Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sharks playoffs... game on.

Well, day and time to be determined, but it's official... by virtue of Colorado beating the Wild (they actually only needed one point), the Sharks match up against the 7 seed Calgary Flames. There are certainly some concerned Sharks fans out there (for good reason really) who don't like this matchup due to the how shall we say... thuggish nature of the Flames, but I think the Sharks will be ok.

Granted, the Flames do have all world scorer (and talented thug) Jarome Iginla, as well as all "smaller" world defenseman (and thug as well) Dion Phaneuf, but after that things drop off a fair amount. They have gotten solid production this season from Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow as well as ex-Shark Owen Nolan, but they are certainly not as deep in talent as the Sharks.

This leads to the open question of how the Flames will attempt to win the series. Prediction here is that it's through pure brute force. It worked against the Sharks a few years ago as part of Calgary's run to game 7 of the Finals, but this year's Sharks team might be built of just a bit more solid stock.

It's a major get to have bruiser Ryan Clowe back in the lineup and one of the more fascinating questions going into the playoffs will be what coach Ron Wilson does with enforcer, and decently talented player, Jody Shelley. It would have to be at the expense of Marcel Goc or Devin Setoguchi, but here's to hoping that Jody cracks the lineup.

A second, and related question, is where Clowe fits in. He'll certainly be there and should provide some grit, it's just a question of whose line he plays on. Me thinks that if you put him with Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, you make that line much tougher and provide a bit of a security blanket for Marleau. At this point, Setoguchi may get pushed out, and Goc in exchange for the solid penalty killing of Curtis Brown, but both players could well get the call at some point.

Proposed Forward Lines:
1. Thornton-Cheechoo-Michalek
2. Pavelski-Marleau-Clowe
3. Rissmiller-Mitchell-Grier
4. Roenick-Shelley-Brown

Extra forwards: Goc, Setoguchi, Plihal

Proposed D Pairings (not really as concerned or knowledgable about the pairings):

Extra defensemen: Carle, Ozolinsh, Semenov

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