Shark-Infested Blogger

May 21, 2010 3:54 PM

Suggested Strategy Changes for the Sharks

There are things the Sharks must do in order to change what has been happening on the ice, and they know that. A team meeting after Tuesday's loss addressed some things the team would not reveal.

There are also obvious adjustments to be made: Getting more traffic and more elevation on shots is a no-brainer, but it is more easily said than done. Sharks defencemen have struggled to get pucks through what traffic the Sharks have had, so can they figure out a way to do that without blocking their own shots?

For one thing, the team needs to work on more tip-plays. You can adjust the angle of shots to get them around defenders by faking shots to change angles, and by shooting wide, not just off the boards but to forwards at lateral edges of the crease. They can also take quicker shots instead of winding up for the big slap shot--getting a light shot through is better than getting a heavy shot blocked.

4434616792_b19dbbb13a.jpgAnother problem the team was willing to talk about was turnovers. Captain Rob Blake talked about that--"our execution and poise with the puck can be better. We're not playing as crisp as we were. They've been able to knock down pucks."

Obviously, Chicago's forechecking is giving the Sharks troubles, but the giveaways can still be reduced with more careful advancing of the puck and using more skating--something both Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle can do.

The team also has to have more discipline to dump pucks in to avoid neutral zone turnovers, which will be easier to do if they can work with a lead more often. This also plays to the Sharks superior size and away from the Hawks superior speed.

Douglas Murray addressed this as one of the things the team was doing better in the first two rounds: "If you looked at a lot of our games, we were really good in the third period because we've worn them down," Murray said. In this series, the Sharks have delivered just one more hit than the Blackhawks and been out-scored in the third period, 3-2.

Finally, there is one other change the Sharks could make once they trail in a game:

Niemi has kicked out a lot of rebounds, but directed him where Sharks are not. By taking a chance and pinching down a fourth player more often, the Sharks may get to a lot of those rebounds and be able to put them home before Niemi can re-set himself.

Of course, that risks more odd-man rushes the other way, a dangerous prospect indeed with the offensive talent of the Hawks. But not as much of a risk as continuing to trail into a third period or falling down 3-0 in the series.

Changes should not be limited to strategic, however; for personnel change suggestions, see here.

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