It's Gut Check Time for San Jose
Tomorrow's game is the biggest one of the season for San Jose, how will they respond after their triple overtime defeat to Nashville?
Through the first four games, it's been quite a series between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Semfinals.
San Jose had the third worst home record all season, yet won the first two games of the series on home-ice. The Sharks also compiled the best road record of any team in the NHL, but lost Games 3 and 4 to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena, knotting the series up at 2-2.
Tomorrow's game is as big of a gut check San Jose will face all season. Right now, Nashville is riding all the momentum after their thrilling 4-3 triple-overtime win and played extremely well their last time at the SAP Center. It's time for the Sharks to take a long look in the mirror and figure out who they really are before taking the ice against the Predators. A couple thoughts from last night's game:
- Pekka Rinne has been incredible this series for Nashville, there's no getting around that. There has been talk about him being the type of goalie that is able to steal a game, hell, a series for his team, and last night's game was no exception. Standing 6'7, the Sharks have found out that it is no easy task getting the puck by him, and the majority of their goals this series have come on the man-advantage and/or off a deflection or rebound.
- Martin Jones will start Game 5. Reading the comments from the recap, several would like to see James Reimer get the start tomorrow. I get it; Jones played six periods on Thursday night and hasn't looked as sharp the past two games as he did in the first two. Reimer had three shutouts in eight games started for San Jose and was a serviceable rental backup goalie. Come July 1, Reimer will no longer be a Shark and it's the odds San Jose resigns him have to be .0001%. What does it say about Peter DeBoer's and Doug Wilson's confidence in Jones, the goalie they acquired last summer to be their starting netminder, to bench him in the biggest game the Sharks will play in up to this point? Jones has been a critical piece to getting this team to where they are now, and benching him would be a foolish move.
- Joe Pavelski's waved-off goal last night in the first overtime last night sucked, but it's time to move on. Sometimes the ball (puck?) rolls your way and other times it doesn't. Regardless, sitting around pouting about it might *feel* good, but it doesn't change the fact that the Sharks lost a hockey game that they had plenty of opportunities to win (missed PP chances, missed wraparound attempts, etc), both before and after the disallowed goal.
- This is a completely Sharks team compared to the other ones we've seen in the past. As a group of fans, there's only so much agony and misery we can take, and San Jose has given us plenty of disappointed playoff exits in the past. This is not a Ron Wilson, this is not a Todd McLellan team, this is a Peter DeBoer team with a cast of both old and new faces that have gotten this far. Athough a 2-2 series tie is nowhere preferable to a 3-1 lead, I expect the team to come out with tons of energy on Saturday and beat Nashville in every aspect of the game.
If you're in the Bay Area and have an opportunity to attend Game 5, please do so! If not, we know you'll be cheering from your living room, man cave, or sports bar loud and proud. Regardless of the result, there's going to be a Game 6 back in Nashville, and after the past two games, I think the Sharks would prefer to head to Tennessee with a 3-2 series lead and not vice versa.