Sunday, April 22, 2007

Looking Back, Looking Forward

So I have to say I'm surprised that the Sharks won in five games. As you remember, I picked the Sharks to win in 7, and I wasn't exactly confident in my pick. A few reasons why I think the Sharks won in such a convincing fashion:

  • Good timing. They scored goals at crucial times, Patrick Marleau's goal in game 5 being the most obvious.
  • Frustrating defense. The Preds did get the cycle going, as I said before, but the D did not allow passes to go through the middle, or allow guys in the slot an unimpeded whack at the puck.
  • Great goaltending. Nabby came up huge a number of different times, times where the momentum could have really shifted. Instead the Sharks could attack and counter-attack knowing they have a Smythe-quality goalie backing them up.
So now we look ahead to the conference semis. I have to assume if the Sharks keep winning, they will have to play Anaheim sooner or later, so do we want sooner or later? Here's the pros and cons of playing them now:
  • The Sharks have only played 5 games, are relatively injury free (Cheech is still not himself) and will be rested for round 2. Playing Dallas or Detroit could be a long series, leaving them tired and battered for the conference finals.
  • Nabby is on his game, and could easily steal one or more games.
  • Most of the lines are clicking right now, and we'll need balanced scoring to win against the Ducks.
  • They're the Ducks, and we're only 3-5 against them this season.
  • They are also rested and healthy. The longer they play, the better the chance that one of their grey-beards (Selanne, Pronger, Niedermayer) will get hurt.
  • Our power play is sucking ass, and Anaheim takes a lot of penalties. We'll need to make the most of the PP.
Given all this, I'd have to say I think I'd rather play the Ducks next, assuming we will have to play them. In the most likely scenario, they could roll over Vancouver in 4 or 5 games, and the Detroit series could be long. The last thing we want is to limp into a series against a rested, ready Duck team. Our best chance to beat them is right now.

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