Sharks Playoff Gameday: Part Two
Anaheim leads 2-1
Game One - Game Two
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Today is one of those days where you wake up and get the jitters until about six, six thirty- then you realize what's coming is inevitable. The train's boring full steam right at your sternum and you just stand there and watch it hit you, and...nothing. The team is prepared, the lineups are set, there's no time to think about what may happen, only time to wait and see what does. You feel that adrenaline but learn to control it, harness it. It's no longer an enemy. It's an emotional asset.
It's funny how much an object weighing a mere six ounces can lead you to places you never knew existed. Six ounces. Let that sink in a bit. Six freaking ounces. What else weighs six ounces that has the potential to make people lose their damn minds? I see Willie Nelson raising his hand in the corner over there, but he's wrong. That's on a strictly personal level. No one goes nuts when he's doing his thing in the trailer before a big set.
Break down game three in your head. Cut through all the noise. The egregious turnovers, Boyle's performance, Hiller looking finally looking like a human being, Murray blowing up Selanne, the powerplay getting on the board. What does it come down to?
Speed. Bet your sons and daughters college fund that Carlyle is going to be doing his damndest to jam four black jerseys in the neutral zone, restrict that flow. He's going to preach the casual interference Anaheim is so good at, keep the game at a manageable pace. Have Hiller ice the puck a lot, hope Marchant gets those defensive draws going again. Muck it up in front of the net after the whistle. Keep it tight and try to get a goal or two late. An all-out firefight is out of the question. Tonight is about the trenches, about winning those puck possession battles just like game three, about skating in the neutral zone and beating the man to the dump-in, about having that same speed allow the support to gain early positioning, about generating cycle after cycle after cycle.
The NHL Playoffs, man. Nothing like it in the world.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-2. Goals by Clowe, Pavelski, and Thornton. One comes on the powerplay, one comes off the backboards where it's subsequently roofed.