Cue the Drunken Frat Song
I don’t know what that song is that they play in Chicago or what language it’s in, but it sounds distinctly like a drunken frat house song to me. I guess I better get used to hearing it, because it seems like there will be a lot more of it to come. Maybe I’ll even learn how to yaddle along with it.
There’s no shame in San Jose losing to a more talented Chicago Blackhawks team, but the real shame of it is the way that they went down. A full 4 game sweep for San Jose makes this year the most heartbreaking of the last disappointing playoffs years for a team that showed so much promise every year and couldn’t deliver.
The Heat is Off
A big line that loves to play together, Marleau, Heatley and Thornton are generally a force to be reckoned with. Not so this time around, with Thornton shooting off his mouth more than the puck and Heatley on a cold streak that makes fans shiver. For a big line that demands to be teamed up together, they have to produce a lot more than that if they want to stay bestest buds.
The one shining light for the San Jose Sharks in this series is definitely Marleau. He’s been marvellous on the offensive and strong on the defensive. He not only puts away goals and racks up assists, he also blocks shots and sacrifices in front of the net. Everyone on the team can learn from his example.
Standing upside down
The goaltender needs to do everything but stand on their head to pull off great wins. Nabokov did just this and somehow still managed to lose and it’s a real shame. Niemi and Nabokov are fairly evenly matched goaltenders on paper. The big difference between these two is the type of defense that plays in front of them.
Chicago is highly protective of their goaltender and manage to block off shots before they even get anywhere near Niemi. And if he can’t rely on the shotblockers, Niemi can rely on his size and he does so by staying on top of his paint and playing an aggressive game when he needs to. He also gets a ton of offensive support from the team, so Chicago is one of those rare teams that can have several goals go in and still come back for a victory. Offensively, they’re that good with Toews, Kane and Sharp.
The one weakness in Nabokov’s game? Two words: rebound control. He played a pretty good second period and an excellent third period. But if anything really made this series too easy for Chicago, it was the lack of rebound control in the first periods where they lay the attack on Nabokov. Third period heroics aside, this wasn’t the greatest series for Nabokov, but he can hardly be blamed for this loss. He doesn’t get anything like the defensive zone protection that Niemi does, nor did his team provide him with a good berth of goals to support him.
Think outside the Box
Bad penalties nailed the coffin on the San Jose season. Three horrible penalties in the third period destroyed what little momentum that the Sharks had in this game. While some of the calls were questionable, particularly the strange slashing calls, San Jose is to blame for not playing a more disciplined game right up until the end.
Eager was great for the Chicago Blackhawks team in this game. While not showing up on the scoreboard, it’s clear that this man’s role is to shut the big guys down and bring on the big hits. He was all over the Sharks team, delivering punishing blows to often unsuspecting players. You have to pity the next team that gets in his way.
Like a woman of a certain age in search of an ideal husband, Marion Hossa is that one player who bounces from one team to another looking for that best shot at the Cup. He’s come very close so far. In two years, he’s been to the Cup Final, but, unfortunately, not on the receiving end. In a cruel twist of fate, Hossa first joined Pittsburgh to tutor the young Crosby in the way of victory, only to share in his loss at the end of the season. Crueler still, Hossa then joined Detroit to face his former student who had learned all too well and beat him the following year.
Always the bridesmaid, but never the bride, the maid Marion factor may be a problem for Chicago down the line, but for now, it looks like he may have finally bet on the right horse.
West meets East
Now that this series has wrapped up with a decisive victory for the young Blackhawks team, we can’t wait for things to wrap up in the East so that we can get the real party started. That may happen as early as tomorrow night, when the Philadelphia Flyers look to shut down the Montreal Canadiens for good. But playing Montreal is like playing one of those zombie video games where every time you think you’ve killed them, they come back up, roaring for more.
Both teams should be ready to fight just like in a zombie apocalypse: fighting for survival.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.