in the
Bay Area - at least never from the home team. They found a new level of team
play -more specifically team defense and Goaltender Antti Niemi caught a groove
that saw him play pretty darn good hockey in the second half of the season.
Yet, somehow once the playoff season begins the Sharks are a team
stigmatized by ghosts of post season's past. The team seems to find ways to let
games slip through their gloves and somehow teams like the Wings seem to find a
mental edge stronger than that of the Sharks.
Much has been written
and said regarding Patrick Marleau's figurative absence in this series. Most of
us have noticed his weakness on pucks, his inability to score and a general
ineffectiveness in his game. He is a game breaker that the Sharks need. He is
the best player on the team at creating his own shot.
Defenses are stronger in the current game. Men lay
down their bodies to block shots and thus it is more difficult to score. The
days of the 1980's Edmonton Oilers' 10 goal contests are over. Marleau is
unique in that his skating, speed and stick handling skills are unique and
exceptional. His inability to use them in this series does standout. Perhaps he
is injured or perhaps his head is not in the game. Only he knows for sure. The
Sharks will not win or lose because of one player. But, with that said, one
player can win a game for you with one great play!
Marleau is the
player with the most natural and exceptional tools on this roster. If he
manages to actually get into the game (mentally and physically) he could be the
The Sharks have a chance tonight to do a nice spring
clean of closet ghosts. They can turn a page and move on to a new set of
monsters from the Pacific Northwest. Do they have that which the Wings have
already proven they possess? The Sharks brass has chosen to emulate the Wings
in many ways. The ultimate in emulation is the ability to win the Stanley Cup
Finals. Do the Sharks have what it takes to do that? We will soon find out.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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