Sharks bristle as pressure mounts
SAN JOSE -- What, the Sharks worry?
Sure, the NHL's Lords of the Regular Season dropped a Game 1 heartbreaker to the 8th-seeded, we're just-happy-to-be-here Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, gagging up a ghastly last-minute goal that reduced 18,000-or-so teal-clad faithful to mortified silence.
That didn't necessarily mean these are the S.O.S. (Same Old Sharks), as
Here's what it meant, according to center
"Yeah, we just had trouble getting through the neutral zone to be honest with you," explained Jumbo, channeling
See? Simple. Nothing to worry about.
Thornton was referring in particular to San Jose's woeful second period, during which the Sharks were outshot 12-3, then booed off the ice by a vocal minority of fans who have seen this movie before. What, exactly, ailed the Sharks during those god-awful 20 minutes?
"Our passing was poor, we had no speed, we didn't get in on the forecheck, we spotted the puck poorly."
So the Sharks polished up their passing in the neutral zone, then set about convincing themselves, and those posing them questions, that their backs are NOT against the wall; that Game 2 is NOT a must-win situation; that just because of their grisly playoff history, they are NOT under asphyxiating pressure that will be ratcheted up to DefCon 1 the instant the Avalanche take the lead tonight. If you suggested otherwise, you were being
On Wednesday night, the erstwhile journeyman was a hero, stopping 25 of 26 shots and often serving as a third Colorado defenseman, intercepting many of San Jose's ill-advised dump-ins, then deftly feeding the puck to his forwards. If the Gold Medal Line can't solve Anderson soon, watch McLellan break them up. When he alluded Thursday to "some individuals that need to give us more," it wasn't tough to figure out who he was talking about.
"No, things are good" in the room, he replied, a mild edge in his voice. "I know you guys always want to bring that up. Things are good."
It irked him, apparently, that some doubters dared to discern a linkage between San Jose's most recent Game 1 pratfall and the club's recent history of premature capitulation. Just because the Sharks have spit the bit against mostly lower-seeded teams in the first or second rounds of the last four postseasons, it doesn't mean
He's right. A first-round loss to the 'Lanche, with it's unproven goalie, undersized corps of defensemen and overall inexperience would be
McLellan insists that he doesn't need his own goalie, highly regarded
Nabokov was more than solid in Game 1.
The circumstances that led to it, however, were not.
For what seemed like several eternities in the penultimate minute of play, the smaller, quicker Avalanche kept the puck away from the Sharks, who were outworked, and who could not buy a clear. Finally, as San Jose captain
I personally am anticipating a five-goal eruption from the Sharks tonight, with the Men of Teal taking the series in six. Should the Avalanche rise up again, however, stealing a second game in this building, even Marleau may find himself thinking,