San Jose Sharks Pass Simulated Playoff Test
Scheduling both of last year’s Stanley Cup finalists in back-to-back games in October was a gift from the hockey gods to the San Jose Sharks. As we discussed at length, this early test of the New Sharks couldn’t have come at a better time. Win or lose it would be telling to everyone involved if the off-season changes made by the Sharks were a step back or a step in the right direction.
I think we can all agree it was a step in the right direction.
In beating the Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1) the Sharks held the Penguins to only 11 shots, including only 2 for Evgeni Malkin and none for Sidney Crosby. The resurrected defense showed signs of life after suspiciously disappearing just a week ago.
But some would argue that the Penguins aren’t the same team that won the East last year. The Detroit Red Wings, on the other hand, are considered a BETTER team than they were a year ago.
Tonight the Sharks showed us something.
It wasn’t that they beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions 4-2, it was how they won. After playing on their heels early in the game the Sharks got their act together and took their game to Detroit. After a quick goal by Marian Hossa to start the second period the Sharks stayed focused and managed to score the next four. During that four goal run, even though at one point they were up by two goals, the Sharks continued to put pressure on the Red Wings instead of playing prevent hockey - a miserable strategy we saw far too often under Ron Wilson.
One of the things that the Sharks of the past were guilty of was not playing up to expectations. Even though it’s only October there were a lot of expectations around these two games. The set up for a let down was ever present all week. An encouraging sign that the Sharks are working to silence those nasty ‘character and heart’ questions is that they met this challenge and lived up to the expectations.
And the expectation has always been Sharks hockey in June.