Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Meltdown or Robert Lang's love child

I still can't believe it happened. Robert Lang, who has been invisible for the entire series, slips in alone and puts one past the rock steady Nabby to tie the game with 34 seconds left in regulation. Nabby, who made 46 saves in another heroic performance, fell to the ice and looked to the rafters in disbelief. Did this really just happen?? And Robert Lang of all Wings? Unreal.

Detroit stole Game Four and all it would have taken was 39 seconds. That's it. Five more seconds of penalty kill in the 2nd period. 34 more precious ticks of the clock to go up 3-1 in the series and it's lights out Motown. Instead, it is gut check time. The Sharks need to dig deep to pull this off. Detroit has all the momentum. They won two games they had no business winning. By all accounts, this series could very well be over. Instead, we will see what the team is made of....and I'll tell you what. I don't think it is a bad thing. Let me tell you why.

The Sharks are the most talented team in the playoffs. I still believe that. Doug Wilson put all the pieces in place to win a Cup this year. He added my invaluable namesake, Can't Stop the Grier, and penalty killer Curtiss Brown. At the deadline, he pulled the trigger on Rivet and Guerin. These upgrades were made to improve a team that had already flexed its playoffs muscles and won 22 playoff games since 2004, more than any other team in the NHL. Yet, this stat means nothing without the big prize and we all know you can't get to Lord Stanley without some major obstacles in your path. This is the Sharks test. Stand up tall, look each other in the eye and get it done. Here are three ways how.

1) Don't take your foot off the gas. When you get the lead, keep applying pressure. Sitting back and letting the Wings pepper Nabby with 50 shots will not win a series.

2) Ron Wilson - Please stop changing the lines. Stick with what got us here. Separating Clowe-Bernier-Goc broke up our second best line. Stop moving them around and roll the four lines that were successful in the 2nd half of the year.

3) Marleau and Guerin. Time to show up boys. Moving them around isn't going to help. Let them be and figure it out. If they don't, there is no one to blame other than two big guns that have been shooting blanks all series. Put them back together (if Guerin still has a face) and I believe they will have a big Game 5. They have been called out and these All Star performers will not disappoint again.

I still believe and so should you. Is this a real series? Yes. Have the Wings proven to be a more worthy opponent than I expected? Yes. I stand by my statement of rather having the Wings first. I'm sure Mike would agree, with the Sharks playing at 60% we are 2-2 with the Wings. The Ducks would have swept us by now. We will come out bigger, stronger and better. There is no free ride to the Cup. This is a not a bad thing - it will make us stronger if we get throught this. If the Sharks get past Detroit, Anahiem should be shaking in the pond.

Arthur King of the Britains had the Killer Rabbit. We have some Nasty Octapus. But we will reach the Grail, I have no fear. Just a flesh wound friends, just a flesh wound.

17 comments:

Ian said...

Just a couple things:

About Detroit winning two games they had no business winning... if this is the case the same could be said about the Sharks in game 3. I think both teams are pretty evenly matched, both in talent and style of play. That doesn't always make for the most exciting hockey, but I think the momentum, breaks, and flashes of brilliance have just been swinging back and forth pretty fast in this series. I don't think one team has had more than another, it's just a hard fought series, and it will continue to be.

About Guerin and Marleau; I read over on Battle for California that Marleau looks like he's hiding an injury, but i would expect him to get better with two days rest. Guerin I don't, not even before his face broke. Guerin has been invisible this series, more invisible than Lang (even pre-last night) and from what I've read on Sharks blogs that was true of the first round and most of the end of the season.

Yes, some sharks players need to play better. But I think if the Sharks are relying on Guerin (of "You just don't hit Bill Guerin in practice" fame), that will be a bad thing. You guys can win without Guerin. Just do it.

Go Wings.

O-Joe said...

This is a not a bad thing - it will make us stronger if we get throught this. If the Sharks get past Detroit, Anahiem should be shaking in the pond.

Ah, "if" is always the first crack in the facade.

Daaaaaaaa-dum.

O-Joe said...

OK, I read it again.

I’m still trying to figure out how “the best team in hockey” would’ve gotten swept by the Ducks this round and are presently in a battle for their lives against a bunch of soft, less-talented old farts.

Speaking of farts, Hannan’s clearing attempt in OT was a real stinker, eh? Rathje could’ve done that…and often did.

Mike said...

I’m still trying to figure out how “the best team in hockey” would’ve gotten swept by the Ducks this round and are presently in a battle for their lives against a bunch of soft, less-talented old farts.

