Sharks clinch West while sitting thanks to a nail biting overtime win by the Detroit Red Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks. Before I say another word, thank you Mr. Stuart for that oh so sweet game winner. It was, and probably will ever be, the only time that I root for the Wings because it did 2 things for the Sharks. It made sure that we clinched the West and it also made sure that my, and the Sharks, worst nightmare did not come true which would have been facing YOU in the 1st round! So again I say, Thank you!
The Avalanche are a very young team who have a ton of speed mixed with some deadly players that will be a huge key for them if they plan on taking this opening series. What the Avs are really looking for though is for Anderson to pull of a miracle and get out of his post Olympic slump. With a of .863 save %, 3.20 GA average, and 3 wins in his last 10 starts, they better start doing some praying.
A key injury for Colorado, as of 4/12, is 21 year old center Peter Mueller who missed the last 4 games of the regular season(concussion) due to a hit by Sharks captain Rob Blake that sent him awkwardly into the boards. In his last 2 games against the Sharks, while in Colorado, Mueller has had 4 goals and 5 points.
Who I believe will be the true difference maker for the Sharks in the playoffs this year will be All-Star winger Dany Heatley netted who 39 goals and 43 assists while playing alongside a tremendously talented line of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. Heatley has 35 points in 34 playoff games including a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.
After a less than steller playoffs last year and being outplayed by the Ducks Jonas Hiller, Nabokov has responded with a solid regular season and let’s hope that he can continue it. In Nabbys last 10 games he has posted a 2.5 GA average, .910 save % and a 7-2-1 record. Much better, than last year when he was only 5-4-1 going into the playoffs. Nabby, who is in a contract year, has what may be his last chance to prove to the Sharks that he can lead them all the way but that is only as long as he can get some good D-zone coverage in front of him.
Prediction: Sharks in 5
I believe that the Sharks have the veteran leadership, playoff experience, and goal tending to take them fairly easily past the Avalanche. Craig Anderson’s play has really dropped off late in the season and the amount of games that he played to date will show in the playoffs. The Sharks are hungry for playoff success. The past 2 seasons have been an absolute bust and we can only hope that they have learned from their prior mistakes.
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Written by Justin Lewis