Let's get the Eager crap out of the way. The fact is Eager wouldn't be employed if he wasn't an effective fourth liner but that doesn't negate the fact he isn't the sharpest knife in a drawer full of spoons. Remember that
Winnipeg Atlanta steel-toed Eager outta town when he showed his true colors against Toronto's Colby Armstrong and was suspended four games. Based on McLellan's comments yesterday, they're clearly hoping for a First Round Game Four-like meltdown from Vancouver and who better to lead that then Eager? Their PP has been lethal in its execution, so if they can goad a reaction out of the good guys, it's a fair advantage for them. Then again if Eager is let loose to get his thug on and refs send him to a flash penalty box (ahem, c'mon Sharks ladies, don't let us down), they deserve to reap the Sedinery whirlwind for a second straight game.
The Sharks are going to do try their best to not engage in the north south game, perfect their dump-ins and shoot from anywhere that's legal while punishing Vancouver's defenseman in their own zone. The best start on the road is an early goal to shut everyone up, but it's even more important now because (a) Vancouver has yet to score first and (b) the Sharks can switch into shell mode after an early lead, slow the pace down and do their best Nashville impression to gunk up the neutral zone. There's an absurd amount of pressure on their middle six - Heatley, Clowe, Pavelski and Pudge mostly - to make themselves heard. Sounds like they'll be without Demers again too; in such a close match-up, you'll celebrate any break you can get.
Besides their speed and pinching defense, Vancouver's best advantage so far is their ability to produce past the 30 minute mark, outscoring the Sharks 6-1 in both third periods so far. Chances are they won't be gifted with many PP opportunities, so it's up to the big guns up front to make it count at ES. We'll tip our (fake) hat to the Lapierre line again: through two games they've had us believing they're developing into a Moen/Niedermayer/Pahlsson third line from the 2007 Ducks banner year, but we won't know if that's a mirage until this series is over. Plenty of other questions: Vigneault is going with the brawn, sitting Tambo and Thunderdome for Bolduc and Glass but is losing speed a proper response after game two? Daniel Sedin has seven points (4G, 3A) in six road games; will that continue? Bieksa and Hamhuis (three assists in game two) remain as crucial as ever; can they get the job done at both ends of the ice on the road? Vancouver has won the last three playoff road games; can Luongo guarantee a fourth?
Momentum is a cruel temptress: you think it's all yours one second and a few moments later you're sulking into a game seven wondering what the hell just happened. This is still a close series with teams that are very well matched. Vancouver has the mo' now, but only strong puck management and executing their plan will keep that in their corner.
You can't have a flashback with a flashforward in it. That's just bad writing.- Cyril, "Move Star", Archer
Sure I can. Flashback: San Jose is a spiffy 0-8 all-time when trailing a series 2-0 and have lost 8 straight conference final games, one away from tying the NHL record. Flashforward: No one trusts Vancouver to drive the stake through the opponent's heart when it matters anyway. Something has to give.
Someone go wake the dragon, he's got some work to finish.
I hear that knocking on the door again. Earn this.