Because the Sharks are playing very inconsistent hockey- great one period, then awful the next. The supposed 'second' line is clearly the worst for the Sharks right now. Not a winning recipe.

Speaking of farts, Hannan’s clearing attempt in OT was a real stinker, eh? Rathje could’ve done that…and often did.

Unlike you to bring up a fine moment in Sharks history- the day we let Rathje sign a huge contract with someone else.

Maybe the clearing attempt was a stinker, but I gotta give the Wings some props- I've never seen a team as good as the Wings at getting pucks out of the air with sticks. Uncanny hand-eye coordination.

O-Joe said...

Because the Sharks are playing very inconsistent hockey- great one period, then awful the next.

I see.

So, what you're saying is, getting bounced early in the playoffs does not necessarily preclude a team from being considered as the best team in hockey.

Interesting...

O-Joe said...

Sorry, I had to take care of something and cut my response short.

Continuing…

I just find it interesting that supporters of a team that didn’t even win its own division this season considers them to be the best in hockey.

Yet when the Presidents Trophy-winning Wings got bounced by the Oilers last season – a team that went to Game 7 of the SCF – where all loses to The Oil were by one goal (I don’t count empty-netters) thanks primarily to inconsistent play, particularly in net; and because the previous PT-winning Detroit team (2004) got bounced in the second round by Calgary (who also went on to play in Game 7 of the SCF) – they get tabbed by your blogging mate here as over-rated chockers or some such thing.

Funny, that…

Ian said...

While I do believe that getting bounced from the playoffs does not necessarily preclude a team from being the best in hockey (in every sport, EVERY SPORT, the playoffs involves a lot of luck), I do believe that not winning your division and having a 3-5 record against the team that did, does preclude this. If I were to ask you to prove how the Sharks were objectively a better team than Anaheim, or even Detroit, I have to believe the argument would include a lot of speculation and anecdotal evidence.

O-Joe said...

Um, chokers, not chockers.

I do believe that not winning your division and having a 3-5 record against the team that did, does preclude this.

I'm wondering how many of those three wins came when Pronger was out with a broken foot. I believe Scott Niedermayer was on the shelf for awhile, too.

Can'tStoptheGrier said...

Guerin listed as "doubtful" for Saturday's game.

Can'tStoptheGrier said...

Mike and I never said the Sharks are a better team than the Ducks. We fear the Ducks more than we fear the Wings - no contest. This is my entire point. The Sharks have not put together three good periods in a row during this series and they still have won two vs. Detroit. If we had drawn the Ducks and played like this, the series would be over.....

Looks like the Warriors are about to pull off the biggest upset in NBA history. I think the world is ending.

Paul said...

Your 3 keys to how the Sharks can win this series are amusing - because you could find Wings fans saying the exact same things a week ago.

O-Joe said...

Guerin listed as "doubtful" for Saturday's game.

You just couldn't wait to deliver that bit of bad news to Wings' fans, could you, Grier?

MacPhisto said...

Detroit has all the momentum. They won two games they had no business winning.

Holy S take off the pink glasses. It's not like SJ EARNED their victories. 4 of their 8 goals were fluke.

Paul said...

"Holy S take off the pink glasses."

Yeah, the Sharks (fans, team, coach) don't seem to have figured out yet that this is how the playoffs go. It's about inches, and bounces, a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.

See, this is that experience thing I keep talking about. Being in the right place at the right time - ala Robert Lang. As opposed to inexperience, being at the wrong place at the wrong time - ala, well, the whole Sharks team during the last minute of the third period.

Ian said...

See, this is that experience thing I keep talking about. Being in the right place at the right time - ala Robert Lang.

*spit take*

Please don't tell me you seriously think of Lang as some sort of master of playoff experience and timing.

Seriously?

Gabriel said...

Ian, I really hate to say it, but he is. The big question mark with Lang has nothing to do with hockey smarts or his ability to handle the intensity of the playoffs...he's proven he's capable of playoff brilliance the last few years.

No, the big question about Lang isn't skill...it's motivation. You never know which Robert Lang will take to the ice, it changes with every shift sometimes.

Paul said...

"Please don't tell me you seriously think of Lang as some sort of master of playoff experience and timing."

Een, I'm talking about the whole team. Lang isn't the only one who was involved in the plays.

But about Lang - yes he is a veteran playoff performer. Just because he is stuck on auto-suck these playoffs doesn't change his past. Do some research one some of the players for once.