CSN-CA, NBC Sports Net
Excuse me while I cry into this free game four t-shirt.
After the Sharks were unable to change the complexity of the series with a game four win, they now face elimination at the hands of the clearly superior St. Louis Blues. It's not that they played terribly in game four, they actually played one of their best games of the series. They still lost, though, and it left the Sharks dressing room feeling like a morgue.
It's whats been so frustrating about this series - we all knew that the Blues were better, we all knew that this was going to be a monumental task. However, I didn't expect that the Sharks would put up efforts like they did on Thursday night and still end up losing the game. The Sharks were in a lot of games in this series, and they won a good share of battles, but game four saw the Sharks out chance the Blues by the biggest margin that any team has out chanced the other in this series... and they still lost.
Again, it came down to some unlucky bounces. The second goal against the Sharks was almost criminal. I don't think I've ever seen that happen in a playoff game, and I half expected Niemi to use the ubiquitous NHL 10 goalie save where the puck shoots straight up, and the goalie twists at the waist to somehow knock the puck out of trouble with his glove. Unfortunately, that didn't happen at all, and the Blues took a crushing 2-0 lead at the time. In a series where a one-goal lead has seemed almost insurmountable, two goals was impossible.
That bounce, along with the play that had Vlasic putting the puck in his own net, are the types of things that just couldn't happen if the Sharks wanted to have a chance to win this series. Not saying that the players have done their parts in the least; in my eyes only Thornton, Couture, Burns and Niemi have been good, and Havlat is the only player I'd give a satisfactory or above grade to. Everyone else has underwhelmed, and that, coupled with the poor bounces, has let to disaster.
And that's tough, because even when the Sharks have played their best, the Blues have been a little better, and that's been enough.
All this doom and gloom may still prove to be unnecessary, because even though the chance that the Sharks will come back is small, it still remains. If they can stun St. Louis at home and take the series back to San Jose, who knows what happens from there. With their backs against the wall, like they were at the end of the season, maybe they can find some magic.
Prediction: Sharks win 5-2. Goals by Havlat, Thornton, Couture, Burns and Niemi.