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Series Odds and Ends
Keeping your foot on the gas
5/6/13 - By Mike Lee -

Win first two games on the road. Check. Don't let down and take Game 3 at home. Check. Put the Canucks away in Game 4 and get some rest. Not so fast. Two seasons ago, the Sharks had the Detroit Red Wings on the ropes, up 3-0. They took their foot off the gas and ended up stretching the series to a 7th game that may have cost them in the next round. San Jose had to play three elimination games in that series, expending valuable energy that would have been better spent against the Canucks in the Western Conference Finals that season.

The Sharks would go on to lose that next series 4 games to 1. The point is, if you take your foot off the gas, you'll pay the price one way or another. The one big difference in that Red Wing series was all but one game was decided by a single goal.

The one big advantage the Sharks had that series, was home ice advantage. The Sharks don't have that luxury against the Canucks this year. Lose game 4, and they only have one additional game on home ice. Vancouver gets two shots.

Leads can evaporate

Speaking of dissipating leads, I hope the Sharks took some time away from the game and watched the Golden State Warriors play on Monday night. The 6th seeded Warriors, an enormous underdog to the San Antonio Spurs in their playoff series, had the Spurs on the ropes in Game 1 of their second round series.

Leading by 16 points with 4 minutes to play, the Warriors took their foot off the gas, and would eventually fall in double overtime. Golden State took those last 4 minutes off and it changed the entire complexion of the game.

Beat the Spurs on their court, and you have a chance to steal the series. Now the Warriors are in the hole everyone thought they'd be in. A four minute break may have ended their entire season.

Where's the blue and green?

One noticeable difference between the 2011 playoff matchup with the Canucks and this season is the absence of many Canucks fans in San Jose. In 2011, the Tank was crawling with Vancouver fans that descended on HP Pavilion.

Pre-game warm-ups is the litmus test to gauge how many opposing fans plan to invade your barn. When you have multiple rows of people stacked around the tunnel that leads to the visiting locker rooms is always a great way to figure out if there will be many opposing fans.

On Sunday night, I counted 9 people in Canuck jerseys waiting for their team .

That's not to say that there were only 9 Vancouver fans in the building, but it was eerily quiet after Alex Burrows scored for Vancouver in Game 3. In 2011, several thousand Canucks fans were there to cheer on their team.

It was the Conference Finals, and the Canucks did hold a 2-0 lead when the series made its way south, so there was certainly more motivation to make the trip, but it's not like Vancouver is a cross country trip. Have Canuck fans thrown in the towel?

No Backpacks, period

So I show up to Game 3, like every regular season game I've attended this regular season, with a small backpack that I stuff with snacks and bottles of water. As I walked up to the metal detectors, I was instructed by a blue coat that no backpacks were allowed in the arena.

When I asked why the change in policy, I was told that, "the NHL mandated the rule."

I get (and appreciate) the heightened level of security, especially given the recent events in Boston, but there was no advance warning, no notice to those of us who shell out thousands of dollars for season tickets that this was being imposed.

How hard is to send out an email saying, hey, don't bring a backpack, because we're not letting them in. What really sent me over the top was that I stood there waiting for a blue coat supervisor to speak with me, three dozen women carrying bags twice the size of my backpack streamed past me without even a glance.

So the rule made absolutely no sense. The guy carrying the laptop bag waltzed right in, no problem. After debating this with the chief bluecoat for 10 minutes, she finally just waved me (and my 8-year old son) in. I suppose real terrorists don't debate security checks. We missed warm-ups because of the asinine policy that it partially enforced. Good times.

Stats, stats, and more stats

It's not surprising that the Sharks lead the league in playoff wins, but where else do the Sharks stand on the NHL stat sheets? Thanks for asking, because I spent about 4 minutes looking this stuff up. Here you go:

Goals per game: 3.7 (2nd)

Goals against: 4 (2nd)

Shots per game: 33.0 (7th)

Shots allowed per game: 30.3 (6th)

Penalty minutes per game: 6.7 (1st)

Power play efficiency: 23.5% (4th)

Penalty kill efficiency: 85.7% (8th)

Team +/-: +3 (4th)

Individual Points: Logan Couture & Joe Pavelski - 6 (2nd)

Goals: logan Couture - 3 (1st)

Assists: Joe Pavelski - 4 (3rd)

Individual +/-: Brad Stuart +3 (3rd)

Shooting %: Logan Couture - 37.5% (3rd)

Avg Time on Ice - Marc-Edouard Vlasic - 22:09 (41st)


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