Sharks Gameday: You Could Burn Like A Constellation, But Please Score Before You Leave



7:00 PST
CHI leads 1-0
Series Preview - Game One
Versus, TSN
98.5 KFOX,
Second City Hockey

Following a game one loss, the gut reaction of a fanbase is to seek out certain aspects of a team's play and focus on the negatives when discussing what went wrong. That wasn't the case in the Sharks locker room however, as the team focused on the majority of things that went correctly, while citing a couple areas in which they could improve.

We've covered the dangerous Chicago transition game pretty heavily over the last week, and Todd McLellan mentioned that the Sharks may have been helping to fuel it during game one. What he was referencing of course was the giveaway count-- 20 to 9 in favor of the Blackhawks, with twelve of those coming in San Jose's defensive zone. While this isn't an area of the ice that "fuels the transition game", I think we can all agree that turning the puck over in your own end is the one that is fraught with the most peril in terms of giving up an offensive opportunity.

The positive in these numbers is that the Sharks managed to control their self imposed damage for the most part-- Chicago generated eight shots on net immediately following a giveaway, with only four of them requiring a Nabokov save. Of the remaining bids, three were blocked by San Jose and one was sent wide.

Todd McLellan also responded to a question from Drew Remenda asking about Dany Heatley who, with two goals in his last eighteen games, is going to be counted on to begin scoring. McLellan admitted as much by stating, "He does have to find a way to put the puck in the net, especially on the power play. That's what he's here for. That's what we believe he can do."

As we mentioned during the Detroit series, expecting Joe Pavelski to continue (what was) a goal per game scoring pace was probably unreasonable considering his 23.3% shooting percentage at the time, especially when compared to his career percentage of 10.2%. Pavelski of course has gone goalless in his last four games.

On a side note, "goalless" is a weird looking word that I have no intention of using ever again.

However, the same goes for Heatley-- he's currently at 5.6% this postseason compared to a 15.7% career mark, and saw some excellent chances yesterday to bang the twine. Whether or not he finally lights the lamp is purely guesswork considering the small sample we have to work with going forward, but I don't think it's out of line to think that a shooter such as Heatley will begin to score as we get deeper into this series.

As long as the top line can stop the bleeding in their own end however. As expected, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook saw a heavy amount of time against HTML Sunday afternoon, and while the top line got their chances at even strength, they were outshot fairly heavily in their own end overall. It's nothing new during this postseason, as all four players who have played large minutes on the top line (HTML & Mitchell) are floating near or in the minus category of goals and shots against. It is an area that needs to be improved if the Sharks expect to rebound and tie this series, because as good as they can be in the offensive zone, games are going to be tight enough where defensive responsibility is going to play just as big of a role.

Speaking of which, San Jose is facing a near must-win on home ice heading into tonight, similar to game two against Colorado a month ago. No matter how average Chicago has been at home during the postseason, it's imperative the Sharks figure out how to generate results tonight. There were a lot of positives in game one as we mentioned in our recap, but this time of year is when putting pucks in the back of the net is the only thing that matters. Continuing to pound the net with 40+ shots is a great start, but capitalizing on those power play chances when the differential is so high will go a long way when even strength play is going to be tight.

Keys to the game are similar to Sunday-- San Jose did a lot of things right during the first period yesterday and parts of the remaining forty minutes. It's just taking those things and adding a bit more jam (whether it be elevating shots, getting bodies to the net, or simply getting a fortuitous bounce during a scoring chance) into the equation in order to get where they want to go.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-3. Goals by Heatley, Clowe (x2), and Boyle. Joel Quenneville and the HP Pavilion penalty box attendant compare their killer mustaches, and come to the conclusion that neither compares to what we'll be seeing in Red Dead Redemption this week. Or Amstel Light commercials for that matter.

Go Sharks.