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Sharks vs. Canucks: On the verge of a sweep

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Somehow, the Sharks find themselves on the brink of eliminating the Canucks before the playoffs are even a week old. They'll attempt to complete the first sweep in franchise history tonight at the Tank.

Christian Petersen

Indulge me for a moment as I commit the ultimate sportswriting cliché of quoting from Moneyball. And, that too, from a section of the Michael Lewis book cited ad nauseam.

Billy Beane had been surprisingly calm throughout his team's playoff debacle. Before the second game against the Twins, when I'd asked him why he seemed so detached--why he wasn't walking around the parking lot with his white box--he said, "My shit doesn't work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is fucking luck."

If you've managed to tune out the deafening roar emanating from Vancouver, good on you. Recall everything written and said about the Sharks after their most embarrassing playoff defeats, magnify it about ten times and you'll have a reasonable idea of the reaction being offered to this series by large swaths (although certainly not all) of the Canucks media and fanbase. Which in itself isn't remotely surprising; by no means did anyone expect this matchup to get out of hand so quickly for either team and, as would be the case if it were the Sharks down three games to none, there are real questions surrounding the staying power of the Canucks' aging core.

But what's noteworthy and surreal (apart from hilarious accusations that the Sharks are cheating) is that some corners of the hockey world apparently believe the Sharks' success in this series is an indication of their superior clutchiness and will to win. The irony here, of course, is that of Kevin Bieksa-gives-us-a-PSA-about-diving proportions. For years, the storyline has been that San Jose's playoff failures are a result of its lack of heart and inability to come through in pressure situations. Apparently three games is all it takes for that myth to not only be busted, but flipped on its head.

If this series has taught us anything, and I'm not entirely convinced that three games have any real educational import, maybe it should be that narratives are written to be hastily rewritten, that franchises aren't intrinsically clutch or doomed to underachieve in the postseason and that there is no magic bullet for playoff success apart from being a good team for as many years as possible. Both the Sharks and Canucks can lay claim to being among the class of the league over the past half-dozen seasons. In addition to their inspiring Game 3 performance, a significant reason the Sharks appear poised to do the unthinkable tonight and sweep what projected to be a coinflip series is that, for once in the playoffs, they've finally had some fucking luck on their side.

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Game 4

SJ leads 3-0

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7PM PST | HP Pavilion | San Jose, California
TV: CSN-CA, CNBC, TSN | Radio: 98.5 KFOX, SJSharks.com

Projected Sharks Lineup

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Raffi Torres
T.J. Galiardi - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Andrew Desjardins - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Scott Gomez - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan - Brad Stuart

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Projected Canucks Lineup

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Jannik Hansen
Mason Raymond - Derek Roy - Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Jason Garrison
Alex Edler - Kevin Bieksa
Andrew Alberts - Frank Corrado

Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo