Sunday, April 27
Up 2-0 and feeling it
The Stars have taken yet another series by the throat and imposed their collective wills on the road.
What a great victory, and the two home games this week are going to be flat out CRAZY.
A couple of quick thoughts from the game:
I think the Nabokov wearing down observations are legit. He's not handling the puck well, he's giving up rebounds, and he 's letting passes go through him. Its costing him goals and the Stars are being opportunistic when the opportunities come about. He played a mountain of games during the regular season, and his mental and physical stamina may be at its end.
Chechoo and Thornton are not nearly as effective as they probably could be. They've got a couple of points in the series, but in general they are both being HANDLED. Neither is fighting through the defense corps for space in the offensive zone, and there are not any other Sharks lines that are stepping up behind them.
The sharks did do an excellent job of maintaining a forecheck without taking penalties. They didnt go shorthanded until the third period, and the first call was a clear makeup call (which I hate) that only gave the Stars a short powerplay. Of course, Zubov made one of those spectacular plays that just get magnified in the playoffs and the Stars only needed a couple of seconds anyway.
That said, this is a 5-on-5 series, so:
Cashing in on cheapies is key. Richard's goal off of an ugly Shark turnover tonight and Morrow's goal vs the Ducks on a turnover are the differentiators between winning and losing on many nights. If either player gets robbed by the goalie, then either of those games could have turned for the worst. Both times the goalie got schooled though, and both goals were gigantic momentum changers.
Not giving up cheapies is the other key. The D-corp has been excellent, as has the fact that the center is always back in the slot helping out for when the Sharks DO win a puck battle. There were several times tonight that a Shark would win a puck down on the boards and then fling it out to a waiting Star in the slot. Marty is not giving up soft goals at all right now, and that fact is starting to frustrate the Sharks.
I think if the Stars split the two home games Tuesday and Wednesday then the Sharks will have done what the Ducks did before them: dig a hole too deep to get out of. If they don't figure out a way to create some offense in game three they'll be in danger of being swept out. 2 goals will not be enough for them on Tuesday.