They say the blackhawks are gonna be tough this series… I say they aren’t gonna be tough enough. Here’s my 10 Things to Consider from a Sharks Advocate's perspective…
1. No-Show Joe is now a Regular Joe: Joe Thornton has been good. Not great, not Jumbo, but definitely better than a No-Show, and that ain’t bad. Thorton and the rest of Team Canada line came up big against Detroit, and if they can keep it up Chicago is in a lot of trouble...
2. Little Joe is Big: Joe Pavelski has become a GI Joe, a Big Pavelski, and this dude abides… No question that the Sharks making it to the Western Conference is in great part thanks to the big play of Pavelski.
3. Nabby is staying steady: I’d like to compare Nabokov and the Sharks to Osgood and the Red Wings of old; as long as Nabby is good in net, not necessarily great, then the forwards and defensemen can carry the team the rest of the way. Luckily for the Sharks, Nabokov is, as a matter of fact, good enough to steal games and make huge saves, not sure if Niemi is quite there…
4. Grit throughout the bench: The Sharks weren’t a very physical or tough team in previous postseasons. They’re not a bunch of bullies or killers now, but they differently are made of tougher stuff, willing to dig hard, fight hard, persist and preserver in front of both nets.
5. Sharks can come-back for the win: I won’t say previous incarnations of the Sharks didn’t try, but these Sharks are succeeding. They came back 5 times before winning game 2 against the Av’s. They came back from down 3-1 against the Red Wings in game 3. Sharks can win no matter who scores first.
6. The Faceoff: Plenty of others have already observed that the Sharks can win faceoffs, lots of them, and they’ve been making a habit of doing that. Whether you have the guys that can score or if your guys are having a good night, it definitely helps when you start off with the puck more often than not.
7. Young guys that can contribute: Couture and Helminen have already come up with some big goals, offering a good example of the depth the Sharks have that they didn’t enjoy as much of in previous years.
8. The attitude: Among players and fans, this year there has been a higher level of commitment to the simple idea that the, "Sharks can do it." This might not seem like much of a strength or advantage, at least in a practical or measurable sort of way, but in the playoffs it makes a big difference if the team has the heart and the belief that makes them able to show up and play hard every night. This year the Sharks have that, and it isn’t something to take lightly.
9. The Old Label: Most teams and their fans can’t imagine the Sharks not being chokers, not being under-achievers. If the blackhawks are good enough to win this series, their belief (deep down for the players, more on the surface for their fans) that the Sharks will choke and hand them the series will give the Sharks more than enough opportunity to capitalize when the blackhawks aren’t trying hard enough or working as hard as they could.
10. Desire: The Sharks really do want it this year, and they know they can get it. They’re not going to quit, they’re not going to give up, and they absolutely will not stop until they’ve won it all.