Sharks-Blackhawks: Broom Sales Up in Chicago

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIMay 22, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 21:  Goaltender Antti Niemi #31 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a save on a shot by Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks in the third period of Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks were supposed to be every bit the team the Chicago Blackhawks were. They came into the series as the top seed remaining, and with the best post-season record.

It has not looked that way thus far. Not that I am surprised: I picked Chicago to beat the Sharks in this series, and before the trade deadline I suggested a trade because I asserted that San Jose would not be able to beat them.

But never would I have thought the team would be swept, and that is exactly what will happen if the Sharks do not make the changes necessary to win a game.

One area of deficiency the Sharks did clear up was giveaways. In the previous two games, the Sharks had 40 to just 22 takeaways; this time they had just six with 11 takeaways. (Chicago had nine and 15, respectively.)

All that did was stretch the game to overtime, where Dustin Byfuglien continued his duet with Patrick Marleau of "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better!"

Marleau has four of the Sharks' five goals this series, and scored his second with about five minutes left to send this one into overtime, only to see Buff one-up him with a shot Evgeni Nabokov never had a chance to see. Buff has three goals in the series, and two are game-winners.

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Yet the Sharks should have won this game and at least one other. They have a decided edge in many statistical categories: power plays (eight more), shots (+18), hits (+8), takeaways (+1), and faceoffs won (+6).

The problem is that the areas they have a disadvantage in have had much more impact. It is obvious the Sharks are working harder for their scoring chances, missing six more shots and having 16 more blocked; this means the Sharks have averaged over 13 more shot attempts per game!

And thanks to having 22 more giveaways in this series, they have had a lower percentage of quality chances. That is why so far the only goals the Sharks have scored have come from their best goal-scorer or off the leg of a Chicago defenceman.

That does not speak well of the team's chances moving forward.

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