Proud American Hockey League Affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks

Our Town Or Team
Buy Tickets

IceHogs News

Sharks must hit next gear to make final stand

From (link)

CHICAGO -- While most of his teammates are talking about staying the course in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, San Jose captain Rob Blake said Saturday he doesn't think the Sharks have deserved anything but the 0-3 hole they find themselves in.

"I don't think so," Blake told "We haven't played the best. We have put ourselves in this position, so can I say we deserve better? No. We're in this position for a reason and we understand that."

They've got a long uphill climb to get out of it, but they can start the trek Sunday afternoon at United Center. On the other hand, the Chicago Blackhawks hope they have enough left in them to keep this good team down.

A heartbeat is the last thing the Hawks can afford to give San Jose right now.

With that in mind, here are the Five Factors heading into Game 4, possibly the final game of the season for San Jose and maybe also the final game in teal for soon-to-be-unrestricted free agents Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov.

1. Final stand -- The Sharks have done a lot in the past six weeks to erase their reputation as a soft playoff team. Rolling over Sunday would give fans and media alike enough fodder for that reputation to bubble back up to the surface. San Jose can be satisfied with its effort, but that's about it. The Sharks have to find another level, another gear if they want to earn the right to play Game 5. That means a proven goal scorer like Dany Heatley might have to find the net, finally. That means Nabokov has to make that one tough save, the kind that his counterpart in the other net,
Antti Niemi, has made all series. That means the Sharks can't in any way feel they've deserved a thing in this series.

2. Niemi to the rescue -- Provided San Jose does put up that final stand and comes hard at Chicago, the Blackhawks will again need Niemi to bail them out. He's been unbelievable all series, not only with his marvelous saves (especially with his glove), but with his unflappable composure. Nothing seems to rattle this guy. He made 44 saves look easy Friday night just like he made the same amount of stops look like a breeze in Game 1 last Sunday. He might have to do it again in Game 4, but Chicago has come to expect that from the Finn.

3. Finding Joey P. -- Joe Pavelski was such a big reason why the Sharks ousted Colorado in six and wiped out Detroit in five, but he's been nothing more than average against the Blackhawks and that has to change in Game 4. When Pavelski produces at even strength, or at the very least is a threat to score, the pressure on Joe Thornton is somewhat relieved. In the conference final, Pavelski has only one assist and he's winning less than 50 percent of his faceoffs. He has to find a way to be a bigger factor Sunday.

4. Minor details
-- The Blackhawks will do themselves a big favor if they stay out of the penalty box Sunday. Thirteen of San Jose's 46 shots in Game 3 came when it was on the power play. Contrarily, Chicago gave up only one power play chance in Game 2 and the Sharks had only 27 shots, by far their fewest in the three games so far. The recipe is simple: If the Hawks want to cut down on the rubber Niemi sees, stop hooking, holding and tripping the Sharks, who, by the way, are clicking at 25 percent on the power play.

5. Following Marleau's lead -- The Sharks have five goals in this series and Patrick Marleau has the last four. The only other guy to score is Jason Demers, who played all of five minutes and 14 seconds in Game 3 -- a game that was played into the 72nd minute. Someone in teal -- and it doesn't really matter who at this point -- has to jump in and help Marleau out in the scoring department. If you want to win at this time of the year, you can't just have one guy going. Heatley, Thornton, Pavelski, Ryane Clowe, Devin Setoguchi, Dan Boyle -- we're looking at you in particular.

Search Archive »

Browse by Month »

January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200