San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings Game Seven Thoughts

DETROIT - MAY 10: Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks battles for the puck with Brian Rafalski #28 of the Detroit Red Wings in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 10, 2011 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
  • No matter how much you care about the outcome of game seven the players care more than you do.
  • Thursday will be the most important day in franchise history until the San Jose Sharks win the Stanley Cup.
  • I do not know who will win tomorrow night. Game seven is a coin flip with the push to Detroit based off of the way the series has tilted as well as the way both teams performed in game six. In other words, it is all up in the air.
  • San Jose's best chance to close out this series was in the third period of game five and the third period of game six. They did not execute properly in those situations and have paid the price by putting themselves in a position to battle with a multitude of things tomorrow night-- a supremely talented hockey team, a goaltender who has played well all series, an tidal wave of media bashing, and the prospect of becoming the fourth team in NHL history to lose a seven game series after leading 3-0.
  • That fear of being on the wrong end of history? It is is not a problem for the San Jose Sharks if they do not allow it to be. Once the puck drops, it will not be a problem.
  • I do not know what happens behind closed doors in the locker room. What I do know is that Todd McLellan will adequately prepare his team for the game tomorrow night. Once the game begins it is the player's responsibility to execute a gameplan that has been proven to work time and time and time again. The onus is on them.
  • A huge key will be special teams. As we will cover later today, the last two postseason series between these two teams have shown that special teams differential plays an immense role in who wins the hockey game. More times than not it is the dividing line due to the nature of the one goal games.
  • The last (and only) game seven in HP Pavilion history was against the Calgary Flames in 2008. Jeremy Roenick scored two goals and two assists in that game, leading the Sharks to victory. It would be poetic justice for Patrick Marleau to deliver the same type of performance tomorrow night. Movies would be written based off of that.
  • Home-ice advantage will be a double-edged sword. HP Pavilion is the best arena in all of the NHL for postseason hockey. The fans are loud and passionate. However, they are also mercurial. They are quick to turn on the Sharks when they are playing poorly. If the Red Wings pot the first goal of the game I suspect the boo birds will be out in full flight. If you are going to the game it is within your right to boo-- it is your money, you are the paying customer. That being said, it seems logical to assume that showing restraint in this situation would give the Sharks a better atmosphere in which to play in. If that is what you paid good money to see, it is something that seems to be in your best interest. Just sayin'.
  • Getting spanked up and down the ice last night is not a good thing. I don't think any team is "better off" after a loss like that, primarily for the reason that it doesn't tell a team anything other than "you didn't show up to play", but it does allow the Sharks to rally behind an experience they shared together. It wasn't one bad goal, or one bad pinch, or one blown opportunity that did them in. It was one big mess of a group effort. Which puts the responsibility on the entire locker room to come out and correct those collective mistakes.
  • No matter how game seven pans out Thursday will be a day you remember for the rest of your life. This is the reason why you fell in love with the sport of hockey in the first place. The pace, the intrigue, the passion, the drama, tomorrow night will have it all. Everything on the line, two of the best teams in the NHL going head to head. Winner takes all. It does not get better than this. Enjoy it.
  • No matter how much you care about the outcome of this game, no matter how much you think you have invested in the final score, the players have more on the line. They care more than you do.
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