NHL Playoffs 2011: What We Learned About the San Jose Sharks in Their Game 1 Win

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIApril 30, 2011

NHL Playoffs 2011: What We Learned About the San Jose Sharks in Their Game 1 Win

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    SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 29:  Benn Ferriero #78 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by teammates after he scored the winning goal in overtime of their game against the Detroit Red Wings in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was good. The San Jose Sharks proved to be better on Friday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

    That's about all you can say, right?

    In such a tightly played game, it seemed that if either team flinched, it would mean a loss for that team.

    Luckily for the Sharks, the Red Wings flinched in overtime.

    Conference semifinal call-up Benn Ferriero stumbled the puck through Howard's five-hole in OT to give the Sharks the Game 1 win.

    It seemed like that was the only way the Sharks were going to get anything past Howard, who was superb with 44 saves in net.

    One thing is for sure: Howard was brilliant, and the Sharks still won.

    Here are two things we learned from Game 1 in San Jose.

1. The Sharks Play to Their Opponent's Ability

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    SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 29:  Brad Stuart #23 and Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings dive to stop a shot by Ryane Clowe #29 of the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Frankly, it is hard for any hockey fan to pick against the Detroit Red Wings in this series.

    The Red Wings handily swept a decent Phoenix Coyotes team in Round 1, and the Sharks just got by a struggling Los Angeles Kings team without its best player in Round 1.

    Howard has been outstanding in net, and Antti Niemi has been pulled twice in these playoffs so far.

    Seems easy enough...until you saw the Sharks play on Friday night.

    The Red Wings played well, but the Sharks were the dominant team in that game. It was nothing like we had seen in any of the Sharks/Kings series. The Sharks played like they had played when they made the climb up the Western Conference standings in the second half of the season.

    Niemi was good in net and the offense was relentless with 46 shots on net.

    Why didn't we see this against the Kings?

    Only one reason: The Sharks are only as good as their opponent.

    On Friday night, they were one goal better than that.

2. The Sharks Own Overtime

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    SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 14: Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after scoring the winning goal in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals  during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the HP Pav
    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    With Benn Ferriero's deflected goal in Game 1 Friday night, the Sharks made their record in overtime in these playoffs a perfect 4-0.

    Does anyone want to play this team in overtime?

    The Sharks seem to add an extra gear in overtime, but on Friday, they just continued their hot play that they displayed in the third period into overtime.

    They pelted Howard with seven more shots in overtime to add to their 39 in regulation, and Ferriero's fell through.

    These aren't just shots on net, by the way, as we saw against the Kings. These are actual back-of-the-net-seekers with a little oomph behind them.

    The Sharks are riding high, and if a winner cannot be decided through three periods on Sunday afternoon, expect the Sharks to be riding even higher into overtime.