Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Wow, now that was a fast and furious 2nd round of playoff action. Two teams surprised me with wins and even more surprising were two teams that lost. I stayed up until sometime past 3:00am waiting to see if Dallas would close out the Sharks or if that whole “Every 33 years” thing had any merit. I love marathon playoff games, especially ones with the series on the line. I know there are people out there that complain about the length of some of these games and that makes for a great subject to explore, but I’ll save that battle for another day. Today I want to look at why the Sharks and Canadiens are starting their summer early.

SHARKS – I don’t know where to start so I guess the beginning of the series will do. Giving credit to the Stars for having a ton of jump in their game catching the Sharks flatfooted from the drop of the puck. For the first couple of games the Sharks looked big, slow and sloppy and continued that in spurts throughout. Landing in a 0 – 3 hole, Nabokov finally stepped up his game, but it was too little too late at that point. Too many turnovers everywhere and giveaways along the boards made Dallas’ job easier. The Sharks failed to take advantage of a young and inexperienced defense and use their big forwards to get in Turco’s grill. They didn’t show any sense of will until their backs were against the wall. Looking back at the end of the regular season, they reeled off some 20+ wins. At that point I had wondered if they were peaking too early and it seems that might have been the case. Not that that is any excuse for sleepwalking through the first 3 games of a second round series, but they did show signs of this in the first round when at times they looked out of gas. Whatever the reasons the Sharks face some tough questions this summer and need to take a long look in the mirror and see if this combination has enough heart to get them to the promised land or if some house cleaning is in order.

CANADIENS – This one is easier to understand. Of all the teams that made the playoffs this year, the Habs were the most fragile. It was their speed and transition through the neutral zone coupled by what was supposed to be the most potent power play in the league and a rookie goaltender on fire that should have propelled them to the Conference Final. All they had to do was let the horses run and they would breeze their way through destroying anything in its path. Only trouble is they ran into a couple of teams that used their size and toughness to wear the Habs down, zap all the power from their power play and exploit the cocky young net-minder. Absolutely nothing went according to plan. They were supposed to roll right over Boston, just like they did in the just about all of games played against them this year, instead found themselves in a gritty battle. A battle they eventually won but left them punch drunk and about to face another bruising team. They were supposed to regroup and use the same plan against the Flyers except they forgot to regroup. There was doubt from the start and they never gained any momentum as the Flyers flat out took it to them pounding out the wins. Let’s face it, the horses were hobbled and the magic ran out of the man-advantage. Oh yeah, and that rookie goaltender looked like a rookie. Welcome to the playoffs kid. The Habs need to get tougher over the summer to wear down opponents in order to let their speed dominate next year and don’t let the press beat up the kid too much. Show that you have a ton of confidence in him as he has so much upside you don’t want to damage that in any way.

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