San Jose Sharks Defeat Anaheim Ducks In Game 7 – Move On To Stanley Cup Finals
Okay, so that’s my dream headline, but having some time to think about it, here’s my prediction: if the San Jose Sharks manage to come back and win this series against the Anaheim Ducks, they will make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. I didn’t say they’d win in the finals, I said they’d get there. Okay sure, that’s one of those predictions that will hang out there in the ether, most likely neither proven nor unproven, but it’s my blog and I can say anything I want.
But wait, here’s my thinking. There are some things universal to all sports, and when it comes to championship runs there’s that “thing” that some teams “get” that carries them beyond ability, beyond coaching – a “thing” that get’s them to where they want to go. It’s what the Sharks have been lacking during all those ‘second round exits’. And although no one can tell you what “it” is, you know it when you see it. For example, I had a feeling the New York Giants were going to beat the New England Patriots – and it wasn’t hard to see. The Giants had won 3 games on the road to get to the Super Bowl, and the last time that happened the Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants (a win, by the way, I predicted back then too). Now I’m not claiming to be some guru, but if you know sports then you know something when you see it. I also said that the San Francisco Giants, a team with a history of first round playoff exits, had a chance to get to the World Series in 2002. When you watched that team at the end of the regular season, you knew. But note, I didn’t say they’d win the World Series, just that they’d get there.
If the Sharks are going to beat the Ducks and take this series, they’re not going to be able to do it playing hockey. The only way, and I emphasize “ONLY”, way they’re going to beat the Ducks is if they “get” IT. To win this series it’s going to have to “click” for someone – Patrick Marleau, Joe Thronton, Evgeni Nabokov, Ryane Clowe – and that “click” is going to have to spread to the others…and fast.
Pro athletes say it all the time – the game seems to slow down and they see everything. Michael Jordan used to say the basket looked 5 feet wide. When you watch the Sharks, you can tell the game is moving too fast for them and the net looks impossibly small.
How do we know this? Simple - when you watch the Sharks you’ll notice that their ‘one-timers’ aren’t really one-timers at all. When the puck pops out to either the point or right out in front of the net, the attacking Sharks stops the puck with his stick, winds up and shoots. A true ‘one-timer’ is hit as soon as the puck reaches the attacker’s stick - like the Ducks’ Correy Perry’s one-timer from Joe Thornton. That ’stop, wind’ action is enough time for the Ducks defense to react, and it’s why the Sharks offense looks so slow. My feeling - you play this way when the game is moving too fast and you lack the confidence to just attack. Remember back in November and December? The Sharks scoring came from an attack so fast you never saw it coming. We saw a small glimmer of this when Dan Boyle scored in Game 3. If the attack comes faster than we, the viewing audience, can react, then it’s too fast for the players on the ice. If the “click” comes, everything will change, and there will be nothing the Ducks, and anyone beyond, can do to stop it.
Now – how to make that “click” happen is the hard part.