Most San Jose Sharks fans will probably concur that after the devastation of winning the President’s Trophy and losing in Round One to the “No-Longer Mighty” Ducks of Anaheim in 2009, a seven-game, hard-fought, character-building opening-round series win over the Colorado Avalanche would look pretty good.
After all, the Avalanche are a young team on the rise.
They have given the Sharks quite a series in Round One, and taken full advantage of a few fortuitous bounces and calls. After a deflating Game 3 overtime loss, it seemed the ghosts of playoffs past would continue to haunt the Sharks in 2010.
In order to avoid Game 7, the Sharks would have to do something that has rarely been accomplished in the parity-filled NHL playoffs, something the Sharks have not accomplished since 2007 against Nashville in the first round—win three games in a row.
Having fought back twice in the series already, the Sharks would do well to just get out of the first round in seven games.
Winning three in a row in this series is asking too much. Heck, playing seven games would help keep the Sharks sharp moving into the second round, right?
Actually, putting the series away in six games would be a major boon to the Sharks moving forward.
HP Pavilion vendors, Comcast Sportsnet California, the Sharks corporate partners, the Versus Network, and perhaps the odd masochistic fan probably will not agree. There is much to be gained, however, by the Sharks advancing on Saturday night.
They averted the disaster that past Sharks playoff teams likely would have fallen into in Game 4—falling behind three games to one despite showing dominance throughout the series.
Then the Sharks played perhaps their most complete playoff game in several years Thursday night, punishing the Avalanche 5-0.
The Sharks finally looked like a one-seed playing an eight-seed, and their second-straight victory set them up with all the confidence and momentum in the world. It also gave them the opportunity to end the series in six games.
Doing so would buy the Sharks at least two extra days off.
That is time that could be used to work on the odd communication and focus lapses that cost the Sharks at times in the series and mend slightly dinged-up players like Dany Heatley.
Detroit plays Game 6 of its series at home with a chance to end it, but the other two Western Conference battles could easily go to seven games. The extra rest could prove big for the Sharks down the road.
Winning the series in six games, while riding a three-game winning streak, would also help progress the Sharks’ new-found and previously elusive playoff momentum, confidence, and mojo.
Momentum is only important until the next drop of the puck, but the Sharks have rarely found playoff swagger in recent years, and building on a 5-0 victory could help foster some of that.
Are the Sharks dead in the water (no pun intended) if they drop Saturday’s game?
Of course not.
Having the final game at home is the entire reason you battle all year to get home ice advantage. But in a series that has had its fair share of surprises, why let everything come down to one game, and potentially one fluky goal?
The Sharks would do well to win in Denver Saturday night, but it will not be easy.
The Avalanche team, and goalie Craig Anderson in particular, will be hungry to redeem themselves after being embarrassed in Game 5.
But if the Sharks play the way they have over the last three games, it should be on to the second round with no need for a game Monday night.
If the Sharks can clear this hurdle, it very well could propel them to great things. I see many Sharks fans with many long beards in weeks to come.
Keep the faith!
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