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05 May 2007

Why the Sharks Won't Win

There is a big no-no in NHL playoff hockey. You cannot blow two-goal leads. The Sharks have now broken that cardinal rule twice in the same playoff series.

For all the praise that has come about the Sharks for their play this post-season, they're in a dog fight with a team they should have already sent home. Looking at recent history, this should not be of any surprise under the current regime.

After losing 1-0 in Game 7 to Colorado in 2002, and missing the playoffs in 2003, the Sharks finally overcame the Avalanche hurdle. After being up 3-0 in the 2nd round, the Sharks put the Avs away in Game 6. They then lost to Calgary in the Western Conference Finals, after winning twice in Calgary to even the series. What really stung the Sharks now Flames Superstar goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, started the season with the Sharks.

Fast forward to last season, the Sharks, now with Joe Thornton, beat the Predators as a 5-seed and found themselves as the top seed remaining in the West. They drew the Edmonton Oilers, whom they beat in the first two games. The Oilers than took 4 in a row after winning Game 3 in Triple Overtime, and the Sharks fell apart.

Now it is happening again. After an impressive 2-0 shutout in Game 1, the Sharks had their foot on the collective throat of the Red Wings, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in Game 2. Instead of going to the jugular, the Red Wings get back into the game, and win with less than two minutes to play. In Game 3, the Sharks pulled one out, dominated the 2nd half of the game and won going away. Even as Tomas Holmstrom returned from injury in Game 4, the Sharks looked in control of the series witha 2-0 lead in Game 4. Holmstrom then scores with 4 seconds left in the 2nd, and Robert Lang, a perennial whipping boy for the Red Wings ties the game before Mathieu Schnieder wins the game in overtime.

Enter Game 5. The Sharks should have swept the Red Wings, but still have a great chance. It was Game 5 where the real color of the Sharks showed up. After scoring the first goal, the Sharks played like a team that simply cannot win the big games. They got whitewashed in the last two periods, even though Schnieder broke his wrist and lost 4-1. Nabokov gave up a bad goal to Pavel Datsyuk, and the Sharks couldn't kill penalties.

Some are very surprised the Red Wings are up in this series, going to game 6. I am not. As the Sharks have proven over the years, they're a team that knows how to lose. For all the talk this team gets of being a contender every year, I simply don't get it. The Sharks want to be a team that gets the respect that teams like the Avalanche did and especially the Red Wings do. Winning commands respect, and the Sharks simply cannot do that.

1 fanatics have replied:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

The Sharks are a good team, but, they lack that one piece, I don't know what it is, but something that will bring them to the top...finally.

Maybe this is it, maybe their inconsistency on defence and making unmakeable mistakes like these ones are the reason for their downfall.

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