Shark-Infested Blogger

May 3, 2010 9:32 PM

Sharks in Driver's Seat After Game Two Win

The last time the San Jose Sharks won five games in a row in the playoffs was 2006. They actually won six that season (Game Two vs. Nashville through Game Two vs. Edmonton), then proceeded to lose the next four and be eliminated from the post-season by a lower-seeded team.

3533132823_77f5bfe0b9.jpgGeneral Manager Doug Wilson was around then, as were Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Evgeni Nabokov and Ryane Clowe were, too, but played a very limited role that season. All five might do well to remind the rest of the team of how quickly everything can fall apart.

After their win in Game Two, the Sharks are in control of this series. But both wins were an identical 4-3 margin, and very much in doubt.

The Sharks have relied on two power play goals in each game: Game Two featured several ticky-tack calls, including a couple on the Sharks. But to say they benefited from favourable officiating would be diplomatic.

Expect the Red Wings to clear up their problems heading to the box, and expect coach Mike Babcock to play the media and refs well enough to be given a bit of leeway. He also has begun to work young Sharks player Devin Setoguchi, whose manhood and Western Canadian background he called into question for embellishing a high stick.

Sadly, this usually works, so it is likely that few penalties will be called in Detroit when the series resumes Tuesday, May 4, at 4:30pm PDT. It is not unlikely, however, that a dive will be called, as was the case in the Montreal-Washington series after the league tired of thespian activities.

Detroit is a hostile enough environment for the Sharks, who have won there in the playoffs as recently as 2007, but have fewer than ten wins all-time there in dozens of efforts. With the last change, Babcock can get the matchup he wants, and you can expect the DR. J (Devin-Ryane-Joe) line to see a lot of Niklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski in the Joe Louis Arena.

Furthermore, the Joe is more of an advantage than most home arenas, with the active boards the Wings are too adept at using. And the veteran team is too talented, too tough, too battle-tested to go down three games to none.

But the Sharks cannot play afraid: San Jose needs to be the aggressor while the Wings are on the defensive. They also need scoring from more than the DR. J line, which has produced six of the eight goals in this series and 14 of the 27 so far.

That's right: 75% of round two and 51.9 percent of the playoff goals have been scored by three guys. (The other two goals in the second round were scored by the "first" line.) And Joe Pavelski by himself has one-third of the team's goals and half of the game-winners.

That has been good enough for now, but this foe will find a way to shut one man down unless the rest of the team gives them more to think about. With as well as the Sharks are playing now, allowing that and not winning this series would be devastating.

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