2011 NHL Playoffs: Penalties, Turnovers Put San Jose Sharks on Life Support

MJ KasprzakSenior Writer IIMay 23, 2011

The Sedin twins have come alive in this series
The Sedin twins have come alive in this seriesThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

In the first round, the San Jose Sharks were dominated in the first period. The Los Angeles Kings outscored them 8-1 in six games but still won just two games.

Through the first three games of the Detroit series, the Red Wings held just a 5-3 advantage on the scoreboard in the first period. Because of it, the Sharks won all three.

However, in the seven games that followed, the Sharks struggled to close games and won just twice. They gave up 17 goals while scoring just five in the third period, and the margin was 9-2 in the Western Conference Finals.

But Sunday at HP Pavilion, the Sharks were not outscored in either period. In fact, for 58 minutes they absolutely dominated the Vancouver Canucks.

During that time they out-shot them 35-10 and attempted 74 shots to the visitor's 28. They won the faceoff battle 29-24, yet despite the offensive pressure, still out-hit their more physical foes 23-21.

But they failed to cash in on five power plays through the first 24 minutes. They also struggled with discipline, both by getting the next six penalties and by not taking care of the puck (five fewer takeaways and a whopping 15 more giveaways).

With a San Jose giveaway followed by a Vancouver takeaway, Dany Heatley took the first of four Sharks penalties in just 2:46 of play. The Canucks took advantage, cashing in all three shot attempts with a five-on-three advantage over a 1:55-span to take a 3-0 lead.

Game over (see the following link for a full recap of Sunday's game). Series over.

If the San Jose Sharks cannot win the penalty battle at home, how will they do so on the road? The discrepancy in Vancouver was a ridiculous 13-3 in power plays, with (at the very least) two double-minor high-sticks from the hosts being overlooked.

But mostly, a team near the very top of the league in discipline during the regular season has been guilty of playing with reckless abandon. You cannot do that when you struggle on the penalty kill and play against a tremendous power play.

You also cannot give away two games in a series to a team that is younger, faster and more physical than you are. The way for the Sharks to win this series is to play smarter, not harder.

And you have to do it for a full 60 minutes, something the Sharks have struggled to do since becoming an elite regular season team after the lockout. Until they can, they will never hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.