| Wakey, Wakey
Hopefully the Sandman is a myth
Hello, Sharks. The playoff sandman is back, your
old friend from days gone by. He's talking about golf and fishing; spending
time at the beach. Take a break from getting your head elbowed by Jarrett Stoll
and kick back with cold ones for a few months. No worries about Getzlaf or
Perry for months. Just play easy for a few days and it all comes true.
I hope this sandman is really imaginary, but considering the familiar recent
history of the team he can't be ruled out. The Sharks pushed the Kings hard the
first two games and came up with wins, then took a tight game 3 in an overtime
period that saw them score on their only shot. The Kings took control
physically in the two losses that followed.
LA coach Darryl Sutter has
seen the Sharks get crushed bodily in playoff series as a Sharks coach. He was
also behind the bench for the Calgary Flames in 2004 when they bashed the
Sharks out of the Western Conference Finals in six games. Three of the Calgary
victories were in San Jose.
This Sharks team is deeper in talent and
can be nastier that that one. But the question remains, will the Sharks commit
to physically beating the Kings (or anyone) on a night-in, night-out basis? If
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau won't be scoring (or shooting), will they at
least neutralize the Kings top lines containing Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik
and Jeff Carter? Shooting the puck from 30 feet out on offense and dropping
back to the face-off dots on defense in a 2-on-2 tells me the sandman was out
there Saturday night.
Goaltending questions are interesting but
misleading. Alex Stalock seems to waste a lot of motion but he gets across the
crease and flails away to make some incredible saves. Antti Niemi is a great
positional goaltender but sometime looks asleep. Either way, though, if the
rest of the team isn't up for the game Monday it doesn't matter who faces 35 or
so shots and loses.
The most over-used phrase this playoff season is "net
front presence", a polite way of saying bug the opposing goalie any way you can
get away with. Call it "WWRD": what would Ricci do? Mike Ricci seemed to be a
general pest around the net and even if he wasn't scoring he'd be an irritant.
Eric Desjardins, Mike Brown and Raffi Torres were good at it early for the
Sharks in this series, but the team needs four lines with this attitude for 60
Can the Sharks do it? They've done it before this season.
Younger players like Matt Nieto, Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels are new to this,
also hungry, and may use their earplugs when they hear the whispers. So, will
the Sharks be listening to that playoff sandman? Or, to the Metallica version
and finish tonight with a smirk and a handshake at Staples Center?
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