I was going to do a recap of Game Three, but it is far too painful. And it is not constructive—how do you recap what went wrong in a game you dominated but did not close?
However, I work a sales job for the performing arts in San Jose, and have seen a number of David Mamet's scripts in action. The only one most of you will know was Glengarry Glen Ross , because it was turned into a hit movie with a star-studded cast, including Alec Baldwin (playing the abrasive Blake), Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, and Alan Arkin.
That works just fine, because it is about sales, and that is my profession. It also works because it is time to have a Blake-like speech, and it should come from Sharks captain Rob Blake:
"Put. That coffee. Down. Coffee's for closers only."
This team registered 51 shots—three times that of its opponents—and could not get one past the opposing netminder in his first Stanley Cup playoff series. We know this team cannot close.
They work so hard, dominate play, then make key mistakes or fail to do the one extra thing that will net them results.
For instance, in Game Three, instead of skating right at the net for a potential rebound, Patrick Marleau skates by it into is less-contested territory. You score in contested territory.
This is why the first line, which scored 102 goals during the season, has none. The second line has five because they get it—they go to the net.
The defence also works harder than it needs to and for too little result. Instead of changing the shooting angle to avoid a blocked shot, it shoots right into a player and then have to either win the race to the puck or retreats quickly to defend a rush into the offensive zone.
And the worst thing is that this team has consistently undone scores of shifts of hard work with lazy, sloppy, or error-riddled play. Like having the defencemen put three of the eight scores the Avs have gotten in for them, or Evgeni Nabokov spoiling an unbelievable game by letting down his guard for one moment in overtime.
That is not closing.
They are doing everything right to get to the desired results, until they are in sight of them. But they must take that extra step they have until now been unwilling to take: For more on what they must do to win Game Four, see my preview .
This team cannot go down 3-1, or this series is over. So far, Colorado has not had to win a game in this series and is two away from moving on.
The Sharks are clearly a gun-shy team waiting for disaster to strike, and they need a shake-up. And they will get it if they lose this series, making the following Blake line poignant:
"As you all know, first prize is the Stanley Cup. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired!"
I guarantee that if this team does not make it out of the first round, the house-cleaning will begin.
Not only are the 12 free agents' jobs on the line (although I would expect at least Joe Pavelski, Scott Nichol, and Manny Malhotra to be back), so are many of the players under contract and probably even the general manager. And you know any new GM will bring in his own coach over a guy that could not take a top-tier team out of the first round in either of his two years of coaching.
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