Franzen Super as Red Wings Stave Off Elimination

John PhenAnalyst IIIMay 7, 2010

DETROIT - MAY 06: Johan Franzen #93 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates with the bench after his third period and fourth goal of the game while playing the San Jose Sharks in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 6, 2010 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Looking back at Game 4, however painful for Shark fans, this had to be like turning back time and traveling into playoffs past. For years the Sharks have talked about needing to turn up the intensity, about closing the deal, about showing up to play, and for many of those years, they simply did not get the job done.

Game 4 was no different, as the Red Wings flexed their muscle and Johan Franzen looked like Clark Kent.

But with all due respect to Johan Franzen and the Red Wings, this blowout loss which is registered as second in worst playoff losses in Sharks history, was as much about the Sharks as the Red Wings.

Let's just call it like it is, the Sharks did not come out ready to play, and the Red Wings were well, the Red Wings. Did you honestly expect a different effort from them? Facing elimination the Wings have outscored their opponents 13-2.

"They anted up and we didn't," said Shark coach Todd McLellan

No kidding

Anyone watching Game 4 would have to be blind to not see the same traits that the postseason Sharks have been well known for. Not ready to play, playing distracted, sloppy passes, bad coverage, poor effort, and concentration lapses all contributed to the blowout loss.

Johan Franzen scored three straight goals, and was responsible for four straight. The game was over in 11 minutes and 16 seconds, and at that point the Sharks gameplan went straight out the window.

"We got away from our game. When it wasn't going our way, we didn't stick with it, so we have some work to do," McLellan said.

Getting embarrassed in the first 12 minutes will do that to a team.

The Red Wings chased Nabokov after the first period, and while he had a chance to stop a couple of the goals, he had little to no chance on the rest, considering how poorly the Sharks played in front of him.

As harsh as I have been on Evgeni Nabokov in the past, a quick glance at his stats does not tell the whole story. I mean 5 GA on 9 shots is horrific, but by no means can you really hang that all on Nabby. The Sharks simply had no answer for Franzen with Mike Babcock switching his lines to match up against our top line.

"The goals weren't all his fault," Pavelski said. "That's on the team as much as anybody."

"The first 10 minutes, they put us on our heels," said Nabokov. "And we never recovered."

To state the obvious, Nabakov has got to shake it off and the team as a whole needs to do what they say, not say what they need to do.

The game got chippy from the 2nd period onward, the Sharks were whistled for 15 penalties total for 49 minutes. Tin foil hats or not, the mind games continued as Mike Babcock stated after the game "they still have the market cornered on the 5 on 3's"

Shark fans right now are experiencing the full spectrum of emotions, from the defiant confident fan to the sky is falling, one common factor remains the same.

The Sharks must focus and put their best game forward to put away the Red Wings.

The Red Wings played one hell of a game last night, and sleeping Sharks or not, they did exactly what they have done with their backs against the wall.

The San Jose Sharks fans should relish this opportunity, and the fact that they return home with a split in Detroit is positive. Curses, voodoo hexes, and all choking jokes aside, this is the best scenario for the Sharks to find their true selves in. Forget past failures, forget past mistakes, this year we have overcome.  This hurdle is just another one in a long series of them if we hope to succeed.

Game 5 will show the true mettle and mental makeup of the San Jose Sharks and I for one am glad the moment is upon us.

Go Sharks.