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So Hasty With the Shovel?
The Sharks aren't dead yet
6/8/16 - By Ken Smyth -

All these funeral metaphors. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression: that makes Game 5 on Thursday night "acceptance". Should there be flowers? Maybe Peter DeBoer should forfeit the game, and the team just show up in black suits for a handshake line and screw the Penguins out of a game's worth of beer sales.

That's the logical extension of what many are thinking. Pens fans are already talking up who will be their Conn Smythe (no relation) winner and where to park for the big parade down Slagpit Boulevard or whatever they call it. The guy with the white gloves who carries the Stanley Cup around, Phil Pritchard, will be in the building. So, how do the Sharks get him to San Jose this weekend?

Simply put, get a lead. Score first. The Sharks were never really out of a game they lost except for the last two minutes point something on Monday night. There's some puck luck involved but a strong first period and a goal or two would make a big difference. Do it Bruins-ugly with the bottom six guys crashing into everyone all over the ice. (Boston was 3-1 against the Pens during the season) Martin Jones stealing a game would be fine as well. "Just win tonight" is an old cliche but not only is it mathematically correct, it's all the team needs to worry about.

We knew the Penguins were fast going in, what we didn't know was that their forecheck was so strong and able to set-up in center ice in front of the Sharks' blueline. That's a matter for the coaches to work out. If it means playing top four defensemen and keeping Roman Polak and Brendon Dillon on the bench more minutes then so it goes.

There are extra rest days now. With Tomas Hertl out, the Sharks need some more muscle up with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. This would mean picking some one up off the lower lines. Joel Ward?

The Pens penalty kill has been effective in keeping the Sharks' 1-3-1 power play set from getting organized except for a few cases last Monday, this partly explains the lack of scoring among the Sharks'top six forwards. That's something else for the coaches and scouts to solve.

The Pens do seem to tire out in 3rd periods if the Sharks keep hitting them, like most fast teams. Yes, the Penguins and many on their roster have been to the finals before. But teams have won on their first trip as well.

Twenty-eight NHL teams finished behind the Sharks and Penguins, their fans are mourning. We shouldn't be, not yet, not today. Put away those shovels. Appreciate that the team is still in it, and this is the best Sharks' season ever.

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