Sharks Gameday: Hot Water Music
Sharks lead series 3-2
| || |
It's hard to head into tonight believing this is a must-win for the San Jose Sharks considering there's still two cracks left to win this thing, but I don't think there's any human being on this Earth who wants a piece of Jonathan Quick in game seven after his performance on Saturday. The man was a menace in game five.
Furthermore, the last thing San Jose needs on its hands is a bonafide goaltending controversy. There were already some major questions surrounding the choice of Niemi vs. Niittymaki following McLellan's announcement yesterday that Niemi would continue to be the guy for San Jose, and if he puts up another poor performance tonight, those questions will be in full swing.
For a team that relied on one player down the stretch (Niemi) and essentially saved their season because of his play, seeing him yanked twice this postseason is extremely concerning-- for a player who has one start since January 13th (Niittymaki) to start in a win or go home hold on to your hats dear god the world is about to cave in game seven at HP Pavilion...well, now, that's just a perfect recipe for some excellent theatre.
But not exactly what San Jose had in mind when they committed to their goaltender of the present/future on March 1st with a four year $15.2MM deal.
So what we've got tonight is, and excuse me while I borrow a phrase from the excellent Kings website Jewels From The Crown, one more go at the Fragile Psyche Cup, a place where the ends always can be found within the means, a place where a fifty two shot performance in game five doesn't chase the goaltender who faced those shots but instead chases a goaltender who faced four. The world turned upside down, the insanity of the playoffs in full swing. Who's got the mental health? Who's got the heart, the drive, the will, the gumption? Who's got the answers?
The Sharks could easily be down 3-2 in this series if game three's comeback hadn't happened. In fact, the Sharks could easily have lost the series already if Joe Pavelski hadn't been Joe Pavelski in overtime of game one. Now that you mention it, the Sharks could have already won the series if Jonathan Quick didn't eat his Wheaties.
Expanding our parameters a bit, this series may have never been played if Wayne Gretzky hadn't been traded from Edmonton in 1988, if the Industrial Revolution hadn't happened, or if John Quincy Adams hadn't swam across the Potomac river in the nude every morning.
The mind boggles at the possibilities.
Tonight, San Jose needs three simple things they haven't gotten consistently this series-- goaltending, the first goal, and control of the neutral zone. It's simple. Make the Kings work for their goals, force them to play catch up early, and abandon the desire to lug the puck through the neutral zone through two forwards and two defenseman camped out at the red and bluelines respectively. Sure, there's a whole lot of factors that go into completing these things (and the Sharks executed all three extremely well for 50 minutes Saturday night), but if the Kings are going to demand a sixty minute effort then it might be time to oblige.
Must-win? In the Fragile Psyche Cup (which ultimately applies more to the people watching the game than the ones actually playing in it), it most certainly is. Every shift is a must-win. So go out and take it. Unless of course we want some excellent theatre.
But considering Vancouver and Chicago is actually happening (this is real life!), something tells me the NHL has enough of that drama already.
Prediction: Sharks win 6-5. Goals by a lot of people.