2010 NHL Playoffs: Sharks Could Be In Trouble If Top Line Doesn't Arrive

Matthew HoganAnalyst IApril 26, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 14:  Joe Thornton #19 and Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks looks on against the Colorado Avalanche in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on April 14, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It’s a miracle! The San Jose Sharks made it out of the first round alive.

The first three games of the first round series saw the Colorado Avalanche grab a 2-1 series lead and it appeared as if the Sharks were going to fall apart in the first round yet again—but San Jose was saved…by Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski?

While Clowe and Pavelski both had fantastic season with the Sharks, nobody expected them to be the saviors in San Jose. Clowe led the team with seven assists in the first round and Pavelski had five goals, including two game-winners.

“He has the ability to do it, and he has a real good drive and the will to do it,” San Jose head coach Todd McLellan told the Silicon Valley Mercury News of Pavelski. “He wants to be at bat with two out in the bottom of the ninth.”

But the big question after the first round is: Where were San Jose’s three superstars?

Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley, arguably the best line in hockey, were held to a combined one goal and just 10 points against the Avalanche. The line was also a minus-eight.

Thornton’s postseason numbers have been good in the past, but nowhere near where they need to be if the Sharks want to win the Cup. So far this postseason, Thornton is having his worst year yet with just three points in six games.

The word “choke” has quickly become synonymous with the Sharks, especially after being upset two consecutive years in a row in the playoffs. Last year’s 4-2 first-round debacle against the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks called for a change in San Jose.

The Sharks brought in Heatley to add the extra scoring touch that the team may have been missing, but the superstar has been held without a goal thus far.

For the moment, the Sharks have not completely disappointed.

“The media likes to talk about past playoff failures. This locker room doesn’t talk about that,” Sharks’ defenseman Dan Boyle told the Associated Press after their first-round victory. “We focused on this series and we’ll focus on the next one when we start preparing for that one. This was a good series for us.”

San Jose will definitely need better production from its top line if the team has any hopes of bringing home the Cup, but only time will tell whether or not this year’s squad can keep from choking.