I think it is evident to anyone who watched game 1 that the Sharks put in a strong performance. However, unlike the last OT face-off with Dallas at the Shark Tank, San Jose was not the team celebrating.
It wasn’t a bad game, but it wasn’t a win.
There were obviously some defensive miscues – the Marleau pogo block comes to mind, but I also felt that overall, the forward lines were a bit behind the play when it came to defending their own zone. Dallas was able to make quite a few cross-ice passes, and of course the blue-liners have to take responsibility for that too. But all things considered, the mishaps proved to be exceptions in the course of the nearly 65 minutes.
Unfortunately for everyone in San Jose, these few mistakes often led to goals.
Otherwise, the teams were well matched in speed and goaltending. Both sides allowed goals that they no doubt thought they were positioned to defend against. I’m not sure if Nabby misplayed to OT game winner or if it was just had a lot more heat on it than he expected. Either way, the replay was cause for much groaning down the length of the bar.
One thing I enjoyed seeing was the teal jerseys down low and in the crease. The Sharks goals resulted from crashing the net and causing traffic. I think they probably could have won the game if they had just gotten in front of Turco more – the perimeter shooters need to wait just a little longer to pull the trigger so that a teammate can jump on the rebound or at least cause a scramble.
Cheechoo was a force down low, and it’s great to see him challenging Turco and the Stars’ D. Both he and Michalek were able to force it home, and it must have been a relief for Michalek to get the drought monkey off his back.
Roenick was also forcing play around the net, and Rivet got a little too into it in the 1st resulting in a goaltender interference penalty. I think if they can expose that weakness more in game two, they can light the lamp a few more times.
When it comes to the power play, the Sharks just need to stick to the motto – I think “Shark Attack” is fitting and it has already caught on with the fans. The key is to focus not on the team, but on the ATTACK.
They need to be aggressive and not rely on just passing to try and get some space for a shot. I can say with confidence that the times that Turco would be out of position on a perimeter shot will be, well, it’s pretty much never. And the Dallas PK unit is no slouch. The Sharks need to use their size advantage and their speed.
They also might score more if Joe Thornton actually took a shot every now and then – he put up a doughnut in that category Friday. On the bright side, he is one of only three players from the Sharks’ lineup that didn’t put a shot on net.
The Sharks have shown that they have what it takes to win, but they need to give a little more, not allow for untimely mistakes, and force Turco to get off-balance. I think if they stay on top of their game, game 2 should even the series.