Tuesday, April 29, 2008

2008 San Jose Sharks: Advance Post-Mortem

Two problems that had plagued the Sharks in games one and two of this series... a lack of drive towards the net and poor defensive zone coverage.

Well, the Sharks drove the net fairly well in game three, but supplemented their still present poor D zone coverage with that albatross from last season... poor response to adversity.

The result of this was in seeing a solid second period effort tonight go by the wayside and a 1-1 tie a minute into the third turn into a 2-1 overtime loss. Yes, the Sharks were disappointed that Dallas scored on the power play to tie the game at the start of the third, but a tying goal does not a season lose. Sadly, in this case, it did as San Jose spent most of the third back on their heels hoping against hope that something good would happen. That Dallas then took until OT to score the game winning (and likely series deciding) goal, seemed a matter of mere formality given the Sharks play after losing the 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time we've seen this from the Sharks. Remember game 2? A lead entering the third quickly becomes tied and... game over. Dallas wins.

Probably more vexing (especially at the time), though... remember the Red Wings series last season? Less than a minute away from going up 3 games to 1, Detroit scores a game-tying goal and... Well, let's look first at what could have happened and then at what did. What could have happened is San Jose could have continued playing their game and even if they lost in OT, been confident with the knowledge that they were outplaying the Wings. What did happen, though, is (1) an OT loss, (2) a berating of Captain Patrick Marleau in the Press by Coach Ron Wilson and (3) listless efforts in games five and six resulting in an end to the season.

So... back to this season. Dallas is playing well and has combined a stingy defense with exceptional offensive zone passing, but the Sharks have done nothing to help their cause. What should be occurring in this series is you should have two excellent teams trading punches (mostly metaphorical, but maybe a few real ones) over the course of a hard fought 6 or 7 games series.

What you have instead is a Dallas team doing their part and a San Jose team that has (1) not driven to the net (for the most part), (2) done a poor job of defensive zone coverage (both clearing the puck and covering the cross ice pass) and (3 & most appallingly) wilted when faced with adversity (personified by those Star game-tying goals).

Such a talented team. Such a shame.

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